ALBANY, NY — The Albany Devils made their 11th-consecutive home victory look easy Wednesday, defeating the Rochester Americans, 4-0, at Times Union Center. The Devils set the tone early, outshooting the Americans 14-4 in the first period and carried that momentum through the game finishing the night with a 39-19 edge in shots.
Here are three impressions from the game:
Fourth Line Impact
Rod Pelley, Ben Thomson and Leblond played a strong game from start to finish. They were tough to play against, using their size and strength to force turnovers and keep Rochester off balance. They saw their ice time rise as the game progressed and they consistently outworked the opposition. They were rewarded with a goal from Leblond in the first period and finished the night with the same self-sacrificing attitude they always exemplify — Leblond put his body down to block a shot in the final minute.
“They work, they all have good habits,” said Head Coach Rick Kowalsky. “Pelley and Leblond have played in the NHL and Thomson if he’s moving his feet, they all have a heavy game. They back each their up, they keep it simple and they’re tough to play against. They’ve been around a lot of chances. That’s huge, they bring that element of toughness, but they are also accountable defensively and they create havoc with their physical play and just keeping it simple and getting to the net.”
“I don’t know if there’s a stat for it, but anytime a team gets a goal from the fourth line and they’re plus for the night,” O’Neill said. “To get it from the fourth line your chances of winning go straight up. That was probably the biggest reason we won tonight.”
Defense To Offense
The Devils’ team defense held the Americans to just 19 shots as they controlled play all night. The Devils system preaches active sticks and is committed to clogging the neutral zone. Not only does that type of play limit the opponent’s opportunities, but also helps drive the offense. Lorito’s second period goal began with Sislo getting into the passing lane and breaking up the Americans’ offense in his own zone. Strong play by Vojtech Mozik and Dan Kelly to create offense showed up on the scoresheet, but everyone was involved in fighting for pucks..
“It was one of our messages tonight, Kowalsky said. “We want to defend hard and quick and get the puck back. It’s about two ways of looking at it, when you don’t have the puck you to defend well and be in good position and get it back and transition to offense. “When you do have the puck you want to hang on to it as long as possible, even if you don’t create chances you wear the other team down. I reinforced that in our meeting and guys did an excellent job at it.”
Wedgewood posted his first shutout of the year to extend his personal win streak to a career-long five games. Wedgewood continued to be a rock in net with his ability to move side to side and his quick glove hand. He wasn’t tested often Wednesday, but had to step up to make several quality scoring chances in quick succession. Wedgewood is currently having the best year of his career after missing the start of the season due to an ankle injury. He credits his coaches and a commitment to simplify.
“He looked confident, and was in position, very in control, very relaxed, which is good for him,” Kowalsky said. “He has a tendency at times to be a little busy, but I thought he was in control. His confidence is high right now.”
“Games like that, mentally you have to keep into it,” Wedgewood said. “You don’t want to doze off or do anything to slow you down. Games like that it’s one or two saves that makes the difference and keep the momentum from turning. Consistency wise, I know what I’m doing and I don’t get caught up with too many tools, there’s a lot of things I can do, but the ability to simplify the game makes it a little easier.”