Saturday, February 17, 2007

Hershey is Finally Beaten by Albany

River Rats snap 19 game losing streak to the Bears Dating Back to March 28, 2004

Albany River Rats 3, Hershey Bears 1

(Photo Courtesy of Mark Newman/

It looked like a completely different River Rats team than the Bears were used to facing. In the week since these two teams last played, Albany was lucky enough to receive some much needed help in the newly assigned left wing Antti Laaksonen from the Colorado Avalanche and defenseman Anton Babchuk from the Carolina Hurricanes. Each played a big factor in the River Rats first win over the Bears since March 28, 2004.

A sellout crowd of 10,598 at the Giant Center saw Albany jump all over Hershey from the start. Following a Matt Hendricks high-sticking penalty just 4:03 into the game, Matt Murley put home a power play goal on a rebound shot in front of Nolan Schaefer, after the Bears’ goaltender had originally made the save on a Kyle Cumiskey shot. It was Murley’s 14th goal of the season and gave Albany an early 1-0 lead.

Just 15 seconds later the River Rats struck again as Jakub Petruzalek took advantage of a Bears defensive lapse to knock home his 8th of the season and put the home team in a 2-0 whole. Hershey continued their lackluster play and the crowd started to get on them. They voiced their displeasure after some more sloppy play in their own zone lead to a couple more quality scoring chances for Albany after the Bears failed to carry the puck out of their defensive zone cleanly. The River Rats outshot the Bears 14-9 in the first period and were 1-3 on the power play. The score could have been much worse than 2-0 at the intermission if not for some nice saves by Nolan Schaefer in his first start since being reassigned to Hershey by his parent club, the San Jose Sharks.

The second period didn’t start much better as the River Rats struck again just 14 seconds into the period as Annti Laaksonen put home a pass from captain Keith Aucoin right into the slot area. It was Laaksonen’s 3rd goal in his 2nd game since being reassigned to Albany.

The game finally started to turn Hershey’s way at the 8:08 mark of the second when left winger Louis Robitaille got involved in a scrap with Kevin Estrada of the River Rats. The fight brought some energy into the building as it gave the fans something to cheer about. Hershey seemed to feed off of this as they pretty much controlled the action the rest of the game. They were finally able to solve goaltender Tyler Weiman with 2:28 remaining in the 2nd period as Jakub Klepis won a battle for the puck in the offensive corner, and found Kip Brennon in front of the net. The Bears’ resident tough guy received the pass and beat Weiman for his 1st goal in a Hershey uniform. The goal was also the 200th of the season for the Bears, giving them some life heading into the 3rd period.

The final period saw a furious comeback attempt come up short as despite dominating the play, outshooting their opposition 19-5, Hershey was unable to beat Tyler Weiman who made some excellent saves on two quality chances by Chad Wiseman in the period. With 2:48 to go, Wiseman celebrated what he thought was a goal after he had a point blank shot in front of the River Rats goal. It was not to be as Weiman did not allow the puck to squeeze through his pads as he secured Albany’s first win over Hershey this season in their seventh try.

The game marked the season debut in the AHL for defenseman Mike Green who was reassigned to the Bears this past Thursday. He wore number 25 and was paired up with defenseman Tyler Sloan, who coincidently wore number 5, the number Green wore with the Bears last season. He also saw time on the first power play unit on the point with Alexandre Giroux.

Your Top Three Stars:

1. Tyler Weiman, Albany 35 Saves

2. Keith Aucoin, Albany 2 Assists

3. Antti Laaksonen, Albany 1 Goal

Game Notes:

Mike Vogel was a guest in John Walton’s booth during the first intermission. He talked about Kolzig’s recent injury, Frederic Cassivi possibly playing in Washington’s game at Montreal on Tuesday, Mike Green’s reassignment being a numbers game, and Jeff Schultz’s impressive play with the Caps that he credited to his long reach and good poise…. Tim Leone of The Patriot News was Walton’s guest during the second intermission and he credited Louis Robitaille’s fight as a momentum changer in the game, and talked about Hershey’s goaltending situation as Maxime Daigneault is not quite ready to play as of yet…. Nolan Schaefer made his 19th start of the season in the AHL, and his 3rd with Hershey…. Jamie Hunt (wrist), Pete Vandermeer (broken leg), and Deane Arsene (suspension) were scratched to go along with Marc Busenburg, Joey Tenute, and Jonas Johansson, who were listed as healthy scratches…. Former Capital Stephen Peat was a scratch for Albany. He is currently out with a broken leg.

No comments: