Archive for February, 2010

Believe (Featuring Post-Game AUDIO)

February 28, 2010

I’ll do a little writing about that one tomorrow…but that was one hell of a fun game to cover.  If nothing else, and I’ll expand on this tomorrow, it was a glimpse into what it must have been like to go to games there a few years ago…and it also showed that if the team spends just a little bit of money on a giveaway and group sales can get the job done with something like Scout Night, that fans are willing to spend some money back and give the Trenton Devils a nice crowd.

Six games ago, did anyone think this team could be a legitimate playoff contender?  Now, they look like they could do some damage when they get there, too.  Yes, when they get there…

That was a fun locker room to be in tonight, and here’s audio from everyone you want to hear from…

Justin Coutu

Rick Kowalsky

Jeremy Akeson

Jack Combs

The stuff with Rick is especially good, as he always is…lots of injury updates in there as well, and with this team, there’s plenty. 

And, for the record, the hard-working staff here (all one of us) at the Inside the Trenton Devils blog is a friend to all referees and linesmen, not foe.  Zebras are your friends, kids.

Stay tuned for more tomorrow, and be sure to support The Trentonian and pick up a Sundaypaper for the game story…

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Live From Trenton… (UPDATED With Goalies)

February 27, 2010

…I’m sitting here in the Mike Ashmore’s Career Memorial Press Box here at the Sun National Bank Center.  I wish I had some form of an update for you…but I really don’t.  The ECHL Transactions e-mail doesn’t have anything in the way of news — which likely means that Trenton will send out the same lopsided lineup that earned them a win in Elmira last night — and I’m pretty much the only one up here for the time being.

For what it’s worth, the crack research staff here at Inside the Trenton Devils — me — see that the T-Devils have faced Josh Johnson before.  In fact, it was Dave Caruso’s only ECHL appearance last year.  Here’s the box score from that.

It’s a Trentonian game, so I’ll have all the updates and whatnot you’ve come to expect after it’s all said and done.  The bronze medal game is on MSNBC at 10, so don’t forget to check that out when you get home…

And also, don’t forget that it’s Jeff Frazee bobblehead night here…

UPDATE: Reading is sending Josh Johnson (pictured) out between the pipes, while Trenton’s going with Dave Caruso.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Five Straight Wins

February 27, 2010

(PR) Elmira, NY – Matt Vokes’ two goals propelled the Devils offense to a 3-1 victory Friday in Elmira, the seventh win in ten games against the Jackals this season. Dave Caruso made 27 saves and held an opponent to one goal for the fourth time in his last seven games.

A scoreless first period featured Justin Pender skating on a line with Dan Charleston and Chris Poli. With only eight available forwards, the six-foot-four defenseman got the call to skate as a winger and helped create a couple scoring chances and put one shot on net. The Devils killed two Elmira power plays in the first seven minutes and outshot the Jackals 11-5 through the first 20 minutes.

The Devils began the second on a carryover power play, and Matt Vokes cashed in 21 seconds into the frame. Slavomir Tomko took the puck into the zone down the left wing and passed to Chris Poli in the crease. He was stopped by goaltender Andy Chiodo, but Vokes converted on the second chance for his 12th of the season and a 1-0 Trenton lead.

Vokes scored five minute later, his third game winning goal in four games. After creating a turnover inside the Jackals blue line, Vokes went past a Jackals defender through the left wing circle and rifled one over Chiodo’s left shoulder, just inside the long post, for a 2-0 Devils lead at 5:22 of the second. Four days removed from garnering league honors for his 13 point performance last weekend, Vokes’ thirteenth goal of the season brought him within one point of Jeff Prough’s team-leading 37 points.

Less than five more minutes elapsed before Trenton stuck for its third goal of the period. Brett Wilson started the possession in the defensive end and sped past the benches into the Jackals zone on the right wing. A head of steam from Jack Combs split defenders down the slot as Wilson’s saucer pass connected perfectly to Combs who turned sideways to protect the puck and beat Chiodo on the backhand for his 15th of the season.

The Jackals began showing their frustration two minutes later when Elmira’s Chaz Johnson leveled a blind side blow on Dave Leaderer behind the Devils net. Chris Murray immediately defended his defensive partner, leading to fighting majors for each, but Johnson also was charged with a major boarding penalty and a game misconduct. Elmira killed off the ensuing five minute power play, but managed only two shots the entire period.

The Devils held off the Jackals for much of the third, but when the Devils took penalties midway through the period, Elmira coach Steve Martinson pulled Chiodo for an extra-attacker and a six-on-three power play led to Elmira’s only goal. Just as Combs exited the penalty box, a flurry of action came to the net mouth. A shot from Olivier Proulx rang off the inside of the post and across the blue ice to Justin Donati who flipped the puck into a gaping net. The power play goal at 15:23 came amidst 21 third period shots. The Devils prevented further scoring and held on for the 3-1 victory.

Trenton (23-23-4-5, 55pts) remains one point behind the second-place Reading Royals (26-23-1-3, 56pts), who were overtime winners Friday against Wheeling. Five points behind the Nailers for the last playoff spot, the Devils go head-to-head with the Royals in the next two games, including Saturday night at SunCenter.

Reinforcements All Around (Updated With Elmira Moves)

February 26, 2010

The Trenton Devils have placed forward Ryan Ginand on the 3-Day IR, and activated defenseman Justin Pender.

Ginand, who has cooled off a bit as of late, has scored 12 goals and added nine assists in 32 games this season.  No word on the specifics of his injury, and I wouldn’t expect them.  This seems to open the door for Kevin Cormier to join the team as a tenth forward, although I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see Rick Kowalsky use nine forwards and seven D.

Pender has posted a 7-8-15 line in 39 games for Trenton, and his shooting accuracy had seemed to improve a bit before he went down with an injury.  He still has some Fulton Reed in him, but there’s no doubting the big man has got an NHL caliber slapshot.

Additionally, the Reading Royals will likely have a different goalie between the pipes than who you’re used to when they come into town on Saturday…the Royals have acquired Josh Johnson from Bakersfield for future considerations.

In his third professional season and third in the ECHL, Johnson has played for the South Carolina Stingrays and Gwinnett Gladiators as well.  He’s appeared in just five games this season, however, he’s needed as a result of what appears to be a long-term injury for Andrew Engelage and Matt Dalton’s recall to the Boston Bruins.

Trenton heads up to Elmira tonight for a critical game — they’re all critical at this point — before coming back home tomorrow night at 7 PM.  Bobbleheads of the ever-chatty Jeff Frazee will be given away, so don’t miss it.

UPDATE: Just grabbed this from the Jackals Twitter page: The Elmira Jackals announced Friday that they have been assigned wingers Keegan Dansereau and Matt Lowry by their AHL affiliate, the Binghamton Senators. In addition, the Jackals announced that they have loaned left winger Maxime Gratchev to the Rochester Americans (AHL).

In 32 games with the Jackals this season, Dansereau has 32 points (12g-10a) and is fifth in the ECHL with a shooting percentage of .226.

Lowry has five goals and 10 assists with the Jackals this season.

Gratchev will be appearing with his second AHL team this season when he suits up for Rochester in its game against Grand Rapids on Friday night. One of the Jackals two all-stars this season, he has 39 points (16g-23a) in 34 games with Elmira in 2009-2010.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Snow News Is Good News…

February 25, 2010

First off, you may notice the change of the header at the top of the site…my good friend Abby Archambault was kind enough to design this one for me, and it replaces the one I hastily made, which looked like I had two minutes and an Etch-A-Sketch.  So yes, it’s a huge improvement.  If anyone needs any graphic design stuff done, she’s…uhhh, like really good at that, so drop me a line and I’ll be sure to pass it along to her.

You’re here for hockey news, you say?  Sure.  Wheeling continues to give Trenton every opportunity to catch them, falling to the Cincinnati Cyclones last night.  Here’s the Nailers release from the game:

(Wheeling PR) Cincinnati, OH – Wheeling thought they had tied their game at Cincinnati early in the 3rd period but the goal was disallowed due to either the cage coming dislodged or the puck deemed not across the goal-line and the Nailers ended up falling 3-2 at Cincinnati in a hard fought contest Wednesday night.

Billy Ryan scored his 1st goal of the season in his 4th game back since returning from off-season surgery and Andrew Lord fired one home on a breakaway for his 13th of the year while Michael-Lee Teslak made several fine saves in the losing cause while keeping the Nailers in the game

Mark Van Guilder returned to Cincinnati from the AHL and tallied a pair of goals in his first game back.

The Nailers had three breakaways in the latter half of the 2nd period to try to break the 2-2 deadlock but Aaron Clarke’s drive was poked away, Thomas Beauregard never got his shot off as a diving Maxime Lacroix was able to dive from behind and poke it away, and T.J. Fox’s shot was deflected high by Cincinnati goalie Jeremy Smith.

Mark Voakes (8) and Mark Van Guilder (2) scored back to back a little over a minute apart late in the 1st period to stake the home team to a 2-0 lead.

Wheeling knotted the score early in the 2nd period. Billy Ryan recorded his first goal of the season by carrying the puck from the right point to the high slot and firing a shot over the right shoulder of Smith at 3:54.

Then Billy Ryan hit Andrew Lord with a nice pass as Lord was rushing out of the penalty box and sneaking in behind the Cyclones defense and Lord converted on the breakaway as his blast trickled off the glove of Smith and into the goal to tie the score at 2-2 on his 13th goal of the season.

But Mark Van Guilder blasted a sharp angle drive at the base of the left-wing circle into the net on a cross-ice feed by Kilpatrick for a power play goal at 1:20 into the 3rd. And a few minutes later Thomas Beauregard’s attempt to tie the game off a rebound of a Billy Ryan shot was not ruled a goal despite the animated protests of Nailers Head Coach Greg Puhalski and Wheeling would fall by the 3-2 final.

Wheeling went 1-for-4 on the power play while Cincinnati was 1-for-5. The Cyclones outshot the Nailers 32-26 on the game including 13-2 in the 3rd period. Wheeling is 4-7-0 against their North Division rivals this season with one game remaining in the regular season finale on April 3rd at WesBanco Arena.

The Nailers remain in 8th place in the American Conference and hang onto the last playoff spot but had their advantage trimmed to 2 points by the 9th place Gwinnett Gladiators who earned one point in an overtime loss at Kalamazoo earlier in the day.

The Nailers are 27-26-4 while the Cyclones lead the North at 36-17-3 and stretch their unbeaten-in-regulation streak to 12 games at 10-0-2.

The Nailers wrap up this busy stretch of travelling Friday and Saturday with back to back games at Reading and Elmira. That closes the 7 game road trip which is Wheeling’s longest of the season.

Cormier Added, Lee Lost

February 24, 2010

I was able to post this to my Twitter account last night, but couldn’t access the blog until this morning…

The Trenton Devils have released forward Carter Lee (pictured, left) and received forward Kevin Cormier. 

Lee, a native of Brick, NJ, was brought in by Trenton after being let go by the Johnstown Chiefs.  After posting a 0-1-1 line in four games for Johnstown, Lee managed just one point — a goal — in ten games for the T-Devils before being let go.

Cormier officially re-joins the T-Devils after having actually returned to New Jersey several weeks ago after spending some time back home in Canada for reasons unknown.  Better known as Corms, he’s played in 12 games between Trenton and AHL Lowell this season, posting zero points and 26 penalty minutes between his two stops.

While the addition of Cormier should satisfy those who enjoy the possibility of some heavyweight fisticuffs taking place, it may not be such a wise idea for head coach Rick Kowalsky to mess with a lineup that seems to have been clicking lately.  It’s also uncertain as to what kind of physical condition Cormier is in after being away from the game for several months.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Vokes Named ECHL Player Of The Week

February 23, 2010

(ECHL PR) PRINCETON, N.J. – Rookie forward Matt Vokes is the Sher-wood Hockey ECHL Player of the Week for Feb. 15-21.

The 24 year old scored eight points (4g-4a) including his first professional hat trick when he tallied four goals on Feb. 21 in Trenton’s 7-4 win against Wheeling. He registered one assist in a 3-1 win at Johnstown on Feb. 19 and added three more assists during the Devils’ 6-2 win at Johnstown on Feb. 20 to help Trenton to a 3-0-0 record for the week.

Vokes currently has a six-game point streak (6g-7a) which began on Feb. 12 when he scored a shorthand goal to help the Devils beat Reading 5-3 and has three games with three-or-more points during the streak. He also has a seven-game point streak on the road since Jan. 27 when he had an assist in Trenton’s 2-1 win at Florida.

His four goals on Feb. 21 included a power-play goal and the game winner and it was the first multi-goal game Vokes has recorded in his career and the third time this season he has had four points in one game. He scored four points (1g-3a) in a 5-2 win against Wheeling on Feb. 2 and added four points (1g-3a) against Reading in a 4-1 victory on Feb. 5.

Vokes leads the Devils with 23 assists, is tied for the team lead with a plus-minus rating of +8 and is second among the team with 34 points.

Prior to joining the ECHL, the Auburn, Mass. native played four seasons at Brown University and saw action in 115 games with 64 points (28g-36a) and 63 penalty minutes from 2005-09. He also garnered 90 points (44g-46a) and 58 penalty minutes in 113 regular-season games and 14 points (6g-8a) and 10 penalty minutes in 14 playoff games with Cedar Rapids of the Unites States Hockey League from 2003-05.

On behalf of Matt Vokes, a case of pucks will be donated to a Trenton youth hockey organization by Sher-wood Hockey, the exclusive puck supplier of the ECHL. Since beginning its sponsorship of the award in 2000-01, Sher-wood Hockey has donated more than 23,100 pucks to youth hockey organizations in ECHL cities.

Runners Up: Tyler Donati, Elmira (3 gp, 6g, 1a, 7 pts.), Trent Campbell, South Carolina (3 gp, 1g, 4a, 5 pts.) and Evan Rankin, Toledo (4 gp, 5g, 0a, 5 pts.).

Also Nominated: Bryan Miller (Alaska), Matt Pope (Bakersfield), Mark Voakes (Cincinnati), Milan Gajic (Florida), Matt Francis (Gwinnett), Brian McGuirk (Kalamazoo), Robert Pearce (Ontario), James Sixsmith (Utah) and Adam Taylor (Victoria).

Why Martin Brodeur Could Learn From Matt Vokes

February 23, 2010

For someone who scored four goals in a game, it’s interesting that Matt Vokes best deflection didn’t come on the ice, but in the locker room after the game.

You may remember that Vokes was in front of the net on the Trenton Devils second goal, which was fired from the left point by Tim Kunes.  The puck appeared to have deflected in off of Vokes, which would actually give him five goals, which would also tie him for the franchise record with Mathieu Brunelle (1/31/04 vs. Augusta).

When I mentioned to Vokes that the puck appeared to go in off of him, he said he didn’t want to talk about it, and then deflected all the attention to his teammates…

“Whenever you have a skilled player like Chris Poli on our power play, guys like Slavomir Tomko and Tim Kunes, guys who have real patience with the puck, it’s my job to just be in front, and that makes my job so easy,” Vokes told me.

“I don’t have to worry about them turning the puck over. Poli’s missed more than half of the year due to injuries, he’s had bad luck. But when he comes back, he has patience along the wall. He has poise, he knows what to do with the puck. I played with Chris when we were eight years old. I played with him growing up, we’re both from Massachusetts, I played with him in college…being able to have that trust. And then having Tomko and Kunes, excellent playmakers…Kunes, he gets the puck and he waits, he waits, he waits, the goalie goes down and that’s when he shoots. He’s got a great head on his shoulders. We’ve got a lot of guys that do little things that don’t show up in the scoresheet. Jeremy Akeson plays the body when the pucks in the zone, little things like that. Stuff that the team is buying into now that we didn’t necessarily in the first half of the year, whether it be due to injuries or whatnot. Seems like we’re playing together at the right time.”

So, how does this relate to Martin Brodeur?  Well, as you know, Brodeur gave up four goals in the USA’s upset win over Canada in the preliminary round.  Instead of placing blame on himself for overplaying the puck at times or giving credit to the USA for getting the win, Brodeur instead expressed disappointment over how his teammates didn’t follow the lead of his “key saves” and chastized his team for taking penalties…

“It was a tough game,” Brodeur said. “I think they got some bounces to score some goals. Had one go off my player. I made some key saves I thought in the game to turn it around, we just didn’t take advantage of it. After the two breakaway saves I made in the second, I feel that maybe something’s going to happen and we went on to take three penalties in a row from there.”

Curiously, Roberto Luongo will be replacing Brodeur between the pipes for today’s elimination round game.

Devils fans, start your criticism of me…now!

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

So, That Was Fun… (Kowalsky, Vokes Quotes)

February 22, 2010

If I told you before the game that a Trenton Devil was going to score four goals, how long would it have taken you to guess Matt Vokes?

It goes without saying that Vokes absolutely took that game over, and it seems possible that those four goals…well, they could actually be five goals.  But we’ll get to that in a bit.

First off, that’s the game Trenton needs to play every time, against every opponent.  They didn’t look undersized out there…they played with an edge, but not over the edge, and they got key goals when they needed them.

I can’t remember the last Trenton Devils game where I had nothing negative to say.  That was actually a fun game to watch, and makes you believe this team can actually do something.

I’d post the link to The Trentonian game story, which I had to keep super tight because of space restrictions, but I don’t think it’s online.  I need to learn how to write better when I’ve got a small amount of space…but I’ll get there.

And here’s what Rick Kowalsky and Matt Vokes had to say after the game…

RICK KOWALSKY

“We talked about it all three games.  We played solid and sound for two periods, and then the third period…it’s the right time of the year to be having big third periods, and I think when we get that one, we don’t sit back, we push for that extra one.  Obviously, we’ve got some guys that are scoring and the power play’s been going, and that’s huge, we know that’s been lacking all year.”

“(Vokes) has been solid all year.  He’s been really solid and kind of coming into his own the last month, really.  His ice time has increased because of some of the injuries we’ve had, and the biggest thing with him is that he’s starting to look real comfortable.  Some of these college guys, they hit a bit of a rut right after Christmas.  We talk about it all the time.  They’re used to playing 35, 45 games, and we get past that point and all of them go through a mental or physical little lapse, and he’s seemed to come out of it — if he went through it at all — really strong.  He looks confident with the puck, and obviously he’s playing a ton of minutes.  His role’s really gotten bigger with Nagy going up and Poli going down with the injury.  I put him in front of the net on the power play, because he’s probably our best net presence guy on the team.  He’s able to find rebounds and he really knows how to screen the goalie.  A lot of guys at this level, they’ll stand in front of the net, but they don’t do it with a purpose.  He has and he’s been rewarded.”

“(On Kunes goal) Teslak couldn’t see it at all.  Even the second one, you hang around that net…that’s why I put him there.  Poli and Charleston have done a great job to get pucks through.  Even Tomko and Kunes up top, which is something we haven’t done consistently enough this year, but it’s good to see them going in and us getting pucks in those areas.”

“Even in Johnstown…we all know that they’re out of it, but those guys are playing a little bit more of a disciplined system, and everybody buckles down this time of year.  It’s the last quarter of the season, and now with this conference thing, every night it’s just like the NHL…you have a good weekend and a bad weekend, and things can change so quick for that 7-8-9 spot.  That’s our goal.  Three weeks ago, we were talking about chasing one team, and now we’re talking about chasing another team.  It’s constantly going to change, and we knew that if we won those first two games in Johnstown, we’d set ourselves up to play a team that was right around that 8 spot, if not in it, and sure enough this was a huge weekend for us.”

“That was quite a thing we did last year, but we’re starting…we still don’t have Trevor Kell in this lineup, there’s still guys missing.  Getting Poli back, and Charleston’s still not healthy, and Ginand’s been banged up for a bit, but getting all these guys in the lineup, and getting Prough back and Akeson back, we’re getting closer here.  Our D is really solid, 1 through 7.  Our goaltenders have played well.  David’s played well, and it was nice to Gerald bounce back, I thought he looked sharp.”

“(Kell), right now, I say next weekend is unlikely, but we’ll see how the week goes.”

MATT VOKES

“I might have been seven, eight years old, maybe (the last time he scored four goals in a game).  Not as long as I can remember, no.”

“We’re in a position now where we have to treat every game like it’s a playoff game, it’s a one game playoff, especially down the stretch.  We play Wheeling, we play Elmira, we play Reading, and those are all teams we’re chasing.  Every game right now is a big game, especially when we’re playing a team that’s directly ahead of us.  I think they’re four or five points ahead of us in the standings now, and coming into the third, we saw that we were tied.  And we knew that we needed this game more than they did.  It was just guys out there doing whatever it took.”

“Three of them were almost identical.  The first goal, I was right place, right time.  Brett Wilson got on the forecheck first, played the body perfect, coughed the puck up to the other D…Jack Combs goes in there, forces their other D to make a bad play, Combs gets it, throws it right out front and I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.  That’s all Jack and Wilson getting it done on the forecheck.  The second goal…what was the second goal?  (Laughs)  Well, the other three, was really just being right place, right time.  One of them was off the faceoff, Slavomir Tomko gets a good shot through, Dan Eves gets a stick on it and creates some confusion up front…he goes to the net, and the puck’s sitting there.  Eves is a big kid, and he’s in front of the goalie, it’s easy to put the puck in the net.”

“We have a lot of skill players, but we also have a lot of guys that know that skill doesn’t do it every time.  You have guys like Dan Eves, second year player, doesn’t put up that many points, having a great year.  He goes and plays the body, he plays physical.  He does things that don’t shpw up in the scoresheet.  You have guys like Chucky, Dan Charleston.  I’m right place, right time in front of the crease, but at the same time, we realize that not every goal is going to be a highlight reel.  If it takes four or five greasy goals to win, so be it.  Jeff Prough’s goal?  Behind the net.  Brett Wilson’s goal?  Top of the crease, he just makes a great move.  We know that those are the types of goals we have to score.”

“(Kunes goal possibly going in off of him) We’re not going to talk about that one (laughs).  Whenever you have a skilled player like Chris Poli on our power play, guys like Slavomir Tomko and Tim Kunes, guys who have real patience with the puck, it’s my job to just be in front, and that makes my job so easy.  I don’t have to worry about them turning the puck over.  Poli’s missed more than half of the year due to injuries, he’s had bad luck.  But when he comes back, he has patience along the wall.  He has poise, he knows what to do with the puck.  I played with Chris when we were eight years old.  I played with him growing up, we’re both from Massachusetts, I played with him in college…being able to have that trust.  And then having Tomko and Kunes, excellent playmakers…Kunes, he gets the puck and he waits, he waits, he waits, the goalie goes down and that’s when he shoots.  He’s got a great head on his shoulders.  We’ve got a lot of guys that do little things that don’t show up in the scoresheet.  Jeremy Akeson plays the body when the pucks in the zone, little things like that.  Stuff that the team is buying into now that we didn’t necessarily in the first half of the year, whether it be due to injuries or whatnot.  Seems like we’re playing together at the right time.”

“On the screen play, on the power play, whenever you have Charleston and Poli, they’re working on the side.  As soon as it gets up top, my job is to take away the goalie’s eyes.  Just cause havoc in front.  Whether it be taking body shots in front from the D, just trying to tie a guy up and create some space.  When Kunes starts sliding or Tomko starts sliding, and the puck goes side to side, I know the goalie has to mirror that same thing, so I just have to try to act like I’m a goalie…but when the puck’s released, I’ve got to turn and find it.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Prough Back With Trenton

February 21, 2010

Jeff Prough took warmups and will be playing for the Trenton Devils today.  Carter Lee’s your healthy scratch.

Stay tuned for all the post-game quotes and so on…

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.