Game 1: Pre-Game Notes

6:55 PM — Nathan Lieuwen, prospect of the Buffalo Sabres, starts for the Greenville Road Warriors tonight.

6:10 PM — Titans lines…

1: Schultz-Bohmbach-Akeson
2: Noebels-Slater-Pither
3: Conboy-Nagy-Hayes
4: Haczyk

D1: DiLauro-Versteeg
D2: Banwell-Baier
D3: Kessel-Hostetter

G1: Hovinen
G2: Wedgewood

5:20 PM — Well, that explains Presizniuk not being on the roster…he’s released.

4:45 PM — Niko Hovinen starting in goal for the Titans…looks like Connor Goggin will be the scratch.

3:30 PM — Alexandre Carrier does not appear to be on the active roster, but neither does Adam Presizniuk…only 19 players are listed on the official league sheet.

Here’s your first look at a numerical roster:

1 Wedgewood
30 Hovinen

3 DiLauro
4 Banwell
6 Goggin
7 Baier
8 Pither
10 Hayes
11 Bohmbach
12 Conboy
14 Schultz
15 Noebels
16 Akeson
21 Haczyk
24 Slater
26 Nagy
27 Hostetter
32 Versteeg
33 Kessel

(Nagy will wear 17, Akeson 18 and Kessel 20 once the team shifts away from the pink jerseys)

Inactive players:

5 Grimshaw
9 Akins
13 Drewiske
22 Beauregard
25 McKenzie
28 Carrier

2:00 PM — It’s 2 PM, and I’m at the rink.  Here’s my season preview piece that ran in today’s paper.  The original plan was to be here for the morning skate, and then the 13-inning debacle happened in the Bronx last night, and I didn’t get out of the Yankee Stadium press box until 1 AM.  So.  Yeah, I’ll pass on the skate.

He’s here! The long-rumored arrival of top Devils prospect Scott Wedgewood has finally happened (Photo: Mike Ashmore)

— G Scott Wedgewood did not pass on the skate, and presumably neither did F Alexandre Carrier.  Both players were assigned to Trenton from the New Jersey Devils AHL affiliate in Albany today.  Wedgewood’s arrival had long been rumored, and with that arrival comes the release of Jody O’Neill, who had made it all the way to the first morning of the season before being let go.

I spoke to Wedgewood about two weeks ago in Albany camp, and there was a strong feeling at the time that he could get sent back to the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers as an overager. 

“It’s not what I want to do, but it’s still on the table,” he told me. 

“It’s an option, but I’m not really looking at that for this year.  This is going to be a competition, but it’ll be something I’m looking forward to and I’m prepared for.  I want to play in Albany and get my first chance at a pro year.”

Well, not quite.  It’ll be Trenton, and you should be excited it is. The 20-year-old is regarded as the Devils best goaltending prospect and second-best prospect overall by HockeysFuture.com, behind only Jon Merrill in overall grades.  While I have every expectation that Wedgewood will see a lot of time between the pipes in Trenton — that is, if he isn’t rotated with Maxime Clermont — he likely won’t play tonight, sitting behind Niko Hovinen.

— I owe you some quotes.  I did speak one-on-one with Ray DiLauro, Andy Bohmbach and Hovinen at media day…here’s what you didn’t see in the paper over the past few days.

DiLauro on the competition for spots in camp: “I have to give credit to all the guys that were here last week and unfortunately aren’t here anymore, but they were all positive all week.  I didn’t have one problem with anybody, everybody was having fun and everyone was doing their job, and that’s really all you can ask for.  You want to earn your spot, and yeah we have a ton of guys coming down, but at the time nobody knew if we were getting four guys or 20 guys.  You just want to work as hard as you can and try to earn a spot, and that’s what the guys did last week.  I think last week was a great week for us, and we’re moving in the right direction.” 

DiLauro on how the lockout affects roster stability: “I think the whole thing is not very good for hockey, but we can’t really think about that.  We have no control over whether it starts tomorrow or next year, so we can’t play looking to tomorrow.  We have to play for the now.  If we can win for the first two months of the season, and then they start, we’ll start from there and maybe we’ll be ahead of other people.  Right now, we have a game on Friday and Saturday, and that’s all we’re worried about.  If they start Sunday, they start Sunday, and we’ll take it from there.”

DiLauro on camp standouts: “From guys that have come back from last year, Andy Bohmbach looks a million times better, and he was pretty good last year.  He’s ready to play, and I think he’s got a big weight lifted off his shoulders.  He can just be here with a Trenton contract and just play and have fun and take it from there and hopefully climb up the ladder.  Ryan Hayes and Adam Presizniuk and all the guys from last year seem to have stepped it up, and all the Phantoms guys I’m still getting to know.”

Bohmbach on an improved Titans team: “First off, I think we’ve got a good core group of ECHL contracted guys that Vince brought in.  On top of that, the affiliation with Adirondack brought a lot of skill guys down and that’ll help us with the offense and the defense.  And with two really good goalies, that should help us out.  It starts with that core group of guys, though.”

Bohmbach on last year’s growing pains: “There was a lot of ups and downs, more downs than ups, but it was a testament to the guys that were here and coming back this year, that they believe in the Vince and the staff and the organization.  It was a rough year for us last year, but it was a growing year.  I think this year is going to be a complete turnaround.  What we went through was tough, but I think we learned from that and we’ll be a lot better.”

Bohmbach on goaltending: “Niko’s a big guy, and he’s quick.  He’s kind of the total package, and I think he’ll do a good job for us.”

Hovinen on adjustments he needs to make: “Angles and not playing outside of the crease, just pulling back a little bit and being patient.”

Hovinen on his season goals: “Obviously, to get better as a goalie and be better than when I got here.  The goal is to make the next level, and that is the AHL.  After that, it’s the NHL.

Hovinen on if he was disappointed to come here to start the year: “Probably not.  I’m going to get a lot of games here, and that helps a lot for adjusting to the style of hockey here.  It’s a big thing, it’s different to play a game than practice.  Hopefully I can get a lot of games here and help the team win.”

Hovinen on using his size to his advantage: “It’s like I talked about, getting the angles right.  There’s really not that much room for a shooter when I’m standing in the right spot, so hopefully I can use that.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

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9 Responses to “Game 1: Pre-Game Notes”

  1. chiarams Says:

    Seemed like Nagy ended up being the 10th man – not sure he had a shift after the first.

    Aside from Hostetter, thought it was solid all around. Way more precision (to be expected since half of these guys are AHLers) than last year. Forecheck was way more active than any time I can remember last year – not much dump and chase (or dump and retreat as we suffered through in 11-12). Special teams was good – PP started solid but didn’t generate much after that in terms of chances. PK was vastly improved – lots of movement and activity around the puck.

    Hoivinen was better than expected – not sure why Greenville kept shooting high when it was clear that he had that covered.

    Hostetter is still worthless. If he doesn’t want to be here, the Acme in Bensalem probably could use a new produce manager. Hoivinen gets a shutout without Hostetter not being able to tell the difference between white and blue. Also had a brutal giveaway before Baier’s penalty in the first and blew a tire in the third that led to a 2 on 1 for Greenville. Pretty sure Vinny benched him the last 15 minutes – deservedly so.

  2. tdevils Says:

    Just wanted to address this stuff before firing up the post-game notes post…

    Nagy was cut on the calf by a skate in the first and did not return…he is expected to miss at least a week, via VW.

    Thought the Hostetter/Kessel duo was bad…Hostetter doesn’t make that still inexcusable turnover if Kessel gets it out of his own end. Nice job by DiLauro to bail out Hostetter on said 2-on-1 as well.

    You could see a lot of development from the guys who were around last year…Baier played a real physical game…Versteeg was very active on O, etc.

    Liked Hovinen, can’t fault him on the goal. Juicy rebounds a bit concerning, but they weren’t in the slot, at least.

  3. chiarams Says:

    Didn’t even see where Nagy got hurt but T04 mentioned it this morning as well.

    I didn’t think Kessel was all that bad – he brought a nice calming presence on the PP early. Soft hands for a lumbering sorta guy.

    I can’t see Hostetter positives – with his resume he should’ve been a beast at this level last year and wasn’t. This year, he better step up quick because even though he’s a contracted guy, there’s lots of talent ready to take lots of his ice time.

    Hovinen did give up a lot of rebounds, but they seemed to be well placed most of the time – in the corner, top of the circle, etc. – he really surprised us considering the way folks were on him after the preseason loss.

    The biggest positive I see (and mind you I posted last night while expecting to see the Cards season come to a bitter end – so all I could think of was Hostetter’s flubs) is that this team has a physical presence that I can’t remember seeing probably since the last lockout year. It was clear there were some positioning issues and guys not having a good feel for their linemates, but that’ll work itself out with time and reps.

    One question Mike – do you have access to any stats that aren’t put out on the ECHL website? Would love to see TOI/Faceoff stats if you can share.

  4. tdevils Says:

    I don’t, and I don’t think they even keep them. I’ve wanted that for years, but unless someone’s been hiding things from me…they don’t exist. TOI could be a challenge at this level to keep on my own, but faceoffs should be relatively easy for someone to do.

  5. TA Says:

    Yes, Tyler made a few mistakes…. but I don’t see the point in KILLING the kid…. he is talented with a huge ceiling…. we are only two games in…..

  6. tdevils Says:

    No one’s killing him. He had a lousy game and it was pointed out. 70 games left, as you said…if he keeps it up, then it’ll continue.

  7. chiarams Says:

    Worthless was perhaps a bit harsh – blame the PBR and aforementioned Cards/playoff-related angst.

    However – He did build himself up last year as a kid who looked like he didn’t want to be here – after 60 minutes this year not much seems to have changed.

    • BOB T Says:

      CHIARAMS…..Hostetter was 19 lastyear, was playing well before his concussion and to be perfectly frank…..WHO WANTED to be here last year with that circus of FHL defense partners like Zollars, McCreary and then under-sized, underskilled undrafted college player merry-go-round that came in here…Give the kid a break, he’ll be fine..,.

    • TA Says:

      Steve— fair enough— I know how you feel. I get like that every time I watch my Jets. There, I admitted it. 🙂

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