Series Storylines: IceCaps vs. Devils Posted by IceCaps on
#4 ST. JOHN’S ICECAPS
Overall: 46-23-2-5 (99)
#5 ALBANY DEVILS
Overall: 40-23-5-8 (93)
The St. John’s IceCaps (4) clash with the Albany Devils (5) in a series that pits two teams unfamiliar with one another. The IceCaps and Devils did not meet during the 2013-14 regular season and have played just four times in three seasons, all in 2012-13 (St. John’s took three-of-four).
The IceCaps enter the postseason winners of three straight, while the Devils have reeled off five consecutive victories.
The IceCaps are making their second playoff appearance in three seasons and boast several players with extensive Calder Cup playoff experience. Andrew Gordon won back-to-back Calder Cups with Hershey in 2008-09 and 2009-10, while captain Jason Jaffray reached the postseason in eight consecutive seasons prior to last year (he missed all of the 2012 playoffs due to injury). Jaffray has 49 points in 62 career playoff games.
Jerome Samson has also taken part in multiple Calder Cup playoffs as a member of the Albany River Rats in 2008 and 2010, where he notched 11 points in 15 games, including six goals and nine points in eight contests in 2010.
The Devils have not made the playoffs since New Jersey moved its farm team from Lowell to Albany in 2010. Assistant captain Tim Sestito is the lone holdover from the Devils’ last playoff team (the 2009-10 Lowell Devils), which lost in the opening round. Outside of Sestito, only one other Devil has suited up in a postseason game: Scott Timmins, who played 10 games with San Antonio in 2012.
Both teams have received stellar goaltending all season long. The IceCaps are lead by Michael Hutchinson, who finished the season with 17 wins in 24 games and a 2.30 goals-against average. When Hutchinson earned a recall with the Jets in Winnipeg (where he played three games, winning twice), Tyler Beskorowany took over netminding duties and was solid, notching seven wins with a 2.20 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage in 12 games.
For his career, Hutchinson is 2-0-0 versus Albany with a 0.96 goals-against average and a .960 save percentage (as a member of the Providence Bruins).
The Devils are backstopped by Farmingville, NY native Keith Kinkaid, who has seen his play improve in each of his three pro seasons with Albany. Kinkaid played in 43 games this season, going 24-13-5 with a 2.29 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage. He and rookie Scott Wedgewood (16-14-3, 2.39 GAA, .899 SV%) helped the Devils finish sixth overall in goals allowed.
In his only appearance versus St. John’s, Kinkaid turned aside 26-of-29 shots in a 4-3 shootout loss on Nov. 16, 2012 at Mile One Centre.
The IceCaps finished with just one scorer in the AHL’s top-20 (Jason Jaffray with 59 points), but saw five players hit the 20-goal mark and 10 players reach double-digits. John Albert led the way with 28, followed by Samson with 27. Gordon (23), Carl Klingberg (22, a new career-high) and Kael Mouillierat (he reached 20 goals on the final day of the season) were the others to break 20.
Albany was led by three-year pro Joe Whitney in the regular season (73 GP, 22-31-53) but, like the IceCaps, the Devils were a club that received offence from a number of sources. Three Devils forwards hit the 20-goal plateau, including Mike Sislo’s team-best 23 (Whitney and Reid Boucher both finished with 22). Albany had six others hit double-digits in goals, as well as a pair of defencemen (Raman Hrabarenka and Reece Scarlett) who notched five or more power play goals.
Jerome Samson enters the series riding a five-game point streak (3G, 7A), including seven points in his last two games, earning CCM/AHL Player of the Week honours for the season’s final week. Carl Klingberg has points in five straight as well (3G, 4A), dating back to before his late-season recall to Winnipeg, while JC Lipon has four helpers in his last two games. In 12 games since returning from Winnipeg on Mar. 23, John Albert has 11 goals.
For the Devils, Reid Boucher has three goals and four points in his last three games, while Harri Pesonen has six points (2G, 4A) in his last four contests. Goaltender Keith Kinkaid has won three straight while not allowing more than two goals in each of those starts.