Monthly Archives: March 2017

Game 65: Albany vs. Bridgeport

Location: Times Union Center, Albany, NY.

Time: 7:00 PM.

Season Series: Bridgeport leads 3-2.

Media Kit

Standings:

Albany: 34-26-2-2, 72 points, .563, 2nd place in North Division

Bridgeport: 38-23-2-1, 79 points, .617, 5th place in Atlantic Division

Sound Tigers Leading Scorers/Goaltending:

Bracken Kearns, 45 points (21 G, 24 A); 2 tied with 39 points

Jaroslav Halak, 16-7-3, 2.19 GAA; Eamon McAdam, 10-3-0, 3.05 GAA

Last Game, Sound Tigers: Bridgeport lost 3-1 to Hershey at home on Sunday.

Latest News/Notes:

The Sound Tigers have dropped 4 out of 5, finding themselves outside the Atlantic Division playoff picture .016 behind fourth place Providence; this is game 1 of a 6 game road trip for Bridgeport, who will not return home until April 4th; nine of the Devils’ last 12 games are on home ice.

On Tuesday, Albany signed forward Sam Kurker to an amateur tryout.  A teammate of 2016 New Jersey draft pick Jeremy Davies at Northeastern, he finished his second season with 3 goals and 3 assists in 28 games.  He spent two years at Boston University before playing for Indiana and Sioux City in the USHL before arriving at Northeastern in 2015-16.

Red, green, yellow: Tuesday notes (Connecticut Post)

New Jersey Devils Prospect Update 3/21 (All About the Jersey)

Broadcast Info: AHL Live

Social: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @TheSoundTigers

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Week 23 in Review: No Offense, But…

When most of your offensive power is on recall, you need to find out how to replace that.  Unfortunately for the Devils this weekend, the lack of goals would cost them, as they missed two chances to take over first place in the North Division and may find themselves in a dangerous playoff situation as the season is nearing the homestretch.

3/17 vs. Springfield: 2-1 L (SO)

Finally back on home ice for the first time since Presidents Day, the Devils had another chance to take first place in the North, hoping some St. Patrick’s Day luck was on their side as they hosted the Thunderbirds.  After a relatively quiet first period, things would happen early in the middle frame.  After Ryan Kujawinski took a tripping call 27 seconds after the puck dropped, Springfield would cash in on the power play with a Chase Balisy goal that looked questionable at first (upon video review the puck looked like it was just past Mackenzie Blackwood).  The Devils thought they had tied the game up a short time later, but the goal was inexplicably waved off.  Finally in the third, the Devils were able to get that tying goal, as Jacob MacDonald scored his 6th goal with 6:09 to go in regulation.  It was on to overtime for the third time in the season series, where Brian Gibbons was thisclose to ending it with a goal, but the puck just missed going over the goal line by an inch.  On to the shootout, where Blackwood and Adam Wilcox held both teams off the board for the first five rounds.  In round 6, Springfield’s Thomas Schemitsch would finally get one past Blackwood, and Wilcox was able to hold off Max Novak to give the Thunderbirds the extra point.  Blackwood deserved so much better than a shootout loss in this one, as he stopped 28 of 29 shots in 65 minutes, including a couple of highlight worthy catches to keep the Devils in it.

Lines:

Ryan Kujawinski-Carter Camper-Shane Harper

Ben Thomson-Kevin Rooney-Max Novak

Brian Gibbons-Jan Mandat-Petr Straka

Luke Gazdic-Rod Pelley-Greg Wolfe

Defense:

Karl Stollery/Vojtech Mozik

Seth Helgeson/Jacob MacDonald

Josh Jacobs/Viktor Loov

Mackenzie Blackwood/Ken Appleby

Scratches: Ben Sexton, Andrew MacWilliam, Scott Wedgewood, Yohann Auvitu

Power Play: 0 for 2.  Penalty Kill: 1 for 2.  Penalty Minutes: 4.  Shots on Goal: 29. Shots Allowed: 30.

3 Stars: 1. Adam Wilcox; 2. Thomas Schemitsch; 3. Mackenzie Blackwood.

Highlight Reel:

3/18 at Syracuse: 2-1 L (OT)

First place in the North Division was up for grabs on Saturday night, as the Devils went back on the road and headed west on the Thruway to face the Crunch.  And for the first two periods, it was all Ken Appleby and Kristers Gudlevskis, as the goaltending duel combined to stop all 46 shots faced over the first 40 minutes (27 for Albany, 19 for Syracuse).  But in the third, it would be the home team breaking through first, as a Matthew Peca goal 2:10 into the final frame would put Syracuse ahead 1-0.  Just as it looked like Gudlevskis was going to pull out a whitewash…Brian Gibbons would pick up his 13th goal with 2:51 remaining in regulation to tie things up at 1.  The game would head into overtime, where a questionable interference call on the Devils 12 seconds in would cost them first place.  Peca would score the game winner on the ensuing power play to give the Crunch the extra point and keep them in the top spot.  Appleby was outstanding, but deserved so much better, in the loss, stopping 26 of 28 shots.

Lines:

Ben Thomson-Kevin Rooney-Max Novak

Brian Gibbons-Carter Camper-Shane Harper

Ryan Kujawinski-Jan Mandat-Petr Straka

Luke Gazdic-Rod Pelley-Greg Wolfe

Defense:

Karl Stollery/Viktor Loov

Seth Helgeson/Jacob MacDonald

Andrew MacWilliam/Josh Jacobs

Ken Appleby/Mackenzie Blackwood

Scratches: Ben Sexton, Vojtech Mozik, Scott Wedgewood, Yohann Auvitu

Power Play: 0 for 3.  Penalty Kill: 3 for 4.  Penalty Minutes: 8.  Shots on Goal: 42.  Shots Allowed: 27.

3 Stars: 1. Kristers Gudlevskis; 2. Matthew Peca; 3. Slater Koekkoek.

Highlight Reel:

3/19 at Springfield: 3-0 L

To finish off the 3 in 3 weekend, it was east to Springfield to face the Thunderbirds, who were also finishing up a 3 in 3 of their own. After a quiet first, the home team would get on the board first 5:17 into the middle frame, as rookie Ed Wittchow scored his first professional goal for a 1-0 lead.  The Devils would get the game’s first power play late in the second that carried over to the third, but could not take advantage.  In fact, it turned into a disadvantage: Anthony Greco would score shorthanded 1:13 into the final period to double the Thunderbird lead.  After a few extra curriculars that would see a combined 36 penalty minuntes, Greco would finish the Devils off with an empty netter late.  Albany’s offense would pepper Adam Wilcox with 34 shots, but none would get past the netminder, who picked up his third shutout of the season, and second since joining the Thunderbirds March 1st.  Mackenzie Blackwood was the hard luck loser, stopping 22 of 24 shots.

Lines:

Brian Gibbons-Carter Camper-Shane Harper

Ryan Kujawinski-Jan Mandat-Petr Straka

Ben Thomson-Kevin Rooney-Max Novak

Luke Gazdic-Rod Pelley-Greg Wolfe

Defense:

Karl Stollery/Vojtech Mozik

Jacob MacDonald/Viktor Loov

Andrew MacWilliam/Yohann Auvitu

Mackenzie Blackwood/Ken Appleby

Scratches: Seth Helgeson, Josh Jacobs, Ben Sexton, Scott Wedgewood

Power Play: 0 for 3. Penalty Kill: 2 for 2.  Penalty Minutes: 13.  Shots on Goal: 34.  Shots Allowed: 25.

3 Stars: 1. Adam Wilcox; 2. Anthony Greco; 3. Ed Wittchow.

Highlight Reel:

My Player of the Week:

Sympathy votes go to both goaltenders this week, because in all honesty, they deserved a better fate.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Ben Sexton (19)

Assists: Carter Camper (21)

Points: Ben Sexton (31)

+/-: Vojtech Mozik (+13)

Penalty Minutes: Andrew MacWilliam (90)

Wins: Ken Appleby (16)

GAA: Scott Wedgewood (2.18)

Save Percentage: Scott Wedgewood (.912)

Division Playoff Update:

As of Sunday night, here’s where we stand:

  1. Syracuse, 75 points, .586
  2. Albany, .563, 72 points
  3. Toronto, 71 points, .551
  4. St. John’s, 70 points, .547
  5. Utica, 69 points, .539

There is a 6 point spread over the 5 teams, so depending on how the week shakes out, we may have a new order come the end of next weekend’s slate.  Albany’s magic number to clinch a playoff spot sits at 22 with 12 games remaining.

Up North with the Thunder:

It was a busy weekend at home for Adirondack, as they started off a 3 in 3 with a split against Wheeling.  The Nailers would take a decisive 5-2 win on Friday night, then looked to get the sweep on Saturday by going up 3-0 after 2 periods.  But the Thunder would pull off an epic comeback, scoring 4 times in the third, then giving up the tying goal with 20 seconds left in regulation, then finally finishing the comeback on an Alex Wall goal with 16 seconds remaining in overtime to pull out the 5-4 win.  Sunday night they hosted Atlanta, and…things would escalate quickly in the first period, as a combined 106 penalty minutes were handed out due to multiple fights.  The Thunder would win the game 6-1…and effectively the war in this case, as they finished with 52 of the game’s 176 combined penalty minutes.

Adirondack sits in a tie for second place with Reading in the North Division with 76 points, just three points behind first place Brampton.

Coming up this week: one more home matchup on Tuesday against Orlando, then they hit the road Friday and Saturday for a two game set against Reading.

This Week’s Schedule:

It’s a three game homestand for Albany this week.  Wednesday, Bridgeport comes in.  Friday sees a divisional showdown against Utica.  Then a second River Rats day on Saturday as Providence pays a visit.

And next Sunday you’ll find me at The Rock, as I’ll be calling myself up for the Dallas game.

 

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Game 64: Albany at Springfield

Location: Mass Mutual Center, Springfield, MA.

Time: 3:00 PM.

Season Series: Springfield leads 2-1.

Media Kit

Standings:

Albany: 34-25-2-2, 72 points, .571, 2nd place in North Division

Springfield: 26-27-8-2, 62 points, .492, 6th place in Atlantic Division

Thunderbirds Leading Scorers/Goaltending:

Chase Balisy, 38 points (13 G, 25 A); Paul Thompson, 31 points (16 G, 15 A); Dryden Hunt, 26 points (10 G, 16 A)

Adam Wilcox, 21-10-4, 2.78 GAA (SYR/SPR); Sam Brittain, 2-2-0, 2.13 GAA

Last Game, Thunderbirds: Springfield lost 4-2 to Providence on the road on Saturday.

Latest News/Notes:

All three games in the season series have gone to overtime, with the road team winning each time; Josh Jacobs was injured during the second period in Syracuse last night, availability today unknown; Albany’s magic number to clinch a playoff berth sits at 22, with a shot at a four point swing this afternoon as 5th place Utica takes on Providence; the Devils penalty kill ranks second in the AHL at 84.7 percent (Wilkes-Barre is first at 86.7); forward Dryden Hunt is on a 5 game assist streak; former Devil Reece Scarlett is out due to an injury suffered in his T-Bird debut.

Late 2nd Period Goal Dooms T-Birds vs. Bruins (springfieldthunderbirds.com)

Albany Devils lose in overtime to rival Syracuse (Times Union)

Broadcast Info: AHL Live or WHYN 560 AM

Social: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @ThunderbirdsAHL, @KatyLovesHockey

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Game 63: Albany at Syracuse

Location: Onondaga County War Memorial, Syracuse, NY.

Time: 7:00 PM.

Season Series: Albany leads 3-2.

Media Kit

Standings:

Albany: 34-25-1-2, 71 points, .573, 2nd place in North Division

Syracuse: 31-21-6-5, 73 points, .579, 1st place in North Division

Crunch Leading Scorers/Goaltending:

2 tied with 52 points

Kristers Gudlevskis, 12-9-6, 2.69 GAA; Mike McKenna, 10-13-8, 3.03 GAA (SPR/SYR)

Last Game, Crunch: Syracuse dropped a 4-3 decision to Utica on the road on Friday.

Latest News/Notes:

First place in the North Division is up for grabs in this one, as the Devils sit just .006 behind the Crunch; Syracuse is 3-4-1-0 in the month of March; Erik Condra was officially named the Crunch captain on Friday, with Luke Witkowski sticking on the Tampa Bay roster; eight Crunch regulars are currently on recall to the Lightning; since joining Syracuse at the trade deadline, former Devil Mike McKenna is 1-3-1 with a 4.23 GAA.

CrunchCast 18 (Raw Charge)

Albany Devils fail in bid to take over first place (Times Union)

Broadcast Info: AHL Live or ESPN Radio Syracuse

Social: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @SyracuseCrunch, @syrhockey, @CrunchSyracuse

 

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Game 62: Albany vs. Springfield

Location: Times Union Center, Albany, NY.

Time: 7:00 PM.

Season Series: Tied at 1.

Media Kit

Standings:

Albany: 34-25-1-1, 70 points, .574, 2nd place in North Division

Springfield: 25-26-8-2, 60 points, .492, 6th place in Atlantic Division

Thunderbirds Leading Scorers/Goaltending:

Chase Balisy, 35 points (12 G, 23 A); Pau Thompson, 29 points (15 G, 14 A); 2 tied with 23 points

Adam Wilcox, 20-10-4, 284 GAA (SYR/SPR); Sam Brittain, 2-1-0, 1.85 GAA

Last Game, Thunderbirds: Springfield shut out Rochester 2-0 at home on Sunday.

Latest News/Notes:

After dropping three in a row to start the month of March, Springfield has won their last three straight; former Devil Paul Thompson was named AHL Player of the Week on Monday after picking up four goals over the weekend slate; Reece Scarlett scored in his T-Bird debut on March 3rd, but has not seen action since; Springfield is playing their second straight 3 in 3 weekend, traveling to Providence on Saturday before hosting the Devils Sunday afternoon; Kevin Rooney was reassigned to Albany on Monday (announced Tuesday), then John Quenneville was recalled on Wednesday; the Devils have the most wins in the North Division (34), but less overtime loser points has them .015 behind first place Syracuse.

In the Pipeline: Perfect between the Pipes (Florida Panthers)

Albany Devils defenseman set to make home debut (Times Union)

Broadcast Info: AHL Live, WHYN 560 AM

Social: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @ThunderbirdsAHL

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Week 22 in Review: Reversing the Curse

Two last road games on the Devils six game trip.  Two buildings that have not been kind to the team in the past.  Six regulars on recall to New Jersey.  This had the makings of a possibly disastrous weekend.  But four points later…

3/10 at Binghamton: 3-2 W (SO)

The weekend began in the future digs, as the Devils came into Binghamton for the last time as a visitor (which they had no problem of reminding everyone over and over as the night went on).  And they were treated quite rudely by the current tenants in the first period.  Jason Akeson would score 1:14 into the contest for a fast 1-0 lead.  Then, of all the people, former Devil Brandon Gormley would score in his Senator debut midway through the period for a 2-0 Binghamton lead.  After 20 minutes, it looked like another case of the Broome County curse would strike the Devils…but then came the middle period.  Not only would Albany only allow just 2 shots, they would rally to tie things up.  Ryan Kujawinski would break the Devils scoreless drought 2:59 in with his 6th goal of the season to cut the Senators lead in half.  Jacob MacDonald, in his first game under his shiny new AHL contract, would celebrate by tying the game up with 1:19 to go in the period with his 5th goal, a power play marker.  In the third, Albany would again dominate play by outshooting Binghamton 15-4, but neither side could get that go ahead goal.  After overtime was unable to determine the winner, it was on to the shootout.  Carter Camper and Shane Harper were unsuccessful in the first two rounds, while Mackenzie Blackwood was able to stop chances from Akeson, Gabriel Gagne, and Marc Hagel.  It was all up to John Quenneville in the third round, and he would connect, giving Albany the much needed win.  Blackwood didn’t have much to do all night, only needing to stop 14 of 16 shots through the first 65 minutes.  Four different Devils would have one assist each.  After being outshot 8-5 in the first, Albany would hold the Senators to 8 shots the rest of the way, outshooting them 44-16 overall.

Lines:

John Quenneville-Carter Camper-Shane Harper

Blake Pietila-Max Novak-Brian Gibbons

Ryan Kujawinski-Jan Mandat-Petr Straka

Luke Gazdic-Rod Pelley-Ben Thomson

Defense:

Seth Helgeson/Jacob MacDonald

Karl Stollery/Vojtech Mozik

Andrew MacWilliam/Josh Jacobs

Mackenzie Blackwood/Andy Iles

Scratches: Ben Sexton, Scott Wedgewood, Yohann Auvitu, Greg Wolfe, Viktor Loov

Power Play: 1 for 4.  Penalty Kill: 1 for 1.  Penalty Minutes: 7.  Shots on Goal: 44. Shots Allowed: 16.

Shootout: Carter Camper N, Shane Harper N, John Quenneville Y; Jason Akeson N, Gabriel Gagne N, Marc Hagel N.

3 Stars: 1. Ryan Kujawinski; 2. Matt O’Connor; 3. Jacob MacDonald.

Highlight Reel:

AHL Live has your highlights here.

Saturday: Another day, another callup.  With Travis Zajac away from the team due to the birth of his third child and Devante Smith-Pelly out due to injury, it was Blake Pietila’s turn to rejoin the New Jersey lineup.  Ken Appleby was sent back down after backing up for one game.

3/11 at Bridgeport: 4-1 W

It was off to southern Connecticut on Saturday, as the Devils made their last visit to Bridgeport to face a struggling Sound Tigers squad.  And it didn’t take long for the visitors to get on the board…25 seconds into the game, Carter Verhaeghe took a penalty.  Nine seconds later, John Quenneville was scoring his 12th on the ensuing power play for a 1-0 lead.  Bracken Kearns would match that with a power play goal midway through the period for a 1-1 tie.  But in a 1:11 span late in the first, Petr Straka (4th) and Greg Wolfe (1st) would put Albany ahead 3-1, chasing starter Jaroslav Halak in favor of Eamon McAdam.  After a scoreless second period, the Devils would put the game away in the third.  Brian Gibbons would score his 12th with 4:03 remaining to seal the Devils second straight victory and finish off a perfect week.  Mackenzie Blackwood was strong between the pipes, stopping 25 of 26 shots.  Wolfe and 5 other Devils would each have one assist.  Viktor Loov, acquired from Toronto back on February 18th, would finally make his Devil debut.

Lines:

John Quenneville-Carter Camper-Shane Harper

Brian Gibbons-Max Novak-Petr Straka

Ryan Kujawinski-Jan Mandat-Greg Wolfe

Ben Thomson/Rod Pelley

Defense:

Karl Stollery/Vojtech Mozik

Seth Helgeson/Jacob MacDonald

Viktor Loov/Josh Jacobs

Andrew MacWilliam

Mackenzie Blackwood/Andy Iles

Scratches: Ben Sexton, Luke Gazdic, Scott Wedgewood, Yohann Auvitu, Ken Appleby

Power Play: 1 for 3.  Penalty Kill: 3 for 4.  Penalty Minutes: 8.  Shots on Goal: 21.  Shots Allowed: 26.

3 Stars: 1. Greg Wolfe; 2. Mackenzie Blackwood; 3. Petr Straka.

Highlight Reel:

Sunday: With Ken Appleby back in the fold, Andy Iles was released from his PTO and returned to Elmira.

My Player of the Week:

This week, it’s all about the PTOs.  Well, one former one anyway: the edge goes to Jacob MacDonald for being rewarded for his good work with a new contract, then contributing a goal and an assist on the weekend.  Honorable mention to Greg Wolfe for filling in admirably on Saturday and taking home #1 star honors.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Ben Sexton (19)

Assists: John Quenneville (29)

Points: John Quenneville (41)

+/-: Vojtech Mozik (+13)

Penalty Minutes: Andrew MacWilliam (85)

Wins: Ken Appleby (16)

GAA: Scott Wedgewood (2.18)

Save Percentage: Scott Wedgewood (.912)

Division Playoff Update:

After Sunday afternoon’s action, here’s where we stand in the North Division playoff race:

  1. Syracuse, 71 points, .582
  2. Albany, 70 points, .574
  3. Toronto, 67 points, .549
  4. Utica, 65 points, .533
  5. St. John’s, 66 points, .532

Albany’s magic number to clinch a playoff spot sits at 25 going into this week’s action.  Toronto visits Manitoba on Tuesday, while Syracuse visits Lehigh Valley on Wednesday.  There may be some changes in store before Albany takes the ice again on Friday.

Up North with the Thunder:

It was quite an interesting, high scoring week for the other team in red, as they went 2-2.

After losing 6-3 to Kalamazoo on Sunday afternoon to finish a disastrous Midwest swing, Adirondack started the weekend off with a 5-0 shutout of Manchester, as Brian Ward scored in his first appearance in almost a month.  They would follow that up with a 6-4 win over the Monarchs on home ice Saturday, as captain Peter MacArthur picked up a hat trick.  The Thunder would then lose a wild 9-7 game to Brampton on Sunday afternoon, despite a Ward hat trick.  Adirondack currently sits in fourth place in the North Division with 72 points, one point behind third place Manchester and four behind first place Reading, which would qualify them for the Kelly Cup playoffs (like the AHL, the ECHL also has a divisional format for the first two rounds).

A 3 in 3 home weekend is upcoming, as the Thunder will host Wheeling on Friday and Saturday, then Atlanta on Sunday.

This Week’s Schedule:

Bad news: it’s a 3 in 3 weekend.  Good news: it’s not much travel. Friday, the Devils finally return home to take on Springfield.  But then it’s right back on the road for a pair: a big matchup in Syracuse on Saturday night, followed by a trip to western Massachusetts on Sunday afternoon to finish off the series with the Thunderbirds.

Also, if Mother Nature is forgiving (then again the way the 2017 portion of the season is going…), the final Awards Banquet with the team is on Tuesday.  I will have a post up about that for my midweek update if it takes place.

 

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Game 61: Albany at Bridgeport

Location: Webster Bank Arena, Bridgeport, CT.

Time: 7:00 PM.

Season Series: Bridgeport leads 3-1.

Media Kit

Standings:

Albany: 33-25-1-1, 68 points, .567, 2nd place in North Division

Bridgeport: 36-20-2-1, 75 points, .636, 4th place in Atlantic Division

Sound Tigers Leading Scorers/Goaltending:

Bracken Kearns, 41 points (19 G, 22 A); Tanner Fritz, 36 points (18 G, 18 A); Devon Toews, 35 points (4 G, 31 A)

Jaroslav Halak, 15-4-3, 2.07 GAA; Eamon McAdam, 9-3-0, 3.29 GAA

Last Game, Sound Tigers: Bridgeport dropped a 2-1 decision to Utica on the road on Friday.

Latest News/Notes:

Despite dropping three out of their last four contests, Bridgeport holds a 2 point/.028 lead over Hershey for the fourth Atlantic Division playoff spot; this is the middle game of a 3 in 3 weekend for the Sound Tigers, after traveling to Utica on Friday and hosting the Wolfpack on Sunday; of Jaroslav Halak’s four regulation losses since joining Bridgeport, three are against Utica; former Devil Steve Bernier has been out since the All Star break due to injury; with last night’s win, Mackenzie Blackwood broke a personal 3 game losing streak, and his .889 shootout save percentage is second in the AHL; the Devils’ .846 winning percentage (11-1-1) beyond regulation is the best in the league, Bridgeport is second at .813 (13-2-1).

More Comets, more changes: Utica liveblog (Connecticut Post)

Albany Devils defenseman plays his way into AHL contract (Times Union)

Broadcast Info: AHL Live

Social: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @TheSoundTigers, @fornabaioctp

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