Frazee posts shutout
Albany Devils' goalie Jeff Frazee has had a far better season than his win-loss record will reflect, so it was nice to see him get his first shutout of the season Saturday night in a 2-0 win over Norfolk that pushed the Admirals to the brink of elimination from playoff contention.
Frazee made 31 saves in a game that remained scoreless and tense until David Wohlberg's goal at 17:27 in the third period. Mike Sislo later added an empty-netter. So that's more than 57 minutes of scoreless hockey in which the next goal might be the winner and both goalies were on their game.
Frazee was just on his for a few minutes longer.
He came up biggest about three minutes into the second period. Albany was on a power play, but that didn't seem to faze the Admirals, who managed two short-handed two-on-one rushes, both of which came up empty.
OK, so the first one wasn't all Frazee. Chris Wagner skated the puck through the right circle while Patrick Maroon skated through the left to the back door. Albany defenseman Eric Gelinas had taken away any real chance for Wagner, and he slid a pass to Maroon on the left edge of the crease. Maroon had a wide open net in front of him, but sent the puck off the far right post, raising his arms in celebration for a few seconds until he realized the light was still dim.
If you like, though, you can credit that miss to Frazee. Maybe he shot a menacing glance over his shoulder at Maroon and intimidated him into missing a golden opportunity.
You can't take the second one away from Frazee, though. Less than a minute later, Maroon was skating in on another short-handed rush and kept it for himself through the left side, trying to tuck the puck in past Frazee's left pad, but a well-timed kick kept it out and kept the game scoreless.
"It was just nice to keep it a 0-0 game," Frazee said. "We had a power play, so we had a chance to go down, pick up the momentum and score a goal off it. That might have been the turning point in the game."
"He was on tonight," Albany coach Rick Kowalsky said. "He got a couple breaks on the two-on-one that hit the post, but he made some big saves. Early, he got into some problems with his rebounds, which, traditionally, can be a problem, but he settled right down after the first 10 minutes and made some big saves for us. I think a lot of that was that they weren't getting a lot of second opportunities because he was controlling his rebounds."
"Fraz came up with some really big saves tonight," Albany rookie David Wohlberg said. "It could have been 4-0 [for Norfolk]."
Frazee has played in 28 games for the Devils this season, seeing decreased ice time because Keith Kinkaid got hot for a good portion of the season. He is 8-14-5 with a 2.58 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage. Just a few more goals of support would have gone a long way toward his record reflecting his play, but Albany has been one of the worst scoring teams in the Eastern Conference, posting 2.55 goals per game so far this season.
"For the most part, I think I've played well all year, except, maybe for a game," he said. "The game in Manchester, I probably didn't play my best, but for the most part, I thought I played well and gave the team a chance."
That Manchester game was on the road Jan. 11, when Frazee let in six goals on 34 shots in a 7-4 loss. He bounced back quickly, though, allowing just one goal in his next start, a shootout loss at Springfield.
Saturday's win came against a Norfolk team fighting for the last playoff berth. Frazee and the Devils all but eliminated the Admirals from contention, as they now need to beat Providence (the Eastern Conference's top team) Sunday and hope for a Hershey loss against Manchester.
"It's definitely nice to get a win against them. They're fighting for their lives," Frazee said. "It's just a bummer it came a little too late."