Eight Is Enough For Albany Devils

Hanukkah is the festival of lights and lasts for eight nights.  On Saturday, the Albany Devils had a goal for each light, in a crazy 8-6 victory over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.  It was a wild finish to the end of November for the A-Devils, as both goalies were left spinning like dreidels.

That capped off a month in which Albany went 7-4-1-0 (15 points), improving their overall ledger to 12-7-1-1 (26 points).  Yet another winning month, which has the Devils sitting at fifth place in the AHL Eastern Conference standings.

From a freewheeling standpoint, this one had it all.  The record book, back of the net and even a pane of glass was shattered in this contest.

Bridgeport found the back of the net first, with Nick Larson lifting a loose puck past Scott Wedgewood, for an early first period advantage.

Then specialty teams would take over, as each team would trade power play tallies.  Off a one-time feed from Reece Scarlett, Mike Sislo hammered home Albany’s first goal, past Kenny Reiter, from the left circle.  Countering for Bridgeport, Mike Keenan slid in at the inner edge of the right circle, sending one home to regain the lead.

Yet just like their Veterans Day tilt between these two squads at the Times Union Center, the Devils would rev it up for the remainder of the frame.  At the 15:20 mark, Reid Boucher would sneak up on the Sound Tigers defence and put away his tenth goal of the campaign.  Boucher is the first Albany player to touch double digits in goals this season.

Not long after, a Dan Kelly shot and rebound was corralled by Tim Sestito in front.  Sestito turned and wheeled one home and the Devils held their first lead at 3-2.  In the waning seconds of the period, Albany’s power play was opportunistic once again.  With three ticks to go, Scarlett at the point, rifled home a one-time feed from Joe Whitney, doubling Albany’s lead.  The goal was Scarlett’s second in as many games and his third of the season, sending the Devils to the locker room smiling.

Those smiles would be a bit tempered though, as Bridgeport would strike first in the second stanza as well.  At the 4:24 mark of the second, Alan Quine skated through the Devils defence and from the left side, roofed the puck in the back of the Devils net.

Although much like the first, Sislo would answer again for the Devils.  Midway through the frame, the streaking Sislo, glided down the right side of the ice and ripped his second tally of the contest.

Staying true to form though, Bridgeport inched closer once again.  Chris Bruton skated circles around the Devils defence and the offensive zone, before wristing a shot from the left corner and potting another Sound Tigers goal.

Only a glass shattering check by Raman Hrabarenka, on Mike Cornell, could slow the steady stream of goals.

Following the cleanup and intermission, Bridgeport battled back to square it up.  With just 3:30 to go in the second, defenceman Matt Donovan, recently sent down by the New York Islanders, held the puck in the zone at the point and whisked the puck into the cage.  On the strength of Donovan’s goal, the game was reset at 5-5.

As the period rolled along, if you’ve been following how the first one concluded, then you would know that Albany had another counter punch left in the second.  With just under 19 seconds to go and the Devils on the power play, Harri Pesonen hammered a shot off the left end board, when Stefan Matteau swooped in and pocketed his first of the game.  That was good enough for a 6-5 Albany advantage through two.

Stefan Matteau
Stefan Matteau tamed the Sound Tigers twice on Saturday. (Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports)

Matteau was back for more in the third, skating in virtually uncontested for his second of the game, hoisting the Devils lead to 7-5.  Capping off the scoring for Albany was Chris McKelvie knifing one home and apparently eight was enough for Reiter to finally get the hook.  That eighth goal was the most for a Devils team since returning to Albany in 2010, tying a franchise record set in an 8-1 victory over the Providence Bruins, on December 27, 2008, when the franchise was based in Lowell.

For those wondering, the “Albany record” for most goals in a game is nine (twice). The New Jersey Devils affiliated Albany River Rats netted nine goals against the Rochester Americans on October 9, 1993 and later tied that mark against the Adirondack Red Wings on March 21, 1998. That first nine-goal game came in their inaugural home game.

Finalizing the scoring on the evening, was the man who started it all.  Larson would wrist home his second of the contest but Bridgeport would draw no closer.

For letting up six tallies, it actually wasn’t an awful game for the usually airtight Devils defence.  The Devils out-shot the Sound Tigers 32-15, including yielding just three shots apiece in the second and third periods respectively.

It was one heck of a fire wagon game for the Devils, who now boast 63 goals on the year.  Albany’s home stand continues on Wednesday December 4, as they play host to their Northeast Division rivals, the Springfield Falcons.