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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