Archive for December, 2009

Pre-Gaming…

December 27, 2009

Santa delivered for me. 

I write this post on my brand new laptop, which I badly, badly needed.  This one actually has all of its buttons, and has enough memory for me to actually do my job.  Yay!

And Santa delivered for the Trenton Devils as well, as they got off to a good start in their post-Christmas stretch, beating Johnstown, 3-2.  But…ummm, the Chiefs are pretty bad.  So tonight’s game should serve as more of a test for them.

Now, if Santa really wants to deliver for me, I’ll give him three names…Andrew Engelage, John Murray and Brad Theissen.  Reading, Johnstown and Wheeling are the next three teams to come in to SNBC — starting tonight, of course — and I sure could use some brand new goalies to get my holiday season going.

No news from the arena just yet…I’m on Trentonian duty for the next three games, but if anything pops up before game time, I’ll be sure to let you know.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

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Devils Beat Chiefs, 3-2

December 27, 2009

(PR) Johnstown, PA, December 26, 2009 – An optimistic Rick Kowalsky pointed to Christmas break to wipe the slate clean for his Trenton Devils, losers of five straight. His hope that time away from the game would clear his players minds came to fruition Saturday in Johnstown in a 3-2 win against the hapless Chiefs. Jeff Prough took over the team lead in goals with his ninth and tenth goals of the season and Justin Pender notched the eventual game winner on the power play. Chris Poli had two assists, and now has four points in four games played.

In the Devils’ first game since a 2-0 shutout at the hands of Cincinnati last Sunday, Trenton had difficulty keeping up with the Chiefs in the opening minutes. Johnstown controlled the time of possession and had three power plays in the first ten minutes. Back to back penalties wore down the Trenton penalty kill, and at 9:44, one of the newest Chiefs cashed in. Chanse Fitzpatrick, who scored six points in four games against the Devils while skating for the Elmira Jackals earlier this season, scored his first goal as a Chief, his 15th overall, after a goal mouth scramble.

Only two of nine Devils wins this year had come when allowing the first goal, but Jeff Prough negated Johnstown’s early advantage less than two minutes after falling behind. Jeff’s first of two goals on the night, with four in three games, was set up by new linemates Brett Wilson and Matt Vokes at 11:11 for a 1-1 tie. Prough struck again at 13:53 following a brilliant centering feed through traffic from Chris Poli out of the left wing circle for a 2-1 Trenton lead. The first period expired with an exchange of fruitless power plays and the Chiefs outshoouting the Devils 16-10.

The teams duplicated their respective shot outputs in the second period, but extra hustle for the Devils generated numerous opportunities. Ryan Ginand drew a boarding call from Russ Sinkewich, as the two chased the puck to the Johnstown end boards. Trenton’s ensuing power play, their fourth of the game, worked to perfection. After a right wing circle draw, Chris Poli passed across to the left wing for Trevor Kell who fed back for Justin Pender’s high wing one-timer. The blast beat goalie Kris Mayotte stick side, waist high, for the defenseman’s fourth of the year. With the primary assist to Kell, the captain now has 20 points on the season.

Pender’s insurance goal allowed the Devils to sustain a Johnstown power play goal from Jim McKenzie with five minutes left in the second period. Leading 3-2 going to the third, the focus for the Devils turned to the mounting save total for Dave Caruso, who finished with 41 stops in his fifth win of the year. His last of several impressive glove saves came at the final buzzer with the Chiefs generating extra-man chances thanks to a power play and the goalie pulled. The Trenton defense held on to seal Trenton’s first win since December 9, a 4-3 win in Gwinnett.

The Devils (10-14-2-4, 26pts) extend their third place lead over the Chiefs to four points, as Johnstown (8-15-3-3, 22pts) becomes the last team in the ECHL yet to reach the 10-win plateau. Trenton, now six points out of second place, hosts first place Reading (17-10-1-2, 37pts) Sunday at 5 p.m. at the Sun National Bank Center.

Some Tidbits From Around The League…

December 23, 2009

Well, there isn’t going to be too much to write about until the T-Devils pick up play again on December 26th in Johnstown. They return home the following night for a tilt against Reading, and play the Chiefs at home three days later.

Meanwhile, Elmira defenseman Ben Wright has left the team to return to college in Canada. Wright played in 26 games for the Jackals and scored two goals with four assists.

And Reading has dealt former UConn goaltender Beau Erickson to the Utah Grizzlies. Erickson became the odd man out yet again when Andrew Engelage was sent down from the Toronto Marlies. Engelage and Bruins prospect Matt Dalton will likely be the tandem the T-Devils see on the 27th.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Brian Leetch Couldn’t Fix This Team…

December 22, 2009

…but maybe Bryan Leitch could help the Florida Everblades. The Naples News down in Florida has the story of Leitch — who has made like Barney Stinson and suited up with Alaska and Cincinnati this year — being assigned to the Everblades, who come into town next month.

And there’s also some word on Peter Metcalf, who it appears hasn’t actually signed with Elmira after all.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Snow Chance On Sunday

December 20, 2009

This has to be rock bottom, right? Another zero win weekend…things can’t possibly get any worse than this, right?

(Cyclones PR) TRENTON, New Jersey – The Cincinnati Cyclones received their Christmas gift a little early this season following a 2-0 win over the Trenton Devils on Sunday afternoon. The club moves into a tie with Kalamazoo for the North Division lead. Rookie goaltender Robert Mayer stopped a career-high 34 shots for his first professional shutout. Mark Van Guilder had a goal and an assist to pace the attack.
Cincinnati and Kalamazoo each have 35 points to lead the North Division, while Toledo is in third place with 34 points. Wheeling is fourth in the division with 28 points.

There was no scoring in the first period, but Trenton had the better opportunities. The Devils outshot the Cyclones, 13-7, and had two power play chances to Cincinnati’s one.

The Cyclones scored the first goal at 7:53, when Dwayne Zinger collected his third goal of the season from Mark Van Guilder and Dustin Sproat. The score came one second after a Cincinnati power play had expired. It was the 20th time in 28 games this season that the Cyclones scored the first goal of the game and the ninth time in the last ten contests that this has occurred. For the third straight game on the road trip, Cincinnati opened a 2-0 lead when Maxime Lacroix lit the lamp for the first time in a Cyclones uniform as Barret Ehgoetz and Van Guilder had the assists on the power play goal at 12:39. Cincinnati took advantage of its chances in the frame–outshooting Trenton, 18-8, and connecting on one of four man-advantage chances while the Devils came up empty in their two chances.

There was no scoring again in the third period, as Trenton outshot Cincinnati, 13-7. For the game the Devils held the upper hand on shots, 34-32. The Cyclones were one for six on the power play for the afternoon while Trenton was zero for five.

Robert Mayer improves to 7-5 after the 34 stop blanking. Gerald Coleman drops to 5-6-4 after eliminating 30 shots. Mayer rebounded from his performance on Tuesday when he surrendered three goals in 16 minutes and was pulled in the 5-2 loss to Toledo.

And check out The Naples News Everblades blog for some info on Elmira claiming a former Florida defenseman.

Shutout In The Shootout…

December 20, 2009

Here’s Saturday’s recap…

(T-Devils PR) Trenton, NJ – The Trenton Devils rewarded their fans for battling through the elements by battling back from a two-goal deficit late in the third period. Jeff Prough scored the game-tying power play goal, his second tally of the game, with four seconds left in regulation but the Devils could not solve goaltender Jeremy Smith in the shootout, falling to the Cincinnati Cyclones 5-4.
The Devils energized start got the best of them, as Justin Coutu committed a slashing penalty less than two minutes into the game, resulting in a fight between Coutu and Thursday’s shootout hero, Hans Benson. Mike McLean converted late on the ensuing power play, with the scoring chance starting with Ryan Del Monte carrying the puck down the right wing following a pass from a head pass from Kevin Roeder. Del Monte found McLean on the opposite wing with plenty of time and space to pick his spot on Dave Caruso’s blocker side and scored his eighth of the year for a 1-0 Cincinnati lead at 3:07.

A five-on-three power play for the Devils in the last two minutes of the first produced several chances, but few pucks made it through to Smith and the Cyclones escaped the period with a 1-0 lead. The visitors extended their edge on a rebound goal by Barret Ehgoetz at 3:58 of the second period after a Cyclones face-off win to Caruso’s left. Scott Reynolds corralled the puck and shot it on net with the rebound fluttering across for Ehgoetz who knifed it home for his tenth goal of the season and a 2-0 Cincinnati lead.

The first Trenton goal came after a Brock Sheahan interference-on-the-goalkeeper penalty. Nintey seconds into their fifth power play, a face-off to the right of Jeremy Smith skipped right to the front of the Cincinnati net. Jack Combs jumped on the play with a solid stick-check and a quick shot on net. Smith’s rebound popped up in front of him and was batted out of mid-air by Jeff Prough for the power play goal, his seventh of the year.

Cincinnati added another tally on a seemingly harmless centering pass from Scott Reynolds. Reynolds’ pass deflected off Caruso’s stick as he attempted to take away the passing lane, but the puck ended up redirecting through the wickets for a 3-1 Cincinnati lead at 12:15 in the second. The Devils finished the period with strong play, as goaltender Dave Caruso denied a Maxime Lacroix chance with a diving poke check. Seconds later, a tough angle shot from Justin Coutu was kicked out to Chris Murray at the point whose blast was deflected in by Trevor Kell to pull the Devils within one with just six seconds left in the second period.

Five minutes into the third, the Cyclones regained a two goal advantage on a five-on-three power play, with a tic-tac-toe goal scored by Mark Van Guilder with assists from Dustin Sproat and Barret Ehgoetz. With time running out in regulation, Rick Kowalsky called a timeout prior to an offensive zone draw and replaced Caruso with an extra attacker. The Devils won the face-off and crashed the net hard, allowing Trevor Kell to flip a loose puck over Smith with Tony Zancanaro and Dan Eves assisting. The game was all but wrapped up for Cincinnati when Maxime Lacroix committed a hooking minor at the opposing blue line with eight seconds left in regulation. With a six-on-four advantage and the face-off moved to the attack end, Poli won it back for Tim Kunes who shoved it across for Jeff Prough’s one-time slap shot from the left wing to beat Smith and tie the game, 4-4, with four seconds left.

Moving to an extra period, Trevor Kell nearly made it a hat trick with 2:41 left in the overtime, but his rebound stuff attempt was met by Smith and the overtime period ended in deadlock. Dustin Sproat was the only player to score in the shootout, beating Caruso to the blocker side with a quick backhand to forehand deke. Trevor Kell nearly beat Smith as the last shooter, but his shot rang off the outside of the right post to end the game.

The Cyclones have now beaten the Devils in consecutive games, each decided by a shootout. The Devils (9-13-2-4) try to salvage the third game of the series with the Cyclones (16-10-0-1) with another effort tomorrow at 4 p.m.

About The Shootout Videos…

December 18, 2009

YouTube is acting a little funny and I can’t upload anything right now…but I do have them, and hopefully can have them for you soon. Nothing really spectacular happened if you didn’t get to see it, but I know people enjoy breaking them down either way.

PHOTOS: Game 27

December 18, 2009

Hans Benson.  He either scored the game-winner in the shootout or was one of the bad guys in one of the Die Hard movies.  Either or…

Dave Caruso, who figures to get one of the starts this weekend…

Cyclones D-man Jamie Coghlan

Jack Combs, who scored the first T-Devils goal tonight…

Tim Kunes

David Leaderer

Cyclones backup goalie Robert Mayer

Mayer.  He’s the third goalie I’ve seen with that mask concept…Hannu Toivonen had the “exposed ear” look in Boston, and Princeton backup Thomas Sychterz had something similar as well.  And yes, I know nobody cares but me.

Cyclones starting goalie Jeremy Smith

Smith, sporting a Milwaukee Admirals themed mask…

Smith is a prospect in the Nashville Predators organization…

Andy Thomas

Slavomir Tomko, who played in his first game with the T-Devils after being dealt by Elmira…

Matt Vokes

Brett Wilson

Tony Zancanaro

Hey, kids!  It’s former NHL defenseman Dwayne Zinger!

AUDIO: Rick Kowalsky Talks About Tonight’s 3-2 Loss

December 18, 2009

Click here to download and listen to my relatively brief postgame chat with Trenton Devils head coach Rick Kowalsky after tonight’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Cincinnati Cyclones…

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Another Game, Another Loss For Trenton

December 18, 2009

That’s seven losses in their last eight games.  They’ve been outscored 35-19 in that stretch.  All focal points of my game story, which you can read in tomorrow’s Trentonian.

Stay tuned for audio, photos and shootout videos…

— In the audio with Rick Kowalsky, which I’ll upload in a little bit, he praises Gerald Coleman for his strong play after a rough start in South Carolina.  Would have to agree with him.  Thought Coleman had a strong game (my three stars ballot was GWG-Smith-Coleman) and perhaps more importantly, I thought he showed that he’s still tough to beat on his glove side…seemed like he made quite a few glove saves tonight.

— Discipline is still not a strong suit of this team sometimes.  Both Andy Thomas and Chris Murray took some pretty questionable penalties tonight in that department.

— With that said, I think the D as a whole played a really strong game tonight.  Gaps were good, lot of blocked shots, etc.

— Justin Coutu (lower body) and Dan Eves (upper body) are both expected to return on Saturday.

— I think we’ve officially reached the point where we can stop calling the amount of people that show up to these games a crowd.  This was, at best, a small gathering.

— Lots of interesting happenings around the division.  Michael Teslak got assigned to Wheeling by the Flyers, which left a spot open for Elmira.  They picked up Julien Ellis off of waivers from Kalamazoo, so he’ll now form a tandem with P.O. Pelletier.  And Johnstown deal Jarret Konkle to the Jackals for Chanse Fitzpatrick.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com