Albany Week in Review #24
Trade deadline: Devils’ swaps; no Rats involved
Tuesday, March 19, 2002 was trade deadline, at 3:00 pm EST. The Devils swung a pair of deals by that time, neither involving River Rats. Stephane Richer, right winger who was part of the Devils’ 1995 Stanley Cup championship team, was acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins for a 7th round draft pick in next year’s (2003) entry draft.
The bigger deal involved the Dallas Stars. Pivot Jason Arnott and right winger Randy McKay were dealt in the final minutes before the trade deadline. In exchange, the Devils acquired centers Joe Nieuwednyk and Jamie Langenbrunner, both members of the Stars’ 1999 Stanley Cup championship team. The Devils also surrendered a first round draft pick to the Stars. No minor league players were involved in either deadline deal today.
Defenseman (now assistant coach) Kinnear honored
In the year after he retired due to injury, Geordie (“Champ”) Kinnear was honored by the Albany River Rats. An original member of the team, a member of the 1994-1995 Calder Cup championship team, a four-time selectee for the AHL All-Star Classic, and three-time captain, Geordie Kinner had his #4 jersey unfurled from the rafters at the Pepsi Arena on Saturday night.
It was ironic that the ceremony, in which his number was “honored” (displayed, but not “retired”), came against the Providence Bruins. Several years back, he broke a bone in his hand in a fight against the Bruins after a melee broke out in front of the Rats’ bench. True to form, Kinnear never backed down from a challenge and never failed to come to the defense of a teammate in need.
The pre-game ceremony on Saturday included a proclamation (in writing) from Governor Pataki, honors from the owner (Dr. Walter Robb) and General Manager (Garen Szablewski) and captain Sylvain Cloutier. The fans gave Kinnear a sustained standing ovation.
Kinnear holds franchise records for most games played and penalty minutes. Though he only played four NHL games (with Atlanta), he was instrumental in getting some River Rats’ defensive prospects NHL-ready. Colin White (Devils) and Bryan Helmer (Canucks) owe a debt of gratitude to Kinnear, for their NHL careers were given a boost by Champ Kinnear.
Rats season lingers; wins hard to come by
According to reports this week in the Albany dailies, Albany River Rats’ coach has re-set his target for the rest of the season. No longer are playoff hopes even deemed possible, much less realistic. Instead, the objective is to play respectably each night and (hopefully) win 20 games this season. For a team that now has but 12 wins, with 13 games (16 at the time of the newspaper stories) remaining, 20 wins is still an elusive quest.
Despite decent effort, in three games this week, no wins materialized. Only one point (out of a possible six) registered on the standings board, as the Rats escaped with a 2-2 tie against the Providence Bruins.
On Wednesday, the Saint John Flames doubled the River Rats, 4-2. Special teams played a large role, as the Flames collected two power play goals on seven opportunities. Scott Clemmensen was pelted with 47 shots and made 43 stops. Kevin Baker of the Flames tallied a hat trick and assisted on the other Saint John goal.
Ari Ahonen had a rough outing at the Pepsi Arena against Hartford on Friday. He surrendered three goals on three consecutive shots, with Brad (“Shooter”) Smyth scoring on the 11th and 12th shots from the high slot, and Smyth getting the primary assist on the goal, by Brad Mehalko, on shot #13.
J.F. Damphousse was brought in for relief in the third period, but the damage was done and a pair of third-period goals by the Rats (including the short-hander by defenseman, Joel Bouchard) and Christian Berglund’s 16th of the season were not enough.
Berglund’s pair of assists in the 2-2 draw against Providence moved the rookie into 9th place on the rookie scoring list (16G; 24A; 40 points in 47 games played). Bergy spent some time in New Jersey and his nearly point a game output compares favorably with the other rookies on the scoring list.
Damphousse had a good outing against Providence and earned “second star” on his effort with 29 saves on 31 Bruins’ shots.
AWIR player of the week
Albany Week in Review has selected Steve Guolla as Albany player of the week. It was an easy selection. Though the Rats had only six goals in three games, center Steve Guolla had a part of five of them. With one goal and four assists, Guolla’s five points (and +1) helped the team.
Guolla’s two assists on Friday against Hartford earned “third star” for the Rats in a 5-2 loss against the Wolf*Pack. The next night, Guolla had a goal and an assist and came within inches of putting a game-winning goal past goalie Jeff Maund. For his work, Guolla earned “first star” in the 2-2 tie with the Providence Bruins.
Albany coach Bob Carpenter submitted Guolla’s name for league player of the week, an honor won by Mark Murphy of Portland (8 points).
Here and there.
In good news for the Rats this week, defenseman Daryl Andrews, out with a separated shoulder for several weeks, returned to active duty. He was in the lineup on Tuesday, March 19, against the St. John’s Maple Leafs, according to Jonathan Scherzer’s play-by-play.
Darren Tiemstra, a defenseman who played three games this week for Albany (0-0-0, +1). He was returned to Columbus in the ECHL.
The River Rats had good attendance numbers this past week. Wednesday’s mid-week total of 3,021 against the Saint John Flames was acceptable. Friday’s tilt against the Hartford Wolf*Pack set a season high with 8,407 fans, on “scout” night with boyscouts, girlscouts and cubscouts in attendance and staying for a sleepover. On Saturday, for Geordie Kinnear night, 5,463 fans were in attendance.
The River Rats are off on a road trip, with a pair of games in St. John’s Newfoundland, followed by stops in Springfield, Syracuse and Bridgeport, before returning home to defend against the Leafs on next Wednesday.