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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.

 

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Midweek Update: Another Deadline

Think after the NHL Trade Deadline on March 1st no more moves could be made?

Well…not exactly.

The AHL has a trade deadline of their own, Wednesday at 3 PM, for final roster tweaks before the playoffs to be made.  After this time, the only new players that will most likely be added are via junior callup (like Pavel Zacha here last year, for example) or college amateur tryout (i.e. Nick Lappin last year).

The Devils were quite busy before the deadline:

Sunday: Karl Stollery was summoned back to New Jersey for an emergency recall (it does not count against the 4 max recalls the parent Devils get for the rest of the regular season) thanks to an injury to Damon Severson.  He did appear in the Devils’ 3-0 loss to the Blue Jackets at The Rock.

Monday: In a rare post deadline trade, Brandon Gormley was dealt to Ottawa for the ever popular future considerations.  Gormley was a victim of the defensive numbers game, only appearing in 35 games.  He will be spending the rest of the season in Binghamton.

Also, defenseman Jacob MacDonald, who has spent the last two months with Albany on a professional tryout from Toledo, received a 2 year AHL contract that will run through next season.  Since joining the team on January 6th, MacDonald has become one of the more consistent Devils on the blue line, with 11 points (4 goals, 7 assists) in 19 appearances.

Tuesday: Stollery and Kevin Rooney were both returned to Albany as New Jersey kicked off a three game road trip in Columbus.  In a whirlwind week for Rooney, he signed an entry level deal Monday, was recalled on Wednesday, made his NHL debut Thursday in Washington, played in front of over 50 friends and family Saturday in Boston, then got his first home game in on Sunday.

Meanwhile, around the North Division:

-Toronto picked up Rochester captain Cal O’Reilly on loan before the deadline Wednesday.

-Utica acquired forward Emerson Clark from Chicago on Wednesday for future considerations.

Three teams in the playoff race are in action this evening: Syracuse hosts St. John’s while Toronto visits Rochester.  I’ll tweet out the standings once both games are complete tonight, setting up for the weekend.

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Week 21 in Review: Sliding into March

Welcome to March!

It’s officially crunch time for the Devils, as they begin the homestretch towards the playoffs.  But only getting two out of four points when every other team around you is on a roll is not, shall we say, optimal when you’re fighting for position.

3/3 at Providence: 4-3 W

Week 2 of the road swing began in Rhode Island on Friday, as the Devils visited a hot Bruins team…and had to face undefeated goaltender Zane McIntyre.  After a scoreless first period, the Bruins would be first on the board early in the second, as a Peter Mueller goal 99 seconds into the middle frame would put the home team up by 1.  A Tommy Cross goal with under seven minutes remaining in the period would double the Bruin lead.  But much like the last couple of the weeks, the Devils were not about to go away quietly.  Max Novak would cut the Providence lead in half with his 6th goal of the season with 2:30 remaining in the second.  In the third, one Devil would single-handedly pull off another Albany comeback.  Blake Pietila, in his second game back from injury, would score twice in a 2:27 span early in the third period to tie…then give the Devils…a 3-2 lead.  Nick Lappin would add what looked like an insurance goal with 5:25 to go for a 4-2 lead.  But the Bruins were not done yet…a power play goal by Danton Heinen 43 seconds later would make it a 1 goal game again.  But the Devils were able to hang on for the remainder of regulation, pulling out a much needed win to remain in second place in the North.  Ken Appleby would pick up his 16th win in net, stopping 36 of 39 shots.  John Quenneville lead all scorers with three assists, while three other Devils would each have a helper.

Lines:

John Quenneville-Blake Pietila-Nick Lappin

Brian Gibbons-Max Novak-Shane Harper

Ben Thomson-Jan Mandat-Petr Straka

Luke Gazdic-Rod Pelley-Yohann Auvitu

Defense:

Karl Stollery/Vojtech Mozik

Seth Helgeson/Jacob MacDonald

Andrew MacWilliam/Josh Jacobs

Ken Appleby/Mackenzie Blackwood

Scratches: Viktor Loov, Ben Sexton, Carter Camper, Ryan Kujawinski, Scott Wedgewood, Brandon Gormley

Power Play: 1 for 3.  Penalty Kill: 2 for 3.  Penalty Minutes: 6.  Shots on Goal: 35.  Shots Allowed: 39.

3 Stars: 1. Blake Pietila; 2. John Quenneville; 3. Jacob MacDonald.

Highlight Reel:

AHL Live has your highlights here.

Saturday: Two roster moves:

-With Andy Greene needing to leave the parent Devils due to personal reasons, Nick Lappin was recalled and got in against the Bruins in Boston.  Needing another forward here, Greg Wolfe was summoned from Adirondack on a PTO.

3/4 at Utica: 3-0 L

It was due west to central New York on Saturday, as the Devils made their final visit of the season to face a Comets team on a roll and knocking on the playoff door.  After an uneventful first period, the home team got on the board twice during the middle frame.  A video review on a quick in and out shot worked in Utica’s favor, and Jake Virtanen would have his sixth goal of the year for a 1-0 lead.  Wacey Hamilton’s 8th four minutes later would double the Comet lead, putting Albany in the same position as the night before.  But Utica made sure a comeback was not in the cards…Borna Rendulic’s 10th goal just as the penalty kill expired would give the Comets a three goal cushion.  And that was all rookie goaltender Thatcher Demko would need…he would stop all 38 Devil shots in picking up his first professional shutout, and the fourth shutout against Albany this season.  Mackenzie Blackwood would take the hard luck loss, stopping 24 of 27 shots.

Lines:

John Quenneville-Blake Pietila-Shane Harper

Brian Gibbons-Max Novak-Petr Straka

Ben Thomson-Jan Mandat-Greg Wolfe

Luke Gazdic-Rod Pelley-Yohann Auvitu

Defense:

Karl Stollery/Vojtech Mozik

Seth Helgeson/Jacob MacDonald

Josh Jacobs/Brandon Gormley

Mackenzie Blackwood/Ken Appleby

Scratches: Viktor Loov, Andrew MacWilliam, Ben Sexton, Carter Camper, Ryan Kujawinski, Scott Wedgewood

Power Play: 0 for 4.  Penalty Kill: 4 for 4.  Penalty Minutes: 12.  Shots on Goal: 38.  Shots Allowed: 27.

3 Stars: 1. Thatcher Demko; 2. Jake Virtanen; 3. Mike Zalewski.

Highlight Reel:

AHL Live has the video here.

My Player of the Week:

With really one game of stats to go by…the edge goes to Blake Pietila, who needed a strong showing to get back in the swing of things after missing time due to injury.  John Quenneville with the honorable mention.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Ben Sexton (19)

Assists: John Quenneville (29)

Points: John Quenneville (40)

+/-: Vojtech Mozik (+13)

Penalty Minutes: Andrew MacWilliam (83)

Wins: Ken Appleby (16)

GAA: Scott Wedgewood (2.18)

Save Percentage: Scott Wedgewood (.912)

Division Playoff Update:

After Saturday’s action, here is where everyone stands in the North:

  1. Syracuse: 68 points, .596 pct
  2. Toronto: 65 points, .560 pct
  3. Albany: 66 points, .559 pct
  4. Utica: 59 points, .518 pct
  5. St. John’s: 60 points, .517 pct

In this year’s playoff format, the top 4 points percentages in the division (no crossovers this time) clinch spots.  Right now, the Devils would take on the Marlies in Round 1, with Toronto getting home ice in the slimmest of margins.  The magic number, lowered when Albany wins and/or the fifth place team loses, sits at 31 going into Sunday afternoon.  That number or position may or may not change by the end of the day: Syracuse, Toronto, St. John’s, and Utica all play this afternoon.

Up North with the Thunder:

On the ice, it wasn’t a great week for Adirondack, as they went 0-3.  Off ice, however, it was very good for the future of pro hockey in Glens Falls…and the 518 area.

While the Thunder were playing a morning game in Brampton on Tuesday, it was announced that a group of local investors known as the Adirondack Civic Center Coalition were buying the team from Calgary, with the goal of keeping pro hockey in Glens Falls for years to come.  A fundraiser is currently underway to raise the money needed to complete the purchase and run the day to day operations.  This may also mean another affiliation could come in next season (with Utica’s affiliate in Alaska about to go dark and the future of Rochester’s affiliate in Elmira uncertain, this is something to keep in mind), but that will be worked out in due time.

On ice…the Thunder started the week with a 3-0 shutout loss on Tuesday to the Beast, then followed by a 2-0 loss to Cincinnati on Thursday.  Adirondack would finally break a scoreless drought on Saturday night in a rematch with the Cyclones, but Cincinnati would sweep the two game set with a 3-2 win.

A busy week upcoming for Adirondack, as they take on Kalamazoo Sunday afternoon in Michigan, then they finish up the road swing in Manchester on Friday night.  Saturday, they kick off a six game homestand against the Monarchs.

This Week’s Schedule:

Another short two game week to finish off the road trip.  Friday…it’s the last trip to Binghamton as a visitor.  Then the road trip will end on Saturday in Bridgeport.

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Midweek Update: It’s March!

Welcome to March 1st everyone!

Today is a big day…it’s NHL Trade Deadline Day, and also, rosters need to be set for AHL postseason.  So to keep everyone up to speed, here is what New Jersey has done over the last couple of days:

Monday: Two transactions:

Blake Coleman was given his second recall of the season after Pavel Zacha was placed on IR.  He appeared in the Devils 4-3 OT loss to Montreal at The Rock.

Also, it was announced that Kevin Rooney, who has been with Albany all season on an AHL deal, was signed to a NHL entry level deal for the remainder of this season.  A well deserved reward for the rookie, who has been the only A-Devil to appear in every single game so far this season.

Wednesday:

-Rooney was recalled and is expected to make his NHL debut tomorrow night in Washington.

-Out of the three trades New Jersey made at the deadline, only one affected Albany: Reece Scarlett, who was the longest tenured current A-Devil, was dealt to Florida for forward Shane Harper.  In 39 games with the Thunderbirds, Harper has 19 points (7 G, 12 A).  He made his NHL debut with the Panthers on October 13th against New Jersey, and would appear in 14 games, scoring twice.  Local fans may remember Harper from the Adirondack Phantoms, where he spent three-plus seasons.

Also this afternoon: Coleman, Rooney, Joe Blandisi, Steve Santini, and Miles Wood were all papered to Albany then recalled to New Jersey, making them eligible to return to the AHL anytime through the rest of the regular season and the playoffs.  Seth Helgeson, who cleared waivers over the weekend, was officially reassigned with the addition of Dalton Prout from Columbus (for Kyle Quincey).

 

Now let’s take a look at what’s going on around the North Division:

-No changes for Utica despite the mumps hitting the Canucks hard.

-Binghamton lost defenseman Michael Kostka, who was dealt to Calgary as part of the Curtis Lazar-Jyrki Jokipakka deal.

-Rochester received former Union College defenseman Mat Bodie from the Rangers for forward Dan Catenacci on Tuesday.

-St. John’s lost forward Sven Andrighetto, who was dealt to Colorado for forward Andreas Martinsen.

-Syracuse ended up the big winners in the division thanks to a pair of deals:

In the Brian Boyle deal with Toronto, the Crunch picked up Marlies forward Byron Froese and his 22 goals.  In a sort of related move, former River Rat/A-Devil Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond was loaned to the Marlies.

Tampa Bay and Florida swapped AHL goaltenders: Adam Wilcox is off to Springfield, while former A-Devil Mike McKenna will join Syracuse.

-Toronto also picked up former A-Devil Mike Sislo in a loan deal with San Antonio, sending Colin Smith to the Rampage.

 

The NHL deadline may have passed, but the AHL has until March 8th at 3 PM to finish up any intraleague trades or loans.  So…there may be more to come, stay tuned.

 

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Week 19 in Review: Closer to the Top

Nothing like a little bit of home cooking to keep you on track.  And with a four out of six point week, the Devils continued to creep ever closer…but not close enough…to taking back first place in the North.

2/15 vs. Syracuse: 6-1 W

The homestand would kick off on Wednesday with a #1 vs #2 divisional battle, as the Devils played host to the Crunch for the second time in two weeks.  Albany would get off to a good start late in the first period, as Kevin Rooney (9th) and Ben Sexton (18th on a power play) would score 2:58 apart for a 2-0 advantage.  In the second period…the rout was on, as the Devils outshot the Crunch 18-6 and turned up the offense.  In a span of 8:42, Brian Gibbons (11th), Blake Coleman (17th), John Quenneville (11th on a power play), and Vojtech Mozik (8th on a power play) would all light the lamp, extending the Devils lead to 6-0, chasing Crunch starter Adam Wilcox out after two periods in favor of Kristers Gudlevskis.  The goalie switch seemed to help Syracuse in the third, as they held the Devils off the scoresheet in the third, holding them to 6 shots.  Adam Comrie’s goal 4:34 into the third would break up the shutout bid, but Syracuse just could not get any closer.  The benefactor of all this was Mackenzie Blackwood, who played brilliantly in win #10, stopping 26 of 27 shots.  Twelve Devils registered at least one point, lead by two assists each from Andrew MacWilliam and Reece Scarlett.  And as a bonus, Sexton notched the famous Gordie Howe Hat Trick, with a second period assist and a fight with Dominik Masin.

Lines:

Brian Gibbons-Blake Coleman-Petr Straka

John Quenneville-Carter Camper-Ben Sexton

Ryan Kujawinski-Kevin Rooney-Max Novak

Luke Gazdic-Rod Pelley-Ben Thomson

Defense:

Karl Stollery / Vojtech Cinemas

Reece Scarlett / Yohann Auvitu

Andrew MacWilliam/Josh Jacobs

Mackenzie Blackwood/Ken Appleby

Scratches: Jan Mandat, Blake Pietila, Nick Lappin, Scott Wedgewood, Brandon Gormley, Jacob MacDonald

Power Play: 3 for 8.  Penalty Kill: 7 for 7.  Penalty Minutes: 31.  Shots on Goal: 35.  Shots Allowed: 27.

3 Stars: 1. Ben Sexton; 2. Blake Coleman; 3. Brian Gibbons.

Highlight Reel:

2/17 vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton: 4-0 W

Friday night came a huge test for the Devils, as the #1 team in the American Hockey League, the Penguins, were in town for a visit.  And…they passed with flying colors.  Blake Coleman would get things going in the right direction just :58 after the opening puck drop, scoring his 18th goal of the season off a misplay for a 1-0 lead.  That slim lead would hold up, as Mackenzie Blackwood and the defense would hold Wilkes-Barre to 7 first period shots (at one point shots were 9-0 Devils), then to 8 in the second.  In the third, the Penguins believed they had tied the game up…but the play was whistled dead just before the puck would cross the line.  The Devils offense would end up putting the game away for good with a 3 goal outburst…Ben Sexton would score his 19th to double the Devil lead.  Max Novak would follow up that goal with his 5th for a 3-0 lead, then Nick Lappin would put the exclamation point on with an empty netter, his 6th.  Blackwood was sensational for the second straight game, stopping all 24 Penguin shots in his first professional shutout, the Devils’ first of the season.  Brian Gibbons and Yohann Auvitu each added two assists, while Lappin and two others had one helper each.

Lines:

John Quenneville-Carter Camper-Ben Sexton

Brian Gibbons-Blake Coleman-Nick Lappin

Petr Straka-Kevin Rooney-Max Novak

Luke Gazdic-Rod Pelley-Ben Thomson

Defense:

Karl Stollery / Vojtech Cinemas

Andrew MacWilliam/Josh Jacobs

Reece Scarlett / Yohann Auvitu

Mackenzie Blackwood/Ken Appleby

Scratches: Jan Mandat, Blake Pietila, Ryan Kujawinski, Scott Wedgewood, Brandon Gormley, Jacob MacDonald

Power Play: 0 for 3.  Penalty Kill: 1 for 1.  Penalty Minutes: 2.  Shots on Goal: 34.  Shots Allowed: 24.

Highlight Reel:

2/18 vs. Bridgeport: 3-2 L

Fifteen and a half hours later, it was back on ice for Albany, as they finished out the week against a very hot Sound Tigers squad.  The Devils dodged a bullet with not having to face Jaroslav Halak, winner of his last 11 starts, but Bridgeport would be first to strike.  Jon Landry would put the visitors up 1-0 with a shot from the corner.  Carter Camper would tie the game up late in the period with a power play tally, his fourth of the season.  The Sound Tigers would put this one away early in the second period, as goals by Josh Ho-Sang and Carter Verhaeghe 2:05 apart would put the Devils down 3-1.  Nick Lappin would remain hot to start the third, scoring his 7th on a power play to cut the lead to 3-2.  But that was all the Devils could manage, and their brief two game winning streak was snapped.  Ken Appleby drew back in and played well despite the loss, stopping 25 of 28 shots.  Lappin would extend his point streak to 10 games with a goal and an assist, while Camper and two others had one helper each.

Lines:

Brian Gibbons-Blake Coleman-Nick Lappin

John Quenneville-Carter Camper-Ben Sexton

Petr Straka-Kevin Rooney-Max Novak

Luke Gazdic-Rod Pelley-Ben Thomson

Defense:

Reece Scarlett/Jacob MacDonald

Karl Stollery/Vojtech Mozik

Andrew MacWilliam/Josh Jacobs

Ken Appleby/Mackenzie Blackwood

Scratches: Jan Mandat, Blake Pietila, Ryan Kujawinski, Scott Wedgewood, Brandon Gormley, Yohann Auvitu

Power Play: 2 for 2.  Penalty Kill: 3 for 3.  Penalty Minutes: 6.  Shots on Goal: 33.  Shots Allowed: 28.

3 Stars: 1. Josh Ho-Sang; 2. Carter Camper; 3. Carter Verhaeghe.

Highlight Reel:

Roster Moves: At noontime, Sergey Kalinin cleared waivers and was reassigned to Albany.  Less than three hours later, he was traded to the Maple Leafs for defenseman Viktor Loov, who will join Albany next week.  A native of Sweden, Loov has spent all of this season with the Marlies, where in 41 games he has two goals and four assists.  A 2012 seventh round pick by Toronto, Loov has had at least one cup of coffee in the NHL, appearing in four games for the Maple Leafs last season after completing nearly three full seasons with the Marlies.

My Player of the Week:

This was decided before the week was even over…two wins, one goal given up over those two games, and shutting out the best team in the AHL?  A well deserved honor for Mackenzie Blackwood.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Ben Sexton (19)

Assists: John Quenneville (26)

Points: John Quenneville (37)

+/-: Blake Coleman (+17)

Penalty Minutes: Andrew MacWilliam (81)

Wins: Ken Appleby (14)

GAA: Scott Wedgewood (2.18)

Save Percentage: Scott Wedgewood (.912)

Up North with the Thunder:

Good news: 3 out of 6 points earned.  Bad: The Thunder would go 0-0-2-1 doing so.

On Tuesday, Adirondack would rally from a 5-3 deficit with 4:26 remaining in regulation to tie Reading at 5, only to lose 6-5 in a shootout on home ice.  Five different players would score for the Thunder, with Brock Montgomery leading the way with one goal and two assists.  The Thunder traveled south for a two game set against Atlanta, losing 3-2 in overtime to the Gladiators on Friday.  In the rematch on Saturday, Adirondack rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the third and tied the game with 23 seconds remaining in regulation, then lose 4-3 in overtime.  One game Devil J.P. Anderson drew the start in net and stopped 27 of 31 shots.

After finishing up their southern swing on Sunday in South Carolina, the Thunder return home next weekend for a pair of games, hosting Reading on Friday and Brampton on Saturday.

This Week’s Schedule:

A three game week against divisional foes is on the agenda.  Monday, the Devils finish off the homestand with a Presidents Day afternoon tilt against Utica.  Then it’s the start of a season long six game road swing, starting Friday and Saturday with a pair in Newfoundland against St. John’s.

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Week 14 in Review: Patchwork Makes It Work

So…four forwards injured or ill.  Three other players called up to New Jersey due to injury/extended travel west.  Four new players plugged in to fill the void.

And…it actually worked!  Taking 5 out of 6 points for the week is not a bad showing, despite the lineup challenges.

1/11 at Springfield: 3-2 W (OT)

To start the week, all the Devils had to do was make a quick trip east on the Mass Pike to Springfield, for their first ever matchup against the Thunderbirds and former River Rats captain Geordie Kinnear.  Both teams would trade goals in the first period…Brent Regner would give Springfield an early lead, only to have Carter Camper tie things up later on with his second goal of the season.  After a relatively quiet second period, things would get interesting in the final 20 minutes.  Ryan Kujawinski would finally pick up goal #1 of the season with 13:26 remaining to put the Devils ahead 2-1.  And just as it looked like the Devils would pull it out in regulation…the T-Birds were not ready to pack it in just yet.  With former Devil Mike McKenna pulled for an extra attacker, their lone All Star selection, Mackenzie Weegar, would get the puck past Ken Appleby with 1:41 remaining to tie the game up at 2.  But in the end, the road team would get the last laugh…Ben Sexton would score the game winner, his 10th, with 1:40 remaining in the extra period to give the Devils the extra point.  Appleby would stop 33 of 35 shots in his 9th win of the season.  A pair of PTOs, Brian Ward (Adirondack) and Jacob MacDonald (Toledo), would each have one assist, along with three other Devils.

Lines:

Brian Gibbons-Carter Camper-Ben Sexton

Max Novak-Blake Pietila-Tylor Spink

Ryan Kujawinski-Kevin Rooney-Brian Ward

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Ty Loney

Defense:

Vojtech Mozik/Brandon Gormley

Reece Scarlett/Jacob MacDonald

Andrew MacWilliam/Josh Jacobs

Ken Appleby/Mackenzie Blackwood

Scratches: Joe Blandisi, Jan Mandat, John Quenneville, Scott Wedgewood, Petr Straka

Power Play: 0 for 5.  Penalty Kill: 4 for 4.  Penalty Minutes: 8.  Shots on Goal: 37.  Shots Allowed: 35.

3 Stars: 1. Ben Sexton; 2. Mackenzie Weegar; 3. Mike McKenna.

Highlight Reel:

1/13 vs. Springfield: 3-2 L (OT)

Friday night came the rematch on Albany’s home ice, with the only changes coming in net: Mackenzie Blackwood and Reto Berra got their turns in net.  This time, it would be Albany jumping out to the early lead…with Andrew MacWilliam in the penalty box serving an interference call, Jacob MacDonald (or as I have dubbed him, Last Week’s New Guy…got to keep the PTOs straight somehow) would get his first AHL goal shorthanded to make it 1-0.  After struggling to get shots on net, the Thunderbirds would find their way onto the scoresheet midway through the second, as former Ranger Dylan McIlrath, who was sent to Springfield by the Panthers for a conditioning stint, would tie the game up at 1.  But, less than two minutes later, Ben Sexton would pick up a power play goal, his 11th, to put Albany back on top 2-1.  Much like Wednesday night, the Devils were looking to hold on to that lead through the third…and then the same thing happened again.  With Berra pulled, the T-Birds would tie the game at 2 with just 52 seconds remaining in regulation.  Unfortunately for Albany, this overtime round would not end the way they wanted it…on the T-Birds first shot of the extra period, Shane Harper would pick up the game winner less than two minutes in for the extra point.  It marked the first overtime loss for the Devils this season, and also the first loss at home when holding a lead after the first or second period (they were 10-0 going in).  Blackwood did not have much work to do, only stopping 16 of 19 shots.  Three Devils would have one assist each.

Lines:

Blake Pietila-Carter Camper-Ben Sexton

Ryan Kujawinski-Kevin Rooney-Ty Loney

Tylor Spink-Brian Gibbons-Max Novak

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Brian Ward

Defense:

Vojtech Mozik/Brandon Gormley

Reece Scarlett/Jacob MacDonald

Andrew MacWilliam/Josh Jacobs

Mackenzie Blackwood/Ken Appleby

Scratches: Joe Blandisi, Jan Mandat, John Quenneville, Nick Lappin, Scott Wedgewood, Petr Straka, Justin Agosta

Power Play: 1 for 3.  Penalty Kill: 3 for 3.  Penalty Minutes: 11.  Shots on Goal: 26.  Shots Allowed: 19.

3 Stars: 1. Shane Harper; 2. Matt MacKenzie; 3. Jacob MacDonald.

Highlight Reel:

1/14 at Binghamton: 3-2 W

To finish off the week, the Devils headed west to Binghamton to take on the Senators.  Unlike the last time the team visited Broome County in November, when the Sens had a 3-0 lead less than 5 minutes into the contest, it would be Albany getting off to a strong start in the first.  Just 14 seconds after getting their first power play opportunity of the night, Ben Sexton would continue his big week, picking up his 12th goal for a 1-0 lead.  After the Senators had a potential tying goal waved off, the Devils would double their lead on Brandon Gormley’s 2nd goal of the season.  In the second, despite a 20-9 shot differential in favor of Albany, it would be Binghamton getting into the game.  Jason Akeson and Max McCormick would tie the game up with goals 1:40 apart.  However, Sexton would end up with the last laugh late in the period, as his second power play goal of the night would put the Devils back ahead 3-2.  Albany was able to prevent the Senators from re-tying the game, actually surviving a sixth attacker situation late in this one to pull out the win.  Another strong outing from Ken Appleby, who stopped 21 of 23 shots in win #10.  Carter Camper added two assists, while Gormley and PTO pickup Ty Loney had one helper each.

Lines:

Ryan Kujawinski-Carter Camper-Ben Sexton

Brian Gibbons-Blake Pietila-Ty Loney

Brian Ward-Kevin Rooney-Max Novak

Tylor Spink-Rod Pelley-Ben Thomson

Defense:

Josh Jacobs/Brandon Gormley

Andrew MacWilliam/Justin Agosta

Reece Scarlett/Jacob MacDonald

Ken Appleby/Mackenzie Blackwood

Scratches: Joe Blandisi, Jan Mandat, John Quenneville, Vojtech Mozik, Nick Lappin, Scott Wedgewood, Petr Straka

Power Play: 2 for 2.  Penalty Kill: 2 for 2.  Penalty Minutes: 9.  Shots on Goal: 34.  Shots Allowed: 23.

3 Stars: 1. Ben Sexton; 2. Brandon Gormley; 3. Max McCormick.

Highlight Reel:

My Player of the Week:

This week is basically a slam dunk choice…Ben Sexton stepped it up this week with most of the firepower out of the lineup.  With four goals, two of those game winners, he may have a legitimate shot at AHL Player of the Week honors.  Honorable mentions to two of the PTOs, Jacob MacDonald and Ty Loney, for stepping in and doing a great job filling in.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Blake Pietila/Ben Sexton (13)

Assists: John Quenneville (17)

Points: John Quenneville (27)

+/-: Vojtech Mozik (+11)

Penalty Minutes: Andrew MacWilliam (61)

Wins: Ken Appleby (10)

GAA: Ken Appleby (1.87)

Save Percentage: Ken Appleby (.929)

Up North with the Thunder:

It wasn’t the greatest of weeks for Adirondack, as they went 1-2 and were outscored 14-11.  Their lone win came on Wednesday night, a 5-1 win at home against Elmira.  Before getting the PTO call, Ty Loney had one goal and two assists, while local product and captain Peter MacArthur picked up a hat trick.  On Friday, the Thunder had a 2-0 lead after one, proceeded to give up 4 goals to Manchester in the second, score three more of their own, blow the lead in the third, tie the game up with 7 seconds remaining in regulation, then ultimately lose 7-6 to the Monarchs in overtime.  The two teams would continue their weekend set Saturday in New Hampshire, where Manchester would take a 6-3 decision.  Adirondack and Manchester finish up their three game series on Monday afternoon in Glens Falls, then the Thunder will host the ECHL All Star Game on Wednesday evening.  Adirondack will hit the road for the weekend, starting Friday in Reading then heading south to Norfolk on Saturday.

This Week’s Schedule:

A big divisional week lies ahead for the Devils.  On Wednesday, they will host Syracuse for the first time all season in a 1st vs. 2nd battle.  Then it’s off to Newfoundland for the next two, as they face St. John’s on Saturday and Sunday afternoon.

 

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Week 13 in Review: Of Domination and Deficits

This week was a tale of two teams.

First, you got a team where everything clicked at home.  Then to the (sort of) long road west, later south…and the whistling returned, among other things.

The result?  A 1-2 week for the Devils.

1/4 vs. St. John’s: 6-2 W

The week began with the third visit of the season from the IceCaps, who were in the midst of a long 10 game divisional road swing.  Much like the last two games, it was the Devils getting off to a quick start, as Carter Camper finally scored his first goal of the season just 1:14 into the contest for a 1-0 lead.  Blake Coleman would double the lead 33 seconds into the middle period with his 11th goal of the season.  The IceCaps would find their way onto the scoresheet 3:25 in on a Nikita Scherbak goal, only to have Brian Gibbons score his 9th 36 seconds later for a 3-1 lead.  On the first power play opportunity for either side, Blake Pietila took advantage and picked up his 13th goal for a 3 goal advantage.  Thirty-five seconds after that goal, the IceCaps would answer with Brett Lernout’s first goal of the season to make it 4-2.  However, Coleman would come through with his second goal of the period for a 5-2 Devil lead, chasing IceCap starter Charlie Lindgren in favor of former Devil Yann Danis.  The Devil scoring wasn’t quite finished…Ben Sexton would cap off a 5 goal second period with his 9th on a power play to give Albany a 6-2 lead.  Ken Appleby would be the benefactor of all this offense, as he only needed to stop 20 of 22 shots to pick up win #8 and a fourth straight victory for Albany.  Nine Devil skaters would pick up at least one point, lead by Coleman’s three: Gibbons, Sexton, Pietila, and Camper would finish with one goal/one assist, while Max Novak, John Quenneville, Reece Scarlett, and Yohann Auvitu added one assist each.

Lines:

Blake Pietila-Blake Coleman-Brian Gibbons

John Quenneville-Carter Camper-Ben Sexton

Ryan Kujawinski-Kevin Rooney-Max Novak

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Brian Ward

Defense:

Reece Scarlett/Yohann Auvitu

Karl Stollery/Vojtech Mozik

Andrew MacWilliam/Josh Jacobs

Ken Appleby/Mackenzie Blackwood

Scratches: Seth Helgeson, Joe Blandisi, Jan Mandat, Scott Wedgewood, Brandon Gormley, Petr Straka

Power Play: 2 for 4.  Penalty Kill: 3 for 3.  Penalty Minutes: 6.  Shots on Goal: 32.  Shots Allowed: 22.

3 Stars: 1. Blake Coleman; 2. Brian Gibbons; 3. Blake Pietila.

Highlight Reel:

1/6 at Utica: 4-2 L

A three game road trip began down the Thruway on Friday night, as the Devils traveled to Utica to take on a struggling Comets team that was winless in their last 9 games. With Josh Jacobs serving a double minor for a high stick (his second high stick in a span of 3:24), Colby Robak would give the home team a 1-0 lead in the first with a power play goal.  Max Novak would match that later in the period with his fourth of the season just as the man advantage was about to expire.  Alexandre Grenier would put Utica ahead 2-1 in the second with his 9th goal of the season.  Just 14 seconds after the puck dropped to begin the third, Curtis Valk would put the Comets ahead 3-1 with his 11th goal of the season.  Blake Coleman continued his hot play as of late, scoring his 13th with 8:06 remaining to cut the Comet lead to 3-2.  Wacey Hamilton would put the final nail in the coffin late with an empty netter, bringing the Albany win streak to a halt at four games.  Mackenzie Blackwood would end up with the loss in net, stopping 28 of 31 shots.  Coleman and three other Devils would have one assist each.

Lines:

Blake Pietila-Blake Coleman-Brian Gibbons

John Quenneville-Carter Camper-Ben Sexton

Ryan Kujawinski-Kevin Rooney-Max Novak

Ben Thomson/Rod Pelley

Defense:

Reece Scarlett/Yohann Auvitu

Karl Stollery/Vojtech Mozik

Andrew MacWilliam/Josh Jacobs

Jacob MacDonald

Mackenzie Blackwood/Ken Appleby

Scratches: Joe Blandisi, Jan Mandat, Scott Wedgewood, Brandon Gormley, Petr Straka, Brian Ward

Power Play: 1 for 4.  Penalty Kill: 7 for 8.  Penalty Minutes: 18.  Shots on Goal: 24.  Shots Allowed: 32.

3 Stars: 1. Colby Robak; 2. Blake Coleman; 3. Darren Archibald.

Highlight Reel:

Saturday: Albany found themselves down another defenseman, as Yohann Auvitu was summoned back to New Jersey before the parent Devils took on Edmonton.

1/7 at Lehigh Valley: 2-0 L

The week finished off in Allentown, as the Devils finally faced their old North Country rivals (that they never see anymore) the Phantoms.  It would be a battle of two very good rookie goaltenders, Alex Lyon for Lehigh Valley and Ken Appleby for Albany.  Appleby would be tested late in the first period after Jordan Weal was awarded a penalty shot, but the Phantoms All Star forward would be denied by the goalpost.  The Phantoms would find their way onto the scoreboard midway through the second, as just seconds after Ryan Kujawinski was whistled for an elbowing penalty, Greg Carey would pick up his 17th goal of the season to put the home team ahead 1-0.  Late in the period, during a Devils power play, Reece Scarlett would turnover the puck, which landed on the stick of Scott Laughton.  He would proceed on a break and score, doubling the Phantom lead.  Albany did manage to outshoot Lehigh Valley 10-7 in the third, and had a late 6 on 4 opportunity, but the offense was simply unable to get anything past Lyon, who picked up his second shutout of the season.  Appleby played well despite the loss, stopping 31 of 33 shots.

Lines:

John Quenneville-Carter Camper-Ben Sexton

Blake Pietila-Blake Coleman-Brian Gibbons

Ryan Kujawinski-Kevin Rooney-Max Novak

Brian Ward-Rod Pelley-Ben Thomson

Defense:

Karl Stollery/Vojtech Mozik

Andrew MacWilliam/Josh Jacobs

Reece Scarlett/Jacob MacDonald

Ken Appleby/Mackenzie Blackwood

Scratches: Joe Blandisi, Jan Mandat, Scott Wedgewood, Brandon Gormley, Petr Straka

Power Play: 0 for 7.  Penalty Kill: 4 for 5.  Penalty Minutes: 20.  Shots on Goal: 31.  Shots Allowed: 33.

3 Stars: 1. Alex Lyon; 2. Scott Laughton; 3. Greg Carey.

Highlight Reel:

My Player of the Week:

Again, another great week from Blake Coleman, adding three more goals and two more assists to his comeback season.  Still considered a rookie by AHL rules, he has joined teammate John Quenneville in the top 10 among league rookies in scoring, ranks third among rookies in goals (13), and is tied for first in the league in game winning goals with 4.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Blake Pietila/Blake Coleman (13)

Assists: John Quenneville (17)

Points: John Quenneville (27)

+/-: Blake Coleman (+15)

Penalty Minutes: Andrew MacWilliam (57)

Wins: Ken Appleby (8)

GAA: Ken Appleby (1.86)

Save Percentage: Ken Appleby (.929)

Up North with the Thunder:

Much like the Devils, the Thunder also went 1-2 on the week, with all three games away from Glens Falls.  Adirondack would start the trip with a 4-2 loss against Norfolk on Wednesday night.  Ty Loney picked up his 13th goal in the third period in the loss.  On Friday, the Thunder would pick up a 4-2 win against Reading, as Loney scored his 14th and Alex Wall added a goal and an assist.  The Royals would get their revenge on Saturday with a 4-3 win.

The Thunder return home next week for a pair of games, hosting Elmira on Wednesday and Manchester on Friday, then they travel to New Hampshire on Saturday for the middle game of a three game set with the Monarchs.

This Week’s Schedule:

Three games coming up for the Devils this week.  On Wednesday, Albany finishes off a three game road trip in Springfield, starting a home and home set against the Thunderbirds.  After returning home on Friday to face the T-Birds, it’s off to Binghamton on Saturday night to take on the Senators.

Also coming up this week: the official midpoint of the season hits on Friday!  Expect my annual halfway stat review to be up sometime on Saturday.

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