The Devils’ top American Hockey League affiliate, the Albany Devils, are hurtling forward while still taking a look to the past this season.
The team has been playing well, in second place in the AHL’s Eastern Conference North Division, with 16 points and an 8-4-0-0 record. They trail the Toronto Marlies by one point in the division and stand at fifth place in the conference (behind the Bridgeport Sound Tigers only because they have two fewer goals scored). They also rank eighth in the league overall, virtually tied with the Sound Tigers and the Grand Rapids Griffins (of the Western Conference).
At 6-1-0-0, they have the second best home record in the entire AHL, behind only the 6-2-0-0 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (who have also played one more game at home) due to having given up more goals against.
Blake Pietila is currently leading the A-Devils in scoring (6 goals, 5 assists for 11 points in 12 games) while Joe Blandisi (3g, 5a, 8p in 11 games) and John Quenneville (4g, 3a, 7p in 12 games) have also been playing well.
Between the pipes, Scott Wedgewood is 4-3-0-0 in eight games with a 2.44 goals against average and a .905 save percentage. Mackenzie Blackwood, in five games, is 3-1-0-0 with a 3.28 goals against and a .902 save percentage. Ken Appleby has one win in one appearance with a 1.85 GAA and a .929 save percentage.
The New Jersey Devils also made a trade over the weekend that will be of benefit to the A-Devils for the time being. The Devils acquired Petr Straka from the Flyers “for a conditional seventh round selection in either the 2017 or 2018 NHL Draft” according to TheAlbanyDevils.com.
Straka, who is 24 years old, has only three NHL games with the Flyers under his belt (played during 2014-15) in which he has two assists. He has spent the majority of his pro career in North America with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms of the AHL. According to the article posted on the A-Devils site by Kevin Zalaznik, Straka had a career high in goals (19) and points (37) last year with the Phantoms. His AHL career has seen him score a total of 42 goals, 46 assists for 88 points in 192 games.
As well, Luke Gazdic recently cleared waivers after coming back off the injured reserve with a broken foot, and was assigned to the A-Devils.
The Albany Devils look to be in good condition heading forward.
But, coming up, they will be honoring a bit of the past in Devils’ AHL history and hockey history in the New York capital region. Yes, the Albany River Rats are making a return, if only for two games. The A-Devils will be doing two “throwback nights” during the season – with the first one coming up on November 26. The other will be played on March 25.
The throwback nights will consist of the team wearing River Rat jerseys on the ice and “a 1990’s theme integrated into the game presentation.” The jerseys will be autographed and auctioned off through the A-Devils’ website after the March 25 game.
The Albany River Rats were the New Jersey Devils’ AHL club through much of the 1990’s after the team was moved to Albany from Utica. After a brief stint being affiliated with the Carolina Hurricanes, the team was moved to Charlotte, North Carolina. The Devils then moved the Lowell Devils to Albany to take the place of the departed River Rats.
The River Rats, who won a Calder Cup in 1994-95 (the same year the NHL parent club Devils won the Stanley Cup – a rare feat for an organization), are fondly remembered both in New Jersey and in New York state’s capital. It should be a fun time for A-Devils fans to enjoy the past and for Devils fans who make the trip up to reminisce as well.