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Riddick, De La Cruz Lead 10 Pioneer Football All-Conference Selections

PITMAN, N.J. – William Paterson sophomore running back Terrique Riddick (Bridgeville, Del./Woodbridge) was named the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Co-Offensive Player of the Year, and freshman defensive back Isaiah De La Cruz (Lyndhurst, N.J./Lyndhurst) was tabbed as the league’s Co-Defensive Rookie of the Year, leading a list of 10 Pioneers who received all-conference accolades.

Joining Riddick and De La Cruz on the All-NJAC honor roll were junior tight end William Frese (Waldwick, N.J./Waldwick), sophomore wide receiver Matt Clarke (Long Branch, N.J./Long Branch), sophomore offensive lineman Ariel Higuera (Union City, N.J./Union City), junior offensive lineman Richie Squeo (Keansburg, N.J./Keansburg), freshman defensive lineman Peyton Willey (Millsboro, Del./Sussex Technical), junior linebacker Sean Maldonato (Haskell, N.J./Lakeland Regional), junior linebacker Jared Salgado (Parsippany, N.J./Parsippany Hills) and sophomore defensive back Devyn Blount (Long Branch, N.J./Long Branch).

Terrique Riddick (Bridgeville, Del./Woodbridge): NJAC Co-Offensive Player of the Year, All-NJAC Running Back, All-NJAC Kick Returner
The reigning NJAC Offensive Rookie of the year, Riddick carried the ball 15 times for 81 yards and hauled in one pass for 25 yards. He also returned three kicks for 61 yards during the Pioneers lone contest this spring.

Isaiah De La Cruz (Lyndhurst, N.J./Lyndhurst): NJAC Co-Defensive Rookie of the Year, All-NJAC Safety
A newcomer from Lyndhurst, N.J., De La Cruz collected five tackles, including four solo stops and intercepted a pass for WP this spring.

William Frese (Waldwick, N.J./Waldwick): All-NJAC Tight End
A first-team all-conference performer a season ago, Frese caught two balls for 13 yards in the Pioneers spring game.

Matt Clarke (Long Branch, N.J./Long Branch): All-NJAC Wide Receiver
During the spring game, Clarke caught one ball of 16 yards.

Ariel Higuera (Union City, N.J./Union City): All-NJAC Offensive Lineman
Higuera has started all 11 of his career appearances for WP.

Richie Squeo (Keansburg, N.J./Keansburg): All-NJAC Offensive Lineman
Squeo garnered his third all-NJAC this spring (2018 honorable mention, 2019 second team). He has started 25 straight contests for the Pioneers.

Peyton Willey (Millsboro, Del./Sussex Technical): All-NJAC Defensive Lineman
Willey made the most of his lone contest this season, totaling four tackles (three solo, 2.0 TFL) and forcing a fumble against Montclair State.

Sean Maldonato (Haskell, N.J./Lakeland Regional): All-NJAC Linebacker
Maldonato paced WP with eight stops (six solo, 1.0 TFL), including 1.0 sack and a pass breakup.

Jared Salgado (Parsippany, N.J./Parsippany Hills): All-NJAC Linebacker
Salgado posted five tackles, including three solo stops at Montclair State.

Devyn Blount (Long Branch, N.J./Long Branch): All-NJAC Defensive Back
Honored as the NJAC’s Defensive Rookie of the Year a season ago, Blount continued his impressive collegiate career by recording three tackles against Montclair State.

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Sports

New Jersey Devils Won Fights, Lost to Our Hated Rivals Where It Mattered, 0-3

Tonight was the first game of four consecutive games between the New Jersey Devils and the New York Rangers, Our Hated Rivals. The professionals in charge of the broadcast and the team have come to call this Rivalry Week. I have dubbed this run of games with a more accurate term: The Week of Hate. Case in point, the first 90 (or so) seconds of the game was stopped by a rare event in today’s NHL and this Devils season: an actual fight between Damon Severson and Chris Kreider. Furthering the point that the contempt runs that much deeper between these two teams, there was a second fight in this game. I cannot even tell you the last time there were two legitimate fights in a Devils game. The Devils won those fights. They threw hits. They stood up Our Hated Rivals on several occasions to put them down. The Devils tried to put bodies in front on offense. They did several of the things some of the People Who Matter have clamored for this season. And this all led to absolutely nothing for New Jersey with respect to what actually matters in a hockey game as they lost to Our Hated Rivals 0-3.

Yes, the Devils were the victims of Igor Shesterkin’s first shutout. To be fair, he did well. Denying Jesper Bratt on his doorstep in the game’s first shot was impressive. However, a lot of the Devils’ lack of finishing was due to their own mistakes. From Miles Wood missing on a breakaway to Andreas Johnsson getting a gift of a pass from Jesper Boqvist in the slot and hammering the puck way wide off the heel of his stick to Michael McLeod and P.K. Subban showing the world how to waste a 3-on-1 rush, if the Devils had a way to make the least of a situation, they often found it this evening. There were many attempts to get bodies in front only for the shots to be blocked or knocked wide. There were a few tries at just trying to shoot for a rebound, only for said rebound to be missed, whiffed on, or swallowed up. One very late try saw the very expensive skates of Jacob Trouba deny a goal. It would be easy to say the Devils lacked finishing tonight. It would be correct. After all, the Devils did have scoring chances like Our Hated rivals did and did convert. They even had two power plays and did nothing with either. Yet, good finishing comes from good plays and the Devils squandered several chances for those and even more situations where they could have created a chance to create a chance. In short, the Devils did not do enough and what they did make they failed to take. It was not a particularly difficult shutout for Mr. Shesterkin.

That is not to say this game was not tough. This was a tightly-checked game. The first period was definitely more wide open, which suited the visitors as they created the more dangerous opportunities. Fortunately, Trouba missed the net on multiple back-door plays and Blackwood denied Artemi Panarin on a breakaway. Unfortunately, Ryan Murray tried to stick check Vitali Kravstov in the neutral zone, the puck went to Mika Zibanejad who had all of the space behind Murray, and he broke in for a score. But from that point on, both sides tried to close things down with varying success. Our Hated Rivals would stick check and body up the Devils over and over, which the Devils only played into. The Devils would be much better about winning pucks on defense and making their exits count. They were stronger along the boards, which limited Our Hated Rivals from generating a lot of pressure for shifts at a time. But with the early goal, the pressure was on New Jersey to break through and they did not.

The pressure only increased on the Devils in the third period, which was a disappointment. The Devils ended a second period where they out-attempted the visitors 21-10 and yet only out-shot them 8-4. Still, they kept them from doing a whole lot of anything. It was still only 0-1 on the scoreboard. Logic would suggest the Devils would want to keep that up. It would have been great to see the sheer will and fortitude displayed back on February 16 when the Devils roared in the third period to take that game. Instead, we witnessed Our Hated Rivals out-attempt the Devils 17-11 and out-shoot them 7-5 in 5-on-5 play. Worse, we also witnessed Filip Chytil fire a pass in between three Devils to an open Panarin, who slammed his one timer past Blackwood. It was not an easy pass to make. It was harder to believe that someone (Will Butcher) could leave Panarin alone. But it was made, it did happen, and it was 0-2. The Devils responded to that by not being able to generate enough offense to make Shesterkin sweat all that much.

Puck possession and protection were such issues for the Devils this evening that Lindy Ruff opted to wait until 2:09 left instead of over 3 minutes to pull Blackwood to try to make up the two goal deficit that we saw in the last two games against Pittsburgh. This actually went fine and Ryan Lindgren decided to make things spicier by high-sticking Jesper Bratt during the 6-on-5. He was called and so the Devils had a 1:19 power play. They even won the faceoff to maintain the zone in the 6-on-4 situation. What did we see? Three Devils actually involved in moving the puck, Miles Wood and two others just stationary taking up space, and eventually Ty Smith lost the puck on his own. On his way back to the neutral zone, he hit P.K. Subban with a pass, who then tried to pass it past Pavel Buchnevich. That failed, Buchnevich took the puck, and fired in an empty netter to truly seal the game. That is how the 0-3 final score was created and it was another example of bad decisions in a game filled with less-than-good ones, only compounded by it being on special teams,involving the highest paid player on the Devils, and against Our Hated Rivals.

To be objective, the Devils did not play a bad game. I actually think this was better than their performance in Sunday’s loss to Pittsburgh. To be honest, I expletiving hate this result. The many blueshirts at the Rock were able to celebrate a victory just like they did back in March and just like so many other opponents have done at the Prudential Center this season. It is the exact opposite of what I wanted to see and hear on TV. I would hope someone at the New Jersey Devils feels similar and may want to ask Tom Fitzgerald in private if this was “competitive.” It would be one thing if Shesterkin was forced to stand on his helmet and recite War and Peace as he was shelled for 40 shots and magically stopped them all. It would be one thing if this was against a team that was going to make the playoffs like, say, the New York Islanders. But no. The Devils battled hard and literally won some fights, but they were not smart on the puck, they could not force Our Hated Rivals to play off of them more, and they could not finish their chances like the opponents did. Of course, I hate this loss from that sense. Appropriately so in this week, The Week of Hate.

The Game Highlights: No. Keep it moving.

Who Did Well Despite the Score: The best line for the Devils tonight by a mile was the one led by Jack Hughes, Yegor Sharangovich, and Janne Kuokkanen. As much as I gave out about a lack of offensive opportunities, this line actually provided quite a few of them. When Hughes was on the ice, the Devils out-attempted Our Hated Rivals 20-5. Again, a lot of that did not lead to as much as it could have shots just being 8-3. Still, Hughes was constantly in motion, constantly fighting and trying to steal (and succeeding sometimes) pucks, and looking for plays. I know the Devils were shutout, but this line was not the issue this evening.

The best defenseman in my view was Damon Severson. He was absolutely terrible on Sunday. He played a much better, steadier, and smarter game on defense. While he did not much on offense, he was positive in the run of play and, more importantly, did not give up a backbreaking play through a turnover. More games like this from Severson, and those terrible games will become a memory.

I also thought Mackenzie Blackwood played a strong game too. The goals against him were a breakaway goal, which came shortly after a breakaway save; and a one-timer on his flank that he would be incredibly lucky to have stopped if he did. There were no soft ones here. And given how Our Hated Rivals picked apart the Devils’ defense in the first period and had the majority of offense in the third, he was a consistent performer. As with a lot of games this season, the goaltender gave the Devils a chance to compete. It was the other 18 men who were responsible for the loss.

The Debut of Siegenthaler: Jonas Siegenthaler suited up for his first game as a Devils since they traded for him on Sunday. He had an OK game by the numbers. He definitely looked big as he was paired with Butcher. He had some struggles early on at the Devils blueline, such as when he missed a puck at the blueline that allowed an easy opportunity for Our Hated Rivals that Blackwood stopped. I felt he played a bit better as time went on. I know he was present on the second goal against, but I think the fault for that one should go more to his partner. I think he needs to acclimate to the team. He was not a strength this evening, but he was not a total liability either.

The Return of Hischier: Nico Hischier returned to the lineup in over a month for his first game. He played like he had not played a game in over a month. I want to give him a pass because we did see earlier this season that his first few games back from his first injury were rough. Hischier played a lot better after those games and then, unfortunately, took a deflected Subban shot to the sinuses, which broke them. That stated, Our Hated Rivals made it a long night for #13. Hischier ended up dead last in CF%; when he was on the ice, the Devils were out-attempted 9-23 (oof). They were also out-shot, 6-10, only his linemate Wood and Butcher saw as many shots against in 5-on-5 play. The coaching staff decided on starting Hischier with Wood and Bratt in his return. Instead of changing the line to give Hischier a chance with someone else, they just kept that line together despite getting bodied. It was a return to forget. But Hischier is not going to get into game shape by not playing so the Devils have to take their lumps so Hischier can get back to being the Nico that the People Who Matter know and love.

Ugggggggggggggggggggh: As you would expect in a 0-3 loss to Our Hated Rivals, there are multiple players I thought were really bad or made some detrimental errors.

  • Ryan Murray was terrible in the first period. He was constantly pinned back, he handled pucks poorly, he made bad passes, and he created the first goal against. Do not let the boxscore mislead you. Buchnevich and Adam Fox did not make that Zibanejad goal. Murray’s stickcheck created Zibanejad’s goal. Murray did play a little better as time went on and I’m sure some fans loved his big hit (or dodge) on Ryan Strome; but he was heinous overall for the Devils this evening.
  • Miles Wood may be the team’s leading goal scorer but you would not have known it from this game. From missed breakaways to misreads on passes to losing pucks in chases and nearly joining Hischier with a sub 30% CF% (Wood finished at 30% even, 9-21), Wood was wasteful with the puck. And that one 2-on-1 he led that saw him shoot the puck and try to put in his own rebound were his only official shots on net of the night. Wood was bad this evening.
  • Jesper Bratt may have been worse, though. Bratt was constantly losing the puck and failing to get ahead or around with his shiftiness. When Wood found him in front to open the game, that was a great moment that forced a great stop. That was pretty much it from Bratt. He was not helpful at all in 5-on-5 or special teams. He has been quite good this season, but definitely not on this night.
  • Tyce Thompson and Mikhail Maltsev did not move the needle much in 5-on-5. While not getting picked on is one thing, both were out-attempted in 5-on-5 and both were present for just one shot on net by New Jersey. It could have been more but both were adept at losing pucks. While I have some reason to think Maltsev can bounce back; I wonder if Thompson needs some AHL time because he has been a non-factor in the last few games. It is something to think about.
  • Will Butcher. While he finished the night even in attempts, Butcher demonstrated why he was on the scratch list for so many games this season. Butcher has an offensive skill set; yet his four shots on net did not create much of anything of note. Defensively, his biggest sin was leaving Panarin alone and not having his stick in the lane that Chytil passed it through. Siegenthaler tried to get it in. Kuokkanen was coming back just too late. Butcher’s was tucked in the opposite direction of it. Unless he is helping to make productive offense, these kinds of failures are why he sits. Tom Fitzgerald stated in his post-deadline presser that he will get opportunities to play. I presume it is on Butcher to keep getting them. Do better, please.
  • The power play. So many questions. Why was Hischier thrown onto this? Why is Wood involved, especially with how his night was going? Why burn 40 seconds of the end of the first period with that stupid slingshot that has fooled no one and its execution is not good enough to warrant further use? Why reduce your 5-on-4 or 6-on-4 situation by putting players in places that will not see the puck unless an opposing penalty killer is way out of position? Can we say the Devils did not get their chances from the refs when the Devils had two power plays to the zero of Our Hated Rivals? As ever with the 2021 season, the power play has been a reason for why the Devils have been bad.

An Aside on the Officiating: The referees made a point of it to let the players play. A lot of those little holds, interfering hits, and small slashes were just uncalled. Strangely, there was nothing egregious for either side that warranted a call. The two on Our Hated Rivals were legit. There was nothing exceptionally bad done by the Devils. I can get used to this kind of refereeing. I certainly do not mind it as the Devils’ special teams have been garbage.

This is where I can concede a point that the Devils played perhaps their most physical game of the season and did not take a penalty. I repeat: It did not lead to a penalty; I am now aware it is possible. It also did not lead to a goal. Or a win. Again, the Devils won the fights but lost at what mattered this evening. Especially as physical play had zero to do with either of the three goals against. So it clearly does not really matter.

Do I expect this refereeing in any of the next three games in The Week of Hate? No, not at all. Especially if there will be different men in stripes in those games.

Tally it Up for the Suits in the Sales Department in Newark: Why was the arena filled with blueshirted fans this evening? Easy: The Devils’ home record going into this game was 4-15-3. It is now 4-16-3.

A Not So Fun Fact: This was the second time the Devils have been shutout by an opponent this season. After the first time – a 0-4 loss to Washington on March 26 – the Devils have scored 3 or more goals in a game in five of the following eight games. They also won just two of those games and one of which was a 1-0 special in Boston. So even if the Devils follow up this game with a whole lot of lamps being lit, recent history suggests it does not guarantee a win.

I told you this was not a fun fact. I did not have any fun looking it up or writing it.

One Final Thought: Boston beat Buffalo in a shootout. Our Hated Rivals can continue to enjoy not making the playoffs as they sit in fifth place in the East. You know what that means despite this game…

Your Take: The Week of Hate is now 0-1-0 against the team that we support and/or love. I continue to be unhappy with the Devils’ performances and lack of results at home. I would like to think you are too. Please feel free to share your thoughts about this shutout loss to the one team we would rather not see a shutout loss to in the comments. Maybe you agree, maybe you disagree, maybe you think something else. If it is about this game, then please leave them here.

Thanks to Jenna for the game preview and Mike for taking care of the @AAtJerseyBlog account during the game. Thanks to everyone who commented in the Gamethread and followed along there. Thank you for reading.

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Sports

No. 23 Baseball Registers Second Straight Shutout, Wins 5-0 at Ramapo

MAHWAH, N.J. – The No. 23 William Paterson baseball team (13-2, 4-0 NJAC) posted its second straight shutout and its seventh consecutive victory with a 5-0 decision at Ramapo (3-3, 2-2 NJAC) April 9.

HOW IT HAPPENED:

  • Back-to-back doubles by senior left fielder Frankie Deane (Dumont, N.J./Dumont) and junior second baseman Colin Lombardo (Edison, N.J./Edison) plated the Pioneers’ first run of the game, and an error led to senior shortstop Matt Ferrara (Paramus, N.J./Paramus) successfully executing a squeeze bunt, handing WP a 2-0 fifth-inning edge.
  • Base hits by senior first baseman Carson Weis (River Vale, N.J./Pascack Valley Regional) and junior third baseman Chris Liriano (Bergenfield, N.J./Bergenfield), as well as a Lombardo hit by pitch, loaded the bases for William Paterson during the top of the sixth inning. Senior center fielder Steven DiGirolamo (Dumont, N.J./Dumont) drew a five-pitch walk, forcing across Weis to make it a 3-0 game.
  • Ramapo broke up the no-hit bid with a fifth-inning double, and threatened in the seventh with bases loaded and two outs, but a ground ball ended the frame.
  • The Pioneers tacked on two ninth-inning insurance runs with a Weis base hit to center, an Adrian Alarcon (Belleville, N.J./Belleville) walk, a double steal and a Deane two-run single down the left-field line.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS:

  • Weis finished 4-for-5 while scoring two runs, and Lombardo went 2-for-4 with a double, RBI and run scored. Deane had a 2-for-5 performance, adding a double, run and two RBI.
  • Senior Jason Palmeri (Glen Rock, N.J./Glen Rock) scattered three hits over 8.0 innings, registering six strikeouts (3-1). Junior Riley Weis (River Vale, N.J./Pascack Valley Regional) took over in the ninth inning and struck out two of the three batters he faced.

UP NEXT:

  • William Paterson hosts Kean for a doubleheader Saturday, April 10, at 11:30 a.m.
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Sports

Comeback effort falls short as Devils lose 6-4 to Penguins

So close, yet so far.

Despite many promising performances from the Devils’ young forwards, they fell short today, as unlucky bounces and suspect defense led to a 6-4 Penguins victory.

The Devils scored the first goal of the game, after a faceoff win led to a Jesper Bratt shot which hit DeSmith in front of the net. Miles Wood, showcasing his physicality against Kris Letang, was able to find the puck loose in the slot and deposit it past DeSmith for the 1-0 lead.

After some good sustained pressure by the Vatanen line, Ty Smith showed how sustained offense could be destroyed with one bad pass, as an errant pass led to a three-on-one opportunity for Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh was robbed by Blackwood on that attempt, but this hectic play did lead to the Devils getting called for too-many-men.

Unfortunately for the Devils, sustained pressure and bad luck on the penalty kill led to a tying goal for Pittsburgh. A shot from the point, which I believe was blocked fell perfectly to Jared McCann. McCann took a simple shot from the slot, which beat Blackwood, and just like that the game was tied.

After this, there were few chances in between, before Vatanen was called for a weak tripping call. The penalty kill saw Kulikov absolutely level Mike Matheson, and the Devils did an excellent job on killing the rest of the penalty. Sam Lafferty was then sprung on a breakaway, but he too was stopped by the glove hand of Blackwood. Jesper Bratt was then also sprung on a breakaway, but he lost the handle on the puck. Miles Wood was then more deservedly called for tripping, giving the Penguins their 3rd power play, though the Devils were able to kill this as well.

The following series of play then saw a PK Subban deke at the blueline, before he missed the Devil backdoor. This led to a Penguins counterattack, where Brian Dumoulin chose to send a simple shot on net which bounced off of Janne Kuokkanen and past Blackwood to give the Penguins the 2-1 lead.

The second period saw the Devils start off slow. The referees missed a Jack Hughes trip, before the Lafferty line kept the puck in the Devils zone and applied pressure on Blackwood.

However, the Devils were the one to start the scoring in the 2nd! Lackadaisical Penguin play led to a Sharangovich shot, which Kuokkanen found. Kuokkanen batted the puck back at DeSmith, who stopped it again, only for it to fall to Hughes. Hughes found the net from an awkward angle, and just like that the game was tied.

After this, the Devils controlled play as they searched for another goal. Boqvist was robbed by DeSmith on another rebound. The Devils were able to draw a penalty on a Pavel Zacha drive, and were amazing on the power play, regardless of if they scored or not. The Johnsson-Bratt-Zacha-Hughes-Smith group seems to have great chemistry together, as they had excellent puck movement and put pressure DeSmith throughout the entire two minutes.

The following series of play saw the Devils and Pavel Zacha continue to apply pressure on DeSmith, which he stopped, before Sam Lafferty had two incredible chances in front of the net to score, but he was stonewalled by Blackwood on both.

Unfortunately for the Devils, the Penguins scored yet again on another bounce which found Colton Sceviour in front. To give Sceviour some credit, it was one hell of a deflection, as he found the puck in midair. As such, the Penguins ended the 2nd up 3-2.

The 3rd period saw the Devils have a couple of chances with opportunities from Sharangovich and Kuokkanen. Unfortunately for the Devils, the referees struck again, as a borderline at best hooking call was called on Wood. The Penguins would take advantage of this mistake, as a Brian Rust slapshot got by Blackwood to give the Penguins a 4-2 lead.

The Penguins executed a defensive scheme from here on out, neutralizing the Devils on the offense. They did, however, get their chances and execute on them. Rust outskated a Devils defenseman to find Guentzel, who then whipped a pass to Crosby, who ripped a shot for a 5-2 Penguins lead.

The Devils didn’t completely back down though, as the Boqvist line found some luck, as Boqvist flung a puck in front of the net, which bounced off of Kris Letang and past DeSmith, to get themselves back to 5-3.

Blackwood then stopped Gaudreau on a partial breakaway, before the Devils pulled the goalie with around four minutes to go. Brian Dumoulin, with a little over a minute ago, completely whiffed on a clearance, as he banked it off of Casey DeSmith’s back and in for a 5-4 goal. Give the goal to Miles Wood.
Unfortunately, this was all for naught. The Penguins were able to clear the puck away from their end, and Rust utilized his superior speed to score the empty netter. And with the game was over as the Devils fell 6-4.

Initial Thoughts:

Despite the loss, I was extremely happy with the performance of our young forwards, as they were dynamic, exciting, and showed desperation in going for goals. Hughes and Boqvist both scored in back-to-back games, which should only increase their confidence moving forward.

Jesper Bratt continues his strong play, as he records another assist to give him 24 points through 33 games, which would give him 60 points over a 82 game season. He seems to be willing to shoot the puck more as well in recent games, which should help his goal scoring efforts as well in coming campaigns.

Wood’s two goals now gives him 13 on the year, and he’s shown his value for the Devils with his speed and aggression, combined with some seemingly better patience. His second penalty called against him was, in my opinion, a load of crap, so I’m willing to give him a pass on that one.

Despite poor numbers from a Corsi perspective, I liked how the Kuokkanen-Hughes-Sharangovich trio looked yet again. The three seemed to put a lot of pressure on the Penguins defensemen, driving the play in the offensive end and giving DeSmith a lot of trouble.

Our defense needs to get better. If not for a shaky defense, the Devils very well could have stolen this game from the Devils. Instead, poor positioning combined with inconsistent performances yet again led to a four goal effort wasted. The answer may come externally, or it may come from an internal source. Whatever the case, I’d love to see Nikita Okhotyuk get an opportunity sooner rather than later, in hopes of seeing an what he offers to the team.

Blackwood, despite the horrendous scoreline, was solid yet again. A majority of the goals were unlucky bounces which happened to fall to Pittsburgh Penguins – what can you do about that? Even with his surface numbers not looking great, this is a result of the defending more than Blackwood, as he has seemingly established himself as the goalie of the future for the Devils.

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Sports

No. 23 Baseball Shuts Out Ramapo, 8-0

WAYNE, N.J. – The No. 23 William Paterson baseball team (12-2, 3-0 NJAC) shut out visiting Ramapo (3-2, 2-1 NJAC), 8-0, April 8.

HOW IT HAPPENED:

  • Senior shortstop Matt Ferrara (Paramus, N.J./Paramus) had a one-out infield single, advanced to second on a Dylan Habeeb (Wayne, N.J./Wayne Hills) groundout, and scored thanks to a Steve Yelin (River Edge, N.J./River Dell Regional) base hit to left field, handing WP a 1-0 first-inning edge.
  • The Pioneers broke the game open with a four-run fifth. Senior center fielder Steven DiGirolamo (Dumont, N.J./Dumont) started the frame with a hit by pitch and stolen base, moved to third on a wild pitch and then trotted home when Habeeb launched a home run over the left-field fence. Yelin drew a walk and scored when senior first baseman Carson Weis (River Vale, N.J./Pascack Valley Regional) tripled to straight-away center, and three batters later Weis touched the plate after junior right fielder Adrian Alarcon (Belleville, N.J./Belleville) singled to center field.
  • WP made it an 8-0 game in the sixth. A one-out Habeeb base hit, a Yelin hit by pitch and a Weis single loaded the bases for junior third baseman Chris Liriano (Bergenfield, N.J./Bergenfield), who plated all three runners with his triple to right-center field.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS:

  • Habeeb went 2-for-4 with a homer, two RBI and a pair of runs scored. Liriano contributed a three-run triple, and Ferrara and Weis each had a pair of hits.
  • Sophomore Darmany Rivas (Bloomfield, N.J./Bloomfield) improved to 3-0 with 6.0 innings of four-hit ball, striking out five and walking two.
  • Junior Dan Carter (Bloomfield, N.J./Bloomfield) struck out four of the eight batters he faced during his 2.0 innings of work. Freshman James Longstreet (Cape May Court House, N.J./Cape May Tech) pitched the ninth inning and allowed a hit and a walk while posting one strikeout.

UP NEXT:

  • William Paterson plays a single game at Ramapo Friday, April 9, at 3:30 p.m.
Categories
Sports

Devils, Led By Hughes and Zacha, Fend Off Sabres in 6-3 Win

First Period

Aaron Dell gave up his first goal of the game 53 seconds in, on a redirection goal for Viktor Olofsson. Dmitry Kulikov went to the corner, and P.K. Subban did not cover the pass across. 1-0, Sabres, and another lapsed pass coverage for Subban.

Jesper Boqvist drew a penalty a minute and a half into the period, as he fought off Cody Eakin and one-handed a pass to a cutting Ty Smith, who forced Linus Ullmark to make a save from the slot.

On the power play, Ty Smith shot from high in the zone 30 seconds with Andreas Johnsson setting a screen and Pavel Zacha in the slot. Johnsson kicked backward at the puck, and Zacha picked it up for a backhand rebound goal. 1-1, and a good, quick power play. Smith and Bratt got the assists.

Michael McLeod drew a penalty shortly after the goal, as a pass to Tage Thompson right in front of Dell bounced off the stick high. McLeod collected, took it around the net, and drew a hold from Thompson. The same power play unit took the ice, with Zacha, Johnsson, Hughes, Bratt, and Smith.

Pavel Zacha created a rebound a half minute in from the faceoff circle, but the Devils did not jump on it. The Devils circled the puck back to Zacha, and he ripped a shot from the high end of the faceoff circle under Ullmark’s glove to make it a 2-1 game. This was another quick power play, and another good result. Smith and Bratt, yet again, had the assists.

The Zacha line at five-on-five continued to buzz, as Pavel Zacha had another chance to score with a shot from the slot, after Miles Wood and Jesper Bratt gained the zone and circled around the corner. Michael McLeod on the following shift nearly created a goal on a centering pass for Tyce Thompson, and created some trouble around the net. At the end of their possession, he set up Mikhail Maltsev with a cross-ice pass. Maltsev had Ullmark down, and should have scored, but sailed the shot.

Dmitry Kulikov took the first penalty of the game for the Devils, as he did not keep his stick in control and tripped up Rasmus Asplund. The Devils used Michael McLeod and Yegor Sharangovich on the kill, and Damon Severson got a clear right off the draw. The Devils retained puck possession, and Michael McLeod got off a shot from the slot that Ullmark had to save. He was tripped up on the shot, but the referee ignored it. Game management, and all. The Devils continued to do well on the kill, as Dell made a single glove save in the first minute. Andreas Johnsson and Michael McLeod got clears in the second minute, and the Devils easily survived the two minutes.

Jack Hughes made it a 3-1 game with four minutes to play, as he fanned on a shot from the low slot on a feed from the corner. He recollected nonetheless, and ripped it high, glove-side past Ullmark. This broke his goal drought, and should be good to end his frustration. This was also the Devils’ first even strength goal of the game, showing they could give a complete effort for once. Janne Kuokkanen and Yegor Sharangovich got the assists, as Kuokkanen made a great pass out of the corner.

The Devils nearly gave one up on the rush, as Olofsson threw the puck across for a driving Brandon Montour. Montour’s redirection went wide. Michael McLeod was covering Montour as Severson went toward Olofsson, but McLeod was only on Montour’s back.

At the end of the period, Janne Kuokkanen was tripped in the neutral zone, but he would have ran out of time anyway. The Devils went to intermission up 3-1, while the shots were 14-13 in the Devils’ favor. At even strength, the Devils had a 51.72 CF% (15-14), but trailed in shots 7-12. They also trailed in even strength xGF% at 47.19% (0.55-0.62), while their game total (62.12%) was much better.

Second Period

Tyce Thompson got the Devils’ first good chance of the period, as he had a chance from a tight angle close on Ullmark about two minutes in. The save was made, however. Play seemed slower in the second, with a lot of passes that failed to create space for chances on either side.

Jesper Bratt created the first truly dangerous chance of the period past the three minute mark of the period. Zacha hit him with a short pass at the Devils’ defensive zone blueline, and Bratt flew like a jet through the zones, culminating in a power move that yielded a shot that went wide. The Hughes line followed this up with a great shift that almost resulted in a netside goal for P.K. Subban, who jammed away at a loose puck.

The Sabres created a four-on-two rush, but no passes were made and the Sabres crashed the net too hard, knocking the net off before Dell was sure to have covered the initial shot.

Jesper Boqvist had a good shift six minutes into the period, taking the offensive zone by himself and forcing Ullmark to make a glove svae. Ullmark didn’t cover, and Boqvist kept up the forecheck by himself. After the Devils regained possession after a failed stretch pass, Boqvist ripped a shot from beyond the high slot that either deflected or just sailed high.

Pavel Zacha very nearly completed a hat trick halfway into the period, as he jumped on a rebound to the side of the net. His shot was blocked by a diving Sabre, and Zacha proceeded to get tagged for an interference penalty in the neutral zone.

On the penalty kill, the Sabres had to regain the zone after losing it right off the draw. They entered the offensive zone 20 seconds into the power play, but Dmitry Kulikov cleared it 30 seconds in. Aaron Dell made a save nearly a minute and a half into the kill, and after the following draw he gave up a rebound goal to Tage Thompson. Dell was well out of position after making a left pad save, sliding over waayyy too far on a Montour one-timer. He had no chance on the follow-up. 3-2.

Miles Wood then took a penalty for tripping Colin Miller behind the net. The Sabres set up right off the draw, and cycled around the perimeter before Rasmus Ristolainen cut from the goal line to plow everyone over – but Dell made the save and the Devils cleared. The Devils took the puck away on the forecheck, but Andreas Johnsson could not handle a pass from Pavel Zacha and the Sabres regained possession. However, P.K. Subban got successive clears to hurt the Sabres’ second-half effort. In the final ten seconds, Aaron Dell made a save at the side of the net but could not find the rebound, and Andreas Johnsson helped the defense by skating in to clear the loose puck.

The Sabres were then called for a penalty, as Nick Merkley was high-sticked by Steven Fogarty. Zacha lost the draw, and Ty Smith went back to collect. He dipped through two defenders, but still dropped the pass back. The Devils then failed to keep possession in the offensive zone. The Devils finally got a shot from Zacha 70 seconds into the power play, but it was stopped by Ullmark. Bratt made a great backhand pass to set it up. The Devils’ second unit was not great, as the Sabres cleared multiple times against them. The Sabres’ penalty kill was aggressive and effective at cutting off the Devils’ board plays.

Aaron Dell continued to have a bad night, as he gave Jeff Skinner the entire net to shoot at off another rebound. A shot from Reinhart was saved, but bounced off a Devil right to Skinner. Dell couldn’t track the puck, and Skinner tied the game at three-a-side.

Jack Hughes took a sharp angle shot at the start of the final unit that rose above the net. Then, Ty Smith set up Vatanen at the top of the zone, whose wrist shot was nearly redirected into the net. The Devils had the Sabres hemmed in, but Sami Vatanen held onto the puck for way too long despite a Sabre missing their stick, letting time expire before the Devils could get another shot off.

At the end of two, the Devils blew their lead despite putting up another 13 shots on net. On the game, they led the Sabres in shots 27-25.

Third Period

The Buffalo Sabres had possession for much of the first couple minutes, pinning the Devils back a couple times before a Devil cleared the puck off the glass and out of play. After the draw, Miles Wood sped down the ice with the puck, giving the Devils an offensive zone possession. However, Ty Smith turned it over and fell down in the process, forcing Jesper Bratt to backcheck and break up the counterattacking rush.

A shot from Rasmus Ristolainen was deflected just wide of the net four minutes into the period. The Devils continued to fail to generate any meaningful posession, as they chipped the puck out of the zone to change the forward line. The Sabres immediately restarted their possession, putting a couple attempts toward Dell that were stopped.

Michael McLeod nearly scored, as he cut across the ice in the offensive zone and appeared to try the five hole, but Ullmark stuffed the shot. On the following shift, with McLeod skating with Boqvist instead of Thompson, McLeod wrapped around the net and banked the puck off Ullmark’s pad. It went out to Boqvist, whose shot got past Ullmark. 4-3, Devils.

Jack Hughes set up Yegor Sharangovich for a one-timer off the rush, but the pass seemed a bit ahead of Sharangovich and the shot was wide. It would have been good to see him bury that chance – as the team is in need of a one-timer option in the absence of Kyle Palmieri.

Play was stopped with 5:46 to play, as Rasmus Ristolainen got tied up with Andreas Johnsson behind the play. Ristolainen was called for a high stick. Johnsson tapped him with a leg slash, and Ristolainen cross-checked him in the neck.

The Devils’ first unit had to fight off the Sabres’ aggressive kill early, and Ty Smith finally got possession about 30 seconds in. The Devils gained the zone, and Jesper Bratt banked it back to Ty Smith for a wrist shot that was gloved and frozen by Ullmark at the end of the first minute. The first unit stayed on for the following draw, and Zacha won the puck back. Jack Hughes fired a shot off the crossbar and out of play from the faceoff circle Zacha had scored from earlier. Zacha won the following draw, and the Devils initally struggled to pass around. Jesper Bratt lost the puck twice, leading to a clear. The Devils quickly countered, but could not get a shot.

In the final three and a half minutes, the Sabres moved the puck around quickly in the offensive zone – but a pass to the point was deflected down the ice. Miles Wood negated an icing with 2:40 to play after Damon Severson cleared it,. The Devils retained possession with McLeod and Johnsson on, and took a couple attempts but didn’t get into much open space. Sharangovich forced Ullmark to cover the puck with a shot with 1:57 to play. Miles Wood’s hustle killed about 40 or so seconds of possible Sabres attack time.

The Devils’ forecheck took the puck away from Riley Sheahan in the corner, as Kuokkanen wheeled the puck around to Jack Hughes, who one-touched it to Sharangovich, who scored on the shot! 5-3, Devils, with just over a minute and a half to play. That was the one-timer he was looking for earlier.

The Sabres then pulled Ullmark, and Miles Wood nearly scored after he raced to a loose puck – but he could only poke at it. Nonetheless, Jack Hughes won a puck battle on the wall shortly after, getting the puck to Yegor Sharangovich. Sharangovich sent it across to Kuokkanen, who scored from the point. 6-3, and the Devils skated off with a victory.

The Art of Not Turtling With the Lead

The Devils played a full 60 minute effort tonight. After looking like they were going to let the Sabres control the third period, they came roaring back with the goal by Jesper Boqvist. In the third, they ended up allowing just seven attempts against for the whole period, which yielded just two shots on goal. Down the stretch, Lindy Ruff turned to the Hughes line (which will get their own section in this recap) quite a lot, pretty much phasing Tyce Thompson, Mikhail Maltsev, Nick Merkley out of play for the second half of the final period; opting for a reshuffled third line of Johnsson, McLeod, and Boqvist.

The reshuffled third line worked wonders in the third period. In just 2:19 together, they had an 80.00 CF%, a goal, and an 85.73 xGF% (0.35-0.06). They were only credited for one shot, but McLeod seemed to have banked the puck off Ullmark leading to Boqvist’s goal. As for the Hughes line, I was pleasantly surprised to see Lindy Ruff give them a huge chunk of the ice time at even strength even when the Devils were playing with a lead. Ruff did not send out a mixed group of defensively capable forwards for even the empty net situation – he put his play-driving line on the ice. It paid dividends for my heart rate in the final couple of minutes, as I’m sure was the case for many watching.

A Goal For Each of the Hughes Line

How often do you see this happen for the New Jersey Devils? The Hughes line scored three goals tonight, with each player getting a goal, a primary assist, and a secondary assist. Sure, one of them was an empty netter – but I’m pretty sure they could have scored three goals during the game regardless. In over 11:22 minutes together as a line, they had an 85.71 CF% at five-on-five, allowing zero shots at five-on-five and getting 10 on goal. Their 5v5 xGF ratio was 0.77 to 0.02 for a whopping 97.77 xGF%. The empty net goal brought their xGF total up to 1.6 in all even strength play. They were a perfect line, and exactly what the Devils needed to follow up Pavel Zacha’s goals, which got the ball rolling for the team.

Pavel Zacha’s Game

After having an excellent game on Tuesday, including a dominant five-on-five performance with Wood and Bratt and a goal to go along with a power play assist, Pavel Zacha had another fruitful game today. His line “only” had a 58.82 CF% in 11:30, outshooting the Sabres seven to four and sporting a 54.75 xGF%. This was a step back from their most recent performance, but Zacha was still buzzing on the power play today. His two goals brings him to three power play goals on the season to go with five assists. That might not seem like a lot, but that’s just under 18 power play points per 82 games – and the Devils’ power play sucked for most of this season. With only 16 team power play goals, Pavel Zacha has scored or assisted on half of them.

And if that point-scoring pace isn’t good enough for you, Kyle Palmieri led the team each of the last two years with 18 points in 65 games in 2019-20 and 18 points in 74 games in 2018-19 – and those power plays were much more competent, even if below average. If Ruff and Recchi keep this first unit together, with Zacha, Hughes, Bratt, and Smith, expect it to pay off the rest of the season.

Shaking Off a Lot of Rust

Aaron Dell had a rough start to this game with a quick goal. He also allowed the Sabres to tie the game with two pretty bad goals in the second period. The power play goal was more egregious, as he slid himself out of position while kicking out a prime rebound. The even strength goal by Skinner seemed fine at a glance, but Dell blocked a high shot that would have sailed way over the crossbar into a Devil, giving Skinner the rebound. He needs to do better than that. Fortunately, he fought off his rust and finished with an .889 save percentage, including a .909 performance at even strength. The goals he gave up were all on dangerous shots – but the second and third could have been prevented had he not created those rebounds for the Sabres.

Huge Game For Boqvist

Jesper Boqvist had four points in the first 40 games of his career. Since being called up to play on March 26 against the Capitals, he’s had two assists and a goal tonight in six games (all coming in the past four he’s played). After the disappointing start to his NHL career, fueled, no doubt, by the difficulty of getting him from his SHL club, it seems many fans started to write off Boqvist. However, he showed tonight why he was so highly-touted by the Devils. He was firing off shot attempts, drawing penalties along the boards (nearly creating a goal for Ty Smith in the process), and was strong defensively. The game-winning goal was a reward for a great game, as he played to a 66.67 CF% and 78.46 xGF% at even strength.

The end of this season is huge for Boqvist. He’s played little hockey this season, as this was his 11th NHL game, along with just eight games for Binghamton-in-Newark and the 13 games he played for Timra in HockeyAllsvenskan when he was unable to join his SHL club during the pandemic. If he continues to finish this season strong, he would be hitting the ground running for next season.

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Sports

Devils Too Loose Defensively, Lose 5-4 to Capitals to Complete Season Sweep

First Period

With Kyle Palmieri out of the lineup for trade precautions, Nick Merkley was slotted at right wing next to Travis Zajac, opposite Andreas Johnsson. The new Zajac line started the game, and they were unable to get anything going on offense – but also did not give up any shot attempts. The McLeod line generated the first good chance s of the game, as a shot thrown by Ty Smith created a rebound, and Michael McLeod turned and shot the loose puck on goal.

Travis Zajac got the first score of the game, firing a one-timer from the high slot off a feed from Nick Merkley, who drew defenders to the corner on the counterattack after Zajac took away the puck in the neutral zone. 1-0, Devils. Zajac let off an excellent shot for his sixth of the season.

With the Zajac line back on a couple minutes later, Travis Zajac picked up the puck in the corner and sent it out for a Merkley one-timer, which was saved by Samsonov and forced the Capitals to deal with Andreas Johnsson on the doorstep. However, the Zajac line was ultimately denied. The Capitals got a couple of rushes on the following shifts, but missed the net both times.

T.J. Oshie made an excellent move around Dmitry Kulikov, who was caught flat in the defensive zone. He cut across the middle of the net, and his backhand went high past Blackwood. 1-1.

The Hughes line had a good shift three and a half minutes after the halfway point of the period, with Jack Hughes getting multiple shot attempts on the possession, including a one-timer from the top of a faceoff circle. They were denied a goal though, despite a netfront opportunity for Sharangovich.

In the final minute of the first, the Hughes line won the puck out of the corner, and Jack Hughes hit the post on a shanked one-timer. Sharangovich and Hughes had more chances at the puck around the net, but they could not score and the Devils went to the power play, as Carl Hagelin was called for cross-checking. Zacha lost the draw. They regained with seven seconds to play, and the puck got stuck in the corner as time ran out. Through one period, the shots were 17 to five, and the Devils had nearly a minute and a half of leftover penalty time for the start of the second period.

Second Period

On the power play, Pavel Zacha had a one-timer saved by an outstretched glove of Samsonov. Hughes and Zajac also had chances to score, but the puck was just out of Zajac’s reach in front of the net. The power play expired, and the Devils returned to even strength play.

The Capitals went up on a terrible goal on their sixth shot of the game, as a shot deflected off Damon Severson and into the net. 2-1, Capitals. Conor Sheary got the credit for the goal.

The McLeod line had another good shift, with Jesper Boqvist having a couple of chances on goal that were denied by Samsonov. Play was later blown dead as Dmitry Kulikov was thrown into the Devils’ net, throwing it off its moorings. Kulikov would later get called for high sticking Alex Ovechkin, as his stick was being held too high as he went for the puck along the boards.

With the penalty kill on, Zacha lost the draw and the Capitals took less than ten seconds to score. Nicklas Backstrom skated in on Sami Vatanen, and he threw the puck though Blackwood, and Alex Ovechkin finished the trickling puck. 3-1, Capitals. If Ovechkin wasn’t there, the puck would have gone through the five hole anyway.

Dmitry Kulikov was knocked down as he was going toward the corner, and he appeared to hurt his leg crashing into the boards. The Devils managed to push the puck the other way, which led to a Subban slap shot that shattered his stick. Ty Smith collected, and shot through a Sharangovich screen – but Samsonov saved and covered it.

Nick Merkley was taken down by a slew foot from Daniel Sprong, and the Capitals were called for a two-minute penalty with 7:12 to play in the period. Jack Hughes made an amazing move around Zdeno Chara, but his shot was saved. Jesper Bratt’s rebound attempt was too low to get past Samsonov. After another draw, Zacha played it low to Zajac, but it bounced off him and the Devils had to re-enter the zone after a clear. The Devils circled around the top for awhile before a Smith shot was turned aside. At the very end of the power play, Jack Hughes hit the post after being fed by Bratt at the side of the net.

Yegor Sharangovich drew another penalty after the Devils continued their attack, as Evgeny Kuznetsov went off for tripping him in the corner. The same unit took the ice, and a shot from Zacha went wide, and the referees called a slashing penalty on Zacha as Zacha fought Carl Hagelin for a puck. On the four-on-four, Yegor Sharangovich sped through the neutral zone with authority and ripped it from beyond the high slot past Orlov and Samsonov to make the game 3-2. Following the goal, Jack Hughes fed Damon Severson for a redirection on the rush, but Samsonov made an amazing glove save to keep the Capitals’ lead. Right after the penalty expired, Evgeny Kuznetsov was tripped by P.K. Subban as he entered the offensive zone, and the Devils went to the penalty kill for the rest of the period.

Zacha lost the draw, and Backstrom fed it low to Kuznetsov, who banked the puck off Blackwood before Sami Vatanen cleared the puck, After a re-entry, the Devils cleared the puck again. In the final 30 seconds of the power play, the Devils cleared for a third time, and John Carlson dumped it back for Backstrom, but Michael McLeod cleared for a fourth time after the Capitals entered the zone.

Through two periods, the Devils were outshooting the Capitals 31-12.

Third Period

The Devils returned to the kill for the first 36 seconds of the final period. The Capitals failed to get a shot, and the Devils cleared as Subban came out of the box, negating the icing as he was the closest to the puck. With the Zacha line on, Lars Eller took a slashing penalty for knocking the stick out of Severson’s hands.

The Devils kept their top unit on the ice. Ty Smith shot off the draw, but it was blocked. The Devils had to re-enter after a poor cycle sequence, and could not generate a shot off their entry before the Capitals cleared. In the second minute, Sharangovich, Wood, Kuokkanen, Severson, and Subban took the ice. They quickly gave up an odd-man rush, and Garnet Hathaway played it across to Carl Hagelin past a diving Subban, and the Capitals scored. 4-2.

The Capitals quickly made it a 5-2 game, as Alex Ovechkin went wide around an outstretched Jesper Bratt and Damon Severson on one knee, and Evgeny Kuznetsov put the puck into the net.

Jesper Bratt got something back for the Devils, as Pavel Zacha won the puck back in the corner from Brenden Dillon. He chipped it to Bratt in front, whose shot got past Samsonov to make the game 5-3.

Travis Zajac continued his hot streak with four minutes to play, as he finished another one-timer from further out than his first goal, on another pass from Merkley on the rush. 5-4, with four minutes to play. Ryan Murray got his third assist of the night on the goal.

The Capitals iced it 12 seconds after the following draw. After winning the puck, they sent it out of play, giving the Devils another chance to win an offensive zone draw. Howeverm Zacha was chased and Wood lost it, but the Dvils quickly re-entered. A shot from Ty Smith went wide, and Conor Sheary counterattacked, forcing Blackwood to make a save. The Hughes line came on the ice, and Janne Kuokkanen dumped in. The Devils won the puck back, but Hughes had it poked off his stick and out to center. The Capitals iced the puck with 2:15 to play.

Blackwood stayed on the bench following the icing. Travis Zajac took the draw, with Jesper Bratt as the extra attacker for his line. The Capitals pushed it to center, and Ty Smith dumped in. The Devils had to re-enter a second time after a clear, but were extremely offsides, and the Devils went for an all-centers line of Hughes, McLeod, Zacha, and Sharangovich. Pavel Zacha played it to Sharangovich for a redirection, but it bounced the wrong way and the Capitals iced it.

The Devils won the draw, and it took them 20 seconds to set up a one-timer for Subban at the point. Samsonov gloved it with 26 seconds to play. The Devils had Zacha take the draw, and he won it to Vatanen. Vatanen held the puck for far, far too long, until the Capitals overwhelmed him and iced it with 6.8 to play. Then, Lindy Ruff called timeout. He sent out Zajac, Zacha, Sharangovich, Subban, Vatanen, and Hughes. Zajac lost the draw, and the puck was stuck in the corner for too long for the Devils to do anything. 5-4 Capitals win.

Swept

The Washington Capitals are a very good team. The New Jersey Devils are not. Despite owning a 65.06 CF% at five-on-five, a total 39-19 shots advantage and 60.87 xGF%, the Devils lost. MacKenzie Blackwood had a terrible save percentage, but the only bad goal allowed was the power play goal scored by Ovechkin. Had Blackwood not allowed Backstrom’s shot to go right through the five hole, the Devils would have stayed on the kill for longer. The Devils allowed several odd-man rushes and the Capitals scored a goal off of Damon Severson’s body – they were not good defensively today, as well as their forwards did to keep play in the Capitals’ defensive zone. I’d say the Devils can get them next year, but I’d be lying.

Zajac’s Game

Speaking of next year, the Devils might be without their savvy veteran center who scored two one-timer goals today. Despite not playing with Kuokkanen and Sharangovich, the Zajac line played to a 62.50 CF% and generated two goals (both by Zajac), but they had the worst xGF% of any Devils line with a 35.51% showing. Of the six attempts and four shots they allowed, they allowed three high-danger scoring chances. However, Zajac continues to shine in another lost Devils season, as his two goals brings him to seven on the season, and his 17 points in 32 games figures to a 44-point pace. Not bad for a 35 year old who was written off with increasing frequency at the start of the season. While Kyle Palmieri appears to have played his last game in a Devils sweater, Zajac shows his determination to continue in red and black day in, day out. The question is whether the Devils want him to help moving forward.

Another Special Teams Nightmare

The Devils gave up a shorthanded goal but did not play too poorly on the penalty kill. However, after having some really good showings on the power play, they totally flubbed their third period opportunity and allowed a shorthanded goal. Had Mark Recchi’s unit not been an inconsistent mess today, the Devils could have tied or won the game in regulation. If I had a nickel for every time that happened…

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Sports

Baseball Starts NJAC Slate with 18-7, 3-1 Sweep of Rutgers-Camden

WAYNE, N.J. – The William Paterson baseball team (11-2, 2-0 NJAC) cruised to an opening 18-7 victory against Rutgers-Camden (1-7, 0-2 NJAC) April 3, then finished off a conference-opening sweep with a 3-1 win.

Because the games were supposed to be held in Camden, the Pioneers were the visiting team for each game contested at Jeff Albies Field.

GAME ONE
HOW IT HAPPENED:

  • A two-run triple and a sacrifice fly allowed the Scarlet Raptors the cross the plate first, building a 3-0 first-inning lead.
  • The Pioneers got back those three runs during the top half of the second. Senior first baseman Carson Weis (River Vale, N.J./Pascack Valley Regional) led off by reaching first on a swinging strikeout that was thrown away by the catcher. Back-to-back doubles by junior right fielder Adrian Alarcon (Belleville, N.J./Belleville) and senior left fielder Frankie Deane (Dumont, N.J./Dumont) scored one run, and junior second baseman Colin Lombardo’s (Edison, N.J./Edison) groundout added another tally. Two batters later senior center fielder Steven DiGirolamo (Dumont, N.J./Dumont) plated a runner with a fielder’s choice.
  • A triple and single to start the bottom of the second pushed Rutgers-Camden ahead, 4-3.
  • WP took control with a three-run third. Junior designated hitter Steve Yelin (River Edge, N.J./River Dell Regional) and Weis were both issued walks, Alarcon singled in Yelin, Deane walked and Lombardo hit a two-run single to right.
  • The Pioneers made it a 12-4 game during the top of the fourth inning. Yelin had a one-out base hit, Weis and Alarcon drew walks, and Deane singled in Yelin. Lombardo was issued a bases-loaded walk, junior third baseman Chris Liriano (Bergenfield, N.J./Bergenfield) drilled a three-run triple to left field, and he later crossed the plate via an error.
  • Deane had a one-out single in the fifth, went to second on a balk, advanced to third on Lombardo’s base hit, and scored via a DiGirolamo fielder’s choice.
  • Rutgers-Camden used three base hits to plate a single fifth-inning score, making it a 13-5 game.
  • William Paterson struck for five more runs during the top half of the sixth inning thanks to a Yelin sac fly, a Weis RBI-single and a Liriano bases-loaded triple.
  • A walk, triple and error added the Scarlet Raptors’ final two runs during the home half of the sixth.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS:

  • Liriano was 2-for-2 with a pair of three-run triples, adding three walks. Deane went 4-for-4 while posting a double, two RBI and four runs scored. Lombardo had three hits, four RBI and two runs.
  • Senior starter Jason Palmeri (Glen Rock, N.J./Glen Rock) surrendered four runs, seven hits and one walk in 1.2 innings of action. Junior Matt Lawler (Linwood, N.J./Mainland Regional) tossed the next 5.1 innings and allowed three runs (two earned), seven hits and a walk with two strikeouts (3-0).
  • Junior Riley Weis (River Vale, N.J./Pascack Valley Regional) struck out two of the three batters he faced, and senior Jason Rivera (Clifton, N.J./Clifton) gave up a hit and a walk while striking out one during the ninth inning.

GAME TWO
HOW IT HAPPENED:

  • WP took a 2-0 lead during the top of the second inning. Alarcon reached on a one-out error and Lombardo was hit by a pitch, setting up Liriano’s two-run ground-rule double.
  • Deane doubled in Yelin, who had drawn a leadoff walk, for a 3-0 lead in the fifth.
  • A single and double combined for a single Rutgers-Camden run during the bottom of the sixth.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS:

  • Liriano was 3-for-4 while hitting two doubles and driving in a run. Deane’s 2-for-3 effort included a double and an RBI.
  • Senior Jack DeFouw (Scotch Plains, N.J./Scotch Plains-Fanwood) pitched 7.0 innings of one-run ball, striking out four and walking two with five hits (4-0).
  • Sophomore Darmany Rivas (Bloomfield, N.J./Bloomfield) picked up his second save with 2.0 shutout innings of relief, giving up a hit and tallying a strikeout.

UP NEXT:

  • William Paterson hosts Ramapo Thursday, April 8, at 3:30 p.m.
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Sports

Football Suffers 28-0 Setback at Montclair State

MONTCLAIR, N.J. – William Paterson (0-1, 0-1 NJAC) suffered a 28-0 football loss at Montclair State (2-1, 2-0 NJAC) April 2 during the Pioneers’ lone game of the 2021 spring season.

HOW IT HAPPENED:

  • After a scoreless first quarter, the Red Hawks used a 13-yard run and a five-yard pass during the final four minutes of the half to take a 14-0 lead into the intermission.
  • Montclair State found the end zone from one yard out at the 14:00 (21-0) and 4:03 (28-0) marks of the third quarter.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS:

  • Freshman quarterback Spencer Lee (Hasbrouck Heights, N.J./Hasbrouck Heights) was 9-for-22 for 82 yards and an interception. He also punted four times for an average of 36.5 yards.
  • Sophomore Terrique Riddick (Bridgeville, Del./Woodbridge) carried 15 times for 81 yards, and freshman Rasheed Woods (Seaford, Del./Cape Henlopen) caught four passes for 34 yards.
  • Junior linebacker Sean Maldonato (Haskell, N.J./Lakeland Regional) paced the Pioneer defense with eight tackles (six solo, 1.0 TFL).
  • Freshman defensive back Isaiah De La Cruz (Lyndhurst, N.J./Lyndhurst) added five stops to his second-quarter interception. Junior linebacker Jared Salgado (Parsippany, N.J./Parsippany Hills) also made five tackles.
  • Due to COVID-related challenges, WP was able to only play one of its three scheduled games.
  • The contest decided the NJAC’s North Division title.
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Sports

Devils in the Details – 3/30/20: Pavel Zacha Can’t Be Stopped! Edition

Here are your links for today:

Devils Links

How satisfied are fans with the Devils right now? When will the team be a contender again? That and plenty more from a survey of fans: [The Athletic ($)]

Former Devil Mike Rupp on goalies, including his thoughts on Marty Brodeur, Marc-Andre Fleury and Henrik Lundqvist: [The Athletic ($)]

He can’t be stopped! I’m not going to say we’re being trolled by these simulations, but the Devils won both games this weekend, and virtual Pavel “Wayne Gretzky” Zacha potted two goals in both of them. He … apparently has had four straight games with two goals? [NHL]

Hockey Links

An idea being floated for the NBA. Might this be how the NHL season resumes?

A second Avalanche player has tested positive for COVID-19: [TSN]

Remember the reports that the league was investigating the Coyotes illegally fitness testing draft-eligible players? With the draft combine canceled, this would give the Coyotes a bit of an advantage in drafting. TSN’s Darren Dreger reports that as many as 80 players were allegedly tested and that league GMs are “very concerned” about this getting resolved. [TSN]

Feel free to discuss these and any other hockey-related stories in the comments below.