Weekend Roundup 10/9

The calm before the Thunder in Glens Falls.

Well…I made it through my first weekend post-Albany hockey.

But anyway…let’s review how things went around the state as the AHL got underway for real, and the ECHL preseason got started.

We’ll begin up north, where…it wasn’t the greatest of tuneups for the Thunder.  On Friday night in Glens Falls, they dropped a 6-2 decision to Reading.  Despite outshooting the Royals 15-2 in the first 20 minutes, the Thunder found themselves down 1-0 as the first shot Ken Appleby faced, which didn’t come till 6 minutes into the contest, went into the net courtesy of Chris McCarthy.  Austin Orszulak would tie the game up with a power play goal midway through the period.  The second period would get off to a nightmarish start for the Thunder special teams–Matt Wilkins would score twice shorthanded in a :35 span off of turnovers to put the Royals up 3-1.  J.C. Campagna would cut the lead to 3-2 with a power play goal midway through the middle period, but Reading’s Matt Schmidt would put the game out of reach with two goals in 1:55 for a 5-2 lead.  McCarthy would add his second of the night early in the third for the final 6-2 margin.  Appleby did not have a very good evening in his first official game action since April, only stopping 14 of 20 shots.  Three Thunder players would have one assist each.  And of note from Reading: Nolan Zajac, the last of the brothers, had two assists.  (Achievement unlocked: seeing all 4 Zajac brothers in at least one game)

Sunday, the Thunder traveled to Pennsylvania looking to rebound from Friday’s loss.  The Royals would again jump ahead early, as Adam Schmidt scored his third of the weekend for a 1-0 lead.  Reading would double the lead midway through the second on a K.J. Tiefenwerth goal.  But the Thunder would cut the lead in half with another power play goal, this time off the stick of Desmond Bergin.  The Royals would seal the 3-1 win late in the third with a Matt Wilkins goal.  Nick Riopel drew the starting assignment for the Thunder, stopping 23 of 26 shots.

Roster-wise, Adirondack received a third player from Tampa/Syracuse, as forward Troy Bourke was reassigned to the Thunder after appearing in the Crunch’s 3-2 overtime loss to Rochester on Saturday.

On Monday, the Thunder acquired defenseman Nick Trecapelli from Brampton for future considerations.  He is about to begin his second pro season after playing collegiately for the University of Guelph.  In a combined 41 games with Wichita and Atlanta last season, Trecapelli had 4 goals and 10 assists.  He does have some AHL experience, appearing in 7 games with the Binghamton Senators in 2015-16, going scoreless.  Also, three players were released from their tryouts: Jack Ceglarski, Evan Neugold, and Mark Petaccio.

The Thunder will kick off the regular season on Saturday night at home against Brampton, my designated Game of the Week for this week.

And now off to Syracuse…

Banner raising time!

I chose the Crunch home opener against Rochester as my first AHL game of the season.  It was a way to see 2 teams that I’m covering at the same time, I got to see two of my favorite former River Rats play live for the first time in years…and of everyone who reached out to me when I discovered I was about to become hockey homeless, the fanbase that knew me in the Salt City were the most supportive.  So to me, it was like saying thank you for everything.  (And I’m also not ready to set foot in Binghamton just yet.  That time will eventually come.)

Pregame ceremonies had a mix of everything…all players suited up escorted a local veteran onto the ice and lined up along the blue line, a hilarious lipsynced opening video (after last year’s collection what else would you expect?), then finally the division and conference championship banners were raised to the rafters of the War Memorial.

The Crunch and Amerks were finishing off an opening weekend home and home series, which started with a 3-1 Rochester win on Friday night.  In Saturday’s rematch, the Amerks were first on the board with the first shot ever faced by Crunch rookie goaltender Connor Ingram, a power play goal by C.J. Smith 10:33 into the first.  Cory Conacher would tie it up just under six minutes later with his first goal of the season.  Early in the second, Kyle Criscuolo would score his first to put Rochester back up by 1.  The lead would remain until 8:09 of the third, when Kevin Lynch’s first goal would tie the game up at 2.  The game would get to overtime, but it didn’t last very long…Kevin Porter would score 39 seconds after puck drop, giving Rochester the weekend sweep and dropping the Crunch to 0-1-1-0 to start the year.  Former Crunch goaltender Adam Wilcox picked up the win in net, stopping 24 of 26 shots.  Ingram stopped 15 of 18 Amerk shots, and even had a tripping penalty to boot.

Rochester has only one game on the schedule this week, hosting the Comets on Friday.  Syracuse has a 3 in 3 weekend: they host Belleville on Friday and Utica on Saturday, then head down Interstate 81 on Sunday for a matchup with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

As for the other two NY teams…

In the Southern Tier, it was a successful beginning to the Devils new life, as Binghamton defeated Bridgeport 2-1 on Saturday.  And All About the Jersey was there to cover it all.  I must say, my successors (Jeff and Alicia) are doing amazing work…happy to see I left things in good hands!  The B-Devils will head north to Laval this weekend for a pair of games against the Rocket.

Utica started a month long road trip in Toronto, and dropped both games to the Marlies, 3-1 on Saturday and 4-3 on Sunday.  Reid Boucher lead all Comet skaters with 3 points on the weekend.  Utica will head west on the Thruway this weekend: Rochester on Friday, Syracuse on Saturday.

 

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Up North with the Thunder 8/20

So I took a field trip to Glens Falls on Saturday afternoon…

Only signage so far with the new name.
Good to be freezing in a rink again!

 

 

The new signage outside the CIA.

-On Thursday, the lot outside the entrance to Cool Insuring Arena–which had been known as Civic Center Plaza–was renamed Bill Dineen Way, to honor the former Red Wings coach who passed away in December.

-Forward Brian Ward signed a one year contract on Friday, returning for a second season.  A key member of the offense, Ward started the season in Albany’s training camp, joined the Thunder in early October, and would lead Adirondack in goals with 27.  He would go on to finish his first full pro season with 49 points in 49 games.  He also made 8 appearances with the A-Devils, picking up one assist.  Ward was named the ECHL’s CCM Rookie of the Month for March 2017 after picking up 8 goals and 9 assists in 11 contests, including his first career hat trick.

 

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.

Game 75: Albany at Rochester

Location: Blue Cross Arena, Rochester, NY.

Time: 7:00 PM.

Season Series: Albany leads 4-2.

Media Kit

Standings:

Albany: 38-31-2-3, 81 points, .547, 3rd place in North Division

Rochester: 31-40-0-3, 65 points, .439, 6th place in North Division

Americans Leading Scorers/Goaltending:

Cole Schneider, 62 points (24 G, 38 A); Nick Baptiste, 41 points (25 G, 16 A); Mat Bodie, 39 points (10 G, 29 A HFD/RCH)

Linus Ullmark, 25-26-2, 2.86 GAA; John Muse, 3-8-0, 3.08 GAA; Jonas Johansson, 3-3-1, 2.85 GAA

Last Game, Americans: Rochester lost 3-2 in a shootout to Binghamton on Wednesday at home.

Latest News/Notes:

The Amerks enter the final weekend of their season winners of 6 of their last 10 (6-3-0-1); goaltender Linus Ullmark and forwards Evan Rodrigues and Alex Nylander were returned from Buffalo on Monday; forward Cole Schneider is 7th in the AHL in scoring; Ullmark continues to lead the league in minutes (3082:36) and saves (1464), and is tied for the lead in losses (26).

Devil injury update: Rod Pelley and Viktor Loov are definitely out this weekend, while Ben Sexton may finally be cleared to return.  Expect several regulars to be rested over the final two days as the playoff tuneup begins.

Last place Senators need shootout to edge Amerks (Rochester Democrat & Chronicle)

Players returning to Albany Devils adjust to new roles (Times Union)

Broadcast Info: AHL Live or ESPN Rochester

Social: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @AmerksHockey

Week 23 in Review: No Offense, But…

When most of your offensive power is on recall, you need to find out how to replace that.  Unfortunately for the Devils this weekend, the lack of goals would cost them, as they missed two chances to take over first place in the North Division and may find themselves in a dangerous playoff situation as the season is nearing the homestretch.

3/17 vs. Springfield: 2-1 L (SO)

Finally back on home ice for the first time since Presidents Day, the Devils had another chance to take first place in the North, hoping some St. Patrick’s Day luck was on their side as they hosted the Thunderbirds.  After a relatively quiet first period, things would happen early in the middle frame.  After Ryan Kujawinski took a tripping call 27 seconds after the puck dropped, Springfield would cash in on the power play with a Chase Balisy goal that looked questionable at first (upon video review the puck looked like it was just past Mackenzie Blackwood).  The Devils thought they had tied the game up a short time later, but the goal was inexplicably waved off.  Finally in the third, the Devils were able to get that tying goal, as Jacob MacDonald scored his 6th goal with 6:09 to go in regulation.  It was on to overtime for the third time in the season series, where Brian Gibbons was thisclose to ending it with a goal, but the puck just missed going over the goal line by an inch.  On to the shootout, where Blackwood and Adam Wilcox held both teams off the board for the first five rounds.  In round 6, Springfield’s Thomas Schemitsch would finally get one past Blackwood, and Wilcox was able to hold off Max Novak to give the Thunderbirds the extra point.  Blackwood deserved so much better than a shootout loss in this one, as he stopped 28 of 29 shots in 65 minutes, including a couple of highlight worthy catches to keep the Devils in it.

Lines:

Ryan Kujawinski-Carter Camper-Shane Harper

Ben Thomson-Kevin Rooney-Max Novak

Brian Gibbons-Jan Mandat-Petr Straka

Luke Gazdic-Rod Pelley-Greg Wolfe

Defense:

Karl Stollery/Vojtech Mozik

Seth Helgeson/Jacob MacDonald

Josh Jacobs/Viktor Loov

Mackenzie Blackwood/Ken Appleby

Scratches: Ben Sexton, Andrew MacWilliam, Scott Wedgewood, Yohann Auvitu

Power Play: 0 for 2.  Penalty Kill: 1 for 2.  Penalty Minutes: 4.  Shots on Goal: 29. Shots Allowed: 30.

3 Stars: 1. Adam Wilcox; 2. Thomas Schemitsch; 3. Mackenzie Blackwood.

Highlight Reel:

3/18 at Syracuse: 2-1 L (OT)

First place in the North Division was up for grabs on Saturday night, as the Devils went back on the road and headed west on the Thruway to face the Crunch.  And for the first two periods, it was all Ken Appleby and Kristers Gudlevskis, as the goaltending duel combined to stop all 46 shots faced over the first 40 minutes (27 for Albany, 19 for Syracuse).  But in the third, it would be the home team breaking through first, as a Matthew Peca goal 2:10 into the final frame would put Syracuse ahead 1-0.  Just as it looked like Gudlevskis was going to pull out a whitewash…Brian Gibbons would pick up his 13th goal with 2:51 remaining in regulation to tie things up at 1.  The game would head into overtime, where a questionable interference call on the Devils 12 seconds in would cost them first place.  Peca would score the game winner on the ensuing power play to give the Crunch the extra point and keep them in the top spot.  Appleby was outstanding, but deserved so much better, in the loss, stopping 26 of 28 shots.

Lines:

Ben Thomson-Kevin Rooney-Max Novak

Brian Gibbons-Carter Camper-Shane Harper

Ryan Kujawinski-Jan Mandat-Petr Straka

Luke Gazdic-Rod Pelley-Greg Wolfe

Defense:

Karl Stollery/Viktor Loov

Seth Helgeson/Jacob MacDonald

Andrew MacWilliam/Josh Jacobs

Ken Appleby/Mackenzie Blackwood

Scratches: Ben Sexton, Vojtech Mozik, Scott Wedgewood, Yohann Auvitu

Power Play: 0 for 3.  Penalty Kill: 3 for 4.  Penalty Minutes: 8.  Shots on Goal: 42.  Shots Allowed: 27.

3 Stars: 1. Kristers Gudlevskis; 2. Matthew Peca; 3. Slater Koekkoek.

Highlight Reel:

3/19 at Springfield: 3-0 L

To finish off the 3 in 3 weekend, it was east to Springfield to face the Thunderbirds, who were also finishing up a 3 in 3 of their own. After a quiet first, the home team would get on the board first 5:17 into the middle frame, as rookie Ed Wittchow scored his first professional goal for a 1-0 lead.  The Devils would get the game’s first power play late in the second that carried over to the third, but could not take advantage.  In fact, it turned into a disadvantage: Anthony Greco would score shorthanded 1:13 into the final period to double the Thunderbird lead.  After a few extra curriculars that would see a combined 36 penalty minuntes, Greco would finish the Devils off with an empty netter late.  Albany’s offense would pepper Adam Wilcox with 34 shots, but none would get past the netminder, who picked up his third shutout of the season, and second since joining the Thunderbirds March 1st.  Mackenzie Blackwood was the hard luck loser, stopping 22 of 24 shots.

Lines:

Brian Gibbons-Carter Camper-Shane Harper

Ryan Kujawinski-Jan Mandat-Petr Straka

Ben Thomson-Kevin Rooney-Max Novak

Luke Gazdic-Rod Pelley-Greg Wolfe

Defense:

Karl Stollery/Vojtech Mozik

Jacob MacDonald/Viktor Loov

Andrew MacWilliam/Yohann Auvitu

Mackenzie Blackwood/Ken Appleby

Scratches: Seth Helgeson, Josh Jacobs, Ben Sexton, Scott Wedgewood

Power Play: 0 for 3. Penalty Kill: 2 for 2.  Penalty Minutes: 13.  Shots on Goal: 34.  Shots Allowed: 25.

3 Stars: 1. Adam Wilcox; 2. Anthony Greco; 3. Ed Wittchow.

Highlight Reel:

My Player of the Week:

Sympathy votes go to both goaltenders this week, because in all honesty, they deserved a better fate.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Ben Sexton (19)

Assists: Carter Camper (21)

Points: Ben Sexton (31)

+/-: Vojtech Mozik (+13)

Penalty Minutes: Andrew MacWilliam (90)

Wins: Ken Appleby (16)

GAA: Scott Wedgewood (2.18)

Save Percentage: Scott Wedgewood (.912)

Division Playoff Update:

As of Sunday night, here’s where we stand:

  1. Syracuse, 75 points, .586
  2. Albany, .563, 72 points
  3. Toronto, 71 points, .551
  4. St. John’s, 70 points, .547
  5. Utica, 69 points, .539

There is a 6 point spread over the 5 teams, so depending on how the week shakes out, we may have a new order come the end of next weekend’s slate.  Albany’s magic number to clinch a playoff spot sits at 22 with 12 games remaining.

Up North with the Thunder:

It was a busy weekend at home for Adirondack, as they started off a 3 in 3 with a split against Wheeling.  The Nailers would take a decisive 5-2 win on Friday night, then looked to get the sweep on Saturday by going up 3-0 after 2 periods.  But the Thunder would pull off an epic comeback, scoring 4 times in the third, then giving up the tying goal with 20 seconds left in regulation, then finally finishing the comeback on an Alex Wall goal with 16 seconds remaining in overtime to pull out the 5-4 win.  Sunday night they hosted Atlanta, and…things would escalate quickly in the first period, as a combined 106 penalty minutes were handed out due to multiple fights.  The Thunder would win the game 6-1…and effectively the war in this case, as they finished with 52 of the game’s 176 combined penalty minutes.

Adirondack sits in a tie for second place with Reading in the North Division with 76 points, just three points behind first place Brampton.

Coming up this week: one more home matchup on Tuesday against Orlando, then they hit the road Friday and Saturday for a two game set against Reading.

This Week’s Schedule:

It’s a three game homestand for Albany this week.  Wednesday, Bridgeport comes in.  Friday sees a divisional showdown against Utica.  Then a second River Rats day on Saturday as Providence pays a visit.

And next Sunday you’ll find me at The Rock, as I’ll be calling myself up for the Dallas game.

 

Game 64: Albany at Springfield

Location: Mass Mutual Center, Springfield, MA.

Time: 3:00 PM.

Season Series: Springfield leads 2-1.

Media Kit

Standings:

Albany: 34-25-2-2, 72 points, .571, 2nd place in North Division

Springfield: 26-27-8-2, 62 points, .492, 6th place in Atlantic Division

Thunderbirds Leading Scorers/Goaltending:

Chase Balisy, 38 points (13 G, 25 A); Paul Thompson, 31 points (16 G, 15 A); Dryden Hunt, 26 points (10 G, 16 A)

Adam Wilcox, 21-10-4, 2.78 GAA (SYR/SPR); Sam Brittain, 2-2-0, 2.13 GAA

Last Game, Thunderbirds: Springfield lost 4-2 to Providence on the road on Saturday.

Latest News/Notes:

All three games in the season series have gone to overtime, with the road team winning each time; Josh Jacobs was injured during the second period in Syracuse last night, availability today unknown; Albany’s magic number to clinch a playoff berth sits at 22, with a shot at a four point swing this afternoon as 5th place Utica takes on Providence; the Devils penalty kill ranks second in the AHL at 84.7 percent (Wilkes-Barre is first at 86.7); forward Dryden Hunt is on a 5 game assist streak; former Devil Reece Scarlett is out due to an injury suffered in his T-Bird debut.

Late 2nd Period Goal Dooms T-Birds vs. Bruins (springfieldthunderbirds.com)

Albany Devils lose in overtime to rival Syracuse (Times Union)

Broadcast Info: AHL Live or WHYN 560 AM

Social: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @ThunderbirdsAHL, @KatyLovesHockey

Week 22 in Review: Reversing the Curse

Two last road games on the Devils six game trip.  Two buildings that have not been kind to the team in the past.  Six regulars on recall to New Jersey.  This had the makings of a possibly disastrous weekend.  But four points later…

3/10 at Binghamton: 3-2 W (SO)

The weekend began in the future digs, as the Devils came into Binghamton for the last time as a visitor (which they had no problem of reminding everyone over and over as the night went on).  And they were treated quite rudely by the current tenants in the first period.  Jason Akeson would score 1:14 into the contest for a fast 1-0 lead.  Then, of all the people, former Devil Brandon Gormley would score in his Senator debut midway through the period for a 2-0 Binghamton lead.  After 20 minutes, it looked like another case of the Broome County curse would strike the Devils…but then came the middle period.  Not only would Albany only allow just 2 shots, they would rally to tie things up.  Ryan Kujawinski would break the Devils scoreless drought 2:59 in with his 6th goal of the season to cut the Senators lead in half.  Jacob MacDonald, in his first game under his shiny new AHL contract, would celebrate by tying the game up with 1:19 to go in the period with his 5th goal, a power play marker.  In the third, Albany would again dominate play by outshooting Binghamton 15-4, but neither side could get that go ahead goal.  After overtime was unable to determine the winner, it was on to the shootout.  Carter Camper and Shane Harper were unsuccessful in the first two rounds, while Mackenzie Blackwood was able to stop chances from Akeson, Gabriel Gagne, and Marc Hagel.  It was all up to John Quenneville in the third round, and he would connect, giving Albany the much needed win.  Blackwood didn’t have much to do all night, only needing to stop 14 of 16 shots through the first 65 minutes.  Four different Devils would have one assist each.  After being outshot 8-5 in the first, Albany would hold the Senators to 8 shots the rest of the way, outshooting them 44-16 overall.

Lines:

John Quenneville-Carter Camper-Shane Harper

Blake Pietila-Max Novak-Brian Gibbons

Ryan Kujawinski-Jan Mandat-Petr Straka

Luke Gazdic-Rod Pelley-Ben Thomson

Defense:

Seth Helgeson/Jacob MacDonald

Karl Stollery/Vojtech Mozik

Andrew MacWilliam/Josh Jacobs

Mackenzie Blackwood/Andy Iles

Scratches: Ben Sexton, Scott Wedgewood, Yohann Auvitu, Greg Wolfe, Viktor Loov

Power Play: 1 for 4.  Penalty Kill: 1 for 1.  Penalty Minutes: 7.  Shots on Goal: 44. Shots Allowed: 16.

Shootout: Carter Camper N, Shane Harper N, John Quenneville Y; Jason Akeson N, Gabriel Gagne N, Marc Hagel N.

3 Stars: 1. Ryan Kujawinski; 2. Matt O’Connor; 3. Jacob MacDonald.

Highlight Reel:

AHL Live has your highlights here.

Saturday: Another day, another callup.  With Travis Zajac away from the team due to the birth of his third child and Devante Smith-Pelly out due to injury, it was Blake Pietila’s turn to rejoin the New Jersey lineup.  Ken Appleby was sent back down after backing up for one game.

3/11 at Bridgeport: 4-1 W

It was off to southern Connecticut on Saturday, as the Devils made their last visit to Bridgeport to face a struggling Sound Tigers squad.  And it didn’t take long for the visitors to get on the board…25 seconds into the game, Carter Verhaeghe took a penalty.  Nine seconds later, John Quenneville was scoring his 12th on the ensuing power play for a 1-0 lead.  Bracken Kearns would match that with a power play goal midway through the period for a 1-1 tie.  But in a 1:11 span late in the first, Petr Straka (4th) and Greg Wolfe (1st) would put Albany ahead 3-1, chasing starter Jaroslav Halak in favor of Eamon McAdam.  After a scoreless second period, the Devils would put the game away in the third.  Brian Gibbons would score his 12th with 4:03 remaining to seal the Devils second straight victory and finish off a perfect week.  Mackenzie Blackwood was strong between the pipes, stopping 25 of 26 shots.  Wolfe and 5 other Devils would each have one assist.  Viktor Loov, acquired from Toronto back on February 18th, would finally make his Devil debut.

Lines:

John Quenneville-Carter Camper-Shane Harper

Brian Gibbons-Max Novak-Petr Straka

Ryan Kujawinski-Jan Mandat-Greg Wolfe

Ben Thomson/Rod Pelley

Defense:

Karl Stollery/Vojtech Mozik

Seth Helgeson/Jacob MacDonald

Viktor Loov/Josh Jacobs

Andrew MacWilliam

Mackenzie Blackwood/Andy Iles

Scratches: Ben Sexton, Luke Gazdic, Scott Wedgewood, Yohann Auvitu, Ken Appleby

Power Play: 1 for 3.  Penalty Kill: 3 for 4.  Penalty Minutes: 8.  Shots on Goal: 21.  Shots Allowed: 26.

3 Stars: 1. Greg Wolfe; 2. Mackenzie Blackwood; 3. Petr Straka.

Highlight Reel:

Sunday: With Ken Appleby back in the fold, Andy Iles was released from his PTO and returned to Elmira.

My Player of the Week:

This week, it’s all about the PTOs.  Well, one former one anyway: the edge goes to Jacob MacDonald for being rewarded for his good work with a new contract, then contributing a goal and an assist on the weekend.  Honorable mention to Greg Wolfe for filling in admirably on Saturday and taking home #1 star honors.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Ben Sexton (19)

Assists: John Quenneville (29)

Points: John Quenneville (41)

+/-: Vojtech Mozik (+13)

Penalty Minutes: Andrew MacWilliam (85)

Wins: Ken Appleby (16)

GAA: Scott Wedgewood (2.18)

Save Percentage: Scott Wedgewood (.912)

Division Playoff Update:

After Sunday afternoon’s action, here’s where we stand in the North Division playoff race:

  1. Syracuse, 71 points, .582
  2. Albany, 70 points, .574
  3. Toronto, 67 points, .549
  4. Utica, 65 points, .533
  5. St. John’s, 66 points, .532

Albany’s magic number to clinch a playoff spot sits at 25 going into this week’s action.  Toronto visits Manitoba on Tuesday, while Syracuse visits Lehigh Valley on Wednesday.  There may be some changes in store before Albany takes the ice again on Friday.

Up North with the Thunder:

It was quite an interesting, high scoring week for the other team in red, as they went 2-2.

After losing 6-3 to Kalamazoo on Sunday afternoon to finish a disastrous Midwest swing, Adirondack started the weekend off with a 5-0 shutout of Manchester, as Brian Ward scored in his first appearance in almost a month.  They would follow that up with a 6-4 win over the Monarchs on home ice Saturday, as captain Peter MacArthur picked up a hat trick.  The Thunder would then lose a wild 9-7 game to Brampton on Sunday afternoon, despite a Ward hat trick.  Adirondack currently sits in fourth place in the North Division with 72 points, one point behind third place Manchester and four behind first place Reading, which would qualify them for the Kelly Cup playoffs (like the AHL, the ECHL also has a divisional format for the first two rounds).

A 3 in 3 home weekend is upcoming, as the Thunder will host Wheeling on Friday and Saturday, then Atlanta on Sunday.

This Week’s Schedule:

Bad news: it’s a 3 in 3 weekend.  Good news: it’s not much travel. Friday, the Devils finally return home to take on Springfield.  But then it’s right back on the road for a pair: a big matchup in Syracuse on Saturday night, followed by a trip to western Massachusetts on Sunday afternoon to finish off the series with the Thunderbirds.

Also, if Mother Nature is forgiving (then again the way the 2017 portion of the season is going…), the final Awards Banquet with the team is on Tuesday.  I will have a post up about that for my midweek update if it takes place.