A 6-3 Win Puts The Devils In North Division Final

UTICA, NY — The Albany Devils are heading to the Second Round of the Calder Cup Playoffs for the first time in club history after defeating the Utica Comets, 6-3, Thursday at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. Albany won the Division Semifinal series 3-1.

Blake Pietila, who missed the first three postseason games with an upper-body injury, led the Devils with two goals and two assists.

Joseph Blandisi had a goal and an assist. Reid Boucher extended his AHL point streak to nine-games, dating back to Jan. 13. He scored his team-leading third goal of the postseason. Matt Lorito and Mike Sislo also scored.

Between the pipes, Scott Wedgewood made 32 saves and helped Albany kill off six Utica power plays. Arguably, his best save of the night came as the first penalty of a Devils 5-on-3 power play ended. A pass jumped over Marc-Andre Gragnani’s stick, allowing Alex Friesen a free pass out of the penalty box all alone on goal. He tested Wedgewood’s glove, but the Devils’ netminder was too agile, keeping the Devils ahead by four with 5:35 remaining in the second.

The Devils essentially took the Comets out of the game and series during the first five minutes. Nick Lappin forced and offensive-zone turnover and Lorito went five-hole to open the scoring at 3:53.

Thirteen seconds later, Blandisi capitalized on nifty passing by Pietila and Dan Kelly at 4:06.

Albany’s first period work wasn’t complete. Pietila helped create a two-on-one and Blandisi setup Sislo for a one-timer at 11:02

In the second and after killing off a 5-on-3, Boucher netted the game’s fourth goal after a turnover in the slot at 10:55.

The Comets finally broke through on a broken play below the hashmarks at 16:33, but Pietila responded with the help of Pavel Zacha and Damon Severson shorthanded at 19:30.

Friesen pulled the Comets within three 4:54 into the third and T.J. Hensick made it a two-goal game at 9:20.

Pietila capped the win with an empty-net goal at 17:43.

• The Essentials

Shots: Albany 34, Utica 35
Power Play: Albany 0-4, Utica 0-6
Three Stars: 1. Blake Pietila (ALB), 2. Joseph Blandisi (ALB), 3. Alexandre Grenier (UTI)

• Next Up

The Devils will face the Toronto Marlies in the North Division Final. The series schedule is expected to be announced Friday.