Prospects Challenge: Devils Defeat Bruins 6-2

The Devils wrapped up the 2018 Prospects Challenge this morning in Buffalo. With a 9:30 AM puck drop it was certainly rise and shine time for the players.

And shine they did, defeating the Boston Bruins prospects 6-2. It was the second consecutive game the Devils prospects won by that score, after defeating Pittsburgh 6 to 2 on Saturday.

Boston actually took the early lead, when Valach Marek scored just 5:57 into the game from Senyshyn Zach. That made it 1-0 B’s. However, the Devils would tie things up before the end of the first period. At 14:57, Jeremey Groleau scored from Dylan Seitz and Blake Speers to tie the game moving into the second period.

The Devils would add two more in the second frame. At 7:00 minutes in, Brandon Baddock scored a power play goal from Yegor Shanrangovich and Speers – who finished the game with two assists. The Devils now had a 2-1 lead. Joey Anderson put them up by two when he scored unassisted at 9:29. Boston’s Clifton Connor would score the Bruins’ final goal of the morning at 15:03 of the second from Lauko Jakub to make it 3-2 going into the third.

The third period was all Devils. First, Ryan Schmelzer made it 4-2 when he scored on the power play at 7:01 from Colton White and Fabian Zetterlund.

Following that, Michael McLeod turned it on, scoring two goals within about three minutes of each other. He made it 5-2 when he scored at 10:03 from Schmelzer (his second point of the morning) and Colby Sissons. Then, at 12:55, McLeod struck again to give us our 6-2 final. He scored from Seitz (his second assist of the game) and Marian Studenic.

And that was it. The Devils closed out the Prospects Challenge with a record of two wins and one loss and both of those wins were by 6-2 score lines.

In nets, Akira Schmid went for the Devils and stopped 16 of 18 Boston shots for a .889 save percentage. For the Bruins, Weatherill Dawson saw 28 shots and stopped 22 of them.

On the power play, the Devils were 2-for-4 while going a perfect 3-for-3 on the penalty kill.

New Jersey will now gear up for training camp beginning on Friday with the first preseason game proper coming on Monday, September 17 when the Rangers come to Prudential Center.

Devils Blitz Pens at Prospects Challenge

The Devils’ rookies took the ice for their second game of the 2018 Prospects Challenge in Buffalo at HarborCenter and with the NFL season fully kicking off tomorrow, put up a football score on the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Devils won 6-2, after a five-goal outburst in the second period.

Brandon Gignac broke the seal on the game, scoring 12:32 into the first peirod from Yegor Sharangovich and Ryan Schmelzer. That goal came on the power play, on which the Devils went 2-for-10 on the afternoon.

The offensive cloudburst that came in the second began just 49 seconds into the new frame, with Blake Speers scoring from Brandon Baddock. That made it 2-0 Devils. Colby Sissons scored at 5:15 from Joey Anderson to make it 3-0 and the blitz was on.

At 6:42, Marian Studenic scored from John Quenneville to make it 4-0. Anderson notched his second point of the afternoon at 10:23 when he scored off an assist from Sissons to make it 5-0. Gignac wrapped up the Devils scoring at 13:45 of the second period when he connected from Jocktan Chainey on the power play to make it 6-0.

The Pens would break up the shutout, scoring two on the power play in the third (Troy Josephs at 7:19 and Adam Johnson at 10:35). Pittsburgh was 2-for-7 on the man advantage in the game.

After getting pushed around by the somewhat bigger and more physical Sabres yesterday, the Devils showed some fight today, literally, as Baddock fought Joseph Masonius at 19:05 of the third period. Baddock took the extra boarding minor on the play plus the fighting major.

Cam Johnson went between the pipes, making 32 saves on 34 Penguins shots for a .941 save percentage. For Pittsburgh, Tistan Cote-Cazenave started, stopping just 18 of 24 shots against. Christian Propp took over in net for the third period, turning aside all nine shots he faced.

The Devils finish up the 2018 Prospects Challenge on Monday when they take on the Boston Bruins at 9:30 AM.

Prospects Challenge Kicks Off as Devils Fall to Sabres 6-4

Hockey season has officially started! Kind of.

The 2018 Prospects Challenge got underway tonight at HarborCenter in Buffalo as the Devils took on the Buffalo Sabres in the first game of the rookie mini preseason tournament.

The Sabres came away with the 6-4 win as they looked a little bit more physical than the Devils and threw their bodies around, taking advantage of their bigger size overall. The Devils did a good job of responding generally, especially John Quenneville, who was arguably the Devils’ most physical player.

Two other takeaways from the game that I noticed was the Devils’ ability to respond offensively, as the majority of the game would see Buffalo go up a goal and the Devils immediately tie things up. It remained that way until the third period when the Sabres finally pulled away and scored two to take the 6-4 lead that would be the final.

The other thing of note was the debut of the first overall pick in this summer’s NHL Draft: Rasmus Dahlin, who had a pair of goals and an assist. He seemed to be real deal for the Sabres and gave the Devils some fits all night.

Of a minor note was the condition of the ice. It is still hot and humid out in Buffalo and the ice was not in the best of shape.

Regardless of some of the negatives, the Devils who did stand out were Brett Seney and this year’s first round draft pick, Ty Smith. Smith, especially was praised by the Buffalo announcers who were calling the game for putting a good showing in. Seney recorded a goal in the first period, the one that tied it up at one.

Cole Coskey had the first goal of the game for the Sabres, scoring at the 17:31 mark of the first. Seney tied it at one on the power play at 18:53.

In the second period, Victor Olofsson scored at 7:02 before Nathan Bastain tied things up just over 30 seconds later.

Buffalo then jumped out to a two goal lead as Alexander Nylander scored shorthanded at 10:19 and Dahlin scored his first 59 seconds later at even strength. The Sabres crowd gave the first overall pick a standing ovation following the goal, but his night was just getting started.

The Devils would respond quickly to those two goals, as Colton White scored at 11:53 and Fabian Zetterlund scored at 12:01. Seney had the lone assist on Zetterlund’s goal, giving him two points on the night.

In the third period, the Sabres pulled away when Dahlin put them up 5-4 for his second of the night at 4:28. Dahlin would also assist on Tage Thompson’s shorthanded goal that ended the night. It was the second shorty of the night for the Sabres.

The Devils were a perfect 5-for-5 on the penalty kill but failed to scored on any of their seven power plays.

In goal, Mackenzie Blackwood looked pretty good, making 26 saves on Buffalo’s 32 shots on goal for a .812 save percentage. Buffalo’s Jonas Johansson made 30 saves on 34 Devils shots.

The Devils next play tomorrow at 3 PM against the Pittsburgh Penguins prospects.

Somerset Patriots Host “Devils Night” and Devils Reveal Promotional Schedule

The Devils continued their tour of New Jersey minor league baseball parks tonight as the Somerset Patriots played host to “Devils Night” at TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater, New Jersey.

The Patriots, a member of the independent Atlantic League, played host to the Road Warriors, a team without a home who has played the entire 2018 season on the road. The Patriots won 2-0.

On hand was Devils mascot NJ Devil, who threw out a first pitch and participated in some mascot hijinks with Patriots mascots Sparkee, Slider and General Admission.

In addition to the NJ appearance, Devils historical highlights were shown on the video screen and a Devils table with information on tickets and giveaways was set up on the concourse. It was another successful way for the Devils to get their name into the community and help grow the fanbase.

And speaking of promotion, the Devils also today announced their promotional schedule for the 2018-19 season. Some of the highlights include: opening night at The Rock against the Washington Capitals which will feature “Now We Rise” bam-bams, a Fan Festival and the annual Red Carpet Arrival of the team. That game is on Thursday, October 11.

There will be a schedule magnet giveaway on Tuesday, October 16 against the Dallas Stars, as well as other giveaways like Taylor Hall Hart Trophy Poster Night (on Saturday, October 27 against the Florida Panthers) to honor the NHL’s reigning MVP, Martin Brodeur Hall of Fame Poster Night on Tuesday, November 13 against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Brian Boyle Masterton Trophy Poster Night on Monday, December 3 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Upper Deck hockey cards will be given away on Saturday, March 24 against the Arizona Coyotes.

Some theme nights include the second annual WWE Night on Thursday, October 18 against the Colorado Avalanche which will feature ticket packages, “in-arena theme videos and graphics,” a concourse WWE museum and “Superstar appearances.” Military Appreciation Night is on Saturday, November 17 against the Detroit Red Wings and will feature the Devils warming up in special camo jerseys as well as a military cap giveaway. Hockey Fights Cancer Night is on Friday, November 23 against the New York Islanders. Kids Day will take place on December 29 against the Carolina Hurricanes and will allow kids to take part in activities like making a PA announcement or sitting in the radio booth with play-by-play man Matt Loughlin.

A pair of retro nights will include 80s NIght on Thursday, January 10 versus the Toronto Maple Leafs. This will likely be one of the nights the Devils wear their “Heritage Jerseys” and will feature in-arena graphics and music. An 80s themed bobble will also be given away. Then, on Tuesday, February 18 against Pittsburgh, the Devils will present 90s Night. This will be similar to 80s Night in presentation and will also feature a special 90s themed bobble to be given away.

Firefighter Appreciation Night will take place on Saturday, January 12 against the Philadelphia Flyers as the Devils will honor New Jersey firefighters. Then, on Saturday, February 9, the Devils take on the Minnesota Wild on Law Enforcement Appreciation Night which will honor police officers across New Jersey communities.

For the first time, the Devils will “Go Red for Women” on Sunday, February 10 versus Carolina. This night, in conjunction with the American Heart Association and RWJBarnabas Health, will see fans don red to support awareness and help raise “funds for local initiatives which support heart health and the mission of Go Red for Women.”

On Sunday, February 17, the Devils take on the Buffalo Sabres and host a “NJ Hockey Celebration.” This is part of Hockey Weekend Across America and New Jersey youth hockey will be spotlighted throughout the night. Fans in attendance will also receive a pair of Devils socks.

The Devils will once again host Pride Night on Monday, February 25 when they host the Montreal Canadiens. This will be the third season the Devils will host this event, which will raise “awareness and funds for local LGBTQ initiatives.”

Finally, on Saturday, March 30, the Devils will host Fan Appreciation Night against the visiting St. Louis Blues. This is the final regular season Saturday home game and “the Devils will take their in-game promotions and giveaways to the next level to show their appreciation.”

Of course this is just the tip of the iceberg, as the Devils will likely be adding more to this schedule as they go along during the season. It is likely that we could be seeing another Ring of Honor inductee this year, as the team took a year off last season due to Patrik Elias’ jersey retirement, so be on the lookout for that. We will try to keep you updated if anything is added right here.

Binghamton Devils Name New Assistant Coach

The Binghamton Devils have named a new assistant coach to Mark Dennehy’s staff.

Ryan Parent will join the American Hockey League club along with fellow assistant Sergei Brylin to finalize Binghamton’s coaching staff for 2018-19.

Parent, 31-years-old, was a first round pick of the Nashville Predators in 2005, going 18th overall that year according to the Devils’ press release. He played in the NHL over 106 games between 2006-07 and 2010-11 with the Vancouver Canucks and Philadelphia Flyers, the majority with Philly. He totaled one goal and six assists for seven career NHL points. The former blueliner also played in 27 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

The AHL was where he made his bones. He played in 251 American League contests with the Philadelphia Phantoms, Manitoba Moose, Chicago Wolves, Milwaukee Admirals and Norfolk Admirals between 2006-07 and 2012-13. The press release mentions that he last played in 2015-16 with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

In the AHL, he totaled four goals, 24 assists for 28 points and 261 penalty minutes. He appeared in 31 Calder Cup Playoff contests.

Prior to his pro career, Parent won gold medals at the 2006 and 2007 World Juniors with Canada. The native of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan played for the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League where he won an OHL championship in 2003-04 according to the press release.

His prior coaching experience comes during his playing career. He was head coach and general manager of the Lloydminster Bobcats of the AJHL in 2012-13 (Ty Smith’s hometown team) and head coach of the Vernon Vipers of the BCHL in 2011-12.

New Jersey assistant GM/Binghamton GM Tom Fitzgerald had this to say about Parent: “Ryan’s playing career will provide invaluable experience as he takes the next step to transition to coaching. He will be able to relate to all the players he will have to coach at this level – draft picks looking to establish themselves, young players looking to learn good habits and players who know what it takes to make it to the NHL.”

Devils to Wear “Heritage Uniforms” in 2018-19

The Devils today revealed their third jersey, but it is not exactly what you would think it is.

Not only is it not a totally new design, it is not even the same throwback that they have been wearing the last decade or so.

Their “Heritage jerseys,” as the team is calling them, are based on the original green, red and white color scheme that the team wore from 1982 to 1992, but it is the white version of those uniforms that the team will be breaking out for four home games this season. The only major difference being that the jersey will be made using the Adidas jersey template that the NHL now uses.

The Devils revealed the uniforms this afternoon via a text from their official app. Included with the app message was a way to sign up for a presale of the jersey when it eventually goes on sale.

I, personally, love this idea. Short of doing a new, unique design, this was one of the best ways they could go. I always thought the light version of the red-and-green “Christmas tree” jerseys were the nicer set. The dark set is nice, but the whites just looked a little bit sharper than the reds. Maybe it is bias since that was the first hockey jersey I ever owned. Either way, head over to the Devils app to sign up for the presale if you are at all interested.

Binghamton Names New Head Coach

With the promotion of Binghamton Devils head coach Rick Kowalsky to the New Jersey Devils assistant position, the AHL club was looking for a new bench boss. And it did not take them too long. Mark Dennehy, former Merrimack College coach, was named to the position yesterday.

Dennehy had taken a job with the ECHL’s Wheeling Nailers (Pittsburgh’s affiliate) earlier this off season, but did decide to accept the Devils job when offered. The AHL is a higher level of hockey than the ECHL, so that might have factored into the decision.

New Jersey assistant GM and Binghamton GM Tom Fitzgerald thanked “Jim Rutherford, Bill Guerin, the Penguins’ organization and the Wheeling Nailers ownership group for the opportunity to speak with Mark on this position.”

Dennehy, according to the Binghamton press release, is 50 years old and coached at Merrimack for 13 seasons. He earned 161 wins with the Warriors with 2010-11 being his most successful season. They notched 25 wins that season and made it “to the Hockey East Final and the NCAA Regionals.” Dennehy also won the Bob Kullen Coach of the Year Award as Hockey East’s best that season. The press release also mentioned that he coached Devils prospect Brett Seney while at Merrimack.

The Dorchester, Massachusetts native played four years at Boston College from 1987 to 1991 as a defenseman and then played professionally one year with the Ayr Raiders of the British Hockey League in 1991-92. Following his playing career, he coached at UMass-Amherst as an assistant in 1995-96 and again from 2000 to 2005. In between, He spent two seasons at Princeton University from 1997-98 to 1998-99 as an assistant and then took a head coaching job at Fairfield University for a year in 1999-2000. He began his head coaching duties at Merrimack in 2005-06. He was relieved of his coaching duties following this past season.

He will next head to Slovakia this week as coach of Team USA Under-17 Select Team at the Five Nations Tournament according to the press release.

Fitzgerald said: “Mark has spent considerable time building, coaching and recruiting in one of college hockey’s most competitive conferences. His experience will help him connect with players coming from the collegiate and junior hockey levels. Mark is extremely excited for a new challenge and to take the next step in his coaching career.”

Sharangovich Signs Entry-Level Deal; Some Changes to Site

The Devils have inked their fifth-round pick from this year’s Draft, 141st overall, Yegor Sharangovich to an entry-level contract. The contract is a three year contract as announced by General Manager Ray Shero.

The Minsk, Belarus native is a little bit of an older rookie at 20-years-old (compared to most North Americans), as he comes to the Devils from the KHL, so he already has some professional experience. A center, he spent last season with Dinamo Minsk where he had four goals and eight assists for 12 points according to the Devils’ press release on the matter. He also had 12 penalty minutes in 48 games played.

The press release mentions that he was KHL Rookie of the Week “the week of October 16, 2017.” He also played in the 2018 World Junior Championship, representing Belarus. The release says that he had a pair of goals and three assists (five points). That was good for second on the Belarus team in scoring.

To further his beyond-his-years level of experience, he also participated in the 2018 IIHF World Championship with Belarus. He was the second youngest player on the roster according to the press release and he notched an assist over the country’s seven games.

The press release further states that he played for the Team Belarus U20 team in 2016-17. He had 15 goals and 13 assists totaling 28 points in 39 games for that team. The 6’2″, 195-pound centerman was in the Dinamo-Raubichi organization the three seasons prior according to the Devils.

In other news, there have been some changes made to the site. Firstly, we changed the email subscription system. If you would like to receive notifications about new posts, simply sign up with your name and email address in the form located underneath the archives on the main page.

Further, we have changed the comment system over to Disqus. That should make it a little bit easier to leave a comment under an article if you would like, as you can use your Disqus account to do so.

Hopefully, these changes make the site a little bit more user-friendly.

Devils Name Two Assistant Coaches to Staff

The Devils named two to John Hynes’ coaching staff to replace Geoff Ward, who left to take a position on the staff of the Calgary Flames and Ryane Clowe, who took the head coach’s job with the Newfoundland Growlers of the ECHL.

The new coaches are Rick Kowalsky, formerly head coach of the AHL’s Binghamton Devils and former NHLer Mike Grier.

Kowalsky joins Hynes’ staff after more than a decade with the organization. The 46-year-old played for the Trenton Titans in 2005 (where he was captain) when he won a Kelly Cup in his final season as a pro hockey player. He had played in the ECHL for the Roanoke Express, the Hampton Roads Admirals and the Titans. He also spent some time in the AHL with the Cornwall Aces, Portland Pirates and Norfolk Admirals.

He was named to the ECHL Hall of Fame in 2017.

He began his coaching career in the ECHL as a player-assistant with the Express in 2001-02 and got his first head coaching gig with the Titans in 2006-07. He was promoted within the organization when he took over the Albany Devils in 2010-11 and moved with the team to Binghamton last season.

In 2009, while coaching the renamed Trenton Devils, he was named the John Brophy Award winner as ECHL coach of the year. He won the 2016 Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as AHL coach of the year in 2016 with Albany. Both those years, he coached his teams to the playoffs in their respective leagues.

His AHL coaching record, according to the Devils’ press release, was “281 wins, 249 losses and 82 overtime/shootout losses in 612 games.”

Kowalsky, a native of Simcoe, Ontario, played junior hockey with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds where he won OHL championships in 1991 and 1992. He was captain of the Sault Ste. Marie team that won the Memorial Cup in 1993. He was the Sabres’ tenth pick, 227th overall in 1992, but never played in the NHL.

The other coach added to the Devils staff today was former NHLer Mike Grier. Grier played 1,060 games in the NHL over 14 seasons from 1996 to 2011. Playing for the Oilers, Capitals, Sabres and Sharks, he had 162 goals and 221 assists totaling 383 points along with 510 penalty minutes in his career. His best season came in 1998-99 with Edmonton when the right winger amassed 20 goals, 24 assists for 44 points. He played in 101 Stanley Cup Playoff games totaling 14 goals and 14 assists (28 points) and 72 PIMs. Although he never won the Stanley Cup, the press release notes that “(h)e made the playoffs in 11 of his 14 seasons” in the NHL.

He was drafted 219th overall in the ninth round of the 1993 NHL Draft by the Blues. Prior to being drafted, the 43-year-old Detroit native played at Boston University. He and Hynes were teammates on the Terriers in college. Grier was an NCAA East First All-Star Team member in 1994-95 and also won the Walter Brown Award that year “as New England’s top player.” That season Boston University also won the Hockey East and NCAA championships.

Grier never played a game in the minors, going straight from college to the NHL with the Oilers. He represented the USA at the 1995 World Juniors and the 2004 World Championship (where he won a bronze medal).

Prior to being hired by the Devils, Grier was a pro scout with the Blackhawks for the last four years and was an assistant coach at his high school alma mater, St. Sebastian’s High School in Needham, Massachusetts. He was also the coach of the Boston Junior Terriers.

On Kowalsky, John Hynes had this to say via the press release: “Rick will be a great addition to our team and this is well-deserved. He and I have had a strong relationship over the past three seasons and he’s done an excellent job in developing our young players. Rick is a high-energy, hard-working coach, great communicator and a tactician who has a great mind for the game.”

On Grier, Hynes said: “We are looking forward to having Mike join our organization. Having played 14 years and over 1,000 NHL games as a forward, Mike will lean on his experience in leadership roles to work with our players. He was a highly-respected teammate and had the ability to relate to all players with his personality, demeanor and experience. These attributes will be valuable in communicating and developing our players, as we continue to build a strong culture.”

Congratulations to both men on joining the NHL coaching ranks and good luck to them as the new season gets underway.

Shero: Schneider Will Not Be Rushed, Nor Will Process

Mike Morreale recently had a column up on NHL.com that addressed some concerns Devils fans may have had about goaltender Cory Schneider.

According to Morreale, Schneider, “had surgery for torn cartilage in his left hip May 1, was given a five-month recovery period and remains on that timetable.” Those five months would take him to October 1, five days before the Devils’ opener in Sweden against the Oilers.

Morreale spoke with GM Ray Shero at Devils Development Camp and he said “(w)hether it’s September or October, we are not going to rush Cory. We have Keith Kinkaid, and that’s why we re-signed Eddie Lack.” He followed that by saying that the team will get more updates through the summer months.

Morreale noted that Taylor Hall (torn ligaments in his left hand) and Nico Hischier (“who had his left wrist immobilized for four weeks in May” due to an injury) “should be ready for camp.”

Shero said about Schneider’s injury: “(h)e played through [the injury], but at the end of the year it was something he had to have done, unfortunately, it’s a common injury with goalies nowadays. It was affecting other parts of his game. Hopefully everything is taken care of and put in the rearview mirror when he does return.”

In other news, Shero also broke his silence regarding free agency. He told Morreale that the Devils “never had a chance to inquire about… defenseman John Carlson” and although the team did have interest, James van Riemsdyk and Calvin de Haan obviously signed elsewhere. JVR ultimately ended up back with the Flyers, where he was familiar, while de Haan signed with the Hurricanes.

Morreale said that the Devils “pushed hard to re-sign forward Patrick Maroon, but the 30-year-old signed a one-year, $1.75 million with the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday.” Shero confirmed that the Devils did offer more money on a one-year deal, but that Maroon decided to play in his hometown (he is from Oakville, Missouri according to Morreale) and play near his family.

Morreale also said that Shero expects to re-sign Blake Coleman and Stefan Noesen “who filed for player-elected salary arbitration July 5.”

Shero, for his part, has kept a cool head regarding free agency, he told Morreale: “I think it’s more a process of building a team and where we were three years ago to now. Are there avenues to improve? Absolutely, but only if it makes sense. We know who the top players were in free agency and where John Tavares went (Toronto Maple Leafs), where Carlson stayed. I think a lot of stuff what we’re doing is internal, but if we can add the right player, we’ll do it. I like where we are, like our flexibility and where our younger players and veterans are right now.”

Shero continued telling Morreale that the goal of the team “is to keep improving and not lose what we have in terms of a culture.” He admitted that “(i)f you pick up the paper today, we’re probably on the outside looking in (on the playoffs). A lot of teams have made additions, but I’ve been through this and we’re not going to deviate from the plan. I have a lot of faith in our staff and players.” He also reiterated that the team has cap space to work with and that that is one of their greatest assets.

While the news about Cory is largely disappointing – knowing that he will not be rushed is a good reassurance. He will be brought along as needed and hopefully can regain his position as a top goalie. If not, the Devils do have options. Also, it was nice to see Shero break his silence and layout the Devils’ philosophy to free agency.

Sure the Devils can offer more term or more money, but ultimately, if the player wants to go elsewhere (thinking specifically of the Maroon situation) no one can stop them. The Devils were players in free agency, it is just that other teams were better fits for the players for varying reasons.

It may be somewhat cliche, but “trust the process” applies here. Ray Shero has a plan to make this team a consistent Stanley Cup contender and we just need to trust in his way of doing things.

Instant gratification results in overpaying free agents or getting into contract trouble with them. Shero knows how to do his job and, I trust anyway, that the Devils are in very capable hands.