ALBANY, NY – How does a team prepare for an opponent they have never played? That’s the question the Albany Devils face when they welcome the Utica Comets to Times Union Center Saturday for the home opener.
The Comets are one of the newest teams in the AHL and last season their affiliate, the Vancouver Canucks, housed players with Chicago – a team Albany has never played.
“You just focus on your game and the little things you need to do,” said defenseman Dan Kelly. “There isn’t too much you can do. It actually works to your advantage sometimes because you’re not worried about a specific player. You just go out, play your game and focus on your game.”
Because of personnel changes during the summer, the early season is spent setting the team’s structure on and off the ice.
“We are trying to get our team identity going,” Kelly said. “We have a lot of quick forwards — a lot of skill up front — and our back end is huge this year. We are young and all healthy, so we should be able to bang on the back end and beat them with our speed in the front.”
Part of the identity the Devils are trying to establish is being a difficult team to play against at home. With a game already in the books, there is still excitement surrounding the home opener. The goal is clearly to start with a victory.
“We’re all just excited to get the season started whether at home or on the road,” said assistant captain Mike Sislo. “Obviously, the first home game is nice to play in front of your home fans and to get a big win and get started that way. We were excited to get the season going and we’re really excited to play our home opener.”
The Devils will not have a morning skate before Saturday’s game. Puck drop is at 5:05 pm.
Reid Boucher, Mike Hoeffel, Cam Janssen, Stefan Matteau, Chris McKelvie, Rod Pelley, Harri Pesonen, Tim Sestito, Mike Sislo, Scott Timmins, Joe Whitney, David Wohlberg, Darcy Zajac,Kelly Zajac