Week 26 in Review: Almost There

Six games left in the regular season, with virtually no room for error at this point.

The Devils would come through, getting back on track with a pair of wins on home ice.  But could a road loss at the end of the week be a costly one as we head into the final week of the regular season?

4/5 vs. Syracuse: 3-0 W

First on the agenda this week: a Wednesday night matchup against the Crunch that carried several factors: a Syracuse win would clinch a playoff spot for the first place Marlies, whose magic number was 1; and it would knock the Devils into fifth, with Utica and St. John’s jumping ahead despite being idle that night.  On top of that, the Crunch lost two forwards (Cory Conacher and Michal Bournival) to callup just a few hours before puck drop, with the Lightning fighting for the last playoff spot and a matchup with the Maple Leafs looming.

Well, about that…

The Crunch would be plagued by the penalty bug in the first period, giving the Devils four power plays.  On their third power play chance, Nick Lappin would score his 10th for a 1-0 Albany lead.  Early in the second, with the Crunch on their first power play opportunity, Lappin would come up big again, this time with a shorthanded tally to double the Devil lead.  Midway through the period, on the Crunch’s second power play, it was Brian Gibbons’ turn for a shorthanded goal, his 14th, for a 3-0 advantage.  And that was all Mackenzie Blackwood would need, as he shut down the Crunch offense, stopping all 33 shots in his second shutout of the season.  Lappin and two other Devils would have one assist each.  The win would put Albany back in third place in the North, one point ahead of 4th place Utica and two (thanks to percentage points) ahead of 5th place St. John’s.

Lines:

Jan Mandat-Kevin Rooney-Max Novak

John Quenneville-Carter Camper-Nick Lappin

Brian Gibbons-Austin Cangelosi-Blake Pietila

Greg Wolfe-Rod Pelley-Shane Harper

Defense: 

Karl Stollery/Vojtech Mozik

Seth Helgeson/Jacob MacDonald

Andrew MacWilliam/Yohann Auvitu

Mackenzie Blackwood/Ken Appleby

Scratches: Josh Jacobs, Viktor Loov, Ben Sexton, Ryan Kujawinski, Scott Wedgewood, Sam Kurker, Petr Straka, Evan Cormier

Power Play: 1 for 7.  Penalty Kill: 2 for 2.  Penalty Minutes: 4.  Shots on Goal: 32.  Shots Allowed: 33.

3 Stars: 1. Nick Lappin; 2. Mackenzie Blackwood; 3. Brian Gibbons.

Highlight Reel:

4/7 vs. St. John’s: 4-3 W

The homestand finished up on Friday, as the Devils hosted the IceCaps for the final time.  Midway through the opening period, Shane Harper would finally score his first goal as a Devil to put the hosts up 1-0.  Early in the second, in a span of 15 seconds, Nick Lappin (12th) and Brian Gibbons (15th) would give the Devils a 3-0 cushion.  But St. John’s was not about to go away quietly, thanks to some questionable penalty calls on Albany.  Former River Rat Chris Terry, celebrating his 28th birthday, would cut the Devil lead to two with a power play goal, his 28th of the season.  Later in the period, with John Quenneville sitting for a tripping (that to most of us looked like a dive) and Rod Pelley off for delay of game after his stick broke on a faceoff, Zach Redmond would capitalize on the 5 on 3 with his third goal to make it a 3-2 game.  St. John’s would complete the comeback 5:26 into the third on Keegan Lowe’s 6th goal of the season.  Just as it looked like this game was headed to overtime…Jacob de la Rose would be called for a hook with 1:07 to go.  Albany took a timeout, drew up a play…and seven seconds later everything went to plan.  Lappin’s second goal of the game with exactly 1:00 remaining would put the Devils ahead 4-3.  The IceCaps thought they had tied the game up just as the clock hit 0.0, but was first waved off.  A video review was requested, and after a few tense moments…confirmed no goal, the puck crossed the line after the horn sounded.  Albany would escape with their second straight win, lowering their magic number to clinch to 5.  Another strong performance in net by Mackenzie Blackwood, as he stopped 22 of 25 shots.  Seven Devils, including Steven Santini, would have one assist each.

Lines:

Jan Mandat-Kevin Rooney-Max Novak

John Quenneville-Carter Camper-Nick Lappin

Blake Pietila-Austin Cangelosi-Brian Gibbons

Greg Wolfe-Rod Pelley-Shane Harper

Defense:

Seth Helgeson/Steven Santini

Karl Stollery/Vojtech Mozik

Josh Jacobs/Jacob MacDonald

Mackenzie Blackwood/Ken Appleby

Scratches: Andrew MacWilliam, Ben Sexton, Luke Gazdic, Ryan Kujawinski, Scott Wedgewood, Yohann Auvitu, Brandon Gignac, Petr Straka, Evan Cormier, Viktor Loov

Power Play: 1 for 4.  Penalty Kill: 3 for 5.  Penalty Minutes: 15.  Shots on Goal: 33.  Shots Allowed: 25.

3 Stars: 1. Nick Lappin; 2. Brian Gibbons; 3. Keegan Lowe.

Highlight Reel:

4/8 @ Syracuse: 3-2 L

A rematch with the Crunch, but this time in Syracuse, would finish off the week.  After a scoreless first period, the Devils would be first on the scoreboard in the middle period, taking a 1-0 lead on a Yohann Auvitu power play goal, his 5th of the season.  Syracuse would tie things up midway through off a shorthanded goal by Tanner Richard.  A late turnover in front of the Devil net would cost them, as Dominik Masin would score his third to put the Crunch ahead 2-1.  But less than two minutes later, a shorthanded goal off the stick of Kevin Rooney (his 12th goal of the season) would re-tie the game.  A late holding call on Blake Pietila in the third would end up being the game changer, as a Brett Howden goal with 3:22 remaining in regulation would give the Crunch the victory, stalling a brief two game win streak and keeping the Devils magic number to clinch at 5.  Mackenzie Blackwood would draw another start and play well despite the loss, stopping 29 of 32 shots.  Four different Devils would each have one assist.

Lines:

Jan Mandat-Kevin Rooney-Max Novak

John Quenneville-Carter Camper-Nick Lappin

Brian Gibbons-Austin Cangelosi-Blake Pietila

Luke Gazdic-Rod Pelley-Shane Harper

Defense:

Karl Stollery/Vojtech Mozik

Seth Helgeson/Steven Santini

Josh Jacobs/Yohann Auvitu

Mackenzie Blackwood/Ken Appleby

Scratches: Greg Wolfe, Viktor Loov, Scott Wedgewood, Jacob MacDonald, Ben Sexton, Ryan Kujawinski, Andrew MacWilliam, Petr Straka, Brandon Gignac, Evan Cormier

Power Play: 1 for 4.  Penalty Kill: 5 for 6.  Penalty Minutes: 12.  Shots on Goal: 26.  Shots Allowed: 32.

3 Stars: 1. Brett Howden; 2. Dominik Masin; 3. Tanner Richard.

Highlight Reel:

My Player of the Week:

One candidate stood out among everyone this week…Nick Lappin was a factor in both home wins this week with four goals, including both game winners.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Ben Sexton (19)

Assists: John Quenneville (32)

Points: John Quenneville (45)

+/-: Vojtech Mozik (+15)

Penalty Minutes: Andrew MacWilliam (100)

Wins: Ken Appleby (17)

GAA: Scott Wedgewood (2.18)

Save Percentage: Scott Wedgewood (.912)

Division Playoff Update:

After Saturday night’s action, here’s where we stand:

1. Toronto: 85 points, .582 (clinched)

2. Syracuse: 84 points, .575

3. Albany, 79 points, .541

4. Utica, 77 points, .535

5. St. John’s, 78 points, .534

All of this is subject to change, with St. John’s and Utica facing each other this afternoon.  Albany’s magic number to clinch a spot remains at 5 with 3 games remaining. The Devils cannot clinch the division title after Saturday’s loss, and has a very small shot at finishing in second (one more point by the Crunch will make that impossible).

Up North with the Thunder:

Congrats to the other boys in red, as they finished off the regular season with a division title and a 6 game winning streak.

The Thunder finished off their home portion of the schedule on Tuesday with a 4-1 win over Manchester.  They then swept the Jackals in the last ever games in Elmira, 7-1 on Friday (that win officially clinched the North Division title) and 5-0 on Saturday.

Adirondack will take on the Monarchs in round 1 of the Kelly Cup playoffs, beginning on Friday night in Manchester (a building conflict in Glens Falls the reason) with Game 1.  Game 2 will follow on Saturday.  Full schedule can be found here.

This Week’s Schedule:

It all comes down to this.  Three games left on the regular season schedule.

Wednesday, the Devils will host Hartford.  Friday, the last road game in Rochester.  Saturday’s finale at home against the Amerks.  Where the Devils will finish, whether there’s life beyond Saturday, will depend on these three games, and also on what Utica and St. John’s do in their final week.

 

Week 25 in Review: Hanging by a Moment

We have reached April and the homestretch.

And if the Devils are not careful…as shown by a 1 win out of 3 weekend (hey, at least the winless streak is over!)…it may be an earlier goodbye to the Capital District than any of us have prepared for.

3/31 at Providence: 4-1 L

A critical weekend began in Rhode Island on Friday night, as Albany looked to avenge its 5-0 loss to the Bruins from Saturday.  But it would be Providence picking up right where they left off.  Jordan Szwarz, in his first game back from injury, would get the home team on the board less than 5 minutes into the first period with his 18th goal on a power play.  A penalty shot goal by Sean Kuraly would double the Bruin lead midway through the opening frame.  Jake DeBrusk would add his 15th goal of the season 6:21 into the second period for a 3-0 Providence advantage.  Austin Czarnik would add to the Bruins lead with a power play goal, his 6th of the season, early in the third period for a 4-0 lead.  Finally, the Devils would find a way to get a goal, as a shorthanded tally by Yohann Auvitu, his 4th, would make it a 4-1 game.  Once again, Albany could not get their offense in gear despite putting 37 shots on net, and would extend the winless streak to 7 games.  Mackenzie Blackwood would stop 31 of 35 shots in the loss.  Austin Cangelosi would pick up his first pro point, an assist, in his debut.

Lines:

Brian Gibbons-Carter Camper-Nick Lappin

Austin Cangelosi-Blake Pietila-Shane Harper

Jan Mandat-Kevin Rooney-Ben Thomson

Luke Gazdic-Rod Pelley-Greg Wolfe

Defense:

Karl Stollery/Vojtech Mozik

Seth Helgeson/Yohann Auvitu

Andrew MacWilliam/Viktor Loov

Mackenzie Blackwood/Ken Appleby

Scratches: Josh Jacobs, Ben Sexton, Ryan Kujawinski, Max Novak, Scott Wedgewood, Sam Kurker, Petr Straka, Jacob MacDonald, Evan Cormier

Power Play: 0 for 5.  Penalty Kill: 3 for 5.  Penalty Minutes: 15.  Shots on Goal: 37.  Shots Allowed: 35.

3 Stars: 1. Austin Czarnik; 2. Alex Grant; 3. Zane McIntyre.

Highlight Reel:

AHL Live has the highlights here.

4/1 vs. Hartford: 4-3 W

As the calendar turned to April, the Devils looked to finally get back on track as they hosted the Wolfpack.  And the home team would get off to a good start, as a Max Novak goal 4:41 into the opening period would give Albany a 1-0 lead.  Nicklas Jensen would tie things up late in the period with his 28th goal.  The Devils would have a much needed strong middle period, as a Kevin Rooney shorthanded goal would put them ahead 2-1.  Blake Pietila, in his second game back from New Jersey, would score his 16th goal during a late 4:00 power play chance for a two goal Devil lead heading into the third.  The Wolfpack were not about to go away just yet, however…Matt Carey would pick up his 19th goal 7:26 in to cut the Albany lead to one goal.  But just 24 seconds later, Pietila would respond with his second power play goal of the game to extend the Devil lead again to two.  Hartford would respond with a power play goal from Taylor Beck with 8:26 remaining for a 4-3 game.  Despite a 6 on 4 shorthanded situation late, the Devils were able to hold off Hartford and finally snap a seven game winless streak.  It was also a much needed good outing for Ken Appleby, who stopped 30 of 33 shots and snapped a personal three game losing streak.  Jacob MacDonald, back in the lineup after sitting out Friday’s game, contributed three assists, while Novak and three others had one helper each.

Lines:

Austin Cangelosi-Blake Pietila-Shane Harper

Brian Gibbons-Carter Camper-Nick Lappin

Jan Mandat-Kevin Rooney-Max Novak

Luke Gazdic-Rod Pelley-Ben Thomson

Defense:

Seth Helgeson/Yohann Auvitu

Vojtech Mozik/Jacob MacDonald

Andrew MacWilliam/Viktor Loov

Ken Appleby/Mackenzie Blackwood

Scratches: Karl Stollery, Josh Jacobs, Ben Sexton, Ryan Kujawinski, Scott Wedgewood, Petr Straka, Sam Kurker, Evan Cormier, Greg Wolfe

Power Play: 2 for 6.  Penalty Kill: 5 for 6.  Penalty Minutes: 14.  Shots on Goal: 30.  Shots Allowed: 33.

3 Stars: 1. Blake Pietila; 2. Jacob MacDonald; 3. Nicklas Jensen.

Highlight Reel:

Sunday: According to the Bergen Record, the New Jersey brass has decided to start sending reinforcements back to Albany sooner rather than later, with just four games left on the parent club’s schedule.  Sunday, they came through, returning John Quenneville, who had appeared in the Devils’ 3-0 loss to Philadelphia on Saturday night.

4/2 vs. Rochester: 2-1 L

Less than 24 hours later, it was back downtown as the Devils looked to build on Saturday’s win against Rochester.  On Albany’s first power play opportunity of the game, John Quenneville made his successful return, scoring his 13th for a 1-0 lead.  Former Devil ATO Paul Geiger would tie the game with his third goal with 5:28 to go in the first.  Early in the second, Andrew MacWilliam would get a four minute high sticking call.  The Amerks would take full advantage–and a 2-1 lead–on Derek Grant’s 8th goal.  The two goals were all rookie goaltender Jonas Johansson would need, as he would stop 27 of 28 Devil shots in his third AHL start.  Mackenzie Blackwood did not have much to face, only stopping 15 of 17.  Carter Camper and Jacob MacDonald had the lone helpers.

Lines:

John Quenneville-Carter Camper-Nick Lappin

Jan Mandat-Kevin Rooney-Max Novak

Austin Cangelosi-Blake Pietila-Brian Gibbons

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Shane Harper

Defense:

Seth Helgeson/Jacob MacDonald

Karl Stollery/Yohann Auvitu

Andrew MacWilliam/Viktor Loov

Mackenzie Blackwood/Ken Appleby

Scratches: Josh Jacobs, Ben Sexton, Luke Gazdic, Ryan Kujawinski, Vojtech Mozik, Petr Straka, Sam Kurker, Greg Wolfe, Scott Wedgewood, Evan Cormier

Power Play: 1 for 5.  Penalty Kill: 4 for 5.  Penalty Minutes: 15.  Shots on Goal: 28.  Shots Allowed: 17.

3 Stars: 1. Derek Grant; 2. John Quenneville; 3. Mat Bodie (announced, but Mackenzie Blackwood listed in boxscore).

Highlight Reel:

My Player of the Week:

We’re splitting it this week between Jacob MacDonald (with 4 helpers on the weekend) and Blake Pietila (2 power play goals in Saturday’s win).  Honorable mention to Austin Cangelosi for a point in his pro debut.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Ben Sexton (19)

Assists: John Quenneville (29)

Points: John Quenneville (42)

+/-: Vojtech Mozik (+13)

Penalty Minutes: Andrew MacWilliam (100)

Wins: Ken Appleby (17)

GAA: Scott Wedgewood (2.18)

Save Percentage: Scott Wedgewood (.912)

Division Update:

When the weekend was done, here’s where everyone stands in the North:

  1. Toronto, 83 points, .593, 6 games left
  2. Syracuse, 81 points, .579, 6 games left
  3. St. John’s, 76 points, .543, 6 games left
  4. Albany, 75 points, .536, 6 games left
  5. Utica, 75 points, .536, 6 games left

The Devils get the tiebreaker with Utica due to more ROW (32-31).  Albany’s magic number to clinch sits at 13, which means they will need help to get that number down.

This week’s important matchups: Toronto-St. John’s on Tuesday; Syracuse-Albany on Wednesday; St. John’s-Albany, Toronto-Utica, Syracuse-Binghamton on Friday; Hershey-Toronto, Albany-Syracuse, St. John’s-Binghamton, Utica-Rochester on Saturday; and St. John’s-Utica and Rochester-Toronto on Sunday.

Up North with the Thunder:

At least one team around here is going to the postseason!  Congrats to the boys in Adirondack, who clinched a spot in the Kelly Cup playoffs with a 5-4 win over Orlando on Tuesday night at home.  They followed that up with a 3-2 win over Elmira on Friday night, then a 3-0 shutout of Norfolk on Saturday.

Adirondack finishes out the regular season this week, with their last home game on Tuesday night against Manchester.  They then hit the road for a two game set against Elmira, the Jackals last hurrah before folding as a franchise, on Friday and Saturday.  Their magic number to clinch the North Division title is 4.

This Week’s Schedule:

As shown earlier, this is a humongous big three game week.  One that could determine how much longer this team exists.

It starts Wednesday night at home against Syracuse, followed by a visit from St. John’s on Friday.  Then on the road to Syracuse on Saturday.

Week 24 in Review: Freefall

When there’s only 11 games left on the schedule and you’re in a fight to the death for a playoff spot, now would not be the time to have your offense suddenly go cold.  But in the Devils case, another two goals in three games and just one standings point out of six earned have put them in a situation that they have not been in all season…outside the playoff picture looking in.

3/22 vs. Bridgeport: 3-1 L

The three game homestand began on Wednesday, as the Sound Tigers, also in the hunt for a playoff berth in a tough Atlantic Division race, came to visit for the last time.  Vojtech Mozik would put the Devils up 1-0 late in the first with a power play goal, his 9th of the season, just six seconds after the man advantage began.  Sadly, the first lead Albany had in quite awhile was very shortlived…Bracken Kearns would score his 22nd of the year just 1:02 into the second period.  A Ryan Pulock goal midway through the period would put the Sound Tigers ahead 2-1.  A scary moment for Albany would come up in the third, as Ryan Kujawinski left the game after a hard hit from Bridgeport’s Tanner Fritz that required both trainers.  To add insult to injury, Ben Holmstrom would add an insurance goal late in the third period to extend the Devil winless streak to four.  Ken Appleby was the victim of no offensive support, as he stopped 19 of 22 shots.  Yohann Auvitu and Max Novak were the only other Devils to register points.

Lines:

Ryan Kujawinski-Rod Pelley-Greg Wolfe

Jan Mandat-Kevin Rooney-Petr Straka

Brian Gibbons-Carter Camper-Shane Harper

Ben Thomson-Max Novak-Luke Gazdic

Defense:

Vojtech Mozik/Karl Stollery

Seth Helgeson/Jacob MacDonald

Yohann Auvitu/Viktor Loov

Ken Appleby/Mackenzie Blackwood

Scratches: Ben Sexton, Scott Wedgewood, Andrew MacWilliam, Josh Jacobs, Sam Kurker

Power Play: 1 for 4.  Penalty Kill: 4 for 4.  Penalty Minutes: 13.  Shots on Goal: 27.  Shots Allowed: 22.

3 Stars: 1. Ryan Pulock; 2. Jaroslav Halak; 3. Vojtech Mozik.

Highlight Reel:

3/24 vs. Utica: 2-1 L (SO)

Continuing the final visit tour, Friday night it was Utica’s turn to finish off the season series, one that saw the Comets turn around their fortune against the last four seasons.  Not only that, but the Devils and Comets were jockeying for position in the North Division, as Utica started the night just barely outside the fourth spot.  For the first two periods, it was all about the goaltending, as Mackenzie Blackwood and Thatcher Demko stopped a combined 34 shots.  In the third, a call on Nick Lappin (in his first game back after being sent down by New Jersey) would give the Comets a penalty shot.  Carter Bancks, who has a knack for scoring big goals against the Devils over the past two seasons, would score and put Utica ahead 1-0.  Albany would get a power play opportunity with 1:34 remaining in regulation, and with Blackwood pulled for a 6 on 4 situation, Jacob MacDonald would score with just 24.4 seconds to go to tie the game up at 1.  In overtime, MacDonald was called for interference just 17 seconds in.  The Devils would kill off the power play, and MacDonald sprung out of the penalty box and nearly ended it with a breakaway goal.  A second penalty kill was called with 36 seconds to go, but the Devils would survive that and move on to the shootout round.  Chad Billins would score on Blackwood in round 1, but Brian Gibbons could not match.  Both Curtis Valk and Lappin would be unsuccessful in the second round.  Darren Archibald would score in round 3, giving the Comets the extra important standings point and leaving Albany with another loss.  Blackwood was stellar in defeat, stopping 24 of 25 shots in just under 65 minutes.  Carter Camper and Lappin were the only other Devils with points.

Lines:

Brian Gibbons-Carter Camper-Nick Lappin

Shane Harper-Kevin Rooney-Petr Straka

Ben Thomson-Jan Mandat-Max Novak

Luke Gazdic-Rod Pelley-Greg Wolfe

Defense:

Vojtech Mozik/Karl Stollery

Seth Helgeson/Jacob MacDonald

Andrew MacWilliam/Viktor Loov

Mackenzie Blackwood/Ken Appleby

Scratches: Scott Wedgewood, Josh Jacobs, Ben Sexton, Ryan Kujawinski, Yohann Auvitu, Sam Kurker

Power Play: 1 for 4.  Penalty Kill: 5 for 5.  Penalty Minutes: 10.  Shots on Goal: 34.  Shots Allowed: 26.

3 Stars: 1. Darren Archibald; 2. Thatcher Demko; 3. Mackenzie Blackwood.

Highlight Reel:

3/25 vs. Providence: 5-0 L

If you can’t get anything going as the A-Devils…then why not try to work some River Rat magic?  It was the second and last day of the River Rat throwback series, as they hosted the Bruins.  Albany thought they had a goal early on in the first, but the referees waved it off due to goaltender interference.  Unfortunately, that would be the closest to scoring they could get all afternoon.  Colton Hargrove would score his 8th goal of the season midway through the first for a 1-0 Bruin lead.  In the second…the rout was on, as Providence would strike four times against Ken Appleby.  Alex Grant’s 14th would get things started just 57 seconds into the middle frame for a 2-0 lead.  Austin Czarnik would add a power play goal, his 4th, at the 5:56 mark to triple the Bruin lead.  Peter Cehlarik would add his 19th goal with 5:19 remaining for a 4-0 lead.  Finally, to finish it off, a power play goal by Danton Heinen with 2:38 to go for a commanding 5-0 lead.  Albany tried to answer, but Dan Vladar, pressed into duty after an injury to Malcolm Subban and an emergency callup for Zane McIntyre to Boston, was up to the challenge, and he would stop all 34 Devil/River Rat shots in his first AHL shutout.  Appleby would finish with 24 saves on 29 shots.  Sam Kurker would make his professional debut and finish with an even rating.

Lines:

Brian Gibbons-Carter Camper-Nick Lappin

Shane Harper-Kevin Rooney-Petr Straka

Ben Thomson-Jan Mandat-Greg Wolfe

Sam Kurker-Rod Pelley-Max Novak

Defense:

Karl Stollery/Vojtech Mozik

Seth Helgeson/Jacob MacDonald

Andrew MacWilliam/Viktor Loov

Ken Appleby/Mackenzie Blackwood

Scratches: Scott Wedgewood, Luke Gazdic, Ben Sexton, Ryan Kujawinski, Josh Jacobs, Yohann Auvitu

Power Play: 0 for 2.  Penalty Kill: 3 for 5.  Penalty Minutes: 12.  Shots on Goal: 34.  Shots Allowed: 29.

3 Stars: 1. Dan Vladar; 2. Colton Hargrove; 3. Peter Cehlarik.

Highlight Reel:

My Player of the Week:

Well…um…uh…who did anything this week?

Okay.  We’ll give the nod to Mackenzie Blackwood, who came the closest to getting in the win column this week after a stellar performance on Friday night.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Ben Sexton (19)

Assists: Carter Camper (22)

Points: Ben Sexton (31)

+/-: Vojtech Mozik (+12)

Penalty Minutes: Andrew MacWilliam (90)

Wins: Ken Appleby (16)

GAA: Scott Wedgewood (2.18)

Save Percentage: Scott Wedgewood (.912)

Division Playoff Update:

When the smoke cleared after Saturday night’s action, here’s where everyone stands:

  1. Syracuse, 77 points, .583
  2. Toronto, 77 points, .575
  3. St. John’s, 74 points, .552
  4. Albany, 73 points, .545
  5. Utica, 71 points, .538

The magic number to clinch a playoff spot sits at 19 with 9 games left.  Of course, this all could change by Sunday night, since all teams but Albany are in action in the afternoon.

Up North with the Thunder:

It was polar opposites for the boys from Adirondack this week, as they came within one overtime minute of having a perfect week.  It started on Tuesday night at home with a 4-2 win over Orlando.  J.P. Anderson picked up the win with an astounding 52 saves on 54 shots.  The Thunder would then head to Reading, where they split a weekend series with the Royals.  Friday the Thunder would win 2-1 in overtime, then Reading would return the favor on Saturday with a 3-2 overtime win, getting the game winner with just 1:00 remaining.

The 2-0-1-0 week puts the Thunder in first place in the ECHL’s North Division, just one point ahead of second place Brampton.  They can clinch a spot in the Kelly Cup playoffs with a win on Tuesday against Orlando.  Also on the docket this week: the Thunder host Elmira on Friday and Norfolk on Saturday.

This Week’s Schedule:

It’s the final 3 in 3 weekend of the season as the calendar turns to April.  On Friday, it’s a rematch with the Bruins, but this time in Rhode Island.  Then April kicks off with a pair of home games, Saturday afternoon against Hartford and Sunday afternoon against Rochester.

Also this week: the rescheduled because of Stella awards banquet on Tuesday.  Expect a midweek update with the recipients.

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.

 

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.

 

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.

Week 20 in Review: More Rallies and Blown Leads

This week’s weather wasn’t the only roller coaster happening this week.

A 1-2 week for the Devils had the potential to be so much more, but holding a lead in the third period is suddenly becoming an adventure.  And as we get later in the season, the pressure is on more than ever as the fight for playoff positioning continues.

2/20 vs. Utica: 3-2 L

Before hitting the road for the next three weeks, the Devils had one last game on their week-long homestand, a Monday afternoon holiday special against a struggling Comets team.  The home team would get off to a good start late in the first period, as Carter Camper’s fifth goal of the season would put Albany up 1-0.  In a span of 21 seconds midway through the second, the Comets would tie it up courtesy of Borna Rendulic, only to have Ryan Kujawinski put the Devils back up 2-1 with his fourth goal.  A possible third Devil goal went so fast in and out of the net, it was only noticeable by those near the net, and was never reviewed.  But the Devils special teams would fail them in the final period, and the Comets would take advantage.  Darren Archibald would score on a shorthanded breakaway–his second shorty against Albany this season, in a similar fashion–early in the third to tie the game up at 2.  Then with Andrew MacWilliam serving a boarding penalty (that was on Archibald, ironically enough), Jordan Subban would score on the power play to put the Comets ahead 3-2 with 6:37 remaining in regulation.  The Devils were unable to come up with a tying goal late, and would end the homestand 2-2 after a promising start.  Mackenzie Blackwood had a good day in net, but took the hard luck loss, stopping 32 of 35 shots.  Three Devils had one assist each, but Nick Lappin saw his point streak come to an end at 10 games.

Lines:

John Quenneville-Carter Camper-Ben Sexton

Brian Gibbons-Blake Coleman-Nick Lappin

Ryan Kujawinski-Kevin Rooney-Petr Straka

Luke Gazdic-Rod Pelley-Ben Thomson

Defense:

Reece Scarlett/Yohann Auvitu

Andrew MacWilliam/Josh Jacobs

Karl Stollery/Vojtech Mozik

Mackenzie Blackwood/Ken Appleby

Scratches: Viktor Loov, Max Novak, Blake Pietila, Scott Wedgewood, Brandon Gormley, Jacob MacDonald

Power Play: 0 for 6.  Penalty Kill: 5 for 6.  Penalty Minutes: 17. Shots on Goal: 35.  Shots Allowed: 35.

3 Stars: 1. Jordan Subban; 2. Darren Archibald; 3. Carter Camper.

Highlight Reel:

2/24 at St. John’s: 3-2 W (OT)

The road trip began on Friday night way up north in Newfoundland, as the Devils and IceCaps kicked off a two game weekend series.  And it was obvious through the first 40 minutes who was the better team.  St. John’s would take a 2-0 lead in the first off goals from Charles Hudon (his 19th) and a gift tally for Mark MacMillan (his 4th) after Ken Appleby tried to play the puck outside the crease, turned it over and left the net wide open. As for shots?  Albany could only manage 8 total shots for the first 40 minutes, while giving up 27 to the IceCaps, with 18 of those coming in the first period.  So at this point, it was a foregone conclusion that the Devils were on their way to a third straight defeat and possibly a fall out of second place in the division.  Well…not so fast, folks.  In the third, Albany would begin their comeback.  Ryan Kujawinski would score for the second straight contest and fifth of the season 2:03 into the period to cut the lead in half.  Then with only 2:41 remaining in regulation, Ben Thomson would score his 5th of the season to tie the game up at 2 all.  The game would carry over into overtime, where for the first 3:51 it was all Charlie Lindgren, as the IceCaps goaltender would make several acrobatic stops to keep the game going.  But the seventh shot off of Kevin Rooney’s stick at the 3:52 mark would make it into the net, completing an improbable comeback win for the Devils.  In the third and overtime, Albany would outshoot St. John’s 18-7, 7-0 in the extra session.  Appleby picked up a much needed win, stopping 32 of 34 shots. Karl Stollery had two assists, while Rooney and Jan Mandat would have one helper each.

Lines:

Brian Gibbons-Blake Coleman-Nick Lappin

John Quenneville-Max Novak-Petr Straka

Ryan Kujawinski-Kevin Rooney-Jan Mandat

Luke Gazdic-Rod Pelley-Ben Thomson

Defense:

Karl Stollery/Reece Scarlett

Andrew MacWilliam/Brandon Gormley

Yohann Auvitu/Jacob MacDonald

Ken Appleby/Mackenzie Blackwood

Scratches: Viktor Loov, Josh Jacobs, Ben Sexton, Blake Pietila, Carter Camper, Vojtech Mozik, Scott Wedgewood

Power Play: 0 for 2.  Penalty Kill: 2 for 2.  Penalty Minutes: 4.  Shots On Goal: 26.  Shots Allowed: 34.

3 Stars: 1. Kevin Rooney; 2. Charlie Lindgren; 3. Ken Appleby.

Highlight Reel:

2/25 at St. John’s: 5-4 L

In the rematch on Saturday, a couple of lineup changes: Mackenzie Blackwood would get the nod in net, while Blake Pietila made a return to the lineup, subbing for John Quenneville.  Josh Jacobs would come in for Yohann Auvitu.  In a much better first period than the previous night, both teams would match goals: Brett Lernout’s second would open the scoring three minutes in, then Reece Scarlett would pick up his fourth to tie it up.  The IceCaps would jump ahead 3-1 with goals 4:27 apart from Charles Hudon and former Devil Stefan Matteau.  But in the third, the Devils would go on another rally, and it was started by the least likely of men: Luke Gazdic’s first goal of the season 40 seconds in would cut the lead to 3-2.  Then in a 3:29 stretch midway through the final frame, Albany would tie it up and take the lead on goals by Petr Straka (4th) and Nick Lappin (8th).  But on this night, it would be St. John’s with the last word.  It took just 33 seconds for Hudon’s second of the game to tie it, and Chris Terry’s 21st goal to put the IceCaps back on top with 4:20 left in regulation.  What a way to remember your last ever trip to Newfoundland.

Blackwood stopped 29 of 34 shots in the loss, while Gazdic and four other Devils had assists.

Lines:

Brian Gibbons-Blake Coleman-Nick Lappin

Blake Pietila-Max Novak-Petr Straka

Ryan Kujawinski-Kevin Rooney-Jan Mandat

Luke Gazdic-Rod Pelley-Ben Thomson

Defense:

Reece Scarlett/Jacob MacDonald

Andrew MacWilliam/Josh Jacobs

Karl Stollery/Brandon Gormley

Mackenzie Blackwood/Ken Appleby

Scratches: Viktor Loov, Ben Sexton, John Quenneville, Carter Camper, Vojtech Mozik, Scott Wedgewood, Yohann Auvitu

Power Play: 0 for 4.  Penalty Kill: 2 for 2.  Penalty Minutes: 13.  Shots on Goal: 33.  Shots Allowed: 33.

3 Stars: 1. Charles Hudon; 2. Chris Terry; 3. Luke Gazdic.

Highlight Reel:

My Player of the Week:

This is a hard one this week, as quite a few players had contributions.  But I’ll have to give the edge to…the man who finally found the second column on the scoresheet this week.  Yes, Luke Gazdic, I mean you.

Honorable mentions to Ryan Kujawinski (2 goals in 2 games), Kevin Rooney for his performance on Friday, and Karl Stollery (3 assists on the week).

Team Leaders:

Goals: Ben Sexton (19)

Assists: John Quenneville (26)

Points: John Quenneville (37)

+/-: Blake Coleman (+16)

Penalty Minutes: Andrew MacWilliam (83)

Wins: Ken Appleby (15)

GAA: Scott Wedgewood (2.18)

Save Percentage: Scott Wedgewood (.912)

Up North with the Thunder:

After a 0-3 week last week, the other team in red had a much improved performance this week, winning all three games. It started with a 5-2 win in South Carolina on Sunday afternoon to sweep the season series with the Stingrays, and finish off the southern road swing on a high note.  Back on home ice Friday night, they defeated Reading 4-2.  Saturday night they would defeat Brampton 4-3 in a shootout, with rookie Stepan Falkovsky scoring all three Thunder goals in regulation, and picking up the only goal in the shootout.

The Thunder finish February in Brampton with an 11 AM faceoff against the Beast, then head to the Midwest for a 2 game set against Cincinnati on Thursday and Saturday.

This Week’s Schedule:

Back on the mainland, the Devils only have games 3 and 4 of their six game road swing this week to start the March portion of the schedule.  Friday night they make their first visit to Providence since October to face the Bruins.  Then it’s the final visit of the season to Utica on Saturday to face the Comets.

Also coming up next weekend?  The postseason countdown!  I’ll keep the divisional race up to date as the Farewell Tour continues.