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.

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.

 

Calder Cup Recap, Week 5: The Clock Strikes Midnight

What an amazing ride this last month has been.  But unfortunately, thanks to a unlucky bounce at the end, the playoff roller coaster has come to a stop.

Game 7, 5/16: Toronto 4, Albany 3

After a wild week that saw the Marlies dominate the Devils on home ice, followed by a renaissance on Saturday, it was down to one game.  One game to determine who would face Hershey in the Eastern Conference Finals, and who would go home for the summer.  Jim O’Brien, out since Game 1, would return to the lineup, along with Mike Sislo, who had sat out Games 5 and 6.  The home team would strike the first blow less than 3 minutes into the contest–on the Devils first power play opportunity, a turnover by Marc Andre Gragnani was picked up by Connor Brown, who would breakaway and score shorthanded on Scott Wedgewood for a 1-0 Marlies lead.  Paul Thompson would answer just 46 seconds into the second period, scoring his second of the playoffs to tie the game up at 1.  The tie game would carry over into the third, where Nick Lappin would strike yet again.  His 5th postseason goal would give Albany a 2-1 edge 2:41 into the final period.  Toronto would then respond with a nice goal by Kasperi Kapanen at 9:07 to re-tie the game.  The momentum would temporarily switch over to Toronto, as a Connor Carrick goal with 7:01 remaining would give the Marlies a 3-2 lead.  But Albany was not about to go away quietly…Thompson’s second goal of the night with 4:41 remaining tied things up at 3.  Just as this classic Game 7 looked like it would need overtime to finally settle on a winner…a bounce off the boards behind Wedgewood’s net would end up on the stick of Richard Clune, who would send it into the corner of the net with exactly 2:30 remaining in regulation.  The Devils would try to re-tie the game up late, pulling Wedgewood for an extra attacker and desperately trying to get the puck past Marlies goaltender Antoine Bibeau…but sadly time ran out, and the 2015-16 season officially came to an end, nine wins short of the ultimate goal.  Wedgewood finished with 20 saves on 24 shots.  Graham Black contributed two assists, while four others had one assist each.

The Lineup:

Matt Lorito-Joe Blandisi-Mike Sislo

Reid Boucher-Jim O’Brien-Nick Lappin

Blake Pietila-Graham Black-Paul Thompson

Ryan Kujawinski-Rod Pelley-Chris McKelvie

Seth Helgeson/Vojtech Mozik

Damon Severson/Reece Scarlett

Marc Andre Gragnani/Corbin McPherson

Scott Wedgewood/Yann Danis

Scratched: Brandon Burlon, Dan Kelly, Blake Coleman, Max Novak, Brian O’Neill, Ben Thomson, Raman Hrabarenka, Pierre-Luc Leblond, Pavel Zacha

Power Play: 0 for 2.  Penalty Kill: 1 for 1.  Penalty Minutes: 4.  Shots on Goal: 28.  Shots Allowed: 24.

Highlights:

Postseason Team Leaders:

Goals: Nick Lappin (5)

Assists: Damon Severson (8)

Points: Reid Boucher (10)

+/-: Jim O’Brien/Dan Kelly (+4)

Penalty Minutes: Dan Kelly (21)

Wins: Scott Wedgewood (6)

GAA: Scott Wedgewood (2.72)

Save Percentage: Scott Wedgewood (.897)

Around the Calder Cup Playoffs:

The final four has been set, with the Marlies and Bears getting started on Friday night in Hershey (due to the circus at the Giant Center next week, the Bears will host Games 1 and 2).  Lake Erie and Ontario will start their series in California on Saturday night.

What’s Next?

Well, now that we’re in offseason mode here…stay tuned next week for parts 2 and 3 of my season review.  In between my baseball adventures (one month to go before Valleycats start up again), I will also be bringing back the Free Agent Tracker in July, and there will be updates on the NHL Draft in June and development camp in mid-summer, along with schedule updates and any other news items that may pop up.

Calder Cup Recap, Week 4: So You’re Saying There’s A Chance?

Everyone expected a war between the two best teams in the Eastern Conference in the North Division Finals.  And they got one.  From overtime comebacks to controversial hits to desperation, this series is going the distance.

Game 3, 5/8: Albany 3, Toronto 2 (OT)

It was back to New York for the Devils, as the second round moved to Game 3.  There were a few lineup changes for Albany for this one: Max Novak, Graham Black, and Corbin McPherson were in, while Pierre-Luc Leblond, Reece Scarlett, and Ryan Kujawinski were out.  The Devils special teams came through during the first…with Brian O’Neill serving a slashing minor, Rod Pelley would score his first of the postseason shorthanded for a 1-0 lead.  The Marlies would respond early in the second period, tying things up on a Josh Leivo goal.  Toronto would grab a 2-1 lead with 11:10 left in regulation thanks to William Nylander’s second goal of the postseason.  Toronto looked well on their way to picking up a win and going up 2-1 in the series…then Nick Lappin happened.  With Mike Sislo sitting for a slashing minor, and with just 21 seconds left in regulation, Lappin banged home a rebound to tie things up at 2.  The game shifted into overtime, where it was clear that the Devils had the momentum, outshooting the Marlies 12-4.  And on that 12th shot…Lappin would come through again in the clutch, scoring on a power play off a rebound to complete the Devil comeback and give Albany a 2-1 series lead.  Scott Wedgewood rebounded nicely from his Game 2 performance on Friday, stopping 25 of 27 shots.  Four Devils would each have one assist in another balanced offensive attack.  The penalty kill continued its postseason domination, going a perfect 8 for 8 and scoring twice shorthanded.

The Lineup:

Reid Boucher-Brian O’Neill-Nick Lappin

Matt Lorito-Blake Pietila-Mike Sislo

Graham Black-Joe Blandisi-Paul Thompson

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Max Novak

Damon Severson/Dan Kelly

Seth Helgeson/Vojtech Mozik

Marc Andre Gragnani/Corbin McPherson

Scott Wedgewood/Yann Danis

Scratched: Brandon Burlon, Blake Coleman, Jim O’Brien, Chris McKelvie, Ryan Kujawinski, Pierre-Luc Leblond, Raman Hrabarenka, Pavel Zacha, Reece Scarlett

Power Play: 1 for 4.  Penalty Kill: 8 for 8.  Penalty Minutes: 20.  Shots on Goal: 39.  Shots Allowed: 27.

Highlights:

Game 4, 5/10: Toronto 7, Albany 2

The Devils were hoping to carry over any momentum earned from the comeback win on Sunday and go for a 3-1 series lead in Game 4 on Tuesday.  Only one change: Reece Scarlett went back in after a one game rest for Corbin McPherson.  Things early on looked very much in favor of the hosts…they put up the first 6 shots of the game and Blake Pietila scored his third goal of the postseason just 2:10 into the contest for a 1-0 lead.  But later in the first, Damon Severson was called for a double minor for high sticking…and things would go down the drain from there.  Mark Arcobello would tie the game up 41 seconds into the first half of that double minor.  Later in the period, Brian O’Neill would get called for a trip…and Kasperi Kapanen would cash in with his first postseason goal for a 2-1 Toronto lead.  Severson would find himself in the box again less than a minute into the second for another high stick call…and T.J. Brennan would pick up his fifth playoff goal just seconds later for a 3-1 lead.  Then a slightly scary moment turned into a 15 minute game delay, when Ben Thomson went to hit Rich Clune, missed, and shattered a pane of glass near the penalty box.  Once play resumed…another huge moment that could have an effect on the Devils for the remainder of the series.  Dan Kelly hit Marlies rookie Andreas Johnson with an elbow to the head (video here courtesy of The Leafs Nation), keeping Johnson down on the ice for several minutes before needing help to leave.  Kelly had to answer the bell against Zach Hyman, then he too was done for the night with a match penalty.  With just 23 seconds to go before nearly killing off the full 5 minutes, Brendan Leipsic would pick up power play goal #4 for Toronto, putting them ahead 4-1.  To top off the disastrous second for the Devils, Nikita Soshnikov would score his second of the playoffs with 1:21 to go for a 5-1 advantage.  Scott Wedgewood would get pulled prior to the third, and Yann Danis finally made his first postseason appearance to begin the third.  And to celebrate?  Soshnikov would pick up his second goal of the night for a 6-1 Marlies lead.  Connor Brown would kick the extra point with a 4 on 4 score midway through the third for a 7-1 advantage.  Graham Black, in just his second postseason game, picked up a goal with 21 seconds remaining, but it was too little too late, as the Marlies showed why they were the regular season champions in evening the series at 2.  The 7 goals were the most the Devils had allowed all season, and the five goal deficit their biggest as well.  Wedgewood stopped 12 of 17, while Danis stopped 7 of 9 in relief.  Severson managed two more assists to give him 8 for the postseason.

The Lineup:

Reid Boucher-Brian O’Neill-Nick Lappin

Matt Lorito-Blake Pietila-Mike Sislo

Graham Black-Joe Blandisi-Paul Thompson

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Max Novak

Damon Severson/Dan Kelly

Marc Andre Gragnani/Reece Scarlett

Seth Helgeson/Vojtech Mozik

Scott Wedgewood/Yann Danis

Scratches: Brandon Burlon, Blake Coleman, Jim O’Brien, Chris McKelvie, Ryan Kujawinski, Raman Hrabarenka, Pierre-Luc Leblond, Corbin McPherson, Pavel Zacha

Power Play: 0 for 6.  Penalty Kill: 5 for 9.  Penalty Minutes: 31.  Shots on Goal: 26.  Shots Allowed: 26.

Highlights:

Thursday: The ruling for Dan Kelly came down, and it came down hard.  He was given a 10 game suspension by the AHL as a result of Tuesday’s hit, knocking him out for virtually the remainder of the postseason.

Game 5, 5/12: Toronto 5, Albany 1

The series turned into a best of 3, as the Devils got one last shot on home ice before heading back north of the border.  With Dan Kelly out, Corbin McPherson stepped in for his second appearance, with Raman Hrabarenka taking over the 7th defenseman slot.  Ben Thomson, Max Novak, and Mike Sislo (banged up in Sislo’s case) were out, Pierre-Luc Leblond, Chris McKelvie, and Ryan Kujawinski were in.  Scott Wedgewood was back in net looking to rebound from Tuesday’s disaster.  Things looked good to start in the first, as neither team could get on the board and the Devils only had one penalty to contend with, compared to two for the Marlies.  But in the second, old habits came back to bite the home team…Joe Blandisi would sit 1:18 in for a delay of game call, and Connor Carrick would score 5 seconds later, his 5th goal of the postseason, for a 1-0 Toronto lead.  Connor Brown would double the lead just over five minutes with another power play tally.  Nikita Soshnikov would pick up his 4th goal with just under 5 minutes remaining in the second for a 3-0 lead, then Paul Thompson would finally get Albany on the board with his first postseason goal just over a minute later to cut the lead to 3-1.  The Marlies would put the game away in the third by scoring twice…Brendan Leipsic would pick up his second of the postseason thanks to a bounce off a referee’s skate, then a risk by the Devils to pull Wedgewood for an extra skater early would end up backfiring as Josh Leivo would send it into the empty net with 2:08 remaining to seal the win, putting Albany on the brink of elimination with up to two games left in Canada.  Wedgewood stopped 18 of 22 shots, while Seth Helgeson and Kujawinski had the lone helpers.  The penalty kill struggled once again, giving up two power play goals on 5 opportunities.

The Lineup:

Reid Boucher-Brian O’Neill-Nick Lappin

Matt Lorito-Joe Blandisi-Blake Pietila

Ryan Kujawinski-Graham Black-Paul Thompson

Chris McKelvie-Rod Pelley-Pierre-Luc Leblond

Seth Helgeson/Vojtech Mozik

Reece Scarlett/Damon Severson

Marc Andre Gragnani/Corbin McPherson

Scott Wedgewood/Yann Danis

Scratches: Brandon Burlon, Blake Coleman, Jim O’Brien, Mike Sislo, Ben Thomson, Raman Hrabarenka, Pavel Zacha, Max Novak, Dan Kelly

Power Play: 0 for 3.  Penalty Kill: 3 for 5.  Penalty Minutes: 24.  Shots on Goal: 22.  Shots Allowed: 23.

Highlights:

Game 6, 5/14: Albany 4, Toronto 1

Albany’s backs were against the proverbial wall going into Saturday afternoon and Game 6, facing the daunting task of winning two in a row on Toronto’s home ice.  To add to it, Mike Sislo and Brian O’Neill were unable to play due to injury, putting Max Novak back into the lineup.  Toronto was also missing a main scorer in Nikita Soshnikov, who burned the Devils in Games 4 and 5.  Well…challenge accepted.  Within the first 5:13 of the contest, the Devils were already up 2-0 thanks to Reid Boucher’s fourth goal of the playoffs, followed 49 seconds later by Corbin McPherson’s first goal of the postseason.  The Marlies would try to rally in the second, cutting the lead in half on a Kasperi Kapanen goal halfway through the period.  But instead of rolling over like in Games 4 and 5, the Devils would respond with a Nick Lappin goal to restore the two goal cushion.  Despite the Marlies outshooting Albany 13-5 in the third, Graham Black would put the exclamation point on with his second postseason goal for a 4-1 lead.  And Scott Wedgewood took care of the rest, stopping 34 of 35 shots and rebounding beautifully from his last two starts to extend the Devils season by two more days, setting up a Game 7 showdown on Monday night.  McPherson, Lappin, and Boucher would all have multi point games, while four other Devils had one assist each.  The defensive pair of McPherson and Marc Andre Gragnani finished a +3.  As for special teams?  The penalty kill was back to Albany standards, going a perfect 5 for 5.

The Lineup:

Reid Boucher-Matt Lorito-Nick Lappin

Blake Pietila-Joe Blandisi-Max Novak

Ryan Kujawinski-Graham Black-Paul Thompson

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Chris McKelvie

Seth Helgeson/Vojtech Mozik

Damon Severson/Reece Scarlett

Marc Andre Gragnani/Corbin McPherson

Scott Wedgewood/Yann Danis

Scratched: Brandon Burlon, Dan Kelly, Blake Coleman, Jim O’Brien, Mike Sislo, Brian O’Neill, Raman Hrabarenka, Pierre-Luc Leblond, Pavel Zacha

Power Play: 0 for 3.  Penalty Kill: 5 for 5.  Penalty Minutes: 27.  Shots on Goal: 28.  Shots Allowed: 35.

Highlights:

Around the Calder Cup Playoffs:

Since I haven’t updated on how the rest of the playoff picture is coming together in a couple of weeks…

Ontario became the first team to punch its ticket to the Conference Finals, finishing off San Diego in 5 games (in the ever popular 1-1-1-1-1-1-1 format). Lake Erie was up 3 games to 0 on Grand Rapids, but the Griffins have come back to cut the series deficit to 3-2, with Game 6 coming up in Michigan on Monday.  If there is a Game 7 on Wednesday, it will have to be played in Columbus due to the Cavaliers playoff run (the Monsters share the building). Wilkes-Barre and Hershey will play Game 7 of their series in Hershey on Sunday afternoon.

Up North with the Thunder:

Sadly for Adirondack, their season has come to an end after a second round loss to South Carolina.

The Thunder took a 3-2 series lead on Saturday with a 3-2 overtime win in Glens Falls.  Ben Johnson and Greg Wolfe scored in the first, while Gunnar Hughes scored the game winner 11:21 into overtime.  Ken Appleby rebounded from a rough Game 4 by stopping 28 of 30 shots.  Back in Charleston for Game 6 on Tuesday, the Stingrays forced a Game 7 with a 4-1 win.  It was a very physical game, as both teams combined for 120 penalty minutes, the majority coming during the last 1:50 of the game.  Appleby stopped 26 of 30 shots, while Wolfe had an assist on the lone goal in the first off the stick of Mathieu Brodeur.  Former A-Devil Kelly Zajac had three assists for South Carolina.  In Game 7 on Wednesday, Ben Johnson’s 3rd postseason goal 4:43 into the contest put the Thunder ahead 1-0, but the Stingrays would tie it 36 seconds later.  The Thunder carried a 2-1 lead into the third, only to have South Carolina re-tie the game midway through.  It took nearly two overtimes, but the Stingrays would score the game winner with 4:26 remaining in the second extra period.  Appleby would stop 43 of 46 shots in Game 7, finishing the postseason with a 7-4-1 record, a 2.31 GAA and a .920 save percentage.  Wolfe lead all Adirondack skaters with 14 points (6 goals, 8 assists) in 12 games.

What’s Next?

It all comes down to Game 7 in Toronto on Monday night.  Win, and it’s on to the conference finals against either Wilkes-Barre or Hershey (and home ice!).  Lose, and the season is done.  Next recap will be on Wednesday, where I’ll either have the next round schedule…or the schedule on how I’ll review the season.  And honestly, I’m not quite ready to finish the last two parts yet.