Week 19 in Review: Closer to the Top

Nothing like a little bit of home cooking to keep you on track.  And with a four out of six point week, the Devils continued to creep ever closer…but not close enough…to taking back first place in the North.

2/15 vs. Syracuse: 6-1 W

The homestand would kick off on Wednesday with a #1 vs #2 divisional battle, as the Devils played host to the Crunch for the second time in two weeks.  Albany would get off to a good start late in the first period, as Kevin Rooney (9th) and Ben Sexton (18th on a power play) would score 2:58 apart for a 2-0 advantage.  In the second period…the rout was on, as the Devils outshot the Crunch 18-6 and turned up the offense.  In a span of 8:42, Brian Gibbons (11th), Blake Coleman (17th), John Quenneville (11th on a power play), and Vojtech Mozik (8th on a power play) would all light the lamp, extending the Devils lead to 6-0, chasing Crunch starter Adam Wilcox out after two periods in favor of Kristers Gudlevskis.  The goalie switch seemed to help Syracuse in the third, as they held the Devils off the scoresheet in the third, holding them to 6 shots.  Adam Comrie’s goal 4:34 into the third would break up the shutout bid, but Syracuse just could not get any closer.  The benefactor of all this was Mackenzie Blackwood, who played brilliantly in win #10, stopping 26 of 27 shots.  Twelve Devils registered at least one point, lead by two assists each from Andrew MacWilliam and Reece Scarlett.  And as a bonus, Sexton notched the famous Gordie Howe Hat Trick, with a second period assist and a fight with Dominik Masin.

Lines:

Brian Gibbons-Blake Coleman-Petr Straka

John Quenneville-Carter Camper-Ben Sexton

Ryan Kujawinski-Kevin Rooney-Max Novak

Luke Gazdic-Rod Pelley-Ben Thomson

Defense:

Karl Stollery / Vojtech Cinemas

Reece Scarlett / Yohann Auvitu

Andrew MacWilliam/Josh Jacobs

Mackenzie Blackwood/Ken Appleby

Scratches: Jan Mandat, Blake Pietila, Nick Lappin, Scott Wedgewood, Brandon Gormley, Jacob MacDonald

Power Play: 3 for 8.  Penalty Kill: 7 for 7.  Penalty Minutes: 31.  Shots on Goal: 35.  Shots Allowed: 27.

3 Stars: 1. Ben Sexton; 2. Blake Coleman; 3. Brian Gibbons.

Highlight Reel:

2/17 vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton: 4-0 W

Friday night came a huge test for the Devils, as the #1 team in the American Hockey League, the Penguins, were in town for a visit.  And…they passed with flying colors.  Blake Coleman would get things going in the right direction just :58 after the opening puck drop, scoring his 18th goal of the season off a misplay for a 1-0 lead.  That slim lead would hold up, as Mackenzie Blackwood and the defense would hold Wilkes-Barre to 7 first period shots (at one point shots were 9-0 Devils), then to 8 in the second.  In the third, the Penguins believed they had tied the game up…but the play was whistled dead just before the puck would cross the line.  The Devils offense would end up putting the game away for good with a 3 goal outburst…Ben Sexton would score his 19th to double the Devil lead.  Max Novak would follow up that goal with his 5th for a 3-0 lead, then Nick Lappin would put the exclamation point on with an empty netter, his 6th.  Blackwood was sensational for the second straight game, stopping all 24 Penguin shots in his first professional shutout, the Devils’ first of the season.  Brian Gibbons and Yohann Auvitu each added two assists, while Lappin and two others had one helper each.

Lines:

John Quenneville-Carter Camper-Ben Sexton

Brian Gibbons-Blake Coleman-Nick Lappin

Petr Straka-Kevin Rooney-Max Novak

Luke Gazdic-Rod Pelley-Ben Thomson

Defense:

Karl Stollery / Vojtech Cinemas

Andrew MacWilliam/Josh Jacobs

Reece Scarlett / Yohann Auvitu

Mackenzie Blackwood/Ken Appleby

Scratches: Jan Mandat, Blake Pietila, Ryan Kujawinski, Scott Wedgewood, Brandon Gormley, Jacob MacDonald

Power Play: 0 for 3.  Penalty Kill: 1 for 1.  Penalty Minutes: 2.  Shots on Goal: 34.  Shots Allowed: 24.

Highlight Reel:

2/18 vs. Bridgeport: 3-2 L

Fifteen and a half hours later, it was back on ice for Albany, as they finished out the week against a very hot Sound Tigers squad.  The Devils dodged a bullet with not having to face Jaroslav Halak, winner of his last 11 starts, but Bridgeport would be first to strike.  Jon Landry would put the visitors up 1-0 with a shot from the corner.  Carter Camper would tie the game up late in the period with a power play tally, his fourth of the season.  The Sound Tigers would put this one away early in the second period, as goals by Josh Ho-Sang and Carter Verhaeghe 2:05 apart would put the Devils down 3-1.  Nick Lappin would remain hot to start the third, scoring his 7th on a power play to cut the lead to 3-2.  But that was all the Devils could manage, and their brief two game winning streak was snapped.  Ken Appleby drew back in and played well despite the loss, stopping 25 of 28 shots.  Lappin would extend his point streak to 10 games with a goal and an assist, while Camper and two others had one helper each.

Lines:

Brian Gibbons-Blake Coleman-Nick Lappin

John Quenneville-Carter Camper-Ben Sexton

Petr Straka-Kevin Rooney-Max Novak

Luke Gazdic-Rod Pelley-Ben Thomson

Defense:

Reece Scarlett/Jacob MacDonald

Karl Stollery/Vojtech Mozik

Andrew MacWilliam/Josh Jacobs

Ken Appleby/Mackenzie Blackwood

Scratches: Jan Mandat, Blake Pietila, Ryan Kujawinski, Scott Wedgewood, Brandon Gormley, Yohann Auvitu

Power Play: 2 for 2.  Penalty Kill: 3 for 3.  Penalty Minutes: 6.  Shots on Goal: 33.  Shots Allowed: 28.

3 Stars: 1. Josh Ho-Sang; 2. Carter Camper; 3. Carter Verhaeghe.

Highlight Reel:

Roster Moves: At noontime, Sergey Kalinin cleared waivers and was reassigned to Albany.  Less than three hours later, he was traded to the Maple Leafs for defenseman Viktor Loov, who will join Albany next week.  A native of Sweden, Loov has spent all of this season with the Marlies, where in 41 games he has two goals and four assists.  A 2012 seventh round pick by Toronto, Loov has had at least one cup of coffee in the NHL, appearing in four games for the Maple Leafs last season after completing nearly three full seasons with the Marlies.

My Player of the Week:

This was decided before the week was even over…two wins, one goal given up over those two games, and shutting out the best team in the AHL?  A well deserved honor for Mackenzie Blackwood.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Ben Sexton (19)

Assists: John Quenneville (26)

Points: John Quenneville (37)

+/-: Blake Coleman (+17)

Penalty Minutes: Andrew MacWilliam (81)

Wins: Ken Appleby (14)

GAA: Scott Wedgewood (2.18)

Save Percentage: Scott Wedgewood (.912)

Up North with the Thunder:

Good news: 3 out of 6 points earned.  Bad: The Thunder would go 0-0-2-1 doing so.

On Tuesday, Adirondack would rally from a 5-3 deficit with 4:26 remaining in regulation to tie Reading at 5, only to lose 6-5 in a shootout on home ice.  Five different players would score for the Thunder, with Brock Montgomery leading the way with one goal and two assists.  The Thunder traveled south for a two game set against Atlanta, losing 3-2 in overtime to the Gladiators on Friday.  In the rematch on Saturday, Adirondack rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the third and tied the game with 23 seconds remaining in regulation, then lose 4-3 in overtime.  One game Devil J.P. Anderson drew the start in net and stopped 27 of 31 shots.

After finishing up their southern swing on Sunday in South Carolina, the Thunder return home next weekend for a pair of games, hosting Reading on Friday and Brampton on Saturday.

This Week’s Schedule:

A three game week against divisional foes is on the agenda.  Monday, the Devils finish off the homestand with a Presidents Day afternoon tilt against Utica.  Then it’s the start of a season long six game road swing, starting Friday and Saturday with a pair in Newfoundland against St. John’s.

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