For Albany Devils center Matt Anderson, the role of elder statesman on the rink is something that snuck up on him.
“You know, it’s funny, you kind of go from new guy to an older guy pretty quickly,” says Anderson, 30, now in his sixth professional season. “From my perspective, there was never much of a gray area. It happened really quickly. But it’s a pleasure. On my end, I was a captain in college, more of a type A leader, so (mentor) was a role that was easy to step into.”
Anderson and the Albany Devils will return to Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 25, to face off against rival Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins at 4 p.m. The game is part of a series of four, regular season hockey games taking place through February. The Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority and Caesars Atlantic City are sponsoring the series.
The Devils also will face off against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Sunday, Jan. 13, the Adirondack Phantoms on Sunday, Jan. 20, and the Hershey Bears on Sunday, Feb. 24. All games will take place at 4 p.m.
The Albany Devils serve as the top developmental team for the three-time Stanley Cup Champion New Jersey Devils. Last season, 15 players appeared in games for both the 2012 NHL Eastern Conference Champions and Albany.
The AHL Devils last faced off at Boardwalk Hall for a series of four games from December 2010 through February 2011.
A win against the Penguins, the affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, won’t come easily. Despite a promising start for the 2012 season with well-known players such as Anderson, Adam Henrique, Jacob Josefson and Mattias Tendenby, the Devils have struggled, losing several recent games to shootouts.
“You know, right now we’re kind of coming out of a tough stretch of four to five games, and we’re catching our stride here,” Anderson says. “We’ve got a big weekend this weekend, and our ability to score goals is paramount. That will dictate what happens.”
The NHL owners’ lockout, now two-months long and counting, also continues to loom over the series. With some New Jersey Devils biding their time in Albany, the lockout could ultimately affect who is seen on the ice in Atlantic City.
“If the lockout ends, we’ll lose four or five players right off,” Anderson says. “But we do have a whole bunch of extra players here who are really great, really hungry. So we should be OK.”
Greg Tesone, general manager for Boardwalk Hall, says the Devils’ return to the Hall builds on a partnership that began in 2010. He hopes to see more games follow.
“The team received a great response the last time they played here,” Tesone says. “And our fans have expressed an interest in seeing more professional hockey at Boardwalk Hall. It will be great to see some of the new, promising talent in the sport play here in Atlantic City.”
Others have even bigger hopes. At a recent news conference in Atlantic City to promote the series, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno made no secret of her hopes that the minor-league team would consider making Boardwalk Hall its home.
For his part, Anderson says it’s best that he not render an opinion on the issue for now. Anderson did say he is anxious to come to Atlantic City, both to play and to spend time in the resort.
“For us it’s great to get out and see a different part of the country,” Anderson says.
“Some of us get a chance to play in New Jersey, some of us don’t. I grew up in Long Island, so I spent a lot of time down the Jersey Shore. I’ve surfed all through there. So I’m pretty anxious to get down there.”