During Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Albany Devils team photographer James DiBianco Jr. provided this first-person perspective of what it’s like to shoot a hockey game. He captured Mike Sislo’s third period power-play goal.
The 2014-15 season the second of Scott Wedgewood‘s professional career, but his first as a full-time AHL netminder. After playing 48 games with Trenton (ECHL) in 2012-13, the 21-year-old logged 36 AHL games this past year. He went 16-14-3 and finished 11th in the league with a 2.39 goals against average. Additionally, he had a .899 save percentage and posted four shutouts.
Wedgewood was named the CCM/AHL Playoff of the Week for the period ending Mar. 16 by posting two shutouts, becoming the first goaltender in franchise history to accomplish the feature. Around that same time, he posted four straight wins between Mar. 15-22.
For his AHL career, Wedgewood has an 18-16-3 record with a 2.51 goals-against average and a .897 save percentage.
What Was Said by Wedgewood…
I felt really strong. I had a bit of a slow start, getting my feet wet and playing at the next level. Last year, I spent a lot of time in the ECHL and a few games here. At the end of the year, I was pretty happy with myself and very happy with the team — a great group of guys. We did what we wanted to do, which was make playoffs. We gave ourselves to do something special. Next year, we’re all looking forward to what we can do again.
- Scott Wedgewood (May 5, 2014)
What Was Said About Wedgewood…
Confidence is a big thing with these young guys. We’ve played well in front of him and he hasn’t had a big shot total, but he’s had to make some key saves and that’s what you ask: that your goaltender gives you a chance whether you have 40 shots or 20.- Rick Kowalsky (March 26, 2014)
2013-14 Regular Season
|35 2x, last 1/19 at HER||32 12/29 at BRI||0 4x, last 4/13 vs. SYR|
Keith Kinkaid had one of the best seasons for a Devils netminder in franchise history. He set the single-season record with a 2.29 goals-against average, which ranked third overall in the AHL, and he finished tied for first in Devils history with four shutouts. Additionally, his 24 wins tied for second.
Kinkaid, who posted a 24-13-5 record with a .912 save percentage in 43 games, earned CCM/AHL Player of the Week honors for the period ending Nov. 17. He won three starts, allowing just three goals on 82 shots. That week included a 0.97 goals against average and a .963 save percentage. Notably, the 24-year-old posted a five‐game winning streak between Nov. 8‐20, a four‐game winning streak between Dec. 4‐13 and finished the regular season on a three‐game winning streak.
For his career, the Farmingville, NY native has a 62-50-14 record with a 2.64 goals-against average, a .906 save percentage and nine shutouts.
What Was Said by Kinkaid…
It’s definitely a different season and anything can happen. It’s the tightest games of all and a mistake here leads to a goal against maybe. You have to be sharp and on your game. It’s a great experience for the guys and it will definitely help us for the future.– Keith Kinkaid on the playoffs (May 5, 2014)
What Was Said About Kinkaid…
He’s taken another step, and that’s what they’re supposed to do. Its one thing to have a good year, but how do you improve on that the next year. And Keith has managed to do it physically, mentally, emotionally, every year find a way to improve.– Rick Kowalsky (May 5, 2014)
2013-14 Regular Season
|40 1/24 at BNG||38 12/28 vs. POR||0 4x, last 12/27 vs. ADK|
In his fifth professional season and second with the Devils, Chris McKelvie appeared in 57 games, posting a career-high nine goals, 12 assists and 21 points. Additionally, he was a +6 with 86 penalty minutes and tallied a three game-winning goals and a shorthanded tally.
The 29-year-old, who served as an assistant captain, posted three multi-point games, producing two points Dec. 4 vs. Springfield, Dec. 13 against Bridgeport and Jan. 17 at Utica.
What Was Said by McKelvie…
I think regardless of who was wearing a letter and who wasn’t it was just a good group of leadership all around. The young guys did a really good job responding and following and we stuck together as a team all year long. We kind of went through some ups and downs throughout the year and we always found a way to kind of keep going. - Chris McKelvie (May 5, 2014)
What Was Said About McKelvie…
Some of those guys are in their third, fourth years. They are now guys we are going to look to and put that responsibility on. That was a decision in Sislo and McKelvie. Both are great pro as far as on and off the ice. - Rick Kowalsky (October 9, 2013)
2013-14 Regular Season
|1 9x, last 4/13 vs. SYR||2 1/17 at UTI||2 3x, last 1/17 at UTI|
Happy Memorial Day everyone! Many thanks to those who have served and those who continue to serve!
Newark, NJ – The New Jersey Devils Friday signed two of their prospects – forwards Ben Johnson and Ben Thomson – to entry-level contracts. The announcement was made by Devils’ President/General Manager Lou Lamoriello. As per club policy, no further terms were disclosed.
Johnson, who turns 20 next month, finished tied for third on Windsor (OHL) this past season with 53 points, including 28 goals and 25 assists, in 59 games played. The 6-0, 190-lb. forward led the Spitfires with four goals/six points during the 2014 OHL playoffs, then joined Albany (AHL) upon completion of his junior season. Johnson’s three-season junior totals showed 66 goals and 62 assists for 128 points in 191 games.
Born June 7, 1994 in Hancock, MI, he spent part of the 2010-11 season with the United States Development Program and Fargo in the USHL. Johnson was New Jersey’s third choice, and 90th overall selection in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
Thomson, 21, split the 2013-14 OHL season between Kitchener (12 games) and North Bay (43). The 6-3, 215-lb. forward totaled 27 goals and 18 assists for 45 points and 90 penalty minutes in the regular-season and added five goals and nine assists for 14 points in 22 playoff appearances en-route to the OHL Finals. Born January 16, 1993 in Brampton, Ont., his five season OHL totals showed 65 goals and 84 assists for 149 points and 483 penalty minutes in 303 games. Thomson was New Jersey’s fourth choice, and 96th overall selection in the 2012 draft.
ALBANY, NY — Walk out of the Albany Devils locker room, make a left and a quick right. The 40-foot path leads to the Times Union Center ice. The walk has been made countless times during the 2013-14 season whether it was for games or practices.
For the next five months, the carpet leading the way won’t have to bare the load of 25-plus hockey players. The stalls have been packed, the ice has been removed and the offseason has begun for the Devils.
After splitting Games 1 and 2 on home ice in front 14,598 fans during the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Albany lost Games 3 and 4 at St. John’s to close out the season. The team made its first postseason appearance since 2010.
“After we settle down for a couple of days there’s going to be a lot of positives,” said General Manager Chris Lamoriello. “Certainly the type of year that we had, getting a team in the playoffs, playing Games 1 and 2 here and certainly playing in front of the crowd that we played in front of both nights, seeing the excitement and feeling the excitement that they had, definitely there will be a lot of positives for us to be able to look back on.”
The Devils entered the postseason as the fifth seed and matched up with the fourth-seeded IceCaps. Currently, the Calder Cup Playoffs are in the second round and the top three teams in the Eastern Conference have been eliminated. If the Devils had downed the IceCaps, they would have had home ice advantage for at least the next two rounds.
“We thought we had a team that could have done some damage,” said assistant captain Tim Sestito. “It will sting for a bit, but this summer when we look back, I think, everybody should be pretty proud of what we accomplished.”
The playoff race down the stretch of the regular season was tight to say the least. In 2012-13, the Hershey Bears earned the eighth spot with 81 points. In 2013-14, they missed out in ninth place with 88 points.
Albany ended the regular season on a five-game winning streak and finished with a franchise-best 40 wins and 93 points. It was a change of pace for the Devils, who stumbled in March and April during the previous two seasons to miss out on the league’s tournament.
“The last couple of years have been tough,” said Head Coach Rick Kowalsky. “We’ve been in spots where we’ve been close, but we’ve always been chasing from behind. I think the difference this year is we could give ourselves a little cushion. With that being said, we still had to pretty much win-out to get in, but we did it and we did it with a lot of pressure from behind us.”
This year’s team excelled in both the offensive and defensive zones and the results fluctuated between high-scoring wins (8-6 vs. Bridgeport on Nov. 30) and low-scoring affairs (2-0 vs. Hershey on Mar. 15).
The Devils built confidence early, winning five of their first seven contests and posting a six-game winning streak between Nov. 20 and Dec. 14.
“We got off to a great start,” Sestito said. “There was a belief that we could and should do well and I think that snowballed throughout the year. Confidence was pretty high for everybody throughout the season and that’s a big part of why we made the playoffs.”
Management, coaching staff and the team’s leaders were tasked very early on in getting the most out of one of the youngest clubs in the league. Of the 35 players to wear an Albany sweater this season, 15 were either in their first or second AHL seasons.
Kelly Zajac finished second on the team with 44 points and Reid Boucher finished tied for second with 22 goals. Blueliner Seth Helgeson played in 75 games and was a +12, while his defensive partner Corbin McPherson was a team-leading +16.
“There were a lot of positives this year,” Kowalsky said. “We were concerned at the beginning about youth and we put that to rest real quick. We relied on some young guys to do some big things for us and they did. They were a group that got along and it translated onto the ice.”
According to Sestito, the players in the room now know what it takes to not only make the playoffs, but do well once the postseason begins.
In the end, all but one team exits the current season without disappointment. But the feeling on Monday when the team held its exit interviews was one of optimism and eagerness.
“I was talking to the coach and we can’t really believe the season is over,” said captain Rod Pelley. “It doesn’t feel like it. In past years, this time of the year, you’re pretty drained. I’m ready for camp to start. It doesn’t feel like we’ve ended. I feel pretty fresh and I think that’s a positive thing.”
“We’ve raised the bar,” said assistant captain Chris McKelvie. “The expectation in the locker room is to keep pushing forward and keep building off of this year. The attitude is going to just keep improving and the tightness of the team will keep improving, which will obviously help on the ice.”
The NHL Draft and free agency will certainly change the personnel within the locker room. Regardless the Devils 40-foot walk to the ice won’t change and the grueling-fun of trying to return to the playoffs awaits the team in October.