ALBANY, NY – A brand new season is upon us and the Albany Devils skated for the first time Tuesday since their 5-2 victory against the Springfield Falcons to close out the regular season Saturday. The Devils are staring down a first round series against the St. John’s IceCaps, which is set to begin Friday at Times Union Center.
In the AHL, the opening round is a best-of-five and the higher seed doesn’t necessarily always open at home. That’s the case with the Devils and IceCaps. Fifth-seeded Albany will host the first two games before traveling for the remainder at fourth-seeded St. John’s.
Both clubs have stellar home record: the Devils .697 winning percentage ranks fifth in the league, while the IceCaps .671 is 10th.
“You know what, there’s no question it’s important,” said Head Coach Rick Kowalsky. “Obviously, we’ve played well here and we feel comfortable here. I don’t think you want to put too much emphasis on it, I think you’ve just got to focus on that first game. The playoffs can be a crazy thing.”
Friday’s game will be the first between the Devils and IceCaps in 2013-14 and the fifth all-time meeting. Last season, Albany went 1-2-0-1 against St. John’s.
There is a cloud of unknown hovering over this first round series, but that doesn’t mean the teams don’t know what to anticipate.
“I expect it to be a fast series,” Kowalsky said. “They’re a team that has some skill up front. Some guys that have been around, proven scorers, that we’ve talked about in Gordon and Samson, Jaffray, their captain, a veteran guy that is their leading scorer. Then the back end, very active D that can all skate, so I expect that with the way we skate and the way they skate for it to be certainly a fast series.”
The Devils will continue their prep work with a Wednesday morning practice at Times Union Center. St. John’s is expected to arrive in the Capital Region Thursday.
ALBANY, NY — The Albany Devils are heading into the 2014 Calder Cup Playoffs riding a five-game winning streak, which was capped by a 5-2 victory against the Springfield Falcons Saturday at Times Union Center. Albany concludes the regular season with 40-23-5-8 — the team’s first 40 win season.
“I think it’s a testament to the coaching staff, the players, guys who have been in and out of the lineup, guys who have been up and down,” said assistant captain Tim Sestito. “We’ve had guys contribute the whole year. It’s exciting, but that’s all wiped clean now and we’re looking forward to playoffs.”
Depending on the outcome of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at Utica game, the Devils will either be the fifth or sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. They will either match up against third-seed Binghamton or fourth-seed St. John’s.
Against Springfield, Harri Pesonen registered a goal and an assist. David Wohlberg, Scott Timmins, Joe Whitney and Brandon Burlon all scored. The Devils finish the season with 220 goals for, averaging 2.89 goals-per-game.
“They haven’t all been pretty, but you find a way to win hockey games,” said Head Coach Rick Kowalsky. “We have some guys now with some confidence that maybe two weeks ago we were concerned about. Pesonen has played well, [Reid] Boucher has his step back, Timmins is still inside, Whitney comes in and has a strong game today with [Mike] Sislo.”
Wohlberg opened the scoring just seven seconds into the game — the fastest goal to start a game all season. His tally was part of a four-goal outburst that included a first period goal from Timmins at 8:08 and second period tallies from Whitney and Burlon.
Pesonen capped the scoring with an empty net tally at 16:32.
“The first goal gave us some life and got some life in the building,” Kowalsky said. “I thought we were solid through two periods. Then they started to play some of their energy guys and made a bit of a push. We got a little sloppy and made it a little interesting. It’s 40 wins, 24 at home, it’s still a big two points.”
The Devils improved to 24-7-2-1 at Times Union Center this season, moving their winning percentage to .750.
In goal, Scott Wedgewood made 20 saves for his 15th victory of the season.