Albany Week in Review #27
This is the recap of the final week of the season. Stay tuned for an extended review of the entire season in next week’s report, with an analysis of why the Rats had a bad season, commentary on individual players and some suggestions on what the team (and its parent club, the New Jersey Devils) should do for next season.
The week in review
One awful game. Two heart-breaking, last-minute loss-of-lead and loss-in-overtime games. One well-played, season finale. In four games, the team picked up four points (two from O.T. losses) and finished the season with 52, the lowest total in the nine year history of the franchise and well below last year’s 70.
On Wednesday, the Hamilton Bulldogs invaded the Pepsi Arena. With playoff positioning on their mind (the Dogs ended up 6th, narrowly avoiding the preliminary “best of three” elimination round), Hamilton had an agenda in mind. Hamilton also had several lines working, though Kevin Brown figured in most of the scoring. The Bulldogs embarrassed the Rats, beating them by a 6-2 margin. Albany goaltender, Ari Ahonen, was not very sharp, yielding 6 goals on 25 shots. But then again, he did not have very much help.
By the time Kevin Brown earned his hat trick (having collected his 28th, 29th and 30th markers of the year), the goal that earned his fedora (yes, a River Rats’ fan felt moved to toss a chapeau over the plexiglass from section 129 at the Pepsi) resulted from a coast-to-coast romp with not a single River Rat laying a glove, or a stick, or Read more »
The 2001-02 American Hockey League regular season is in the books, and all of the final results/statistics are in. The Philadelphia Phantoms finished the season with a record of 33-27-15-5, good for third place in the Southern Division. As the Western Conference’s eighth seed, the team will face the ninth-seeded Rochester Americans (32-30-5-3) in the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs. Game one of the best-of-three qualifying series is slated for Tuesday night (7:05 p.m.) at the First Union Spectrum in Philadelphia. Games two and three (if necessary) will also be played in Philly on Thursday and Friday, respectively.
This marks the second straight season that these two teams will meet in the first round of the playoffs. Last year, the Phantoms (36-34-5-5) upset the heavily-favored Amerks (46-22-9-3), three games to one. The Phantoms then went on to lose to the eventual Calder Cup runner-up — the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
Penguins — in the second round, four games to two. Surely, the revenge factor will play a role in Rochester’s preparation for this series. The Phantoms took the season series, 4-0-2.
The Phantoms enter the playoffs on a mini-roll, having gone 4-1-1 in their last six games. The team finished its final weekend of the regular season by winning two of three games, besting WBS on Friday (5-3) and the Norfolk Admirals on Saturday (4-2), and falling to the Hershey Bears (3-1) on Sunday in the final regular season game at Hersheypark Arena.********
-The Phantoms presented their 2 Read more »
Tonight’s game against the Lincoln Stars started off with the annual award ceremony. One award couldn’t be given out until the completion of the game, the Curt Hammer Award for team’s leading scorer. Both Chris Collins (25 G, 38 A) and Alex Matieroukine (37 G, 26 A) have a total of 63 points prior to tonight’s game. The Landmark Trophy (Fan Favorite Player) went to Chris Collins. The Bob McCorkle Award (Player who combines sportsmanship with outstanding ability) went to Weston Tardy.
The first period seemed to be penalty filled. 7-1/2 minutes into the period, goal-scoring machine Evan Stoflet found the back of the net on the power play to give the Bucs the 1-0 lead. Then with a minute and a half left in the period, Luke Irwin fired a shot from the point that deflected off a stick and went 5-hole on Philippe Lamoureux to give the Bucs the 2-0 lead heading to the locker room.
The second period had it share of penalties as well. The period is a defensive battle, until late in the second, Andrew Leach goes off for hooking and Lincoln appeared to score a goal. But it was obviously tossed into the net with the Lincoln player’s hand and the goal was waved off. Approximately 30 seconds later, Chris Collins grabbed a pass out of mid air and came in all alone on Lamoureux and gives the Bucs the 3-0 lead on the short-handed tally.
Third period starts off with Lincoln putting on the pressure early and it pays off when a puck squirts free to the slot where Matt Wavra spins and gets the goal to make it 3-1, Des Moines. For most of the period, D Read more »
ALBANY, NY. (April 7, 2002). In ending what was certainly, by Albany standards, a tough season, the River Rats went out in style, with a 3-1 victory over the Western Conference champions, the Syracuse Crunch, before a crowd of 6,126 at the Pepsi Arena.
The game had no special significance in the standings, the Crunch having secured top spot in their conference last night in Syracuse, where the Crunch emerged victorious in overtime after tying it in the final second of regulation. Other than skating for pride and for a chance to bring a little happiness home to Albany fans, the River Rats had no particular reason to perform tonight. Some are without contract for next season and uncertainty in the off-season awaits.
Before the game, the team made two special awards. Captain Sylvain Cloutier received an award for his extensive charitable work during the year. Steve Guolla received the fans’ vote as the Coors Light player of the year. Leading the team in goals (25), assists (34), points (59), game-winning goals (3), short-handed tallies (2) and overall hustle, Guolla’s pre-game honor was warmly applauded by the fans.
In the final game of the regular season, the River Rats pitted goaltender Ari Ahonen against Greg Gardner for the Crunch. Syracuse coach, Gary Agnew, passed up on the chance to have goaltender J.F. Labbe try for AHL history. Had Labbe played and if he had shut out the Rats (as he did twice earlier this season), he would have established American Hockey League history with 10 shutouts in a season. Instead, Gardner (7-5-5, 2.51 GAA, Read more »
The Team: Overall, the Citadelles enjoyed a successful season. They started
the year superbly, as they remained unbeaten one month into the season. It was
only on November 2 that they suffered their first defeat; in overtime. Head
Coach Eric Lavigne did a great job too as he was often forced to juggle his
lines due to the number of injured or recalled players.
struggled getting shots on goal. At times, they still managed to beat the
opponents, despite being outshot by a 2-to-1 ratio. In net, Mathieu Garon often
saved the game by himself. Eric Landry was the only Goat to finish the season
among the league’s top scorers, but each player on the team contributed to
team’s success. (A)
Marcel Hossa (LW): Hossa played
50 games with the Citadelles this season. He
experienced a great year especially as the year wound down. He did a good job
when playing on the first line with Craig Darby and Jason Ward. He collected 17
goals and 15 assists for 32 points. Hossa has scoring skills and uses his size
to play tough in corners. If he doesn’t begin the season in Montreal next year,
he will be a very dominant player for the Citadelles. (A)
Jason Ward (RW): Ward started the season very well as he obtained points in
each of the first few games. Ward was lucky this year; he missed only two
games due to injuries. He earned 57 points, with 24 goals and 33 assists. He’s a
speedy player that can Read more »
Bridgeport –The game couldn’t go like last night in Hartford or the Sound Tigers would be entering the playoffs on a two game schnide and knocked out of the top seed.
“We were a different team,” said Jason Podollan. “Our fans and home ice, we knew we were the aggressors.”
Aggressive they were as Bridgeport came out flying. Raffi Torres threw hit after hit, including knocking Thomas Kloucek out of the first period with a hit near the penalty box.
â€œItâ€™s a big part of my game,” said Torres, and I was lucky enough to catch a few guys.”
Torres body checks opened up the ice, giving players like Matt Higgins room to operate.
Higgins took advantage by scoring a power play goal at 9:27 of the first period. Ray Giroux slapped the puck in from the point and it hit Higgins for his first goal since February 23rd, a 16 game scoreless streak.
“It was a lucky bounce,”â€ said Higgins, “It hit me in the foot and went in.”
Trent Hunter put the Sound Tigers up two goals with his 29th of the year. Hunter skated into Hartford’s zone, pulled the puck to his backhand, deked Terry Virtue out of position and roofed it past Johan Holmqvist.
Said Hunter, “We came out [in the 1st period] and made our mark. It was our best team effort of the year.”
In a reversal of fortune the Sound Tigers out shot Hartford 12-5 in the first after being out shot more than 2:1 last night in Hartford.
Brad Smyth of the Wolf Pack kept the teams close by scoring his 34th of the year on the power play at 13:42 of the second per Read more »
Jackets CHL Prospect Playoff Update
Western Hockey League
Shane Bendera – Goal – Kelowna Rockets
What can you say about the performances of Shane Bendera when something is on the line. Last year he lead the Red Deer Rebels to the Memorial Cup, and this year he’s leading the Kelowna Rockets through the WHL Playoffs. Bendera lead the Rockets to a sweep of the much hated Kamloops Blazers. Bendera came out of that series with a 1.00 GAA and a .960 SV%. The Rockets have continued to the next round, where they have played the Spokane Chiefs once, with Bendera stopping 21 of 24 shots to take his first loss of the 2002 WHL Playoffs.
Kiel McLeod – Forward – Kelowna Rockets Read more »
The 2001-2002 Sudbury Wolves season came to an end Saturday March 30th. But the season ends with great enthusiasm for next year. In his 25th year of coaching, Bert Templeton made it painfully obvious that the Wolves were under construction. September, October and November were marred with trades as young, no name players made their way to the Nickel City. Programs were the hottest item at the Sudbury Arena, as fans tried to keep up with the trades.
December rolled in and the team showed signs of improvement. Players were buying into the Templeton system, but then one road trip at the end of the month turned the Wolves upside down. Leading scorer and rookie, John Winstanley left the team, actually left hockey all together, he said he “lost the love for the game”. The Wolves continued there three game trip, and more bad news followed. Third leading scorer Rob Shilton sustained a knee injury and was knocked out for the season.
The Wolf pack slowly began to turn into a Templeton team in mid January…. a solid defense, with a veteran goalie kept Sudbury in most of their games. While the back end excelled the forwards sputtered. The Wolves finished the year with the lowest number of goals in the OHL, but still managed to finish 6th in the Eastern Conference.
15 games before the play-offs began again the injury bug made its presence felt. The Wolves 4th leading scorer, Trevor Blanchard, dislocated his shoulder, the next night leading scorer and overage centre Shawn Snider, dislocated his shoulder as well. Again the Wolves were scrambling to fill sp Read more »
Hartford — Every time Bridgeport faces off against The Hartford Wolf Pack the game means Connecticut bragging rights; tonight, if Bridgeport won against the Wolf Pack, it could mean the Eastern Division Championship.
The game started slow enough with dozens of offsides and iced pucks. Eric Godard needed to beat up Christian Gosselin before the pace picked up.
Jason Podollan started the scoring off with his 21st goal off a breakaway pass from Matt Higgins at 7:04 of the first period.
Ken Gernander intercepted a Branislav Mezei clearing pass at the Sound Tigers blue line and skated in alone on Steve Valiquette, roofing the puck to tie the game 1-1.
The second period saw Hartford pepper Valiquette with 15 shots but failing to score a goal. Valiquette came up huge on three consecutive Hartford power plays. He stoned a Lundmark one-timer from the hash marks, gloving the puck and preventing a rebound. Valiquette used all of his reach to glove Rico Fata’s shot on the second power play.
The Sound Tigers countered Hartford’s 15 shots with 3 of their own. The Sound Tigers were out shot 38-16 for the game.
“I was happy with our chances,” said coach Steve Stirling. “We need to finish chances and out power play is struggling.”
With three minutes remaining Boyd Kane clipped Armstrong’s face with his stick and on the ensuing power play Bridgeport had zero shots and barely kept the puck in Hartford’s zone.
In overtime, Lundmark pulled the puck from a pile of players in front of Valiquette and wristed it high p Read more »
The Cedar Rapids RoughRiders tried everything, cycling the puck down low, moving the puck on the point, taking weird angle shots but none of those combinations worked as Green Bay Gamblers goalie Eric Pfligler shut out the Riders. The win means Green Bay wins the Eastern Division Title for the second straight year. Green Bay also gets the coveted number 2 seed in the Clark Cup Playoffs, which brings with it home-ice advantage for at least the first 2 rounds.
Cedar Rapids had their chances but 2 slapshots from defenseman Steve Burgess hit the goalposts and caromed into the corners. There were many other scoring opportunities but the Green Bay defense was too strong on this night. They clogged up the middle making it hard for any Rider shot to get through. “We probably shot 50 pucks, but only had 28 shots on goal, they made it hard for us to score,” Rider defenseman PJ Atherton said after the game.
Green Bay’s lone goal came in the second period while on a powerplay. It was another fluke goal that cost CR. Green Bay defenseman Matt Greene threw a shot toward the net that hit teammate Bret Adams in the elbow and went in for the game winner.
Riders Coach Mark Carlson said he was extremely proud of the effort of the team over the entire weekend, but you can’t play 2 top caliber teams without 2 of your top scorers. Cedar Rapids was without Kevin Brooks, who is serving a match penalty suspension, and Ted O’Leary who is out with a high-ankle sprain. Coach Carlson also said, “We’ve played Lincoln tough this year and have won 2 games in their build Read more »