Calder Cup Update 5/3

At approximately 1:03 AM this morning, a Ryan Carpenter overtime goal in San Jose would officially put an end to the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs.

Since Friday, the field of 8 has been set…and there are some surprises.

-On Sunday, the top two seeds in the Atlantic were both knocked out in Game 5’s:

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, the regular season champs, became the first team since 1996 to finish first overall in the AHL, then get knocked out in the first round after Providence defeated the Penguins 2-1.  Lehigh Valley, the second seed, would go down in Game 5 to Hershey 3-2.  In any other season, these would be two major upsets, but with the strength of the top 5 teams in the division (Bridgeport, the 5th place team, would have ran away with the North Division title if the old crossover rule was still in effect), both series truly could have gone in either direction.

The Atlantic Division Finals will get underway on Saturday in Hershey, with Game 2 to follow Sunday afternoon.  The series will then shift to Rhode Island on May 11th, 12th, and the 14th if necessary.  Games 6 and 7 would be in Hershey on May 16th and 17th.

-The Central Division gets underway tonight in Chicago, as the Wolves and Grand Rapids will square off.  Game 2 is Friday in Chicago, then the series shifts to Michigan on Saturday for Game 3 and Monday for Game 4.  If necessary, Game 5 is May 13th in Chicago, Game 6 May 15th in Grand Rapids, and Game 7 May 16th in Chicago.

-Syracuse and Toronto will kick off the North Division finals in central New York, with Game 1 on Friday and Game 2 Saturday.  The series then heads to Canada for Game 3 May 9th and Game 4 on May 10th.  If necessary, Game 5 is May 13th in Syracuse, Game 6 May 15th in Toronto, and Game 7 May 17th in Syracuse.

-Finally, in the Pacific, San Jose and San Diego both finished off 5 game series wins on Tuesday, with the Barracuda finishing off Stockton and the Gulls eliminating Ontario.  Their division final gets started on Friday in San Jose, followed by Game 2 on Saturday.  The series moves to San Diego on May 10th, with Game 4 on the 12th.  If necessary, Game 5 is May 13th, then Games 6 and 7 are in San Jose on May 16th and 17th.

Two pieces of Devils news to report (as we are still celebrating the Draft Lottery win on Saturday):

-Vojtech Mozik became the first departure on Wednesday, signing with the KHL’s HC Vityaz Podolsk.  Thus begins the fun with translation season.

-And finally…https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FAlbanyDevils%2Fvideos%2F1887736881251985%2F&show_text=0&width=560“>All. The. Feels.

Stay tuned as the season in review returns with Part 2 tomorrow night…

 

Calder Cup 2017 Recap, Week 2: Fin

Yesterday in the car, Sirius XM The Highway played Brad Paisley’s song Last Time for Everything.  It turned out to be an omen.

After 7 years and hundreds of games, it all came to an end late on a Friday night.

Tuesday: Add another junior player to the roster: defenseman Colby Sissons joined the team after his season with Swift Current (WHL) ended.

Game 3, 4/26: 3-2 L (OT)

The series moved north of the border to Toronto on Wednesday, as both teams looked to go up 2-1 in the best of five.  Mackenzie Blackwood was back between the pipes looking for redemption, while Jan Mandat and Blake Speers were in for the injured Joe Blandisi and Miles Wood.  Scott Wedgewood was cleared and would serve as backup in place of Ken Appleby.

Brendan Leipsic would strike first 3:49 into the opening frame with his first of the postseason for a 1-0 Toronto lead.  John Quenneville would match that with his third straight goal of the series, on the Devils’ first power play of the night, less than seven minutes later.  In the second, Leipsic would strike a second time with 2:01 remaining for a 2-1 Marlies lead.  That lead would last all of 23 seconds…Carter Camper would score his first of the postseason to re-tie the game up at 2.  After a scoreless third that saw both teams fail to capitalize on power play chances, it was on to overtime.  And 45 seconds in, Colin Greening would end it with the first shot, giving the Marlies the 2-1 edge in the series and putting Albany on the brink.  Blackwood rebounded nicely from Game 2’s disaster despite taking the loss, stopping 22 of 25 shots.  Four different Devils would have one assist each.

Lines:

Ben Sexton-Carter Camper-Blake Pietila

John Quenneville-Blake Coleman-Nick Lappin

Brian Gibbons-Kevin Rooney-Blake Speers

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Jan Mandat

Defense:

Seth Helgeson/Steve Santini

Josh Jacobs/Viktor Loov

Karl Stollery/Vojtech Mozik

Mackenzie Blackwood/Scott Wedgewood

Scratches: Joe Blandisi, Max Novak, Luke Gazdic, Ryan Kujawinski, Shane Harper, Miles Wood, Petr Straka, Brandon Gignac, Austin Cangelosi, Andrew MacWilliam, Yohann Auvitu, Colton White, Colby Sissons, Jacob MacDonald, Evan Cormier, Ken Appleby

Power Play: 1 for 4.  Penalty Kill: 2 for 2.  Penalty Minutes: 8.  Shots on Goal: 29.  Shots Allowed: 25.

3 Stars: 1. Colin Greening; 2. Brendan Leipsic; 3. Kasperi Kapanen.

Highlight Reel:

Game 4, 4/28: 2-1 L (3 OT)

Friday night’s mission for Game 4 was a simple one: Win, and play Saturday.  Lose, and it’s all over.

One lineup change: Karl Stollery out, Jacob MacDonald in.  Mackenzie Blackwood back between the pipes.

In the first, it was all Toronto, as they outshot the Devils 11-4 and went up 1-0 8:55 in on a Travis Dermott goal.  Albany would have to kill off an early penalty in the second, but managed to tie the game up at 1 late in the second on Carter Camper’s second goal of the playoffs.  After that, the rookie goalies–Blackwood and Toronto’s Kasimir Kaskikuo–would take over, mostly Blackwood.  While the Devils were only able to manage 17 shots against through regulation, Blackwood was practically standing on his head, stopping 40 of 41 shots through the first 60 minutes.  In the first overtime, the Devils would finally outshoot the Marlies by a 10-8 margin, but blew a chance at a win by not producing on a 4 minute power play.  On to the second overtime, where the Marlies managed 6 shots to the Devils’ 4, but Albany was able to kill off a Ben Thomson penalty to stay alive.  Then came the third overtime, where 6:43 in, and on Toronto’s 60th shot of the night, Justin Holl would connect and get the series clincher, sending the Marlies to the second round and Albany into extinction.

In his last start of the season, Blackwood was absolutely amazing.  Despite a very hard loss, he stopped 58 of 60 shots, and was singlehandedly the reason Albany was able to extend their run by 46 more minutes.  John Quenneville and Ben Sexton had the lone helpers.

Lines:

Ben Sexton-Carter Camper-Blake Pietila

John Quenneville-Blake Coleman-Nick Lappin

Brian Gibbons-Kevin Rooney-Blake Speers

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Jan Mandat

Defense:

Seth Helgeson/Steve Santini

Josh Jacobs/Viktor Loov

Jacob MacDonald/Vojtech Mozik

Mackenzie Blackwood/Scott Wedgewood

Scratches: Ken Appleby, Andrew MacWilliam, Joe Blandisi, Max Novak, Luke Gazdic, Ryan Kujawinski, Karl Stollery, Shane Harper, Miles Wood, Petr Straka, Yohann Auvitu, Colby Sissons, Brandon Gignac, Evan Cormier, Austin Cangelosi, Colton White

Power Play: 0 for 3.  Penalty Kill: 2 for 2.  Penalty Minutes: 4.  Shots on Goal: 31.  Shots Allowed: 60.

3 Stars: 1. Justin Holl; 2. Mackenzie Blackwood; 3. Kasimir Kaskikuo.

Highlight Reel:

Around the Playoffs:

Let’s check in on the rest of the Calder Cup field:

Much like Albany, St. John’s is also extinct.  A tying goal by former Devil Stefan Matteau forced overtime in the IceCaps Game 4 matchup against the Crunch on Friday, but Gabriel Dumont would get the game winner, setting up a Syracuse-Toronto North Division final beginning on Friday night in central New York.

Wilkes-Barre and Lehigh Valley, the top two teams in the Atlantic Division, both find themselves on the brink.  Hershey could wrap up the series with the Phantoms on Saturday night with a win in Game 4 (if needed Game 5 would be in Allentown on Sunday afternoon), while the Penguins and Bruins will play Game 5 in Wilkes-Barre Township on Sunday after Providence took Game 4 on Friday night.

The Central Division final is set: Chicago defeated Charlotte in 5 games, while Grand Rapids swept Milwaukee.  The Wolves and Griffins start their series on Wednesday in Chicago.

In the Pacific, San Jose is up 2-1 on Stockton, and can wrap the series up with a win on Sunday on the road (Game 5 if needed is Tuesday in San Jose).  San Diego is up 2-1 against Ontario, and they can advance with a win against the Reign on Monday (Game 5 would also be Tuesday).

Up North with the Thunder:

Sadly, the season has come to an end for Adirondack, as they dropped Game 6 6-5 to Manchester in overtime on Tuesday night, dropping the series 4 games to 2.  The Thunder would fall behind 5-4 in the 3rd period, only to have Patch Alber tie the game up with 2:34 left in regulation to force overtime, extending the season by about 3 minutes.  Dennis Kravchenko scored twice and finished one assist shy of a Gordie Howe hat trick, Ryan Culkin would have 3 assists, and Brandon Baddock would get his first point of the postseason with a second period assist on Brian Ward’s goal.  J.P. Anderson would stop 37 of 43 Monarch shots.  Forward Brett Pollock and defenseman Keegan Kanzig have joined Stockton for the remainder of the Heat’s playoff run.

What’s Next?

Well…there’s still some Year in Review business to take care of, look for that next week.  After that…stay tuned, I guess.

Calder Cup 2017 Recap, Week 1: Fighting to a Split

The first two games of the Devils-Marlies series could be described as a tale of two teams…on both sides.  A shutout followed by a blowout, and we’re all tied at 1 as the series heads north.

Game 1, 4/20: 3-0 W

With a 2-3 format and a Chainsmokers concert taking over the Times Union Center on Friday, the series would get underway with a rare Thursday night matchup.  Mackenzie Blackwood, coming off his third shutout to close out the regular season the weekend before, drew the start, while Toronto countered with Garret Sparks.  It was a rather quiet first period…until Ben Thomson would put the hosts on the board with 3:38 to go in the opening period for a 1-0 lead.  Midway through the second, the Devils would find themselves in a 1:09 5 on 3 situation thanks to questionable calls on Blake Coleman and Brian Gibbons.  But not only would Albany kill a majority of that off–a penalty on Toronto’s Andrew Nielsen would negate the last 23 seconds–on the ensuing power play, John Quenneville would connect for a goal to double the Albany lead.  Brian Gibbons would finish it off with an empty net goal late in the third, starting the rematch in the Devils favor.  Blackwood was magnificent, stopping all 27 Marlies shots.  Nick Lappin and Seth Helgeson would each have one assist.

Fun fact: This was only the second time all season a team shut the Marlies out.  Former Devil Yann Danis shut out Toronto 3-0 on March 5th.

Lines:

Carter Camper-Joe Blandisi-Ben Sexton

Blake Coleman-John Quenneville-Nick Lappin

Brian Gibbons-Kevin Rooney-Miles Wood

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Blake Pietila

Defense:

Steve Santini/Seth Helgeson

Karl Stollery/Vojtech Mozik

Jacob MacDonald/Josh Jacobs

Mackenzie Blackwood/Ken Appleby

Scratches: Andrew MacWilliam, Max Novak, Jan Mandat, Luke Gazdic, Ryan Kujawinski, Shane Harper, Scott Wedgewood, Blake Speers, Petr Straka, Yohann Auvitu, Brandon Gignac, Evan Cormier, Colton White, Austin Cangelosi, Viktor Loov

Power Play: 1 for 5.  Penalty Kill: 0 for 4.  Penalty Minutes: 10.  Shots on Goal: 23.  Shots Allowed: 27.

3 Stars: 1. Mackenzie Blackwood; 2. Ben Thomson; 3. John Quenneville.

Highlight Reel:

Game 2, 4/22: 6-2 L

Less than 48 hours, the teams reconvened for Game 2.  Only change for the Devils was Viktor Loov in, Jacob MacDonald out.  Mackenzie Blackwood and Garret Sparks remained in net.  But something was different compared to Thursday night…Toronto found their offense, grabbing an early 1-0 lead on a power play goal by Kerby Rychel 2:56 into the contest.  Kevin Rooney would tie things up late in the period with his first postseason goal, only to have former Devil Sergey Kalinin give Toronto a 2-1 lead eleven seconds later.  In the second, the Marlies would take over the contest, as goals by Frederik Gauthier and Colin Greening 2:23 apart would put the visitors ahead 4-1, chasing Blackwood out of the net in favor of Ken Appleby.  The goalie switch seemed to wake the Devils up somewhat…John Quenneville would score for the second straight game to cut the deficit to 4-2.  But a late power play goal by Andreas Johnsson would restore the 3 goal advantage for Toronto.  Albany had a golden opportunity to get back in the game with a 1:48 5 on 3 chance, but could not take advantage.  To finish off the rout, Trevor Moore would score 4:35 into the third, giving the Marlies the win and a split heading into Canada next week.  Blackwood stopped 9 of 13 shots in 26:38, while Appleby stopped 8 of 10 in 33:12.  Three Devils would add one assist each.

Lines:

Joe Blandisi-Carter Camper-Ben Sexton

John Quenneville-Blake Coleman-Nick Lappin

Miles Wood-Kevin Rooney-Brian Gibbons

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Blake Pietila

Defense:

Steve Santini/Seth Helgeson

Vojtech Mozik/Karl Stollery

Viktor Loov/Josh Jacobs

Mackenzie Blackwood/Ken Appleby

Scratches: Andrew MacWilliam, Max Novak, Jan Mandat, Luke Gazdic, Ryan Kujawinski, Shane Harper, Blake Speers, Petr Straka, Yohann Auvitu, Brandon Gignac, Austin Cangelosi, Colton White, Scott Wedgewood, Evan Cormier

Power Play: 0 for 5.  Penalty Kill: 5 for 7.  Penalty Minutes: 28.  Shots on Goal: 21.  Shots Allowed: 23.

3 Stars: 1. Frederik Gauthier; 2. Justin Holl; 3. Kerby Rychel.

Highlight Reel:

Around the Playoffs:

Let’s check in on the other AHL first round series:

In the other North Division matchup, Syracuse and St. John’s split their first two games in Newfoundland, with the Crunch winning in double overtime on Saturday.  The series moves to Syracuse for Game 3 on Wednesday and Game 4 on Friday, with Game 5 if needed on Saturday.

Lehigh Valley finds themselves in a 2-0 hole to Hershey after the Bears took the first two games with a 1-0 overtime win on Friday, followed by a comeback 5-4 win on Saturday (the Bears were down 4-2 entering the third).  Hershey’s first chance to wrap up the series comes Wednesday at home, with Game 4 scheduled for Saturday if needed.

Providence is up 1-0 on Wilkes-Barre/Scranton after a 2-1 win at home on Friday night.  Game 2 is Sunday afternoon in Rhode Island before the series moves to northeast Pennsylvania for Game 3 on Thursday.

Moving to the West, Chicago and Charlotte split their first two games in North Carolina, with the Checkers picking up a 4-0 shut out win on Thursday before the Wolves picked up a 3-2 win on Friday.  Game 3 is in Illinois Sunday afternoon, with Game 4 on Tuesday and Game 5 if needed Wednesday.

Grand Rapids is up 1-0 on Milwaukee after a 4-3 overtime win on Friday.  Game 2 is this afternoon in Michigan, before the series moves to Milwaukee for Game 3 on Wednesday.

San Jose is up 1-0 against Stockton after they shut the Heat out 4-0 on Friday.  Game 2 is Sunday afternoon in San Jose, then the series goes to Stockton for Game 3 on Friday.

Finally, San Diego and Ontario are tied at 1 in their series after the Reign took Game 1 3-2 on Friday and the Gulls won 2-1 on Saturday.  In the ever popular 1-1-1-1-1 series set up, Game 3 is on Friday in San Diego, with Game 4 in Ontario on Monday, May 1st.

Up North with the Thunder:

Adirondack, as mentioned last week, is in a unique situation in their first round series with Manchester: due to the circus coming in to the SNHU Arena, the Thunder gets the next 5 games of the 7 game series on home ice.  In Game 3 on Tuesday, the Thunder cut the series lead to 2-1 with a 3-1 win over the Monarchs on Tuesday.  Three different Thunder players would score, James Henry would add two assists, while J.P. Anderson stopped 26 of 27 shots.  Manchester would take a 3-1 lead in Game 4 on Thursday night, a 2-1 win, despite only putting 16 shots on goal.  Cullen Bradshaw had the lone Thunder goal, while Anderson stopped 14 of 16.  Adirondack would stave off elimination in Game 5 on Saturday with a 2-1 win.  Peter MacArthur and Dennis Kravchenko would each have a goal, and Anderson stopped 25 of 26.  The Thunder will again attempt to keep their season alive in Game 6 on Tuesday, with Game 7 scheduled for Wednesday if necessary.

This Week’s Schedule:

The series shifts to Toronto for Games 3-5.  We know for sure that Game 3 will be Wednesday and Game 4 is on Friday night.  Will Game 5 on Saturday be needed?  We shall see.

But the Devils have a daunting task of taking 2 out of 3 in Toronto in order to stave off extinction.

2017 Calder Cup Playoff Preview, Round 1: Albany vs. Toronto

Locations: Times Union Center, Albany, NY (Games 1 & 2); Ricoh Coliseum, Toronto, ON, Canada (Games 3,4,5).

Dates/Times: Game 1 Thursday @ 7 PM, Game 2 Saturday, April 22 @ 5 PM, Game 3 Wednesday, April 26 @ 7 PM; Game 4 Friday, April 28 @ 7 PM; Game 5 Saturday, April 29 @ 7 PM

Regular Season Series:

Albany took 5 of 8 matchups:

October 28th @ Albany, Marlies 3 Devils 0: In the first matchup since last season’s playoffs, Antoine Bibeau would stop all 37 shots to hand the Devils their second loss of the season and first shutout loss.  Scott Wedgewood took the loss, stopping 28 of 31 shots.  Three different Marlies had goals.

October 29th @ Albany, Devils 4 Marlies 3 (SO): In the rematch the following day, the Devils would erase a 3-1 deficit in the third by goals from John Quenneville and Ben Sexton to force the game into overtime.  In their first shootout of the season, Mackenzie Blackwood would shut down all 3 Toronto skaters, while Quenneville had the lone shootout goal.  The game also saw a combined 96 penalty minutes, after scraps in both the second and third periods would see an early exit for both Joe Blandisi and Rinat Valiev of Toronto.

November 22nd @ Albany, Devils 3 Marlies 1: In his first start since replacing Scott Wedgewood on the roster, Ken Appleby came up big, stopping 23 of 24 shots, while Blake Coleman, Kevin Rooney, and Vojtech Mozik all scored.

December 17th @ Toronto, Devils 3 Marlies 1: Brian Gibbons would score twice in the first, and that was all Ken Appleby needed to pick up the win, stopping 34 of 35 Toronto shots.

December 18th @ Toronto, Marlies 4 Devils 1: 24 hours later, it would be Toronto getting off a 2-0 start, and the Marlies never looked back.  Jan Mandat had the lone Devil goal in the second period.

December 30th @ Albany, Devils 4 Marlies 2: Goals 50 seconds apart by John Quenneville (his second of the contest) and Ben Sexton would be the difference in this one.  Mackenzie Blackwood would stop 22 of 24 shots in the victory.

February 11th @ Toronto, Devils 5 Marlies 4 (OT): Down 4-1 with 2:30 to go in the second period, the Devils would make an improbable comeback, with Ben Sexton scoring twice in the final 2:59 of regulation to tie it up, followed by Yohann Auvitu’s game winner with 49 seconds left in overtime to cap it.

February 12th @ Toronto, Marlies 6 Devils 2: A 3 goal third period was all Toronto needed to put the rematch away.  Carter Camper and Reece Scarlett would each have a goal.

2016-17 Records:

Toronto: 42-29-4-1, 89 points, .586 points percentage, 2nd place in North Division.

Albany: 39-32-2-3, 83 points, .546 points percentage, 3rd place in North Division.

Rosters:

Toronto Marlies

Albany Devils

Toronto By The Numbers:

Home: 24-11-3-0. Road: 18-18-1-1.

Power Play: 22.3% (4th in AHL). Penalty Kill: 81.8% (17th).

Goals For/Game: 3.22 (8th). Goals Against/Game: 2.72 (11th).

Leading Scorers (Top 5): Kerby Rychel (52), Brendan Leipsic (51), Cal O’Reilly (50), Andreas Johnsson (47), Seth Griffith (44)

Goals: Andreas Johnsson (20)

Assists: Cal O’Reilly (41)

+/-: Andrew Campbell (+20)

Penalty Minutes: Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond (128)

Wins: Garret Sparks (21)

GAA: Garret Sparks (2.16)

Save Percentage: Garret Sparks (.922)

Albany by the Numbers:

Home: 22-13-1-2. Road: 17-19-1-1.

Power Play: 17.9% (13th in AHL). Penalty Kill: 84.0% (6th).

Goals For/Game: 2.68 (21st). Goals Against/Game: 2.71 (10th).

Leading Scorers (Top 5): John Quenneville (46), Blake Coleman (39), Brian Gibbons (36), Carter Camper (35), Blake Pietila (33).

Goals: Ben Sexton/Blake Coleman (19)

Assists: John Quenneville (32)

+/-: Blake Coleman (+21)

Penalty Minutes: Andrew MacWilliam (100)

Wins: Ken Appleby/Mackenzie Blackwood (17)

GAA: Mackenzie Blackwood (2.55)

Save Percentage: Mackenzie Blackwood (.907)

Coverage:

Print: Times Union, Toronto Sun

Radio: AHL Live

Social:

Facebook: Albany Devils, Toronto Marlies

Instagram: albanydevils, torontomarlies

Twitter: @AlbanyDevils, @PeteDougherty, @trace_1114, @TorontoMarlies, @HockeyCrock

The Day Before…

Let’s call this the pre-pregamer, if you will.

Before the postseason officially begins tomorrow night, there are a few storylines on both sides:

-The Devils added another forward on Tuesday: 2015 3rd rounder Blake Speers has joined the team after finishing his season with Sault Ste. Marie.  He made three appearances in New Jersey early in the season, going scoreless before returning to the Greyhounds.  If you recall, he was on the roster last season during the playoffs as an amateur tryout, but did not see any action.

SSM teammate Colton White joined him earlier this afternoon.

-Also on Tuesday, the Marlies released their postseason roster.  You may recognize a couple of names on the list…

…and one of those familiar names was profiled in today’s Times Union.

At least two Marlies regulars, Kasperi Kapanen and Nikita Soshnikov, are currently up with the Maple Leafs as they take on the Caps in Round 1.  That series would finish by Tuesday at the latest, so depending on the result, you may or may not see anyone come down from the Leafs till the “if necessary” portion of the series.

-As for the rest of the AHL?  Here’s your other first round matchups:

East:

N1 Syracuse vs. N4 St. John’s–series begins Friday in NFLD

A1 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton vs. A4 Providence–series begins Friday in RI

A2 Lehigh Valley vs. A3 Hershey–series begins Friday in Allentown

West:

C1 Chicago vs. C4 Charlotte–series begins Thursday in NC

C2 Grand Rapids vs. C3 Milwaukee–series begins Friday in MI

P1 San Jose vs. P4 Stockton–series begins Friday in SJ

P2 San Diego vs. P3 Ontario–series begins Friday in SD

Pregamer will be out an hour earlier than usual, at 3 PM on Thursday.  This will be the only pregamer for the series.  First recap will be on Sunday, time to be determined (as someone who has sat through multiple playoff OTs on a few occasions, you need to prepare for the worst I guess).

Week 27 in Review: We’re Not Done Yet.

Sorry Binghamton.

It’s not time to give up the boys yet.  There’s a Calder Cup that needs to be chased first.

4/12 vs. Hartford: 6-3 W

Wednesday’s mission was a pretty simple one: beat Hartford without going to a shootout, and hope that Syracuse lends a hand and defeats Utica, and hello playoff spot.  At first, it looked like the Wolfpack were going to play spoiler: a John Gilmour goal just 1:46 into the contest would put Hartford up 1-0.  Vojtech Mozik would tie it up later in the period with a power play goal, his 10th of the season.  The Wolfpack would take a 2-1 lead early in the second period on Marek Hrivik’s 16th goal of the season.  But the Devils would respond…while on a penalty kill for a too many men call, Kevin Rooney would break from the pack (see what I did there?) and score shorthanded on his own rebound to tie things up at 2.  John Quenneville would add a power play goal late in the second, his 14th, to put the Devils ahead 3-2.  In the third, Albany would put the game away with three straight goals…Miles Wood, in his first game back in Albany since a brief stint in November, would score his 4th, then assist on Jacob MacDonald’s 8th.  Ben Thomson would celebrate his return from New Jersey with his 6th, putting the Devils ahead 6-2.  Nicklas Jensen would add his 30th goal as time expired, but it wouldn’t be enough.  Mackenzie Blackwood would stop 23 of 26 shots in his 16th win.  MacDonald lead all Albany skaters with three points (1 G, 2 A), Blake Coleman had two assists, and four other Devils would have one assist each.

Just minutes after the final horn, Syracuse would finish off a 7-2 win at Utica, officially putting Albany in the playoffs.

Lines:

John Quenneville-Carter Camper-Nick Lappin

Brian Gibbons-Blake Coleman-Miles Wood

Joe Blandisi-Kevin Rooney-Blake Pietila

Ben Thomson-Jan Mandat-Shane Harper

Defense:

Karl Stollery/Vojtech Mozik

Seth Helgeson/Steve Santini

Josh Jacobs/Jacob MacDonald

Mackenzie Blackwood/Ken Appleby

Scratches: Andrew MacWilliam, Rod Pelley, Ben Sexton, Luke Gazdic, Ryan Kujawinski, Max Novak, Scott Wedgewood, Petr Straka, Yohann Auvitu, Brandon Gignac, Evan Cormier, Austin Cangelosi, Viktor Loov

Power Play: 2 for 5.  Penalty Kill: 6 for 7.  Penalty Minutes: 22.  Shots on Goal: 31.  Shots Allowed: 26.

3 Stars: 1. Jacob MacDonald; 2. Miles Wood; 3. John Quenneville.

Highlight Reel:

4/14 at Rochester: 5-4 L

With quite a few regulars being rested, it was due west on the Thruway to Rochester for the final regular season road game against the Amerks.  Carter Camper’s 6th goal of the season would put the visitors on the board 13:10 into the opening period.  On a late turnover by Josh Jacobs, the Amerks would tie the game up late in the period on a Casey Nelson goal.  Joe Blandisi would break the tie early in the second period with his 8th goal, and first since returning from New Jersey.  But a scrum behind the Amerks net that would give Rochester a full 5 on 3 would change the tide…Alex Nylander would re-tie the game at 2.  Jan Mandat would briefly give the Devils their one goal lead back, only to have a second power play goal, this time off the stick of Derek Grant, late in the second for a 3-3 game.  The Amerks would pull away fairly quickly in the third…Justin Bailey’s 23rd goal just 43 seconds into the final period would put Rochester up 4-3.  Hudson Fasching would add an insurance goal four minutes later for a 5-3 lead.  Nick Lappin would get the Devils back to within one with 37 seconds remaining, but that was all they could do.  In his first start in 13 days, Ken Appleby would stop 26 of 31 shots.  8 different Devils would add assists.

Lines:

Shane Harper-Blake Coleman-Brandon Gignac

Joe Blandisi-Carter Camper-Nick Lappin

Petr Straka-Austin Cangelosi-Max Novak

Luke Gazdic-Jan Mandat-Ben Thomson

Defense:

Andrew MacWilliam/Vojtech Mozik

Steve Santini/Yohann Auvitu

Josh Jacobs/Jacob MacDonald

Ken Appleby/Mackenzie Blackwood

Scratches: Scott Wedgewood, Rod Pelley, Ryan Kujawinski, Ben Sexton, Evan Cormier, Viktor Loov, Miles Wood, Blake Pietila, Seth Helgeson, Karl Stollery, John Quenneville, Brian Gibbons, Kevin Rooney

Power Play: 0 for 3.  Penalty Kill: 6 for 8.  Penalty Minutes: 16.  Shots on Goal: 34.  Shots Allowed: 31.

3 Stars: 1. Justin Bailey; 2. Evan Rodrigues; 3. Derek Grant.

Highlight Reel:

4/15 vs. Rochester: 3-0 W

Less than 24 hours and about 220 miles to the east later, the Devils and Amerks met in Albany for Game 76, the regular season finale.  Much like the night before, it would the Devils drawing first blood…Brian Gibbons would score his 16th of the season 6:56 into the contest for a 1-0 lead.  Vojtech Mozik would add his 11th goal early in the second period to double the lead.  Then Blake Coleman would cap the game and the regular season off with a short handed empty netter, his 19th, to finish the Amerks off.  Mackenzie Blackwood took care of the rest, stopping all 17 shots in his third shutout of the season.  Coleman would add two assists, while Nick Lappin had one helper.

Lines:

Brian Gibbons-Blake Coleman-Nick Lappin

Joe Blandisi-Carter Camper-Ben Sexton

Shane Harper-Austin Cangelosi-Jan Mandat

Ben Thomson-Kevin Rooney-Brandon Gignac

Defense:

Seth Helgeson/Steve Santini

Karl Stollery/Vojtech Mozik

Josh Jacobs/Jacob MacDonald

Mackenzie Blackwood/Ken Appleby

Scratches: Andrew MacWilliam, Yohann Auvitu, Viktor Loov, Ryan Kujawinski, Rod Pelley, John Quenneville, Miles Wood, Scott Wedgewood, Luke Gazdic, Evan Cormier, Blake Pietila, Petr Straka, Max Novak

Power Play: 0 for 3.  Penalty Kill: 4 for 4.  Penalty Minutes: 8.  Shots on Goal: 34.  Shots Allowed: 17.

3 Stars: 1. Mackenzie Blackwood; 2. Blake Coleman; 3. Brian Gibbons.

Highlight Reel:

My Player of the Week:

A tough call for this week’s honors, but I’ll split it between Blake Coleman (1 goal, 4 assists in 3 games) and Mackenzie Blackwood (2-0, 1 SO).

Team Leaders:

Final stats will be out on Monday.

Division Playoff Update:

When the dust finally settled on Saturday night, here’s where everyone finished:

  1. Syracuse: 90 points, .592
  2. Toronto: 89 points, .586
  3. Albany: 83 points, .546
  4. St. John’s: 82 points, .539
  5. Utica: 79 points, .520

So in round 1, you will have Syracuse-St. John’s and Albany-Toronto (in a rematch of last year’s epic 7 game North Division final).

Up North with the Thunder:

Not a good start for Adirondack in their first round matchup with Manchester, as they fall 2-0 in their best of 7 series.

The Thunder would drop Game 1 to the Monarchs 3-1, with Ryan Culkin the lone goal scorer and J.P. Anderson would stop 21 of 23 shots.  Manchester would follow that up with a 4-2 win in Game 2 on Saturday.  Alex Wall would score both Thunder goals, while Anderson stopped 24 of 27.

The series now shifts to Glens Falls for the next 5 games.  Yes, I said 5…due to the circus at SNHU Arena, the Thunder will host the remainder of the series, no matter how many games needed.  Game 3 is on Tuesday, Game 4 Thursday, and if needed, Game 5 is Saturday.

This Week’s Schedule:

Well, more like the full Round 1 schedule:

Game 1: Thursday @ Albany, 7 PM

Game 2: Saturday @ Albany, 5 PM

Game 3: April 26 @ Toronto, 7 PM

Game 4: April 28 @ Toronto, 7 PM*

Game 5: April 29 @ Toronto, 7 PM*

As far as coverage…preview stat pack will hit Thursday afternoon prior to Game 1.  If I am able to switch my work schedule, I will be on hand for Game 1.  Games 2-5 I will definitely be around for.

It’s time to take a #FinalStand everyone.

Monday Update: 5 Days to Go

Some news as we start the final week of the regular season:

-As expected, Joe Blandisi, Blake Coleman, Ben Thomson, and Miles Wood are all on their way north now that New Jersey has finished the season.

-With four forwards back in the fold, Greg Wolfe was released from his professional tryout and will rejoin Adirondack as the Thunder begin their playoff run this week.

-Now for the latest in the North Division playoff sweepstakes:

St. John’s shut out Utica 1-0 on Sunday afternoon, giving them a .014 lead over the Comets for the fourth and final playoff spot.  Albany and the IceCaps are tied with a .541 points percentage, but the Devils sit in third due to the first tiebreaker, regulation/overtime wins (34-32).  Here is the remaining schedule for the North contenders:

Toronto and St. John’s will face each other in a two game set on Friday and Saturday.  The Marlies magic number to clinch the division title is 4, with Syracuse sitting three points behind.  The IceCaps’ magic number to clinch their spot is 4.

Utica has three games left, hosting the Crunch on Wednesday, hosting Hartford on Friday, then traveling to Syracuse on Saturday.  A two game slide that has seen them get shutout in back to back games may cost the Comets in the end, as their magic number sits at 8, and an elimination number of 4 (if I did the math right).  So in other words: they need help.  And a lot of it.

The Devils have the easiest schedule remaining of the bottom three contenders: home against Hartford Wednesday, followed by a home and home with Rochester to close the week out.  Unless the Crunch lose out, Albany cannot finish higher than third place.

So buckle up, boys and girls.  This is going to be a wild sprint to the finish line.