Goaltending was Albany's rock
The goaltending was a point of strength for the Albany Devils this season, in no small part thanks to the addition of goaltending coach Dave Caruso.
Second-year goalie Keith Kinkaid, a Union College product, and fifth-year man Jeff Frazee were the constant at times when the team struggled elsewhere,
“I saw a little more consistency in my game. It helps with the goalie coach, Dave Caruso,” Kinkaid said. “He was a tremendous help this year, and we were thankful to have him. He keeps you on task, always gives you something to work on each day, and I think that helped out tremendously.”
Kinkaid finished 21-17-6 this season with two shutouts, a 2.72 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage. Last season, he was 17-20-3 with a 2.94 GAA and .904 save percentage.
This season, he twice put together a five-game winning streak. From Dec. 1 to Feb. 9, he was 19-4-1.
“That was a big confidence booster, and the guys were playing hard in front of me,” he said. “It’s fun to win, so that stretch was really good for us.”
He credits his success this season with learning to put goals behind him and focus on the next shot.
“That’s a big part. You can’t dwell on the past goal,” he said. “I think I did a good job of staying even keel. Get ready for the next shot. You want to stop the next shot. You don’t want to let in two in a row. I think I did a good job of that.”
Jeff Frazee was 8-14-5, but his record does not show how good he was. He had a shutout, a 2.58 GAA and .916 save percentage. The Devils only scored 2.54 goals per game this season. Last season, Frazee was 12-19-2 with a 2.67 GAA and .906 save percentage.
Both goalies got their first taste of the NHL, both in relief for Johan Hedberg during a stretch of games in which Martin Brodeur was out with an injury.
“That was tremendous,” Kinkaid said of his NHL action. “That was one of the best times in my life. I hope to do that sometime again, hopefully in the near future. That starts here. You’ve got to keep working at it, keep battling every day, and hopefully, it’ll happen.
“I hope they saw a good improvement in my game. I’m hoping they give me a shot, maybe, or keep me here for the next year. I’m just hoping for the best for next year. I’m going to have a big summer this offseason, and I’m just going to keep working to get better. There’s plenty of things to work on. Maybe get us to playoffs next year.”
Maxime Clermont and Scott Wedgewood saw spot action.
Clermont made one appearance, losing in a shootout after stopping 29 of the 30 shots he saw in regulation, then stopping there of the six shootout attempts he faced. He had a 0.92 GAA and .967 save percentage that night.
Wedgewood was around longer, going 2-2-0 with a 3.47 GAA and .886 save percentage. He won a shootout, stopping all three attempts he saw.
Kinkaid said his focus in the offseason will be to get stronger and faster. Both he and Frazee are looking for new contracts this summer.
“Just get in better shape than last year,” he said. “You can never get in enough top shape. You have a long offseason. We didn’t have as long as an offseason last year. There’s always things to improve on, you know? Get stronger, get your legs stronger, the movement — just the little things that help your game that much more.”