ALBANY, NY – When the Albany Devils arrived at the XL Center in Hartford, CT to take on the Whale last Sunday, Chris McKelvie found himself in familiar surroundings. After four years at Bemidji State University, McKelvie began his professional career with the Whale (than Wolf Pack) in 2009-10.
Entering this season, he had appeared in 61 games for Connecticut during a three year span, producing five goals and six assists. He signed with Albany this past off season.
“It was good to see some of my old friends on the ice and play against them,” McKelvie said. “It was a little bit strange, but at the same time it was good to compete against those guys. It was best that we got the win.”
For the 27-year-old, it was his third appearance for the Devils this season and his fifth game overall – he played two games with the Trenton Titans (ECHL), producing a goal and an assist.
“We were looking for energy and looking for grit and he’s brought both of that,” said Head Coach Rick Kowalsky. “He has been great in practice. It’s been tough – he’s been one of those guys who hasn’t played at all. He went down to Trenton, played a couple of games and played well down there. So he deserved the opportunity and, again, he was prepared for it.
“He had a fight; he had a couple of big hits on Saturday. Then on Sunday, he is a guy that wins those battles, is strong on the puck and does those little things. He prides himself on that and right now that is what we need. He has been a bright spot in the lineup the last couple of games and it’s a credit to him.”
Born in New Brighton, MN, McKelvie made his Devils debut on Nov. 10 in a 2-1 victory against the Adirondack Phantoms. He didn’t played for the next eight games, but broke into the lineup this past weekend.
“We got four points, so that was the best thing out of the weekend,” McKelvie said. “On a personal note, it was great to get in and just feel the puck again and feel what it’s like to be in a game. I was happy for the most part with the things I did and our line out there.”
The Devils prepare for three games in four days, starting Wednesday with a 7 pm contest against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. McKelvie will try to extend his and the team’s success.
“I just have to be responsible all over the ice – be in the right position, use my speed,” McKelvie said. “Just keep it really simple and make sure I’m an energy guy and provide a good, solid role for the team.”
The Devils improved their record against divisional opponents to 5-2-0-1 with a 1-0 win against the Connecticut Whale Sunday.
“We talked about them coming out hard – they got beat 9-2 the night before and obviously weren’t going to be in a good mood,” Kowalsky said. “They came at us pretty good. It’s a forecheckers building similar to Adirondack with soft boards, soft glass.
“I wasn’t real happy with the way we played in the first; I though we mismanaged the puck a little bit, which was partly due to them and partly due to us. Keith Kinkaid had to come up big with some saves to keep us at nothing-nothing. I thought we came out in the second period a lot better, dictated the play a bit more and forced their [defensemen], which we wanted to do from the onset. I thought as the game went on we had opportunities – I think we had… a 3-on-1, a 2-on-1 and a 3-on-2 in the first where we didn’t score. It could have been different and I think that was part of them pushing and taking chances a bit. If we capitalize on that it’s a little different. As the game wore on, I thought we got better and did what we need to do.
The two teams will meet again Friday at 7 pm at XL Center.