Week 3 in Review: The Struggle is Real?

Well…I was not expecting this team to go 76-0.  But this week the Devils were thrown back to reality by two very good teams…and it took an improbable comeback to get back to their winning ways.

10/26 @ Wilkes-Barre/Scranton: 3-1 L

With a shot at 6-0 on the line, the Devils traveled southwest to a place where they have not seen a lot of success in recent years…Wilkes-Barre, as they made their only visit of the season there to face the Penguins.  Unlike the first five games of the season, the Devils would find themselves in a first period hole, being outshot 17-7.  Then while on an extended penalty kill, Chad Ruhwedel would pick up his first of the season with under two minutes remaining in the opening period for a 1-0 Penguins lead.  That lead after 20 minutes of play marked the first time all season Albany trailed after a period.  Second period wasn’t that much better for the visitors, despite being awarded four power plays.  Not only could they not capitalize on those opportunities, they would give up a shorthanded tally to Josh Archibald early in the period for a 2-0 hole.  Jake Guentzel would add his third goal of the season with 3:15 to go for a 3-0 lead.  The Devils could only muster 7 shots for the second straight period, while Scott Wedgewood faced 28 total over the first 40 minutes.  He would leave in favor of Mackenzie Blackwood to start the third period, and it seemed to be a too little, too late wake up call.  Blackwood would stop all 8 shots faced, while Nick Lappin broke up Tristan Jarry’s shutout bid with his first goal of the season 8:05 into the third.  Albany would kill off a huge 1:41 5 on 3 midway through, but they just could not catch up to a stingy Penguins defense, and the first loss of the season happened.  Blake Pietila and Brian Gibbons had the lone assists.

Lines:

Blake Coleman-Brian Gibbons-Miles Wood

Blake Pietila-John Quenneville-Nick Lappin

Jan Mandat-Kevin Rooney-Max Novak

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Ben Sexton

Defense Pairings:

Seth Helgeson/Vojtech Mozik

Steve Santini/Brandon Gormley

Andrew MacWilliam/Reece Scarlett

Scott Wedgewood/Mackenzie Blackwood

Scratches: Karl Stollery, Josh Jacobs, Joe Blandisi, Carter Camper, Ryan Kujawinski

Power Play: 0 for 5.  Penalty Kill: 6 for 7.  Penalty Minutes: 23.  Shots on Goal: 20.  Shots Allowed: 36.

3 Stars: 3. Chad Ruhwedel; 2. Josh Archibald; 1. Jake Guentzel.

Highlight Reel:

10/28 vs. Toronto: 3-0 L

The first big test of the season awaited the Devils as they returned to home ice on Friday night…a rematch against the team that eliminated them in the second round of last season’s playoffs, the Marlies.  But much like Wednesday night, the Devils dug themselves into a big hole at the outset.  Colin Greening would put the visitors up early with a goal 5:34 into the first.  Then with Blake Coleman sitting in the box on a questionable high sticking call, Tobias Lindberg would score twenty seconds into the man advantage to double the Marlie lead.  Albany would be outshot by a whopping 17-5 margin through the first 20 minutes.  Second period things looked to be turning around for the Devils, as they would find their shot and finally received a couple of power play opportunities.  Unfortunately, they were facing a literal brick wall in Antoine Bibeau, as he stopped all 13 second period shots.  Then it became a case of if you can’t beat the competition, beat up the competition–Seth Helgeson and Blake Coleman each got into scraps 18 seconds apart late in the period.  Third period the Devils really tried to get on the board, outshooting Toronto 19-5 and had three power play chances…but again, nothing was getting past Bibeau.  Midway through the third, a misplay behind Scott Wedgewood’s net would leave the net wide open and Trevor Moore would get an easy goal, giving Toronto a 3-0 advantage.  Despite a late 6 on 4 advantage with the empty net, Albany just could not solve Bibeau, and he would end up with a 37 save shutout.  Other than the misplay in the third, Wedgewood had another good night in net, stopping 28 of 31 shots.

The Lineup:

John Quenneville-Blake Pietila-Ben Sexton

Brian Gibbons-Blake Coleman-Joe Blandisi

Miles Wood-Kevin Rooney-Max Novak

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Jan Mandat

Defense Pairings:

Seth Helgeson/Vojtech Mozik

Karl Stollery/Brandon Gormley

Andrew MacWilliam/Reece Scarlett

Scott Wedgewood/Mackenzie Blackwood

Scratches: Steve Santini, Josh Jacobs, Carter Camper, Ryan Kujawinski

Power Play: 0 for 5.  Penalty Kill: 2 for 3.  Penalty Minutes: 21.  Shots on Goal: 37.  Shots Allowed: 31.

3 Stars: 3. Trevor Dermott; 2. Colin Greening; 1. Antoine Bibeau.

Highlight Reel:

10/29 vs. Toronto: 4-3 W (SO)

About 20 hours later, both teams were back on ice for the rematch.  Albany made two lineup changes: Josh Jacobs in for Seth Helgeson, and Mackenzie Blackwood drew the starting assignment.  The Devils played their strongest first period all week, despite the 9-8 shot disadvantage.  After two more fights during the first half of the period, things calmed down and both teams would trade goals from the blue line.  Andrew Nielsen would put Toronto up 1-0 with just under three minutes remaining in the first, but Reece Scarlett would tie it up 1:35 later with his second goal of the season.  Things appeared to be going the Marlies’ way in the second, as Bryon Froese and Trevor Moore would pick up goals to give the visitors a 3-1 advantage.  Also throw in the play of Antoine Bibeau and after 40 minutes, it looked like the Devils were on their way to a third straight defeat.  Well…not so fast.  In the third, John Quenneville picked up a power play goal early, his fourth, to cut the deficit to 3-2.  After a fourth fight midway gave the Devils another power play, Ben Sexton, who moved up to Nick Lappin’s spot on the top line with Quenneville and Blake Pietila, would take advantage and score his second goal to tie the game up at 3.  The game would head into overtime, where both teams had to kill off separate 4 on 3 chances to keep the game tied.  On to the bonus round, where the Marlies tried to get fancy with their shootout attempts…only to fail as they reached Blackwood.  Quenneville picked up a goal in Round 2, while Blackwood stopped Kasperi Kapanen in round 3 to complete the comeback win and finish October at 6-2.  Blackwood picked up win #2 in his home debut, stopping 30 of 33 shots.  Sexton, Quenneville, and three others had assists.

The Lineup:

John Quenneville-Blake Pietila-Ben Sexton

Brian Gibbons-Blake Coleman-Joe Blandisi

Miles Wood-Kevin Rooney-Max Novak

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Jan Mandat

Defense Pairings:

Karl Stollery/Vojtech Mozik

Andrew MacWilliam/Reece Scarlett

Brandon Gormley/Josh Jacobs

Mackenzie Blackwood/Scott Wedgewood

Scratches: Seth Helgeson, Steve Santini, Carter Camper, Ryan Kujawinski

Power Play: 2 for 7.  Penalty Kill: 4 for 4.  Penalty Minutes: 40.  Shots on Goal: 35.  Shots Allowed: 33.

3 Stars: 3. Andrew Nielsen; 2. John Quenneville; 1. Ben Sexton.

Highlight Reel:

My Player of the Week:

In a week where everyone seemed to have some struggles, one player did stand out to me: Mackenzie Blackwood.  He came in cold Wednesday night and was able to keep Wilkes-Barre off the board in his one period, then kept it together Saturday against a strong Marlies team.

Team Leaders:

Goals: John Quenneville (4)

Assists: 7 tied with 3

Points: John Quenneville/Blake Pietila (6)

+/-: Karl Stollery/Vojtech Mozik (+4)

Penalty Minutes: Andrew MacWilliam (26)

Wins: Scott Wedgewood (3)

GAA: Scott Wedgewood (2.38)

Save Percentage: Mackenzie Blackwood (.930)

Up North with the Thunder:

It was a near sweep for Adirondack this week, as they took 5 out of 6 points against Elmira.  On Tuesday, the Thunder dropped a 2-1 shootout loss at home to the Jackals, despite a 40-17 shot advantage.  Brian Ward picked up the lone goal, while Ken Appleby made his season debut and stopped 15 of 16 shots in 65 minutes, but gave up the lone goal in the shootout round.  Brandon Baddock made his pro debut and managed just one shot.  In a 5-2 win in Elmira on Friday evening, Greg Wolfe picked up his second goal of the season, while Patch Alber and Ty Loney had assists.  Then on Saturday…apparently the Jackals didn’t quite make it into the building, as the Thunder outshot them 40-8 in a 3-0 win at home.  Ward picked up a goal, while Appleby barely broke a sweat in an 8 save shutout.  Adirondack starts a 3 game set against Manchester this week, hosting the Monarchs on Tuesday night then heading to New Hampshire for a pair on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.

This Week’s Schedule:

A light two game schedule to kick off November, but both will be on the road.  First up, an 11 AM start in Bridgeport on Wednesday against the Sound Tigers, in their first meeting since the infamous double brawl to end last regular season.  Then it’s off to Hershey on Saturday for their only visit of the season to face the Bears.

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