ALBANY, NY — An explosive third period gave the Albany Devils a 4-3 victory against the Utica Comets Saturday at Times Union Center.
Jim O’Brien scored twice, newcomer Nick Lappin picked up his first career AHL goal and Ben Thompson capped off the scoring for Albany. Scott Wedgewood earned the victory in his first game back from a shoulder injury.
Wedgewood quickly shook off any rust in his return to action Saturday after suffering an injury on Jan. 27. Wedgewood is in the midst of his best professional season with new bests in save percentage (.926) and goals-against average (1.79).
He was solid in his first game back making 16 saves on 19 shots for the victory. While he didn’t see a lot of work, he was tested all night. He faced several quality chances, including a second period breakaway and a tough glove save in the dying seconds.
Getting the 23-year-old goaltender back immediately provides a boost to the lineup and his presence is vital to the team’s effort towards a Calder Cup Championship.
“He looked sharp,” said Head Coach Rick Kowalsky. “He made a couple big saves. His rebound control was good, he was square to the shooter and in control all night. Certainly good to see him get back in in form like that in a big game.”
O’Brien’s Dazzling Moves
O’Brien’s second period goal goes straight to the career highlight film. O’Brien carried the puck into the zone, dropped it to Max Novak and headed to the net. Novak sent a bullet cross ice to Ryan Kujawinski who fed O’Brien in front. In one quick motion, O’Brien received the puck, spun and backhanded a shot just inside the post.
Not satisfied, O’Brien would add another goal in the third giving the Devils their first lead of the game.
For O’Brien his amazing move was just instinct.
“It was just 3-on-2,” O’Brien said. “Pass, pass, and the puck came down to me low right on top of the goal and I just grabbed it and put it in. It was bang bang.”
The New #25
Having joined the Devils just two days earlier on an Amateur Tryout Agreement, Lappin made his home debut for the Devils in style with his first professional goal. He has already made his presence felt with his incredible energy and a never quit attitude. His third period goal got the team going as he jammed away at the puck until it squeaked just inside the post and over the line.
Lappin led Brown University with 33 points (17g-16a) in 31 contests this past season. He follows a similar path to teammate Matt Lorito, who also joined the Devils following his NCAA career at Brown last year.
“He has fit right in,” Kowalsky said. “It’s still early, he’s probably running on adrenaline. I liked what he did last night. He attacked the net, he was aggressive off the rush, he’s not afraid to go to those areas. That goal was a good example. He’s around the puck. He’s one of those guy where his eyes get big when he gets it around the net. He got the first shot and then he stayed with it. That’s a good indication of habit of a good goal scorer. They don’t just shoot and see what happens. He shoots and follows it to the net. He has had no problem sliding into that top line. He made a real good shot block in the third period as well.”