Week 21 in Review: Sliding into March

Welcome to March!

It’s officially crunch time for the Devils, as they begin the homestretch towards the playoffs.  But only getting two out of four points when every other team around you is on a roll is not, shall we say, optimal when you’re fighting for position.

3/3 at Providence: 4-3 W

Week 2 of the road swing began in Rhode Island on Friday, as the Devils visited a hot Bruins team…and had to face undefeated goaltender Zane McIntyre.  After a scoreless first period, the Bruins would be first on the board early in the second, as a Peter Mueller goal 99 seconds into the middle frame would put the home team up by 1.  A Tommy Cross goal with under seven minutes remaining in the period would double the Bruin lead.  But much like the last couple of the weeks, the Devils were not about to go away quietly.  Max Novak would cut the Providence lead in half with his 6th goal of the season with 2:30 remaining in the second.  In the third, one Devil would single-handedly pull off another Albany comeback.  Blake Pietila, in his second game back from injury, would score twice in a 2:27 span early in the third period to tie…then give the Devils…a 3-2 lead.  Nick Lappin would add what looked like an insurance goal with 5:25 to go for a 4-2 lead.  But the Bruins were not done yet…a power play goal by Danton Heinen 43 seconds later would make it a 1 goal game again.  But the Devils were able to hang on for the remainder of regulation, pulling out a much needed win to remain in second place in the North.  Ken Appleby would pick up his 16th win in net, stopping 36 of 39 shots.  John Quenneville lead all scorers with three assists, while three other Devils would each have a helper.

Lines:

John Quenneville-Blake Pietila-Nick Lappin

Brian Gibbons-Max Novak-Shane Harper

Ben Thomson-Jan Mandat-Petr Straka

Luke Gazdic-Rod Pelley-Yohann Auvitu

Defense:

Karl Stollery/Vojtech Mozik

Seth Helgeson/Jacob MacDonald

Andrew MacWilliam/Josh Jacobs

Ken Appleby/Mackenzie Blackwood

Scratches: Viktor Loov, Ben Sexton, Carter Camper, Ryan Kujawinski, Scott Wedgewood, Brandon Gormley

Power Play: 1 for 3.  Penalty Kill: 2 for 3.  Penalty Minutes: 6.  Shots on Goal: 35.  Shots Allowed: 39.

3 Stars: 1. Blake Pietila; 2. John Quenneville; 3. Jacob MacDonald.

Highlight Reel:

AHL Live has your highlights here.

Saturday: Two roster moves:

-With Andy Greene needing to leave the parent Devils due to personal reasons, Nick Lappin was recalled and got in against the Bruins in Boston.  Needing another forward here, Greg Wolfe was summoned from Adirondack on a PTO.

3/4 at Utica: 3-0 L

It was due west to central New York on Saturday, as the Devils made their final visit of the season to face a Comets team on a roll and knocking on the playoff door.  After an uneventful first period, the home team got on the board twice during the middle frame.  A video review on a quick in and out shot worked in Utica’s favor, and Jake Virtanen would have his sixth goal of the year for a 1-0 lead.  Wacey Hamilton’s 8th four minutes later would double the Comet lead, putting Albany in the same position as the night before.  But Utica made sure a comeback was not in the cards…Borna Rendulic’s 10th goal just as the penalty kill expired would give the Comets a three goal cushion.  And that was all rookie goaltender Thatcher Demko would need…he would stop all 38 Devil shots in picking up his first professional shutout, and the fourth shutout against Albany this season.  Mackenzie Blackwood would take the hard luck loss, stopping 24 of 27 shots.

Lines:

John Quenneville-Blake Pietila-Shane Harper

Brian Gibbons-Max Novak-Petr Straka

Ben Thomson-Jan Mandat-Greg Wolfe

Luke Gazdic-Rod Pelley-Yohann Auvitu

Defense:

Karl Stollery/Vojtech Mozik

Seth Helgeson/Jacob MacDonald

Josh Jacobs/Brandon Gormley

Mackenzie Blackwood/Ken Appleby

Scratches: Viktor Loov, Andrew MacWilliam, Ben Sexton, Carter Camper, Ryan Kujawinski, Scott Wedgewood

Power Play: 0 for 4.  Penalty Kill: 4 for 4.  Penalty Minutes: 12.  Shots on Goal: 38.  Shots Allowed: 27.

3 Stars: 1. Thatcher Demko; 2. Jake Virtanen; 3. Mike Zalewski.

Highlight Reel:

AHL Live has the video here.

My Player of the Week:

With really one game of stats to go by…the edge goes to Blake Pietila, who needed a strong showing to get back in the swing of things after missing time due to injury.  John Quenneville with the honorable mention.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Ben Sexton (19)

Assists: John Quenneville (29)

Points: John Quenneville (40)

+/-: Vojtech Mozik (+13)

Penalty Minutes: Andrew MacWilliam (83)

Wins: Ken Appleby (16)

GAA: Scott Wedgewood (2.18)

Save Percentage: Scott Wedgewood (.912)

Division Playoff Update:

After Saturday’s action, here is where everyone stands in the North:

  1. Syracuse: 68 points, .596 pct
  2. Toronto: 65 points, .560 pct
  3. Albany: 66 points, .559 pct
  4. Utica: 59 points, .518 pct
  5. St. John’s: 60 points, .517 pct

In this year’s playoff format, the top 4 points percentages in the division (no crossovers this time) clinch spots.  Right now, the Devils would take on the Marlies in Round 1, with Toronto getting home ice in the slimmest of margins.  The magic number, lowered when Albany wins and/or the fifth place team loses, sits at 31 going into Sunday afternoon.  That number or position may or may not change by the end of the day: Syracuse, Toronto, St. John’s, and Utica all play this afternoon.

Up North with the Thunder:

On the ice, it wasn’t a great week for Adirondack, as they went 0-3.  Off ice, however, it was very good for the future of pro hockey in Glens Falls…and the 518 area.

While the Thunder were playing a morning game in Brampton on Tuesday, it was announced that a group of local investors known as the Adirondack Civic Center Coalition were buying the team from Calgary, with the goal of keeping pro hockey in Glens Falls for years to come.  A fundraiser is currently underway to raise the money needed to complete the purchase and run the day to day operations.  This may also mean another affiliation could come in next season (with Utica’s affiliate in Alaska about to go dark and the future of Rochester’s affiliate in Elmira uncertain, this is something to keep in mind), but that will be worked out in due time.

On ice…the Thunder started the week with a 3-0 shutout loss on Tuesday to the Beast, then followed by a 2-0 loss to Cincinnati on Thursday.  Adirondack would finally break a scoreless drought on Saturday night in a rematch with the Cyclones, but Cincinnati would sweep the two game set with a 3-2 win.

A busy week upcoming for Adirondack, as they take on Kalamazoo Sunday afternoon in Michigan, then they finish up the road swing in Manchester on Friday night.  Saturday, they kick off a six game homestand against the Monarchs.

This Week’s Schedule:

Another short two game week to finish off the road trip.  Friday…it’s the last trip to Binghamton as a visitor.  Then the road trip will end on Saturday in Bridgeport.

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