At the end of a sloppy game, Adirondack centerman Ben Holmstrom’s hustle play in overtime made the difference.
Albany had come back from a 3-1 deficit to force overtime, but Holmstrom drew a penalty in the opening seconds of the four-on-four extra session, setting up the winning strike from Bruno Gervais in a 4-3 Phantoms’ victory Friday night at the Times Union Center.
Holmstrom took advantage of the open ice to get a clean run at the net along the right side. It was clean, anyway, until Kelly Zajac got there and was called for hooking just as Holmstrom was approaching the crease.
“Kelly made a good play. You’re not just going to let him go,” Albany assistant captain Tim Sestito said. “Give credit where credit’s due, they made a nice play. Four-on-threes are really tough. There’s a lot of room for their skill guys.”
At 1:42 in the overtime, Gervais fired the winner from high in the right circle. It was Adirondack’s first goal since their third found the net just 13 seconds into the second period.
The Devils allowed only four shots in the first period, but two of them went in. The first came off a faceoff between Albany’s David Wohlberg and Adirondack’s Rob Bordson to the left of the Albany goal. The puck went straight back behind Wohlberg, but then so did Bordson as the Devils watched him fling the puck in front of the goal for Petr Straka to tap it in.
On the second Phantoms’ tally, Jason Akeson sent a pass from the right corner to the front of the crease for Kris Newbury’s quick redirection.
The Devils got their first goal of the season from Harri Pesonen in the first period, then Reece Scarlett scored from the point on a power play at 13:16 in the second. Just moments after Scarlett’s goal, it looked like the Devils might have tied the game on a Sestito tally.
On a rush, though, Albany’s Joe Whitney reached too high to bring a flying puck to the ice, and the delayed high-stick call negated the goal. Though the puck bounced around a bit before Sestito finished it, referee T.J. Luxmore decided no Phantom had gained possession before the score.
“He said you have to have possession,” Albany coach Rick Kowalsky said. “He wasn’t disagreeing that they touched it. I think it might have gone off [Cal] Heeter’s ankle and then hit [defenseman Oliver] Lauridsen or whoever, then we got it. He said they have to have possession of it to nullify the high stick.”
“I knew it was a high stick. I thought their defenseman kind of played it in the crease, to me, which would constitute possession,” Sestito said. “He saw it another way. Obviously, I’m going to argue it. You don’t get a lot of those goals, so when you get one and it gets taken away, it stings. Especially at that point of the game.”
Albany got the tying goal, eventually, when Reid Boucher scored on a rush, finishing a slick cross-ice pass through traffic from Zajac.
Zajac finished the night with a pair of helpers in the comeback effort.
Adirondack goalie Yann Danis started the game, but after a collision at 11:12 of the first period was replaced by Heeter. Heeter was solid in relief, making 32 stops on 35 shots for the win.
Kowalsky will look for his team to clean up its play a little for today’s 5 p.m. home game against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
“It’s a little frustrating because we’ve moved the puck better than that, and I thought that if we did, we could have taken advantage of that team tonight,” Kowalsky said. “With that being said, as the game wore on, I thought we got a little better with the puck. But we still have to be better.”
Adirondack 2 1 0 1 — 4
Albany 1 1 1 0 — 3
First Period — 1, Adirondack, Straka 5 (Bordson), 4:39. 2, Albany, Pesonen 1 (Matteau), 12:29. 3, Adirondack, Newbury 3 (Akeson), 13:33. Penalties — Matteau, Alb (holding), 16:50.
Second Period — 4, Adirondack, Akeson 3 (VandeVelde, Gervais), :13. 5, Albany, Scarlett 2 (Hrabarenka, K.Zajac), 13:16 (pp). Penalties — Manning, Adk (high-sticking), 3:30; Manning, Adk (holding), 7:38; Newbury, Adk (unsportsmanlike conduct), 11:25; Newbury, Adk (interference), 16:51.
Third Period — 6, Albany, Boucher 9 (K. Zajac, Sislo), 15:26. Penalties — None.
Overtime — 7, Adirondack, Gervais 4 (Akeson, Manning), 1:42 (pp). Penalties — K. Zajac, Alb (hooking), :27.
Shots on goal — Adirondack 4-7-5-4 – 20. Albany 12-14-12-0 – 38.
Power-play opportunities — Adirondack 1 of 2; Albany 1 of 4.
Goalies — Adirondack, Danis (3 shots-3 saves); Heeter 5-5-0 (11:12 first, 35-32). Albany, Kinkaid 7-3-1 (20-16).
A — 3,089. T — 2:20.
Referees — T.J. Luxmore. Linesmen — Steve Lemay, Rich Patry.