For the first time in 4 years, I finally got to experience playoff hockey without having to drive 2+ hours away and live vicariously through other teams.
And if the last two days are any indication, I want to do this for, oh, three more rounds, if possible.
Looking back at the beginning of a very intense first two games between the Devils and St. John’s, which ended in a split as the best of five shifts way north this week:
The series began Friday night on home ice, but it was the visitors who drew the first strike. Eric O’Dell would put the IceCaps up 1-0 4:29 into the first period. Albany would respond early in the second on a power play goal by Joe Whitney to tie things up at 1. It then turned into an offensive struggle as both teams locked in defensively and the intensity grew as the game carried into the third. And not to mention quite a few questionable calls from the referees (which is standard for Chris Brown, but more so now in the postseason). Just as all 6500 in the building were expecting the battle to carry over into overtime, Keith Kinkaid would misplay the puck by the net and Ben Chiarot would score with just 23.1 seconds left in the third period, giving St. John’s the win and a 1-0 series lead. Kinkaid stopped 30 of 32 shots in the loss. Jon Merrill and Mike Sislo had the lone assists.
Rod Pelley-Darcy Zajac-David Wohlberg
Scott Timmins-Reid Boucher-Harri Pesonen
Joe Whitney-Mike Sislo-Tim Sestito
Kelly Zajac-Mattias Tedenby-Stefan Matteau
Extra: Chris McKelvie, Cam Janssen, Mike Hoeffel, Ben Johnson, Graham Black
Dan Kelly/Adam Larsson
Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson
Eric Gelinas/Jon Merrill
Extra: Alexander Urbom, Brandon Burlon, Raman Hrabarenka, Reece Scarlett
It was a quick turnaround for the Devils in Game 2, as they faced a virtual must win situation. Much like in Game 1, it was the IceCaps who got the early lead, this time from Brenden Kichton 10 minutes into the first period. But Reid Boucher would answer a minute later with his first postseason goal to tie the game at 1. Stefan Matteau would then give Albany their first lead of the series with a power play goal late in the period for a 2-1 advantage. Kichton would tie the game at 2 on a power play goal early in the second. But less than 3 minutes later Mattias Tedenby would give the Devils the lead for good with a power play goal of his own. Scott Timmins would add an insurance power play marker halfway through the third to seal the win for Albany, and in the process tying the series up at 1 apiece. Keith Kinkaid got the start again and stopped 30 of 32 shots (that sounds like a pattern) and picked up #1 star honors. Kelly Zajac added two assists. And the power play finished at 3-for-9 (and there could have been more power play opportunities but the refs missed a few yet again).
Chris McKelvie-Rod Pelley-Darcy Zajac
Joe Whitney-Tim Sestito-Mike Sislo
Stefan Matteau-Mattias Tedenby-Kelly Zajac
Scott Timmins-Harri Pesonen-Reid Boucher
Extra: Cam Janssen, Mike Hoeffel, David Wohlberg, Ben Johnson, Graham Black
Adam Larsson/Eric Gelinas
Alexander Urbom/Jon Merrill
Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson
Extra: Brandon Burlon, Dan Kelly, Raman Hrabarenka, Reece Scarlett
Around the League:
So how are the rest of the conference quarterfinals going? Here’s a quick update:
East: (1) Manchester-(8) Norfolk: tied at 1
(2) Springfield-(7) Providence: Springfield leads 2-1
(3) Binghamton-(6) Wilkes-Barre/Scranton: tied at 1
West: (1) Texas-(8) Oklahoma City: Texas leads 2-0
(2) Chicago-(7) Rochester: tied at 1
(3) Toronto-(6) Milwaukee: Toronto leads 2-0
(4) Grand Rapids-(5) Abbotsford: Grand Rapids leads 2-0
We could have our first team heading to the semifinals as early as Tuesday.
The Solar Bears are not done yet. After falling 3-0 in their Kelly Cup Eastern Conference quarterfinal series vs. Cincinnati, they have won their last two to send the series back to Florida for Game 6 on Tuesday night. Maxime Clermont played a huge role in extending the series by shutting out the Cyclones 2-0 on Friday evening, stopping all 25 shots. He did not play in Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win.
This Week’s Schedule:
The series shifts 1600 miles to the northeast to Newfoundland. Game 3 comes on Wednesday night at the always sold out Mile One Centre, with a 6 PM EST start (reminder: NST is 1 and a half hours ahead). Game 4 follows on Friday evening, and if needed Game 5 on Saturday. I will not be around for Game 3 due to work, but will have tweets for Game 4 and if needed, Game 5.