2017 AHL All Star Wrap

Another successful AHL All Star Classic is in the books.

This year, the venue was Allentown, home of the Phantoms.  Albany looked to be well represented, with John Quenneville, Joe Blandisi, and Vojtech Mozik selected to represent the North Division.  Then…Sunday morning all three were mysteriously pulled from the event.  A highly contagious virus had struck a few members of the roster (i.e. Reece Scarlett, Blake Pietila), and due to risk of possible exposure, the team and league determined it was best everyone stayed home to recover.

But for me, even though I was now left without a team in the fight…the show must go on.

1/29, All Star Skills: West 15, East 11

Jack Roslovic talking strategy.
Jack Roslovic talking strategy.

First, both conferences battled in the Skills Competition.

Leading off, the Puck Control Relay: the West would win the first three heats, with former Devil Matt Lorito (now with Grand Rapids) part of the first winning team.  The East would win the final individual round (Lehigh Valley’s Jordan Weal would be the winner).

Second event, the Fastest Skater: This year’s event was record setting, as Bridgeport’s Devon Toews would become the second fastest ever in the event’s history, winning with a time of 13.478 seconds.  All but one skater would finish at 13.8 or faster.  The East picked up the individual point, while the West took home team honors for lowest average with 13.769 seconds.

Third event, the Rapid Fire: Both teams would earn a point, as they tied with 23 saves each.  Former River Rat Michael Leighton (now with Charlotte) and Rochester’s Linus Ullmark would each stop 8 shots in their respective rounds.

Fourth event, the Hardest Shot: Another two points to the West, as Tucson’s Kyle Wood took home the individual title with 99.3 MPH.  The West also grabbed team honors with an average shot of 98.1 MPH.

Fifth event, Accuracy Shooting: No one went 4 for 4, but Cole Schneider of Rochester came the closest, getting 4 targets in 5 attempts.  The East took the team honors, hitting 15 targets in 25 total attempts.

Sixth event, Pass and Score: In the three on none round, the East would win 6-3 and take the overall competition lead.  Troy Grosenick (San Jose) and Tristan Jarry (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton) were the only two goaltenders to stop all three attempts.  The trio of former River Rat Chris Terry (now with St. John’s) and Utica teammates Alexandre Greiner and Jordan Subban scored all three of their goals against Cleveland’s Anton Forsberg.

Seventh event, Breakaway Relay: All four West goaltenders–Grosenick, Jack Campbell (Ontario), Forsberg, and Leighton–would stop every shot they faced.  On the East side, Ullmark would be the only goaltender to shut out his round.  Five West skaters would pick up goals, giving the West the overall win.

Ullmark would take home Top Goaltender honors, as he stopped 15 of 18 total shots faced.


Matt Lorito
Matt Lorito
The Top Goaltender, Linus Ullmark (Rochester). Minus the sweet Minion mask.
The Top Goaltender, Linus Ullmark (Rochester). Minus the sweet Minion mask.

Monday: The day began with the annual State of the League address.  Other than, well, the obvious…some highlights:

-Next year’s schedule will come out 5-6 weeks earlier than normal.  Which means you can start making your plans in July instead of nearly having to wait till September!

-With Las Vegas joining the NHL next season, talk of a 31st AHL team was brought up.  It may not come to fruition until 2018-19 at the latest.  Outside of the three North Division moves, everyone else appears to be staying put for the long haul.  Realignment also appears to be on the radar for next season as well.

-Later Monday morning, former River Rat Bryan Helmer was one of four men to be inducted into the AHL Hall of Fame.

All-Star Challenge Results:


Everyone sporting #14 in honor of Craig Cunningham.
Everyone sporting #14 in honor of Craig Cunningham.

Game #1: Atlantic 2, Central 1

Leading off the 3 on 3 tournament, the Atlantic took on the Central.  The Atlantic would score both their goals during the first five minute half, as Mackenzie Weegar (Springfield) and Travis Boyd (Hershey) would score 36 seconds apart.  Oliver Bjorkstrand (Cleveland) would break up the Atlantic shutout bid with 48 seconds left in the second half.  Zane McIntyre (Providence) stopped 6 of 7 shots, while Leighton stopped 3 of 5.

Game #2: North 6, Pacific 3

The other two divisions faced off in the second game…and this one was no contest.  After both teams went back and forth during the first half, the North Division would explode for four goals in the second half.  Justin Bailey (Rochester) scored twice in a 14 second span, while former Devil Matt Taormina (now with Syracuse) and Alexandre Grenier (Utica) added two assists each.  Ullmark would stop 5 of 6 shots in the first half, while Charlie Lindgren (St. John’s) took over in the second half and stopped just one of three.  Campbell had a rough go in the second half, stopping 5 of 9 North shots.

Game #3: Central 2, North 1 (SO)

Unlike the previous round, this was a low scoring affair.  Casey Bailey (Binghamton) would put the North ahead late in the first half.  Alex Tuch (Iowa) would tie things up early in the second half.  With the first tie of the evening, it would be settled by the shootout.  Kenny Agostino (Chicago) and Spencer Abbott (Rockford) would each score, while Anton Forsberg (Cleveland) would stop 2 of 3 North shooters for the win.  He stopped 11 of 12 shots before that.  Ullmark would stop all 4 shots faced in the first half, then Lindgren would stop 6 of 7 in the second half.

Game #4: Atlantic 6, Pacific 1

Another blowout performance against the Pacific in this round.  Hometown boys T.J. Brennan and Jordan Weal would score 1:12 apart for a 2-0 start, then Daniel O’Regan (San Jose) would cut the lead in half.  But the Pennsylvania connection would put the game away for the Atlantic…Hershey teammates Chris Bourque and Boyd would score :45 apart, then the third Phantom representative, Taylor Leier, would make the hometown crowd happy with two goals in the second half.  The Pacific was held shotless in the second half, while Campbell and Troy Grosenick (San Jose) combined for 6 saves on 12 shots overall.

Game #5: Central 5, Pacific 3

Poor Pacific Division.  Apparently they should have practiced more…oh wait.  (I’ll show myself out.)

Anyway…the Central would get off to a very quick start in this round, taking a 3-0 lead within the first minute of the contest.  Lorito, Agostino, and Tuch would all score within :43.  Christian Fischer (Tucson) would get  the Pacific on the board, only to see Oliver Bjorkstand (Cleveland) answer with a goal late.  In the second half, Lorito would pick up his second of the game for a 5-1 advantage.  Wood and O’Regan would pick up goals, but it was too little too late.  Leighton and Forsberg combined to stop 9 of 12 shots.  Grosenick and Campbell would only save 2 of 7.  With the win, the Central clinched a spot in the championship game.

Game #6: Atlantic 2, North 0

So who would be taking on the Central for the title?  It would be an offensive struggle for the North in this one, as they could not get a goal past Tristan Jarry (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton) in the first half.  Nicklas Jensen (Hartford) would get the Atlantic on the board.  Zane McIntyre (Providence) would take over in the second half, and he too would keep the North in check.  Leier would add an empty netter late to send the Atlantic to the championship game.  Ullmark and Lindgren would combine for 11 saves on 12 shots.

Championship: Central 1, Atlantic 0 (SO)

One from the East, one from the West.  But only one division can be the winner.  And both teams battled to a scoreless tie through regulation, combining for just 5 shots in the 6:00 round.  It would go down to a sudden death shootout…Weal, Agostino, Bourque, Abbott, Boyd, Bjorkstrand, and Leier were all unsuccessful.  But it would be the former Devil, Lorito, who would score on McIntyre in the fourth round, clinching the Challenge for the Central Division for the second year in a row.

Leier would take home MVP honors, scoring 3 goals on the night.

As for my experience: as always, everything was wonderful, despite the fact I had no one show up. (For those of you who continue to think it’s New Jersey screwing us…you’re wrong.  I have confirmation that it was indeed illness.  I get it, you’re ticked, but for the love of all things holy STOP IT.) It was my first visit to Allentown and…if you can make the trip to the PPL Center, absolutely do it.  The building is awesome…and not just because there’s a Tim Hortons attached to it (give me all the Timbits!).  Sight lines were great from nearly all angles, the atmosphere was energetic…no complaints here.  If the 2018 version stays in the east and I can drive there…I may make the trip for the fourth year in a row.

For more photos check out my Flickr album!

Now the Farewell tour begins, starting Thursday.


Week 7 in Review: Redemption

When we last left the Devils, they were coming off a two game losing streak to two division foes.

But what a rebound this week, thanks to some comeback magic and a little local nostalgia…and after a 3-0 week, they are back in first place in the division.

11/22 vs. Toronto: 3-1 W

To start the week, the Devils were back at home for the first time in 10 days, but for a rare Tuesday night matchup against the Marlies.  Toronto would get off to a good start by taking a 1-0 lead midway through the first on a Byron Froese goal.  The Devils would have a golden opportunity to get on the board against Antoine Bibeau in the second…a Milan Michalek high stick to Brian Gibbons (who left temporarily to get stitched up, but he would return) gave Albany a 4 minute power play opportunity.  After their first goal attempt was waved off, Vojtech Mozik would connect for his second goal of the season during the tail end of the man advantage (yes New Jersey, your read that right…an actual Devil power play goal) to tie the game up at 1.  In the third, a great play by Miles Wood and Blake Coleman (the latter with a sweet wraparound) gave the Devils a 2-1 lead 4:59 in.  Kevin Rooney would add an insurance goal, his third of the season, with 7:42 remaining for a 3-1 advantage.  Ken Appleby, just back from a stint in Adirondack, would take care of the rest, stopping 23 of 24 shots in improving his record to 2-0 on the season.  Five Devils, including Wood, had one assist each.


Brian Gibbons-Joe Blandisi-Miles Wood

John Quenneville-Blake Coleman-Petr Straka

Ben Thomson-Kevin Rooney-Max Novak

Luke Gazdic-Rod Pelley-Ben Sexton


Seth Helgeson/Vojtech Mozik

Reece Scarlett/Brandon Gormley

Karl Stollery/Josh Jacobs

Ken Appleby/Mackenzie Blackwood

Scratches: Andrew MacWilliam, Steve Santini, Brandon Baddock, Jan Mandat, Carter Camper, Ryan Kujawinski, Scott Wedgewood

Power Play: 1 for 7.  Penalty Kill: 4 for 4.  Penalty Minutes: 8.  Shots on Goal: 32.  Shots Allowed: 24.

3 Stars: 1. Ken Appleby; 2. Vojtech Mozik; 3. Miles Wood.

Highlight Reel:

11/25 at Hartford: 4-3 W (OT)

While I was in New Jersey on Friday night, the Devils took a quick trip east to Connecticut for their first matchup of the season against a struggling Wolfpack team.  But it would be Hartford getting off to a good start in the first, as they took a 1-0 lead halfway through the period on a Chris Brown goal.  Matt Carey would double the Wolfpack lead early in the second.  The Devils would finally get on the board midway through the period on Seth Helgeson’s second goal of the season, but would find themselves back down by two goals late thanks to an Adam Tambellini tally.  But the Devils would rally, picking up goals from Kevin Rooney (his 4th) and Ben Sexton (his 3rd) in a span of 2:49 midway through the third to tie the game up at 3.  Albany would cap off the successful rally in overtime, as Miles Wood would score his 2nd goal 1:43 into the extra frame.  Mackenzie Blackwood would recover from a shaky start and stop 24 of 27 shots to pick up his 4th win.  Five different Devils would add assists.


Blake Pietila-Joe Blandisi-Miles Wood

Ben Thomson-Kevin Rooney-Petr Straka

John Quenneville-Brian Gibbons-Blake Coleman

Luke Gazdic-Rod Pelley-Ben Sexton


Seth Helgeson/Vojtech Mozik

Andrew MacWilliam/Reece Scarlett

Karl Stollery/Josh Jacobs

Mackenzie Blackwood/Ken Appleby

Scratches: Steve Santini, Max Novak, Jan Mandat, Carter Camper, Ryan Kujawinski, Scott Wedgewood, Brandon Gormley

Power Play: 0 for 3.  Penalty Kill: 3 for 4.  Penalty Minutes: 8.  Shots on Goal: 26.  Shots Allowed: 27.

3 Stars: 1. Miles Wood; 2. Adam Tambellini; 3. Ryan Graves.

Highlight Reel:

AHL Live has the highlights here.

11/26 vs. Rochester: 4-2 W

To finish off the week, it was back into the time machine to the mid 90s, as the River Rats made their triumphant return to the ice to take on Rochester.  And it looked like the power of the rat was with the current day Devils for this one.  In a span of 2:34 late in the opening period, Miles Wood (3rd) and Joe Blandisi (5th) would both pick up power play goals for a 2-0 lead.  The Rat domination would continue in the second period, as Blake Coleman (4th) and John Quenneville (6th) would score 4:25 apart for a commanding 4-0 lead.  But Rochester was not quite ready to throw in the towel just yet, as they showed a little sign of life late in the final period.  Mike Aviani and Evan Rodrigues would pick up two quick goals with less than 3 minutes to go in regulation to cut the Rats lead in half.  But they were unable to catch up any further, and Albany finished off another perfect 3-0 week.  Ken Appleby was his usual stellar self in net, stopping 19 of 21 shots to pick up his third win.  Quenneville and Brian Gibbons would each add two assists, while four others had one helper each.


Blake Pietila-Joe Blandisi-Miles Wood

Ben Thomson-Kevin Rooney-Petr Straka

John Quenneville-Brian Gibbons-Blake Coleman

Luke Gazdic-Rod Pelley-Ben Sexton


Andrew MacWilliam/Reece Scarlett

Karl Stollery/Brandon Gormley

Seth Helgeson/Vojtech Mozik

Ken Appleby/Mackenzie Blackwood

Power Play: 2 for 6.  Penalty Kill: 5 for 5.  Penalty Minutes: 15.  Shots on Goal: 30.  Shots Allowed: 21.

3 Stars: 1. John Quenneville; 2. Brian Gibbons; 3. Seth Helgeson.

Highlight Reel:

My Player of the Week:

I could have easily given the nod to John Quenneville after a 5 point week, but I’m actually going to go in a different direction: give it to a guy who at this time last week was in Utah playing for the Thunder.  One injury to Scott Wedgewood later, Ken Appleby stepped in and was tremendous in net, going 2-0 and stopping 42 of 45 shots faced.

Team Leaders:

Goals: 2 tied with 6

Assists: Joe Blandisi (9)

Points: 2 tied with 14

+/-: Vojtech Mozik (+12)

Penalty Minutes: Andrew MacWilliam (44)

Wins: Scott Wedgewood (5)

GAA: Ken Appleby (1.62)

Save Percentage: Ken Appleby (.932)

Up North with the Thunder:

A solid week for Adirondack, as they picked up three out of four points in a two game set with Florida.  Despite being outshot 29-17, Adirondack would pick up a 3-1 win on Tuesday night.  Ty Loney would score twice, while Brian Ward added two helpers.  The Thunder would rally from deficits of 3-0 and 4-3 to force overtime and a shootout, but the Everblades would finally prevail 5-4.  Mathieu Brodeur would score the tiebreaker in the third and add an assist, while Patch Alber added a goal.  The homestand continues this week with three more games, as the Thunder host Manchester on Tuesday, then welcome Colorado in for a pair on Friday and Saturday night.

This Week’s Schedule:

A busy four game week is on deck.  First, the Devils finish off November where they started it: in Bridgeport.  Tuesday they make the trip south to take on the Sound Tigers.  Then, a 3 in 3 weekend to kick off the month of December: Friday Utica makes their second visit of the season.  Saturday night the Devils travel west on the Thruway to visit the Comets to finish off a home and home.  Finally it’s back to the Capital Region on Sunday afternoon to face Binghamton.

Game 18: Albany vs. Rochester

Location: Times Union Center, Albany, NY.

Time: 5:00 PM.

Season Series: Albany leads 1-0.

Media Kit


Albany: 11-6-0-0, 22 points, .647, 1st place in North Division

Rochester: 7-10-0-1, 15 points, .417, 6th place in North Division

Americans Leading Scorers/Goaltending:

Cal O’Reilly, 18 points (3 G, 15 A); Cole Schneider, 17 points (7 G, 10 A); Justin Bailey, 13 points (7 G, 6 A)

Linus Ullmark, 6-7-1, 2.99 GAA; John Muse, 1-0-0, 2.00 GAA

Last Game, Amerks: Rochester lost at home to Utica 5-2 on Friday night.

Latest News/Notes:

The Amerks are winless in their last five games (0-4-0-1); Rochester’s top two scorers, Cal O’Reilly and Cole Schneider, along with William Carrier, were sent down by Buffalo this morning; a total of 29 players, including 3 goalies, have made at least one appearance in an Amerks sweater this season; 6 Devils–John Quenneville, Ben Sexton, Reece Scarlett, Rod Pelley, Kevin Rooney, and Ben Thomson–have appeared in all 17 games this season; today marks the first of two River Rats days this season, as the Devils will wear the old Albany River Rats jersey and Rowdy will make his triumphant return to the arena.

Rochester Amerks skid hits 5 straight after loss to Utica (Democrat & Chronicle)

Amerks look to rebound after tough weekend (sabres.com)

Albany Devils finally opt to embrace the past (Times Union)

Albany Devils rally past Hartford in overtime (Times Union)

Broadcast Info: AHL Live or ESPN Radio Rochester

Social: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @AmerksHockey

Welcome to October!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Offseason Notebook #3

This week in the Notebook:

-On Tuesday, the full New Jersey preseason schedule was announced, and…again no game in Albany.  (Yes, four years later I’m still waiting for the make up from the lockout.)  The schedule begins on September 26th with a doubleheader of sorts…one squad will take on the Flyers in Newark, while the rest will travel to Montreal to face the Canadiens.  They play two at neutral sites…September 28th in Allentown against Philadelphia, and October 8th in West Point against Florida.  Two other matchups are at The Rock: October 1st against the Rangers and October 5th against the Islanders.  Full schedule can be found here.

-On Friday night, a trade with Florida went through that affected New Jersey’s cap hit and shook up the Albany roster.  The Devils acquired Marc Savard and a 2018 2nd round selection from the Panthers for Paul Thompson and Graham Black.  So why acquire a player who hasn’t been on ice since 2011?  Savard’s contract puts the Devils over the cap floor, and another draft selection for the future (between this year and 2018, New Jersey now has a total of 26 draft picks).  But it comes at a cost to Albany’s roster, which has seen four forwards leave before free agency has even begun.  It is most likely you will see both Thompson and Black in Springfield next year…and they will be coached by another familiar name in the Capital Region…

Segway to the latest news around the league…

-On Tuesday, former River Rats captain and assistant coach Geordie Kinnear was named head coach of the new Springfield franchise.  After spending a majority of his playing career with the River Rats, including the Calder Cup team in 1995, he retired as a player in 2001 due to injury and joined the coaching ranks, working as an assistant with the Rats during the last three years of the Carolina affiliation, then moving with the team to Charlotte, where he has remained behind the Checkers bench.

-And finally, break out the black spray paint can.  Congratulations to the Lake Erie Monsters, who finished off an amazing playoff run on Saturday night with their third sweep of the postseason, defeating Hershey 1-0 in overtime at home.  The Monsters, in their first season as a Columbus affiliate, won 15 of 17 playoff games, including sweeps of Ontario and the Bears, and finished the postseason on a 10 game winning streak.  Rookie Oliver Bjorkstrand was named MVP after scoring 10 goals in 17 games, including six game winners and three overtime winners, including the Cup clincher with just 1.9 seconds left in the first overtime of Game 4.

Off to Training Camp…

After the Devils rookies got a painful lesson in Buffalo at the Prospects Challenge over the weekend (more on that in a moment), today the veterans arrived in Newark for the beginning of regular training camp.  First, here’s the full roster of who’s in Jersey:

Goaltenders: Cory Schneider, Keith Kinkaid, Scott Wedgewood, Yann Danis, Ken Appleby, Mackenzie Blackwood.

Defensemen: John Moore, Adam Larsson, Andy Greene, Jon Merrill, David Schlemko, Damon Severson, Brandon Burlon, Raman Hrabarenka, Marc-Andre Gragnani, Seth Helgeson, Dan Kelly, Reece Scarlett, Eric Gelinas, Vojtech Mozik, Ryan Rehill, Josh Jacobs, Colton White, Jacob Sweeney.

Forwards: Jiri Tlusty, Stephen Gionta, Mike Cammalleri, Adam Henrique, Tuomo Ruutu, Jacob Josefson, Travis Zajac, Jordin Tootoo, Lee Stempniak, Kyle Palmieri, Rod Pelley, Stefan Matteau, Patrik Elias, Reid Boucher, Jim O’Brien, Pavel Zacha, Ben Thomson, Paul Thompson, Mike Sislo, John Quenneville, Tyler Kennedy, Graham Black, Blake Coleman, Sergey Kalinin, Brandon Baddock, Ryan Kujawinski, Blake Pietila, Matt Lorito, Chris McKelvie, Connor Chatham, Pierre-Luc Leblond, Joseph Blandisi, Blake Speers, Alexandre Goulet.

For a numerical roster just click here.

One notable name on this list is Tlusty, who was signed to a 1 year contract yesterday.  His name may sound familiar to Albany fans…he appeared in 20 games with the River Rats during the 2009-10 season, after being acquired in a trade with Toronto in early December.  He would spend the next 5+ seasons with Carolina before being dealt to Winnipeg in February.  In 416 career games with the Hurricanes and the Jets, he has put up 87 goals and 86 assists.  Stempniak and Kennedy are both in camp on tryout deals.

While the veterans were getting settled in for their first day, the rookies already have at least one week in under their belt.  After starting camp on Thursday, they traveled northwest to Buffalo to take on the Sabres and the Bruins prospects.  Saturday night was not a good night against the Sabres, as Nicholas Baptiste would score twice in 3:36 to open the game, including a goal just 25 seconds into the contest.  Justin Bailey would make it a 3 goal lead for the hosts with just over 9 minutes to go in the period.  The Sabres would add on to the lead in the second as Cason Hohmann and Evan Rodrigues would score for a 5-0 lead.  New Jersey finally got on the scoreboard in the third, as camp invitee Alexandre Goulet would break up the shutout just 29 seconds into the period.  John Quenneville would add a 4 on 4 tally to draw the visitors to within three, but that was as close as they would get, as the Sabres would tack on a 6th goal courtesy of Sam Reinhart.  Mackenzie Blackwood stopped 32 of 38 shots in his Devil debut, while Reece Scarlett would get the lone assist.  If you have, oh, an hour or so to kill, the full coverage of the game can be found here.

The rookie contingent looked much better in their second matchup of the weekend, a Sunday night tilt against the Bruins.  Joe Blandisi would score twice and Matt Lorito added a goal, but the Devils would blow a 2-0 and a 3-2 lead en route to losing just 13 seconds into overtime, 4-3.  John Quenneville would add two assists, while Max Novak and Ryan Rehill would have one helper apiece.  Ken Appleby, a possible candidate for Albany’s #3 goaltending spot (read: the one who answers the white courtesy phone should anyone go down/get called up), got the nod between the pipes and stopped 36 shots.  Again, if you have an hour or so to kill, you can watch the entire game here.

After the rookies returned to New Jersey, Novak and Joe Faust were signed to AHL deals and will report to Albany’s camp, which should start up in just a little over a week.  Also some not so good news popped up…Reid Boucher suffered a concussion while in Buffalo, it is not known when he’ll be able to return to the ice.

Four days to go till the first preseason game…hopefully by next weekend we’ll start to get an idea of just who may be suiting up for Albany this season.

Post Labor Day Catch-up

Only a few short days away from the start of training camp!  But before that, a few news items to get caught up on:

-A third development coach has been hired, as New Jersey has brought in Patrick Rissmiller.  He just completed a 13 year playing career, spending the last two seasons in Italy after bouncing around the AHL between Rochester, Worcester, Lake Erie, Chicago and Grand Rapids.  He last saw NHL time in the 2010-11 season with Florida.  Much like Scott Clemmensen, he will be working with prospects at all levels in the organization.

-On Thursday, New Jersey released the rookie camp roster that will play in Buffalo this weekend:

Goaltenders: Ken Appleby, Mackenzie Blackwood.

Defensemen: Raman Hrabarenka, Reece Scarlett, Vojtech Mozik, Ryan Rehill, Josh Jacobs, Colton White, Jacob Sweeney.

Forwards: Reid Boucher, Pavel Zacha, Ben Thomson, John Quenneville, Joseph Blandisi, Graham Black, Blake Coleman, Brandon Baddock, Ryan Kujawinski, Blake Pietila, Matt Lorito, Connor Chatham, Max Novak, Blake Speers, Alexandre Goulet.

The group will report to Newark on Thursday before leaving for Buffalo later in the day.

-From the “I called it” department: Albany has worked out an informal agreement with the ECHL’s Adirondack Thunder to send one goaltender and extra players to Glens Falls during the season, after using Orlando the last two years.  Funny how after being a league rival since the Phantoms came to the Civic Center in 2009, the two cities are working together again.  But it’s not the first time this has happened…you may or may not remember that the River Rats worked with the UHL’s Adirondack Icehawks/Frostbite for several seasons in the early-mid 2000s.  Pierre-Luc Leblond actually got his professional start as a regular member of the Frostbite during the 2005-06 season, the last season of New Jersey’s original run in Albany.  Speaking of PL3…

-Earlier this afternoon, Leblond made his third return to the organization, signing a 1 year 2 way deal.  He spent the last two seasons with Devils coach John Hynes in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, with one appearance in Pittsburgh.  In 121 games with the Penguins, he scored 4 goals and amassed 500 penalty minutes.  During his last stint in the Devils organization in the 2010-11 season, he played 2 games in New Jersey before spending the rest of the season in Albany, where he scored 8 goals and racked up 334 penalty minutes in 64 games.  He was traded to Calgary during the offseason and bounced between the Flames and Abbotsford in 2011-12, with a stop in Norfolk in 2012-13 before suiting up for the Penguins.

Week 22 Recap: Split on the Rock

Only two games on the docket this week, but it took the Devils awhile to travel there…it was back to a familiar place, St. John’s.  The last time they were on that rink, the 2013-14 season came to an end.  This time around, it was a much better trip, capturing 3 out of 4 points and staying within striking distance of the final playoff spot in the East.

3/6 at St. John’s: 2-1 L (OT)

For round 1, Scott Clemmensen drew the start against All Star Connor Hellebuyck.  With Seth Helgeson in the penalty box, Chase Balisy would score on the ensuing power play to give the hosts a 1-0 lead.  And that was all the action…until early in the third period.  On a turnover, Stefan Matteau would break away alone and score his 8th of the season to tie the game up.  With literally nothing across for the rest of regulation, it was off to overtime, where on an odd man rush John Albert would finish it off just 1:42 into the extra frame to give the IceCaps the win.  Clemmensen played well in his first start since returning from his latest New Jersey backup stint, stopping 20 of 22 shots.  Darcy Zajac had the lone assist, and as for Helgeson’s penalty?  It was the only one called all game (kudos to lone referee T.J. Luxmore for letting the teams play).



Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Paul Thompson

Reid Boucher-Tim Sestito-Mike Sislo

Stefan Matteau-Graham Black-Darcy Zajac

Chris McKelvie-Rod Pelley-Ben Thomson

Extra: Cam Janssen (susp), Kelly Zajac (inj), David Wohlberg, Alexandre Carrier


Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Extra: Joe Faust

3/7 at St. John’s: 2-0 W

A few lineup changes before the rematch on Saturday evening: David Wohlberg went in while Chris McKelvie went out.  And Scott Wedgewood drew the start in net.  Stefan Matteau continued his hot play as of late, scoring his 9th of the season and second in as many days late in the first period for a 1-0 lead.  A scary moment for Albany came midway through the second, as Wedgewood was forced to leave the game with an apparent hand injury.  Scott Clemmensen was summoned from the bullpen and only had to stop 4 IceCap shots for the remainder of the period.  Just after the goalie switch, Reid Boucher scored his 13th off a turnover to double the Albany lead.  And that was all Clemmensen would need, as he stopped all 13 St. John’s shots the rest of the way to earn the combined shutout and a split of the two game series.  Wedgewood stopped 11 of 11 shots before exiting, while Boucher had the lone assist.



Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Mike Sislo

Stefan Matteau-Graham Black-Reid Boucher

Paul Thompson-Tim Sestito-David Wohlberg

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Darcy Zajac

Extra: Kelly Zajac, Chris McKelvie, Cam Janssen, Alexandre Carrier


Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Conference Standings:

After Saturday’s action, here’s the updated standings:

8. Portland–68 points

9. Hartford–68

10. St. John’s–64

11. Albany–62

12. Lehigh Valley–59

Only six points separate the Devils from getting into the top 8.  The magic number to clinch is at 43, but the tragic number (meaning elimination…if I’m doing the math right) is 29.

Pop Quiz: Prior to Stefan Matteau, who was the last Devil to get a game winning goal at Mile One?  The answer coming up.

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

Two very good bouts during Saturday’s rematch…but no video proof.  Again.

So for this week…we’re going old school.  Since everyone in New Jersey is reminiscing about 1995 this weekend, there’s another event that happened 20 years ago as well…the lone Albany Calder Cup championship.  I did some digging on YouTube and found this from January 1995:

My Player of the Week:

This was a fairly easy decision…Stefan Matteau has been on a tear as of late.  He scores 2 out of the 3 Albany goals on the weekend, and is currently on a 6 game point streak (4 goals, 2 assists).

Team Leaders:

Goals: Paul Thompson (24)

Assists: Joe Whitney (26)

Points: Joe Whitney (44)

+/-: Graham Black (+10)

Penalty Minutes: Dan Kelly (96)

Wins: Scott Wedgewood (9)

GAA: Scott Clemmensen (2.62)

Save Percentage: Scott Clemmensen (.904)

ECHL Update:

Myles Bell (Evansville): 34 GP, 9 G, 9 A, 18 Pts, -11, 25 PIM (returned to the lineup for the first time since 2/6)

Eric Baier (Orlando): 37 GP, 5 G, 11 A, 16 Pts, +5, 11 PIM

Ben Johnson (Orlando): 1 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 Pts, Even, 0 PIM

Mike Keenan (Orlando): 28 G, 0 G, 6 A, 6 Pts, +1, 18 PIM

Maxime Clermont (Orlando):  13 GP, 6-5-0, 3.43 GAA, .883 Save Pct. (took the loss 3/3 vs. Cincinnati, 27 saves/28 shots)

Injury Update:

Just as I thought everyone was healthy, Kelly Zajac (lower) misses the St. John’s trip.  Not expected to be out for long.  And we will wait and see on what happens with Scott Wedgewood.

This Week’s Schedule: Another 3 in 3 weekend looms, but the good news is it starts a season long 6 game homestand.  Friday night Worcester makes its final visit before moving to San Jose next season.  Saturday afternoon a suddenly struggling Syracuse team visits for the first time since January.  Finally on Sunday afternoon the Falcons make their last visit of the season.

Pop Quiz Answer: The last Devil to score a game winner in St. John’s before Saturday?  It was Bobby Butler, in a 5-3 Devil win on November 17, 2012.  Other goal scorers for Albany that night? Jacob Josefson, Darcy Zajac (who scored twice), and Adam Larsson.

Note: Photo Gallery is taking the week off.

News of the Week

Yeah, it’s about time I updated this thing…

-The 2013-14 hockey season officially ended on Wednesday evening in St. John’s, as the Texas Stars took the Calder Cup title by finishing off the IceCaps in overtime, winning the series 4 games to 1.  There was one River Rat connection to the new champs, and it’s actually off ice: broadcaster Owen Newkirk, who was in the booth for the River Rats (during the Carolina days) for 2 seasons.

Meanwhile, in Devils land:

-Two unrestricted free agents returned to the fold, as Mike Sislo signed a 2 year, 2 way deal on Wednesday.  A well deserved contract for the 3rd year pro, who made his NHL debut back in January and lead Albany in goals this past season.

Then early Friday morning it was announced that Cam Janssen had signed a new 1 year, 2 way contract, which made everyone on my Devils Twitter feed curse under their breath.

And a third Devil has left for Europe, as Mattias Tedenby has joined Lev Praha of the KHL.  Not surprised by that move at all, unfortunately.

-Earlier today New Jersey announced their 6 game exhibition schedule…and sadly no games in Albany again this season.  Their only home game on neutral ice comes September 26th against the Islanders at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

-The annual rookie camp will take place July 13-18.  More info on that to come.

Day 2 Updates

A busy Tuesday in New Jersey and in the AHL:

-Earlier today New Jersey announced that former River Rat/Devil Sergei Brylin will be joining the Albany coaching staff as an assistant under Rick Kowalsky. He spent quite a few games with Albany (both home and on the road) last season while working for New Jersey as a special assignment coach. “Sarge” also brings quite a resume to the table…helping win the Rats’ lone Calder Cup in the 1994-95 season, winning 3 Stanley Cups with New Jersey, and spending his entire 13 year NHL career in the Devils red and white (he spent 4 years in the KHL post Devils).

-Also today, the American Hockey League officially announced its plans for the 2014 AHL All Star Classic. St. John’s was named as the host (something that was well known for a couple months) for the two day event. This year, it’s quite a different concept: instead of Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference, one team representing the league will be taking on an European team, Farjestad BK out of the Swedish Hockey League. And instead of taking place the last week of January, it will be held on February 11th and 12th, during the NHL Olympic Break. I’m curious as to how the All Star team will be formed, with 30 teams to pick from…one player representing each team? Or will some teams end up being left out? As for Farjestad…looking at their roster, there are quite a few familiar names from past AHL/ECHL teams, including former River Rat Christian Berglund (remember him?).

-And finally, individual tickets go on sale Saturday morning!