Archive for January, 2011

Interesting Note (Updated)

January 31, 2011

Thought it was interesting that Tyler Donati was sent back to the ECHL today…thought it was really interesting that the transaction reads that he was loaned by the Connecticut Whale to the Stockton Thunder.

In ECHL circles at least, Donati is synonymous with the Elmira Jackals.  He’s spent all or parts of the past four seasons with the club, and last year scored 114 points (38-76-114) in 67 games en route to league MVP honors.  What he can’t seem to do, however, is translate that success to the AHL.  With the Connecticut Whale, the newly re-branded top minor league affiliate of the New York Rangers, he’s without a point in nine contests.

Donati has 21 points (10-11-21) in 18 games this season with the Jackals, which projects out to an 84 point campaign over a full season…certainly not what he posted last year, but not too shabby none the less.  I’ll be interested to see what’s behind the assignment out west.

UPDATED: Turns out there was more to it than met the eye earlier today.  Elmira has traded the ECHL rights of Tyler Donati to Stockton…coming back from Stockton (Could this be a real trade in the ECHL?  Who knew?) is goaltender Garrett Zemlak. 

Zemlak is a huge, huge addition for the Jackals.  A fairly highly-regarded goaltending prospect in the Kings organization (and who isn’t…Bernier, Zatkoff, Jones, etc.), the 21-year-old has a 2.37 GAA and .912 save percentage in 14 games for the Thunder this season.  Marco Cousineau has struggled big time this season, and guys like Daren Machesney, Zane Kalemba, Peter Skoggard, and whoever the heck else they had behind him this season haven’t really gotten it done, either. 

It also goes to show you that, for the right player, good goaltending is out there in this league.  But this is where how the Devils do things at this level really hurts them…they don’t “borrow” players from other organizations, and don’t allow their own guys to be loaned to other organizations, either.  If you don’t think that’s a factor in why things are the way they are on the ice in Trenton, you need to think again… 

UPDATE 2: Here, read this story I did on Michael Ryder for ECHL.com

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Wheels Fall Off Against Wheeling

January 31, 2011

(PR) Johnstown, PA – With the Devils leading 1-0 after two periods, Ben Street and Trevor Hunt scored two goals in the opening 4:19 of the third period to lead the Wheeling Nailers to a 2-1 win over the Trenton Devils at Cambria County War Memorial Arena.

Wheeling goaltender Peter Delmas was named the game’s first star by making 37 saves on 38 shots, improving to 6-0-1 in his professional career. The Nailers dynamic rookie duo, Nick Peterson and Ben Street, contributed two points apiece, with Trevor Hunt recording the first game-winning goal of his career.

Jeff Lerg was stellar in stopping 32 of 34 shots, but took the hard-luck loss as the Nailers defeated the Devils for the 10th time in 11 tries. Jeff Prough was the Devils goal scorer, tying Ryan Ginand for the team lead (17 goals) with his fourth goal in the last three games since being sent down by AHL-Albany.

After the Devils and Nailers played the first scoreless first period in the season series, Jeff Prough gave the Devils a 1-0 lead 13:56 into the second period. Prough’s goal came on a remarkable individual effort in the midst of a Trenton line change. While Tony Zancanaro and Kory Nagy were credited with assists, the play was facilitated by hustle from Prough, who stuck with the play and scored on his second attempt of the sequence against Delmas.

The Devils led 1-0 until Ben Street put the Nailers on the board 24 seconds into the third period. Street’s team-leading 24th goal of the season came on a bad angle shot from the right-wing corner, with Casey Pierro-Zabotel and Nick Peterson earning helpers.

Less than four minutes later, Trevor Hunt scored the eventual game-winner, with Devil-killers Nick Peterson and Ben Street each assisting. For Hunt, the goal was his third in the last two games against Trenton, with the defenseman previously having only tallied once in 28 professional games.

The Devils propelled 13 shots at Peter Delmas in the third period, with their best chance to tie coming in the game’s final minute. Out of a wild skirmish in front of the net, J.S. Berube pushed the puck over the goal line. But referee T.J. Luxmore ruled that the net was off its peg as the puck crossed the line, denying the Devils the tying goal.

Losing for the second time in the last three games, the Devils travel to Reading to play the Royals Friday night where Trenton will look for a split on its four-game road trip. Opening faceoff is slated for 7:05 p.m.

Pittsburgh Affiliate Puts Up A Touchdown, “Steel” A Win

January 30, 2011

(PR) Wheeling, WV – After Trenton tied the game 3-3 with two goals 1:42 apart in the second period, the Wheeling Nailers scored four straight markers to defeat the Trenton Devils, 7-4, Saturday at WesBanco Arena.

Winning for the eighth time in nine games against the Devils, the Nailers improved to 26-15-0-2, opening up an 11-point lead in the North Division by winning their sixth straight. Losing for the fourth time in the last five, the Devils fell to 15-22-1-3.

There was no shortage of offensive headliners for the Nailers. Mikael Bedard scored five points (1g, 4a), Nick Peterson contributed four (1g, 3a), and defenseman Trevor Hunt put together the first two-goal game of his pro career. In net, Patrick Killeen won for the fourth straight time over the Devils, making 28 saves.

Jeff Prough, Ryan Ginand and Myles Stoesz compiled multi-point games for the Devils, but it wasn’t enough for Trenton on a night the Devils surrendered four power-play goals in six shorthanded situations. Making 26 saves, Shane Connelly lost his third straight start.

Casey Pierro-Zabotel opened the scoring at 2:54 of the first period off a feed from Nick Peterson. The score remained 1-0 Wheeling until Kory Nagy tied the game at 10:49 of the first on a wraparound, with Myles Stoesz and Dave Leaderer earning assists.

Wheeling’s Trevor Hunt made the score 2-1 when his point-shot found its way past Connelly after hitting Devils defenseman Martin Nolet in front of the net. The Nailers made the score 3-1 when Mikael Bedard struck 12:17 into the second period.

The Devils knotted the score by scoring twice in a span of 1:42 late in the second period. First, Jeff Prough potted his second five-on-three goal in as many nights off a setup by Darcy Zajac and Ryan Ginand. Ginand then pulled the Devils even by scoring his team-leading 17th goal on a rebound from the slot with J.S. Berube getting the helper.

Wheeling regained a lead it would not relinquish when Joey Haddad scored 28 seconds after Ginand had squared the teams, 3-3. Wheeling then blitzed Trenton to open up a 7-3 lead when Nick Peterson, Trevor Hunt and Ben Street scored 9:31 apart to start the third period.

Jeff Prough answered for the Devils by burying his second of the game with 2:20 remaining, but the Devils never got any closer in the final minutes as the Nailers won, 7-4.

The Devils and Nailers waste no time renewing acquaintances, meeting for the sixth time in 18 days Sunday at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena in Johnstown, PA at 5:05 p.m.

Trenton Tops Toledo

January 29, 2011

(PR) Toledo, OH – After falling behind 1-0 in the first period, the Devils scored five unanswered goals to defeat the Toledo Walleye, 5-1, Friday night at Huntington Center.

Ryan Hayes led the charge offensively by scoring two goals, including his second game-winner against Toledo in the season series. Ryan Ginand was also a big contributor by adding a goal and an assist, on a night 10 different Devils netted points. Jeff Lerg earned the win in goal by making 39 saves on 40 shots to earn his first win since November 23, after the Livonia, MI native came off of IR last week.

With their loss, the Walleye saw their five-game winning streak snapped, in a game that zero Toledo players finished with a plus rating. Jimmy Spratt was the losing goaltender, allowing five goals on 33 shots.

The Walleye opened the score, with Randy Rowe deflecting a pass from Zack Torquato past Lerg, 9:32 into the first period. After surrendering the first goal of the game while shorthanded, Trenton tied the game with a power-play goal of its own when Jeff Prough scored with 2:37 remaining in the opening frame. Assisted by Jordon Southorn and Justin Pender, the goal was Prough’s first since being sent down by AHL-Albany earlier in the day.

After Jeff Lerg made 13 first-period saves to keep the Devils tied, Trenton took its first lead 9:26 into the second period when Ryan Hayes scored his 15th goal of the season. Hayes’ goal came off the deflection a Taylor Vichorek shot from the right point that Walleye goalie Jimmy Spratt was unable to react to. Darcy Zajac also earned a helper, his seventh assist in the last eight games.

The score remained 2-1 Devils until Ryan Hayes scored his second of the game 41 seconds into the third period. J.S. Berube and Ryan Ginand earned assists on what was Hayes’ seventh goal in the first four games of the season series.

Less than five minutes later, Darcy Zajac made the score 4-1 Devils by scoring Trenton’s second power-play marker of the evening. Jeremy Akeson extended his point streak to four games with the primary assist, and Dave Leaderer a three-game streak with the secondary helper.

After scoring two goals in the ECHL All-Star Game Wednesday night, Ryan Ginand scored the Devils final goal of the night, beating Jimmy Spratt off a Toledo turnover in the defensive zone. Ginand’s unassisted goal pulled him into a tie with Ryan Hayes for the team lead, after Hayes had passed Ginand earlier in the evening.

Snapping their three-game losing streak, the Devils continue their four-game roadtrip when they oppose the Wheeling Nailers at WesBanco Arena Saturday at 7:35 p.m.

Berube, Prough Back In Trenton

January 28, 2011

Both J.S. Berube and Jeff Prough have been sent down from AHL Albany and will be available for tonight’s game in Toledo…

In addition, Kyle Kucharski has been released.

I’m heading into the city and won’t be anywhere near a computer for a while — which, let’s be honest, is probably a good thing if I’ll have a few drinks in me — but I was tweeting about some Trenton Devils-related things with former Titans and current NHL.com writer Brian Compton. You can check me out on Twitter at mashmore98.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 // Twitter: mashmore98

Things You Know Already

January 28, 2011

– I took a few days completely away from my computer.  When seemingly all you do is stare at a computer all day, you have no idea how good it feels to just put it down for a few days and actually enjoy things.  Anyway, let’s catch up on things you probably know already…shall we?

– Trenton has placed defenseman Brad Miller back on the 3-Day IR and activated forward Ryan Hayes.  Trenton plays Toledo on Friday and Wheeling on Saturday and Sunday…all on the road.

– To the surprise of no one who’s seen him play, Ryan Ginand truly was one of the stars of the ECHL All-Star Game.  In a bizarre twist, the game featured a collection of ECHL All-Stars (well, best young players, really…) taking on the hometown Bakersfield Condors.  And Ginand scored two goals on four shots on former NHL netminder Josh Tordjman and was a plus-one on the game in a 9-3 All-Stars win over Bakersfield.

They have to re-visit that format next season, right?  Bakersfield actually had to borrow Barry Goers, who plays for the Las Vegas Wranglers, for the game.  Awwwwwwwwwwwkwaaaaaaaaaaaard.  If I’m on the Condors, why do I want to play an extra, meaningless game in the middle of the season that they’ll inevitably lose?  And why is the focus only on younger players?  I get it, you want to give the younger guys a shot to get looked at by scouts…but some of the veteran guys deserve another look to maybe get an opportunity in the AHL at the very least as well, don’t they?  If you’re going to play with the format…a rookies vs. veterans setup would seem to make some sense, no?  What do you think?  How would you change the All-Star Game?

– Wheeling’s Patrick Killeen won the Murphy Group MeiGray Group King of the Shootout award at the Skills Competition by stopping all six shots he saw.  South Carolina’s Josh Godfrey established a new record in the Reebok Hardest Shot contest by unleashing a 102.7 MPH bullet.  Raise your hand if you’d love to see Justin Pender give that a shot.  OK, now raise your hand if you’d like to be in the net when he does it…and watch those hands go down.

– Elmira released goalie Daren Machesney.  I already let you in on my thoughts on him when he first got dealt there, so suffice it to say, this isn’t too surprising.  He has, however, caught on with Reading for the time being.  Princeton alum and Hobey Baker finalist Zane Kalemba was placed on the 3-Day IR, further ensuring I’ll never see him as a pro.

As for Machesney, who shares a birthday with me (four years later), he’s posted GAA’s over four and save percentages under .875 in both ECHL stops this season, and has posted a 2-12 record.

– Congratulations to former Stingray Travis Morin, who made his NHL debut for the Dallas Stars on Wednesday.  Morin, who skated on Trenton’s sheet of ice on Bertoli Night in 2009 for South Carolina, was the subject of a recent ECHL.com interview I did.  It’s always so nice to see guys come all the way up to the NHL through the ECHL.  Speaking of which, I recently did phone interviews with Pittsburgh’s Deryk Engelland and Mark Letestu…add those to the long list of stories you should be expecting on ECHL.com.  I’m also working on a story focusing on the impact ECHL alumni have made on the year’s outdoor games.  It will entail going to Washington, DC on February 8th to speak to the Capitals involved in the Winter Classic and hopefully Hartford on February 19 to cover their outdoor game.

– If I’m not mistaken, the All-Star game signifies the changing of the jerseys…so Trenton will likely be clad in red when they come back home on February 5.

– Also, straight from Trenton PR…The next 4 for $49 Sunday is February 6, a 1 p.m. game vs. the Reading Royals. Don’t forget autographs after the game!

4 tickets, 4 hot dogs, 4 sodas, all for only $49!

The only remaining 4 for $49 Sundays this season are: Feb. 6, Feb. 20 and March 13.

Orders must be placed by 4 p.m. the day before the game.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com // Twitter: mashmore98

Wrapping Up Saturday

January 24, 2011

– My apologies for not getting Saturday’s post-game stuff to you sooner.  Had a friend going through a difficult time, and it was far more important for me to take care of that than to pass along the increasingly repetitive “here’s how they lost this one” stuff.  Change the date, change the names, it’s all the same.  Although, the way they lost this one has to take the cake for worst come from ahead defeats this season.  Four goals in 1:48 with under five minutes to play?  Wow.

– Kevin Dean wasn’t as angry, at least outwardly to us, about this loss as he’s been in losses past.  Still, the officiating drew his ire…

“First of all, I thought that was a terrible call to send Leaderer off and not the other guy,” he said.  “I mean, it’s not even close.  This guy calls the score all the time and not the game, so I thought that was a terrible call.”

I asked Dean about not using his timeout after the game, and you saw those comments in the paper.  My efforts to coach a hockey team would be laughable, I assure you of that…but me, I call that timeout after the fifth goal.  There’s still three minutes left, you’re down one…maybe you can at least squash their very, very sizable momentum at that point.

Dean said he thought his team played hard and deserved to win the game, and also told me that he thought their effort on Saturday was a lot better than what he saw from them on Friday night.

“If we play like that, we’ll certainly get our share of wins.”

– There are around one or two game stories a year that make me want to go to every store that sells the paper and rip out the page its on so that nobody can ever see it.  This would be one of them.  With about five minutes to go, it was all set.  There was a lead based on Trenton’s two shortest players, Jeff Lerg and Tony Zancanaro, coming up big.  There were a few paragraphs about how maybe this was the start of their patented second half turnaround. 

Instead, they’re now a team that, as of today, has lost 25 of its 39 games and has absolutely zero chance of making the playoffs.  With 33 games to play, they’re nine points out of eighth place.  But doesn’t it feel like they’re 33 points out with nine games left instead?  This team has the feel of one going absolutely nowhere.  I’d love it if they proved me wrong.  But what about what anyone has seen in the results over the past few weeks would lead anyone to believe that this team will be playing meaningful games in April?  

– Not sure if Trevor Kell has avoided a suspension for his match penalty for fighting on Saturday.  He did play yesterday.  All match penalties are reviewed by the league and generally carry a minimum of a one-game suspension.

– I really liked Justin Pender up front.  Thought it allowed him to play his style of game more.  I think a lot of what he brought to the table as a defenseman was built solely around his big shot…but he can play a lot more physical game as a forward and use his big body more to play down low and provide a presence the team doesn’t really have in that regard.

– Quite a few people in that locker room were irate with the David Leaderer call.  There was quite a lot of complaining to the refs after the game as well.  Makes it seem a little less coincidental that Trenton’s first power play didn’t come until 7:18 of the third period on Sunday.

– Jeff Lerg debuted his new mask and pads on Saturday.  Was still wearing his MSU hockey pants, though.  Dean said he thought Lerg played “pretty good.”

– Before Sunday’s game, Trenton activated Taylor Vichorek off the IR and placed Ryan Hayes on the IR.

– As I wrote in the paper, Dan Charleston was in attendance Saturday.  Anyone expecting comments from him any time will be waiting quite a while, leave it at that.  I’m not sure if he is allowed to travel with the team or practice with the team.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Three Games, Three Cities, Zero Points

January 24, 2011

(PR) Atlantic City, NJ – ECHL hockey returned to Boardwalk Hall Sunday for the first time since the 2005 Kelly Cup Playoffs, but Trenton couldn’t recapture the magic of its series win against the Boardwalk Bullies from six years ago, instead falling the Wheeling Nailers, 4-3.

John May scored his second goal of the season just two minutes into the game and David Marshall followed up with his eighth goal of the season, a power play goal, two minutes later to set the tone in the third and final game of the weekend between the Devils and Nailers. Andrew Orpik picked up assists on both goals as the Nailers swept the three-game, three-city tour that began in Johnstown on Friday night and finished Sunday at historic Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.

After scoring four goals in under two minutes late in the third period to upset the Devils Saturday, the Nailers opened the scoring for the first time this weekend with two quick goals inside the first four minutes of Sunday’s game. Marshall’s power play goal was the Nailers’ fifth extra-man marker of the weekend, going 5-for-19 (26%) in the three games against Trenton.

Mikael Bedard beat Shane Connelly midway through the second period to extend the Wheeling lead to 3-0 as Peter Delmas continued to deny the Devils into the second intermission.

The third period saw the Devils come out firing, pouring 15 shots on goal, after just 17 combined through the opening two frames. Taylor Vichorek and Tony Zancanaro scored early in the third period to cut the Wheeling lead down to 3-2 with twelve minutes remaining in regulation. Vichorek got the Devils on the board 1:53 into the period, beating Delmas for his third goal of the season, unassisted. Zancanaro scored his third goal in the last two games on a delayed penalty, assisted by Trevor Kell and Jeremy Akeson, to draw the Devils within just a goal, but the comeback effort fell short of tying the game.

Just as the Devils began to seize momentum and the crowd of 2,568 started to grow louder, Joey Haddad pushed a loose puck past Connelly to restore the Nailers’ two-goal cushion. Haddad received first-star honors for scoring the eventual game-winner, plus the earlier assist. Darcy Zajac scored a power play goal with 11:36 left in the third period to bring the Devils back to within a goal but Wheeling clamped down defensively and denied Trenton the tying goal to secure the weekend sweep.

The loss drops the Devils to 14-22-1-3 with 32 points and the win propels Wheeling to 24-15-0-2 with 50 points on the season. Following this week’s all-star break, Trenton will next be in action Friday in Toledo at 7 p.m. before facing the Nailers two more times: Saturday in Wheeling and Sunday in Johnstown.

Bros Before Prose

January 23, 2011

I will have post-game notes. Really, I will. But I had to leave right after I got back home to help out a friend…trust me, you’re not missing too much anyway. You all know what happened by now.

Game 38: Pre-Game Notes

January 22, 2011

6:40 PM — Jeff Lerg vs. Peter Delmas is your goalie matchup…Trevor Kell still with the “C,” Tony Zancanaro and Justin Coutu with the A’s.

4:15 PM — A little less than three hours before gametime here at Sun National Bank Center, and there is some news to report…Jeff Prough has been called up to AHL Albany.  In 37 games this season, he’s tallied 13 goals and 13 assists while collecting 36 penalty minutes.

It also sounds like Jeff Lerg will be the likely starter for Trenton tonight in net.  Lerg has not played since a November 24th loss to Florida.

Was a little surprised by the overwhelmingly positive response to the Dan Charleston piece, both via e-mail and the comments.  So thanks for that.  I’ll obviously have updates up until gametime like always, but today’s a Trentonian game for me, so it’ll be the usual “talk amongst yourselves” routine once 7 PM rolls around. 

I will not be at tomorrow’s game in Atlantic City.  Not sure if the paper is sending anyone there…

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com


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