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River Rats Weekly

January 27, 2009 - American Hockey League (AHL)
Albany River Rats News Release

2008-09 Record: 19-21-3-2, 43 points (12-7-3-1 Home, 7-14-0-1 Road), Sixth Place - East Division

Week 16 Recap:

The River Rats had drastically improved their form against East Division opponents heading into Week 16, but suffered a setback in a less than satisfactory performance on Wednesday night in a 4-2 loss to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at the Times Union Center. But Albany, as has been their way all season, responded with a remarkably better effort on Friday night as they clashed head-on with Binghamton for sixty minutes. Tied 1-1 heading into the third period, the River Rats pulled ahead when Michael Ryan and Ryan Weston scored goals in the span eight seconds; the Senators continued to unravel and Albany finished off the game with a 4-1. Saturday night's game did not have the same intensity or drama, but instead featured a clinical effort from goaltender Justin Peters, who stopped all 23 shots he faced for his second shutout of the year and the River Rats cruised to a 3-0 win over the Rochester Americans.

Week 17 Preview:

Through hard work and lots of off-ice work, Albany is getting closer to returning more injured players to the lineup. Forwards Bobby Hughes and Stefan Chaput did some non-contact skating during team practices last week, followed by "bag skates" - on-ice conditioning workouts - with Head Coach Jeff Daniels and Assistant Coach Geordie Kinnear. Injured forwards Yannick Tifu and Trevor Gillies have yet to begin skating, while right wing Jakub Petruzalek missed his first game of the season last Saturday against Rochester for undisclosed reasons. Defenseman Benn Olson, who has been cleared for full contact since early January, has been working on getting his full strength back and could see action this weekend for the River Rats if called upon.

Albany has a difficult three-game road trip on tap this week as the team comes out of the AHL All-Star Break. The River Rats will hit the road on Wednesday for the long bus ride to Virginia and will face the Norfolk Admirals on back-to-back nights, Thursday and Friday at Scope Arena. Last week Albany pulled ahead of Norfolk in the East Division standings and will need to get results against the Admirals if they wish to keep their push towards a playoff spot going. The Rats will finish off their road trip on Saturday night with another game against the Philadelphia Phantoms at Wachovia Spectrum; the River Rats are winless in two games in Philly this year, including a frustrating 3-1 loss on January 18th where Albany squandered a 1-0 lead in the third period.

Week 17 Schedule:

(All games are broadcast LIVE on 104.5 FM "The Team" ESPN Radio, are streamed free over the Internet at and can be watched via internet pay-per-view video on

Thursday, January 29 - 7:15 pm - Scope Arena - Norfolk, VA

@ Norfolk Admirals (16-21-2-5, 39 pts)

Seventh Place, East Division


Friday, January 30 - 7:15 pm - Scope Arena - Norfolk, VA

@ Norfolk Admirals (16-21-2-5, 39 pts)

Seventh Place, East Division

The Admirals have hit a rough patch going winless in their last four games (0-2-1-1) after sweeping a two-game home series against Manchester. Norfolk is 3-5-1-1 in their last ten games played, but 10 of their 16 wins this season have come at Scope Arena.

-The Admirals rank 1st in the AHL in penalty minutes per game (24.98) and major penalties (85) and third in the league in total PIMs (1,099), but sit in the middle of the pack in power plays allowed. Norfolk is a high-scoring, high-risk team, ranking seventh in the league in average goals scored (3.07), but last in the AHL in goals against (3.70). Goaltender Kari Ramo, who started Norfolk's last three games, was suspended for six games by the AHL on Tuesday for leaving the bench during an altercation in their game against Lake Erie last Friday. With Ramo ineligible, the Admirals recalled goalie Riku Helenius from Mississippi (ECHL) to backup Mike McKenna. Steve Downie, who was also involved in the altercation, and Ramo were both recalled to Tampa Bay on Monday.

-Leading Scorer: Steve Downie (RW) - 33 points (9 goals, 24 assists) in 23 games played.

-Leading Goaltender: Mike McKenna (G) - 2.96 GAA, 0.901 save pct., 9-9-1 record in 21 GP.

-Who's Hot: Blair Jones (C) - 6 points (3 goals, 3 assists) and a +5 rating in last five games played. Bracken Kearns (C) - 5 points (3 goals, 2 assists) and a +2 rating in last five games played. Grant Potulny (RW) - 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists) and a +1 rating in last four games played.

Saturday, January 31 - 7:50 pm - Wachovia Spectrum - Philadelphia, PA

@ Philadelphia Phantoms (26-19-1-1, 54 pts)

Fourth Place, East Division

-The Phantoms roller coaster season continues to zoom along. After being shutout in back-to-back games, then rattled off four straight wins and have now won six of their last seven games to move ahead of Binghamton and into fourth place in the East Division; the Senators do have three games in hand. Goaltender Scott Munroe has started seven consecutives games and has posted a 6-1-0-0 record over that span. All-Star MVP Jared Ross set an AHL All-Star Classic record with seven points and six assists in Monday's All-Star Game. The Phantoms are 14-5-0-2 at home this season, the final year of the Spectrum, which will be demolished this summer. Philadelphia has the #5 ranked power play in the AHL currently (19.5%).

-Leading Scorers: Jared Ross (C) - 41 points (19 goals, 22 assists) in 36 games played and Danny Syvret (D) - 41 points (6 goals, 35 assists) in 47 games played.

-Leading Goaltender: Scott Munroe (G) - 2.54 GAA, 0.928 save pct., 20-10-1-3 record in 32 GP.

-Who's Hot: Jared Ross (C) - 10 points (6 goals, 4 assists) and a +5 rating in last seven games played. Jonathan Matsumoto (C) - 6 points (3 goals, 3 assists) in last five games played. Patrick Maroon (LW) - 5 points (1 goal, 4 assists) and a +1 rating in last five games played.

Week 16 Game Results:

January 21, 2009 Bridgeport 4 @ Albany 2

January 23, 2009 Binghamton 1 @ Albany 4

January 24, 2009 Rochester 0 @ Albany 3

River Rats Player of the Week: (Week 16)

Justin Peters - G - #35 2 GP, 2-0-0-0, 0.50 GAA, 0.981 Sv.%, 1 GA, 53 saves, 1 Shutout

All-Star Michael Ryan continued his goal-scoring prowess in Week 15 as he rattled off five goals in four games. The Boston, Massachusetts native tied a River Rats franchise record with his third hat trick of the season on Wednesday in Hershey, leading the way for Albany's 7-2 dismantling of the first place Bears. Ryan has put together quite a streak, scoring 10 goals and posting a +3 rating in his last seven games. His 20 goals this year puts him in a four-way tie for fourth place in the AHL and he has the fourth-best goals-per-game average (0.61) amongst the league's top-20 goal scorers.

Rat Bites:

-ALL-STAR RECORDS - River Rats All-Star Michael Ryan tied an AHL All-Star Classic individual record by posting nine shots on goal during Monday's All-Star Game in Worcester. Ryan, who had two goals and one assist in the game, tied the record set by Martin St. Pierre during the 2007 AHL All-Star Classic in Toronto while playing for the Canadian AHL All-Stars. Ryan also tied the All-Star record for most goals scored by one player in one period (2). Ryan, Jeff Taffe, Corey Locke and Ryan Potulny all accomplished the feat during the game; including these four players, seventeen players have scored two goals in one period in AHL All-Star Classic history.

-SPECIAL STATS - Albany's special teams success were a big part of their two wins last week. The River Rats have gone 5-12 (41.7%) on the power play, including scoring a season-high three power play goals on Friday against Binghamton. Albany's penalty kill has flourished lately, killing off their last 13 power plays against and have successfully defended 20 of their last 21 penalties (95.2%). The strong weekend bumped the Rats special teams up in the overall AHL standings; they now rank 17th (up from 23rd) in power play percentage (16.5%) and are sixth in penalty kill (85.4%), up two spots from last week.

-A TEAM CLEAN SHEET - Although Justin Peters shutout of Rochester on Saturday was his second clean sheet of the season, it was Albany's first team shutout of the year. After setting a franchise record nine team shutouts in 2007-08, it has taken the River Rats 45 games to get their first in 2008-09; Peters was credited with a shutout in a 1-0 shootout loss in Syracuse on November 22nd, which does not count as a team shutout. It was Albany's first home shutout in over a calendar year; following Michael Leighton's 2-0 blanking of Portland on December 7, 2007 at the Times Union Center.

-MILESTONES - Goaltender Justin Peters recorded his 4,000th career AHL minute played on Saturday against Rochester. Also in the game right wing Jerome Samson played in his 100th career professional and AHL game; he scored his 12th goal of the season during the contest. Left wing Nicolas Blanchard tallied his 100th penalty minute of the season, becoming the second River Rats player to do so this year.

-APPROACHING AHL MARKERS - Defenseman Tim Conboy and left wing Joe Jensen are set to reach personal milestones on Thursday night in Norfolk. Conboy needs one game played to reach his 300th career AHL game played, while Jensen needs one game for his 100th career AHL game played. Defenseman Josef Melichar is two games shy of his 150th career AHL game, left wing Michael Ryan is four games away from his 250th career AHL game, center Mike Angelidis is four games short of his 150th career AHL game played and assistant captain Pat Dwyer needs five games to reach his 250th career AHL game.

-PILING UP THE POINTS - After a very slow offensive start to the season, the River Rats are starting to build up their point totals this season. Albany now has seven players with 20 or more points, with Nick Dodge, Bryan Rodney and Dwight Helminen all reached the 20-point plateau during Week 16.

-THE BLINK OF AN EYE - The River Rats scored the two goals in the fastest span of the season on Friday against Binghamton when they scored twice in eight seconds. Michael Ryan broke a 1-1 tie at 2:35 of the third period and rookie Ryan Weston made it 3-1 Albany at 2:43. It was one second shy of the Rats franchise record (seven seconds) set by Jim Dowd on February 27, 1994 against the Portland Pirates. The AHL record for two fastest goals scored by one team is five seconds, while the NHL record is three seconds, coincidentally held by the Minnesota Wild's Jim Dowd and Richard Park (January 21, 2004).

-RODNEY ON THE BOARD - Defenseman Bryan Rodney currently ranks second on the team with 20 assists, but through his first 33 AHL games this year he had not found the back of the net. Rodney lit the lamp for the first time this season on Wednesday against Bridgeport and did not have to wait as long for his second goal, scoring the next game on Friday against Binghamton. In 36 games for Albany this year Rodney sits fifth on the team with 22 points.

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