Before the Games Begin

A few last pieces of business to take care of before we get underway for real tomorrow night:

-For 24 hours starting Monday afternoon, most of Albany and New Jersey held their collective breath as Scott Wedgewood was placed on waivers.  Despite a flurry of activity on Tuesday involving the waiver wire (including New Jersey picking up P.A. Parenteau), he managed to clear and was reassigned to Albany.

-Just as Wedgewood cleared, Seth Helgeson took a turn through the waiver wire and cleared on Wednesday afternoon.  He was reassigned to Albany to make room for Kyle Quincey’s return from IR.

-Patch Alber and Mathieu Brodeur were both released from their PTOs Thursday.  Both will return to Adirondack.

AHL teams have until midnight tonight to submit their Opening Day rosters to the league.  As of press time, none have been posted.

Now…how will I be covering things this season?  Here’s what to expect starting tomorrow:

First of all…I’m going back to daily previews!  I’ll be returning to the three hours beforehand schedule.  Plan is for opponent stats, notes, maybe some pertinent links.

Weekly recaps will still be around, either on Sunday or Monday morning depending on the schedule.

I also plan on getting back into game photos (admittedly I slacked on that last season), and all photos will be over on my Flickr page.  I’ll post links on social media as often as needed.


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Preseason Wrap

And now, a brief summary of everything that happened over the last four days:

-On Thursday, the Devils kicked off their two game schedule with a 4-1 win in Wilkes-Barre over the Penguins.  Four different Devils–Jan Mandat, John Quenneville, Ben Sexton, and Ty Loney–would all score while on the power play.  Mackenzie Blackwood drew the start and stopped 23 of 24 shots to pick up the win in net.

-Add two from New Jersey to the training camp roster on Friday, as Nick Lappin and Joe Blandisi were sent down.

-On Saturday, six players were released from their tryout deals: goaltender Andy Iles, defensemen Connor Hardowa and Alexander Kuqali, and forwards Ty Loney, Joe Pendenza, and Brian Ward.

-Sunday afternoon the Devils finished out their preseason schedule on a high note, shutting out Hartford 2-0 in Connecticut.  Ken Appleby stopped all 26 Wolfpack shots, while Brian Gibbons and Rod Pelley each scored.  Karl Stollery added two assists.

Coming up this week: once rosters are finalized and those that need to come down clear waivers, I will post that and get you set up for how I’ll be covering everything this season.

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Tuesday Updates…

Two days into Albany’s training camp, and already there has been some movement:

-On the first day of camp, four players ended up back on recall to New Jersey: defensemen Vojtech Mozik and Karl Stollery, and forwards Blake Pietila and Blake Coleman.  While Stollery was the extra defenseman in Monday’s 4-3 loss to the Islanders in Brooklyn, Coleman and Pietila played on the fourth line with Rod Pelley, while Mozik was paired with rookie Steve Santini.

-Earlier today, forward Brian Gibbons, who was in camp with New Jersey as a tryout, officially signed a 1 year AHL contract.

-Also today: Coleman, Pietila, Mozik, and Stollery were all sent down to Albany, along with Pelley and defenseman Brandon Gormley, who had stayed behind as an extra after the first round of cuts Saturday.

With two games left in New Jersey’s preseason, the parent Devils have a total of 30 players remaining in camp: 4 goaltenders, 17 forwards, and 9 defensemen.

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Welcome to October!

First, a PSA to everyone who started whining for October as far back as April…it’s here.  So SHUT UP TILL NEXT SUMMER!

Okay, now that I got that out of my system, let’s get to the task at hand, shall we?

-Albany’s training camp will officially open for business on Monday morning in Troy.  Why at the practice rink and not the Times Union Center?  Well…between the Professional Bull Riders Tour and the annual circus visit coming in over the next two weeks, there’s no ice to practice on.  So…the wait for the official game ice continues till at least Columbus Day.

As for who will be in camp?  Yesterday, 8 players were given invites:

Patch AlberA local product (born and raised in Clifton Park), the defenseman split last season between Missouri and Adirondack, where he posted 30 assists in 66 games.  He has yet to make his AHL debut, only playing in the ECHL (also played in Elmira for a season and a half) upon completing a four year career at Boston College.  He re-signed with Adirondack during the offseason.

Mathieu Brodeur: You may remember this defenseman from his two game stint for the Devils late last season.  Outside of those two games, he spent all of last season with Adirondack, scoring 9 goals and assisting on 21 others in 70 games.  He also made 12 playoff appearances, scoring twice.  He is slated to return to Adirondack for his second season.

Connor Hardowa: A native of Edmonton, the defenseman spent last season in Utah (ECHL), picking up 13 points (3 G, 10 A) in 43 appearances.  He has little AHL experience, appearing in 2 games for Abbotsford in 2012-13 upon finishing his collegiate career at New Hampshire, and 5 games for Texas in 2014-15.  He has an ECHL deal with Manchester.

Andy Iles: The goaltender spent last season with three different ECHL teams (Atlanta, Brampton, and Cincinnati), going 19-14-4 with a 2.93 GAA and a save percentage of .898.  He also has yet to make his AHL debut, and is under contract with Elmira.

Alexander Kuqali: You may remember Kuqali as one of New Jersey’s invites during the Prospects Challenge in Buffalo a couple of weekends ago.  I had said earlier he could be a possibility if extra bodies were needed.  He is under contract with Florida (ECHL, not the Panthers).

Ty LoneyThe token former Penguin of the group (there’s always at least one!), he split last season between Wheeling and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, picking up 6 assists in 31 games for the Pens, and 7 goals/11 assists in 28 games for the Nailers.  He appeared in 5 games for Norfolk (when they were still AHL) in 2014-15 after finishing his collegiate career at the University of Denver.  He is under contract with Adirondack.

Joseph Pendenza: The center has spent his professional career split between Milwaukee and Cincinnati.  Last season, he scored 10 goals in 29 games for Cincinnati, and picked up 8 points (3 goals, 5 assists) in 45 games for the Admirals.

Brian Ward: The only true rookie of the group, he made his professional debut at the end of last season, picking up one game with Charlotte upon completing 3 years with St. Lawrence.  He has an ECHL deal with Adirondack.

-Before New Jersey plays their fifth preseason game against the Rangers at The Rock, the first wave of cuts were announced:

Back to their respective junior teams: goaltender Evan Cormier (Saginaw); defensemen Colby Sissons (Swift Current) and Colton White (Sault Ste. Marie); and forwards Nathan Bastian (Mississauga), Brandon Gignac (Shawinigan), and Mikey MacLeod (Mississauga).

To Albany: goaltenders Ken Appleby and Mackenzie Blackwood; defensemen Josh Jacobs and Vojtech Mozik; and forwards Brandon Baddock, Blake Coleman, Brian Gibbons, Ryan Kujawinski, Jan Mandat, Max Novak, Blake Pietila, John Quenneville, Kevin Rooney, Ben Sexton, and Ben Thomson.

To Albany, once they pass through waivers: defensemen Brandon Gormley, Andrew MacWilliam, Reece Scarlett, and Karl Stollery; and forward Carter Camper.

Notables still up in New Jersey: Nick Lappin (after I witnessed his two goal performance Monday night in Newark, not shocked), Joe Blandisi, Seth Helgeson to name a few.  Rod Pelley was part of Saturday’s morning skate group, but expect him back in Albany shortly.

But the most important news of the week?  The River Rats are making a comeback!  Well…sort of.  The Devils announced on Thursday that on November 26th (vs. Rochester) and March 25th (vs. Providence), the team will be wearing River Rat sweaters as part of special Throwback Nights.  The jerseys will be signed and auctioned off after the second contest.

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Back to Work!

Tomorrow, a new season begins.

Earlier today, New Jersey released their full training camp roster:

Goaltenders: Cory Schneider, Keith Kinkaid, Scott Wedgewood, Mackenzie Blackwood, Ken Appleby, Evan Cormier, Anders Lindback (PTO).

Defensemen: John Moore, Andy Greene, Jon Merrill, Ben Lovejoy, Damon Severson, Brandon Gormley, Yohann Auvitu, Steve Santini, Seth Helgeson, Reece Scarlett, Andrew MacWilliam, Karl Stollery, Vojtech Mozik, Josh Jacobs, Colton White, Colby Sissons (tryout).

Forwards: Beau Bennett, Taylor Hall, Mike Cammalleri, Adam Henrique, Reid Boucher, Jacob Josefson, Travis Zajac, Luke Gazdic, Kyle Palmieri, Brian Gibbons (PTO), Devante Smith-Pelly, Nick Lappin, Pavel Zacha, Vernon Fiddler, Blake Coleman, Michael McLeod, Ben Thomson, Miles Wood, John Quenneville, Ben Sexton, Carter Camper, Rod Pelley, Sergey Kalinin, Brandon Baddock, Ryan Kujawinski, Blake Pietila, Jan Mandat, Kevin Rooney, Max Novak, Brandon Gignac, Nathan Bastian, Joe Blandisi, Blake Speers.

Notice one big name missing from this list?  For the first time in quite a long time, no Patrik Elias.  Kind of sad for me, considering I still remember him as a River Rat nearly 20 years ago (yeah, I’m old).

A few names to keep an eye on for possible Albany roster spots:

-Gibbons, another former Penguin, spent all of last season in Hartford, picking up 23 points (6 goals, 17 assists) in 63 games.  He has 66 games worth of NHL experience with Pittsburgh in 2013-14 and Columbus in 2014-15, scoring 5 goals.

Sexton was signed to an AHL contract earlier this afternoon.  He spent last season with Providence, appearing in 29 games and picking up 5 points (4 goals, 1 assist).  Prior to joining the Bruins, he spent four years at Clarkson.

-Sissons was the only tryout from the Prospects Challenge to earn an invite to camp.  But with his age (18), don’t expect to see him anytime soon.

-But two signings today may affect the Albany roster late this season or the beginning of next season: Blake Speers and Colton White both signed entry level contracts.  They will return to Sault Ste. Marie in the OHL if they don’t crack New Jersey’s roster.

Everyone will report tomorrow for photos, physicals, first media meetings, etc.  Friday will see the first day on ice, in preparation for Monday’s preseason debuts at home and in Montreal.

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Prospects Challenge in Review

Not a bad showing for the Devils rookies in their second visit to the Prospects Challenge in Buffalo over the weekend, going 1-1 and scoring 9 goals over the two games.

9/17 vs. Buffalo: 6-3 W

First game of the challenge came for New Jersey on Saturday night, as they took on the host Sabres.  After a scoreless first period, where Evan Cormier would stop all 9 shots faced, Nicholas Baptiste would put Buffalo on the board with a power play 7:30 into the second period.  John Quenneville would tie the game up, only to see Baptiste score his second late in the period to put the Sabres back in front.  But just as quickly, Blake Speers and Nathan Bastian would each score to put the Devils ahead 3-2 after 40 minutes.  Blake Coleman and Brandon Gignac would score 30 seconds apart early in the third period to put the Devils ahead 5-2.  Baptiste would complete the hat trick late in the game to cut the lead to 5-3, but Gignac would score an empty netter to seal the win.  Ken Appleby would enter the game in the second and stop 18 of 21 shots.  Miles Wood and Kevin Rooney would each contribute two assists.

If you have about an hour or so to kill, here is the full video of Saturday’s game:

9/18 vs. Boston: 4-3 L

24 hours later, it was back on ice in Buffalo, but this time the Devils would face the Bruins.  Cormier would once again draw the start in net, but again only played the first twenty minutes.  Just 2:31 into the contest, a Colton Hargrove power play goal would put Boston ahead 1-0.  Speers would tie it up late in the period with a power play goal of his own.  The Bruins would not be kind to Mackenzie Blackwood in the second, as Anton Blidh (shorthanded) and Jake DeBrusk would score to put Boston up 3-1 after two periods.  The Devils would try to mount a rally in the third, as Gignac’s third goal of the weekend would cut the lead to one.  Rob O’Gara answered with an even strength tally to put Boston ahead 4-2.  Speers’ second goal of the night would cut the lead to 4-3, but New Jersey could not get any closer.  Cormier stopped 13 of 14 Bruin shots in the first period, while Blackwood stopped 22 of 25 in his 2 periods of work.  Gignac and three other Devils each contributed an assist.

No full video, but here’s a quick highlight reel:

With the Prospects Challenge over, time to look ahead to later this week and the start of training camp on Thursday (I will post the roster once released), then the preseason begins on Monday night at The Rock (FYI…I will be in Section 13) and in Montreal.


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Ready for a Challenge

It’s been awhile since I had anything much to blog…but now that we’ve reached the near beginning of training camps and the World Cup of Hockey is getting underway, business is about to start picking up around here.

Earlier today New Jersey released their roster for the Prospects Challenge next weekend in Buffalo:

Goaltenders: Ken Appleby, Evan Cormier, Mackenzie Blackwood.

Forwards: Nick Lappin, Pavel Zacha, Blake Coleman, Mikey McLeod, Miles Wood, John Quenneville, Brandon Baddock, Ryan Kujawinski, Blake Pietila, Jan Mandat, Kevin Rooney, Brandon Gignac, Nathan Bastian, Joe Blandisi, Blake Speers.

Defensemen: Steven Santini, Josh Jacobs, Marcus Crawford, Colton White, Colby Sissons, Ralph Jarratt, Alexander Kuqali.

A quick breakdown of the roster:

-9 players appeared in at least one game with Albany in 2015-16; 5 appeared in at least one game in New Jersey.

-16 players are New Jersey draft picks, including three first rounders.

-4 players are invitees:

Crawford, 19, spent last season with Evan Cormier in Saginaw (OHL), appearing in 66 games with 34 points (2 goals, 32 assists).

Sissons is an 18-year-old who just completed his second season in Swift Current (WHL), appearing in 71 games with 22 points (3 goals, 19 assists)

Jarratt, also 18, just finished his second year with Victoria (WHL), picking up 11 points (3 goals, 8 assists) in 69 games.  He also appeared in 13 playoff games, with only one assist.

Kuqali is someone to keep an eye on for a potential callup to the Albany roster.  The 25-year-old signed with Florida of the ECHL in early August after completing his collegiate career at RIT.  Over four seasons in Rochester, he scored 59 points in 153 games.

The group will report to New Jersey on Thursday, September 15th, then head to Buffalo shortly thereafter.  They will face the Sabres prospects on Saturday, September 17th at 7 PM, then face the Bruins on Sunday, September 18th, also a 7 PM start.


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