Last Friday night, the Devils hosted the then-first place Elmira Jackets in a game that saw five separate fights break out between the teams, not including the fights referees broke up before they escalated.
“(Elmira is) a physical team,” head coach Rick Kowalsky said. “They’ve got big forwards who can skate, and they get in and they finish their checks. They’re very physical and that’s the style we play, so we talked about matching that.”
Just five minutes away from campus, the Trenton Devils hockey team takes to the ice each year to compete for the Kelly Cup.
The Devils, a part of the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) perform on the AA level.
Two levels below the NHL, the ECHL is a breeding ground for future AHL and NHL stars and features an intense hockey-viewing experience, since fans are closer to the action at Sovereign Bank Arena and the atmosphere is always exciting.
The Devils let one goal slip by just 2:33 into the first period of their game Friday night but answered back with five goals over the course of the game to claim a 5-2 win.
Center Jim Henkel, one of the Devils’ veterans and co-assistant captains, tallied a hat trick on the night while All-Star defenseman Ryan Gunderson picked up four assists in the win.
When a Gunderson shot during a power play resulted in a free-for-all in front of the net, Henkel was able to sneak the puck through goaltender Dan LaCosta’s legs.
Henkel’s second goal came off a feed from left wing Eric Castonguay and Gunderson, as Henkel stuck one in the back of the net from the middle.
Henkel also notched an open-net goal for the Devils after the Jackals pulled their goaltender in an effort to use the one-man advantage and put together a comeback.
The Jackals attempts were futile as the Devils came away with the upset victory.
“There’s no question it’s a confidence-booster,” Kowalsky said after the win. “We just have to figure out how to reciprocate this tomorrow night and not have a hangover.”
On Saturday night, the Devils could not avoid a hangover as the Reading Royals managed to sneak out a win in the 3-1 contest.
Scoreless through the first period, the Royals found the back of the net 3:07 into the second period. Just 10 seconds later, Castonguay tied up the game at one with a one-timer. The Devils had plenty of chances after putting together 43 shots against the Royals’ goaltender.
However, the Royals prevailed when a third-chance rebound found the end of right wing Kevin Suarette’s stick, giving the Royals the lead 2-1.
Suarette scored again on an open net as the Devils looked for a one-man-advantage goal in the waning minutes of the game.
Despite the loss to the Royals, the Devils have plenty of confidence facing the rest of the season and look forward to playing out the rest of their schedule. The team plans to tweak its strategy depending on the opponent it plays.
“We don’t really have a style,” Henkel said. “We’ll play any game (our opponents) want to play.”