The Albany Devils on Wednesday night were not able to deliver in the last 40 minutes what the first 20 had promised.
Inconsistent play, no offensive presence and defensive-zone turnovers were the Devils’ undoing in a 5-2 loss to the Connecticut Whale. Three of the Whale’s goals came directly off turnovers.
“We had some real bad turnovers and then some ones where guys had no business trying to make a play,” Albany coach Rick Kowalsky said. “[Rookie defenseman
Raman] Hrabarenka fumbles the puck, that’s going to happen, that’s how our night was going. But there were a couple other spots where guys were trying to make plays through them. They’ve got good sticks, they were on the puck, and we turned it over and we’re going the other way, and it ends up in the back of our net.”
Albany took a 1-0 lead at 17:44 on Mike Hoeffel’s second goal of the season. Just 18 seconds later, Albany captain Jay Leach was whistled for interference. But the Devils killed that penalty heading into the intermission, thanks in no small part to an incredible save by Albany goalie Keith Kinkaid.
With Connecticut’s Matt Gilroy receiving a cross-ice pass in the right circle with 30 seconds left, Kinkaid slid over, then dropped onto his right side to take away the lower half of the goal. Gilroy shot high, but Kinkaid, kicked his left leg up and met the puck with the end of his pad.
The Devils, though, carried no momentum from their late goal, PK and Kinkaid’s save into the second period.
“They took it to us,” Leach said. “I don’t think we really established our game after the first period. We had a pretty good first, getting into the zone and getting pucks on their net. They turned it up a little bit. They probably had a little talk in there between the first and second, and we definitely didn’t respond.”
Connecticut was playing most of the game without its leading scorer, Kris Newbury, who had three goals and four assists in the Whale’s first four games. Just 38 seconds into the game, he was whistled for a cross-check, then slapped with an unsportsmanlike conduct and misconduct before reaching the penalty box.
Apparently sending a message to the younger players on the team, Connecticut coach Ken Gernander kept 10th-year pro Newbury on the bench the rest of the game.
They stepped up in his absence with Brandon Segal and J.T. Miller scoring 61 seconds apart to take the lead. Then Tommy Grant was in the right place to scrounge for the loose puck when Hrabarenka dropped it in open ice in the defensive end, skating in for a one-on-one shot against Kinkaid and burying it for the eventual game winner at 18:46 in the second period.
Now 0-3-0-0 at home, 1-3-0-0 on the season, Albany’s captain is ready for something to change heading into weekend games at home with Adirondack and on the road at Hershey.
“We need to form an identity. I don’t think we’ve done that yet,” Leach said. “We’ve seen spurts of it. You’ll see flashes of some good play, but we really need to put it together for 60 minutes and get rolling here. You’re going to have those off nights, and I can live with stuff like that. But I don’t think I can live with the inconsistency, the stuff you were seeing out there for the last two periods. That’s where we really need to improve.”
Connecticut 0 3 2 – 5
Albany 1 0 1 – 2
First Period — 1, Albany, Hoeffel 2 (Anderson, Kelly), 17:44. Penalties — Newbury, Con, double-minor-misconduct (cross-checking, unsportsmanlike conduct), :38; Hoeffel, Alb (interference), 9:46; Leach, Alb (interference), 18:02.
Second Period — 1, Connecticut, Segal 3, 8:56. 3, Miller 1 (Kolarik, Tessier), 9:57. 4, Connecticut, Grant 1, 18:46. Penalties — Larsson, Alb (tripping), 4:37; Hrivik, Con (holding), 14:27; Tedenby, Alb (hooking), 14:27.
Third Period — 5, Connecticut, Yogan 1 (Kolarik, Pyett), 9:18 (pp). 6, Connecticut, Jean 4 (Hrivik, Segal), 12:11. 7, Albany, Josefson 3 (Hrabarenka, Tedenby), 16:42 (pp). Penalties — Larsson, Alb (hooking), :22; Collins, Con (boarding), 3:09; Zalewski, Alb (cross-checking), 8:24; Connecticut bench, served by Grant (too many men), 15:51.
Shots on goal — Connecticut 10-11-5 — 26. Albany 12-9-12 — 33.
Power-play opportunities — Connecticut 1 of 5; Albany 1 of 4.
Goalies — Connecticut, Missiaen 1-2-0 (33 shots-31 saves). Albany, Kinkaid 1-2-0 (26-21).
A — 2,593. T — 2:07.
Referees — David Banfield. Linesmen — Mike Emanatian, Steeve Lemay.