I have seen this movie before. At least that’s what many Albany fans may have been thinking. Albany gets a lead, Hershey strikes back, Albany re-gains the lead, Hershey reciprocates, Albany despite out playing Hershey the majority of the game collapses late and Hershey gets a late score when they need it. Except it wasn’t the 2010 Calder Cup Playoffs in late April and the River Rats, it was a hard luck early December loss for the Devils.
The Devils did a fantastic job defensively in the first, holding the Bears to just nine shots on goal, with Jeff Frazee turning away all nine of them. While they did have their opportunities, they just weren’t able to cash in. Two opportunities in particular stand out, Kory Nagy had a wide open net on a wraparound and instead of just turning and jamming it in off his backhand, Nagy tried to lift the puck but shot it right into Bears goalie Dany Sabourin. The other chance for the Devils came when Michael Swift skated into the slot uncontested but couldn’t beat Sabourin with the head-on shot. Thus things remained scoreless after one.
In the second period it was the return of the Mac, and David McIntyre put the puck away in front to put the Devils in front 1-0. For McIntyre the goal was his fifth on the year. Yet 31 seconds later the Bears knotted things at 1-1 when Jay Beagle jumped on a soft rebound paddled in front by Frazee.
A few minutes later with the Devils on the power-play, Adam Henrique shot the puck off Sabourin’s blocker, which Nick Palmieri picked up and fired on a backhand pass to Vladimir Zharkov who blasted it home to give Albany a 2-1 lead. The goal was Zharkov’s sixth on the campaign.
Late in the second though, Hershey struck back after a no call for interference on Kyle Greentree led to a wide open lane for Dmitri Kugryshev to square things up at 2-2.
With the scored tied 2-2 going into the third, another defensive lapse enabled the Bears Steve Pinizzotto to jump on a loose puck and roof it by Frazee for the eventual game winner.
Even with the loss, the Devils showed a lot of grit against the two-time defending Calder Cup Champion Bears. One positive of many on display for the crowd of 3,426 was an improvement on the penalty kill, holding Hershey 0-4 on the power-play. Nick Palmieri was also back in the lineup and picked up two assists. In addition Pierre -Luc Letourneau-Leblond picked up an assist and showed how tough of a fighter he is by virtue of Sheldon Souray twice declining to drop the gloves with him.
The loss drops the Albany Devils to 9-13-0-0 on the year. Their next contest is at Rochester Saturday night and can be seen locally on Time Warner Cable channel one.