Week 5 in Review: There’s No Place Like Home

Sometimes a little home cooking…and a few friends sticking up for you…helps get a team back on track.  And it worked for the Devils this week, breaking a brief losing streak and getting back to the team we saw in October.

11/11 vs. Hershey: 6-3 W

Back home for the first time since October 29th, the Devils looked to get some revenge from last Saturday’s shutout loss with a rematch against the Bears.  And it didn’t take very long to get things started.  Just 28 seconds after the opening puck drop, Joe Blandisi would score his second goal of the season for a very quick 1-0 lead.  Vojtech Mozik, in his first game back after sitting all week as New Jersey’s seventh defenseman, picked up a power play goal late in the period to double the lead.  The Devils would outshoot their visitors 16-4 through the first twenty minutes.  Hershey would get on the board early in the second on a Jakub Vrana power play goal, but a beautiful breakaway by Brian Gibbons would restore Albany’s two goal advantage.  But Hershey was not about to go away quietly, as a goal by Stanislav Galiev with 90 seconds remaining in the middle period would cut Albany’s lead to 3-2.  The Devils appeared to put it away midway through the third…Blandisi was awarded a penalty shot and would be successful, giving Albany their two goal lead back.  But the Bears would again answer with the man advantage, as Travis Boyd would pick up his first goal of the season to again cut Albany’s lead to one.  Finally, with less than 3 minutes to go in the contest, the captain would put the game away…Rod Pelley’s first of the season would put the Devils up 5-3.  Kevin Rooney would add an empty netter for good measure.  But all that was just the lead in to what would happen with 26 seconds remaining, as a near brawl near the benches would break out after a high stick injured Blake Coleman.  Both teams would combine for a total of 86 penalty minutes and 9 players leaving early.  The other story of the night?  Scott Wedgewood barely had to break a sweat in picking up the win–he only stopped 8 of 11 shots.  Blandisi added two assists to go with his two goal night, Blake Pietila had two helpers, while two other Devils had one assist each.

Lines:

John Quenneville-Brian Gibbons-Ben Sexton

Miles Wood-Blake Pietila-Joe Blandisi

Ben Thomson-Kevin Rooney-Max Novak

Blake Coleman-Rod Pelley-Ryan Kujawinski

Defense:

Andrew MacWilliam/Reece Scarlett

Seth Helgeson/Vojtech Mozik

Karl Stollery/Steve Santini

Scott Wedgewood/Mackenzie Blackwood

Scratches: Josh Jacobs, Brandon Baddock, Jan Mandat, Carter Camper, Brandon Gormley

Power Play: 1 for 3.  Penalty Kill: 3 for 5.  Penalty Minutes: 56.  Shots on Goal: 26.  Shots Allowed: 11.

3 Stars: 1. Joe Blandisi; 2. Brian Gibbons; 3. Travis Boyd.

Highlight Reel:

11/12 vs. St. John’s: 4-3 W

A brief two game week wrapped up on Saturday afternoon, as the IceCaps came in for their second visit of the season.  And the Devils would see a familiar face in the other net–Yann Danis.  But it would be Blake Pietila stealing the spotlight on this day.  He got the scoring started with a power play tally 12:51 into the opening period for a 1-0 Devil lead.  Second period was a struggle once again for Albany, as the IceCaps would take the game over.  Nikita Scherbak would tie the game up less than 2 minutes into the period.  Michael McCarron and Mark Barberio would score power play goals 2:43 apart to put the visitors up 3-1.  But Pietila would come through with his second goal of the day with just 36 seconds to go in the period to cut the lead to 3-2.  After a strong showing by Albany in the first, the IceCaps would flip the script in the second, outshooting the Devils 18-8.  But in the third, Albany would put up a late rally.  With just 4:11 remaining in regulation, Rod Pelley’s second goal in as many days would tie the game up at 3.  Then just 1:46 later, Pietila would finish off his first pro hat trick and the Devil rally, putting the hosts ahead 4-3.  St. John’s could only muster 4 shots on goal in the final 20 minutes, and Albany finished off their second straight win in dramatic fashion.  Mackenzie Blackwood rebounded from his quick exit in Hershey the weekend before, stopping 27 of 30 shots.  Karl Stollery added two assists, while six other Devils had one helper each.

Lines:

John Quenneville-Brian Gibbons-Ben Sexton

Joe Blandisi-Blake Pietila-Miles Wood

Max Novak-Kevin Rooney-Ben Thomson

Ryan Kujawinski-Rod Pelley-Jan Mandat

Defense:

Seth Helgeson/Vojtech Mozik

Karl Stollery/Steve Santini

Andrew MacWilliam/Reece Scarlett

Mackenzie Blackwood/Scott Wedgewood

Scratches: Josh Jacobs, Blake Coleman, Brandon Baddock, Carter Camper, Brandon Gormley

Power Play: 2 for 3.  Penalty Kill: 4 for 6.  Penalty Minutes: 14.  Shots on Goal: 31.  Shots Allowed: 30.

3 Stars: 1. Blake Pietila; 2. Rod Pelley; 3. Nikita Scherbak.

Highlight Reel:

Roster Move: During Saturday’s game, a trade between New Jersey and Philadelphia saw forward Petr Straka come to New Jersey for a conditional 7th round draft pick in 2017 or 2018.  Straka was in his fourth season with the Phantoms, but had been a healthy scratch all season despite being a regular in the lineup the previous three years.  He has just three NHL games under his belt, picking up two assists for the Flyers in 2014-15.  He will report to Albany early next week.

My Player of the Week:

A five point week, including your first hat trick?  Blake Pietila was an easy choice.  Honorable mention to Joe Blandisi and his four point performance on Friday.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Blake Pietila (6)

Assists: 2 tied with 5

Points: Blake Pietila (11)

+/-: Vojtech Mozik (+8)

Penalty Minutes: Joe Blandisi (36)

Wins: Scott Wedgewood (4)

GAA: Scott Wedgewood (2.44)

Save Percentage: Scott Wedgewood (.905)

Up North with the Thunder:

Adirondack spent the week in Idaho, where they took 3 out of 6 points from Joe Faust and the Steelheads.  On Wednesday, the Thunder posted a 6-3 win, as Ken Appleby stopped 26 of 29 shots.  Brian Ward scored twice, while Alex Wall and Mathieu Brodeur added one goal each.  Idaho would pick up a 4-3 shootout win on Friday night, with Ward and Ty Loney scoring for the Thunder.  The Steelheads would finish off the 3 game set with a 4-2 win on Saturday.  Appleby stopped 27 of 31 shots in the loss, the first in regulation on the road for the Thunder this season.  Adirondack heads to Utah this week for a three game series against the Grizzlies to finish off their western road swing.

This Week’s Schedule:

The Devils head on an Empire State three game road swing this week.  Wednesday they head west on Interstate 90 for their first visit to Rochester.  Friday it’s west on Interstate 88 to Binghamton to face the Senators.  Then on Saturday the trip finishes in Syracuse.

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