Jump to content
The Official Site of the Carolina Hurricanes
Sign in to follow this  

River Rats Hold Off Slumping Pirates 3-1

Recommended Posts

Ryan Weston scored on a rebound for his first professional goal 3:01 into the third period to lift Albany past Portland.

After scoring, Weston jumped face-first into the left corner glass before being surrounded by his teammates. A Boston University product, Weston said that move was a tribute to his four-year roommate, Clifton Park native Peter MacArthur.

"That was his signature," Weston said.

Dwight Helminen scored a power-play goal midway through the first period, and Casey Borer sealed the win on an empty net goal with 32 seconds left as the Rats snapped a four-game losing streak to Portland, handing the Pirates their third straight loss.

Justin Peters stopped 25 of 26 shots for the win, allowing only a power-play goal credited to defenseman Matt Kostka, whose shot deflected off an Albany player in front 5:41 into the game.

The Rats are now 5-1-1-0 in their last six games at the former Knickerbocker Arena.

Portland 1 0 0

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Tonight's 3-1 win over Portland was an important one for the Rats on several levels. First, they avoided a repeat of last weekend, when they romped over Norfolk and then were blown out on back-to-back nights. This weekend, they rolled over Manchester, were uninspired in a 3-0 loss to Binghamton, then bounced back to beat a good, if currently struggling, Pirates team.

Second, Albany was able to take an early lead in the third period and hold it to the end, despite some scrambly moments. Head coach Jeff Daniels called timeout with 11:52 left just to settle their nerves and to slow Portland's advances.

"I thought after we got the second goal there we really sat back," Daniels said. "They came at us pretty hard. They were swarming us and I called timeout more to just kill a little of the momentum they had and tell the guys to relax and take a deep breath and not panic. We kind of weathered that and ended up drawing two penalties late in the game."

Third, the win was a perfect sendoff to a long pre-Christmas week for Albany, which plays two games in Norfolk and then at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton before the AHL-mandated break. The Rats don't play again at the former Knickerbocker Arena until Dec. 27.

Finally, Albany was able to bounce back from Saturday's loss to beat a very good Portland team that began the weekend in first place in the Atlantic Division before three consecutive losses.

"They're still a very good team," Daniels said. "I don't know what happened in their last two games, but I know they come out hard. (Head coach) Kevin Dineen does a great job there and they did come out, but we were ready. We came out and played hard, and it was a good 2 1/2 periods for us. We had a little lull there, but guys weathered the storm. They're a very dangerous team and they showed it in the third period the say they attacked."


The game was tied at 1-1 when Albany's fourth line came out for its occasional shift early in the third period. At that point, I was thinking about how great it would be to see Trevor Gillies get a goal against his old team and really fire up the boys. Then, along came Weston.

Casey Borer put a slap shot on Pirates goalie Jhonas Enroth that he stopped with his right pad. Almost as soon as the rebound appeared, Weston swooped in and backhanded it into the net. Without breaking stride, Weston leaped and slammed face-first -- intentionally -- into the left corner glass before he was swarmed by his teammates.

"I was just a little excited about it," Weston said. "It was a tribute to my old roommate, Peter MacArthur. He used to do that at school all the time. That was his move."

MacArthur, of course, is the son of former Shenendehowa High coach Bill MacArthur and a native of Clifton Park who had an outstanding four-year career at Boston University and is now with the AHL's Rockford IceHogs. MacArthur was offered a contract after the Terriers' season ended last spring by the Rats, but turned it down and signed a tryout with Bridgeport instead.

"I talk to him just about every day. He's one of my best friends," Weston said. "He's one of those guys that keeps track of the stats every night. He'll go and check, and then he'll call me.

"He's doing well. He's a heckuva kid, and he's from a great family. We were roomates for four years. I used to come here in the summertime and hang out at that big lake up north, Lake George. It's an amazing spot. I'm from New England, so I didn't even realize it. It's kind of like Lake Winnipesaukee (in New Hampshire), only bigger and better."


Weston's first pro goal came in his 23rd regular-season game, including seven at the end of last season. It was also his first point since turning pro, and turned out to be the game-winning goal.

"The bench was real excited for him," Daniels said. "It was obviously a big goal, and he let his emotions go after that. It's good to see the excitement when someone does score a goal like that, not only his first pro goal but the game-winner."

It was especially sweet for Weston, a fourth-liner who has been in and out of the lineup with injuries this season, and just returned this weekend from another four-game absence.

"First and foremost, we're looking not to get scored on, create energy and finish checks," he said. "We should be counted on to chip in here and there. I'm sure Gilly and I would like to have chipped in more, but it's a start.

"It's definitely been an adjustment coming from college to here. Just the schedule, playing every day. It takes a toll on your body. You just keep coming to work every day and try to battle through it."


It didn't appear on the official scoresheet, but credit Borer with a second assist after tonight's game.

Borer, who set up Weston's goal and sealed the win on an empty-netter with 32 seconds left, had more work to do in the dressing room.

As Weston talked to reporters, Borer snuck up and plastered Weston with a towel filled with blue-green shaving cream (Gillette Edge, I believe), covering his entire face. Borer stood and watched his handiwork for a moment as the howls from his teammates filled the air, then was kind enough to hand Weston a second -- this one clean --- towel.

Ah, the traditional rookie rites of passage.

"Well, that was fun," Weston said. "It stings the eyes a bit."


Standing at the far end of the ice, goalie Justin Peters clearly enjoyed watching Weston A) give his team the lead and B) celebrate like a kid on Christmas morning.

"It's always fun to see guys score their first goal and see how they celebrate it," Peters said. "He did the ol' layup off the glass. It was pretty funny."

Peters said defenseman Bryan Rodney, just back from his first NHL duty, predicted the heroics during the second intermission.

"He just said to the boys, 'Someone's going to get a dirty one and it's going to be someone that doesn't usually get a goal.' He was right. It's great for Westy, eh? He works hard every day and to see him get rewarded is a great feeling."

Weston had nine goals in 146 college games. I asked Peters if he remembers how he celebrated his first shutout.

"We don't really get a chance," he said. "Getting that first goal might be a little different."

He didn't see any game action, but Peters was thrilled with his first up-close glimpse at the NHL.

"It was a great experience," he said. "I practiced hard every day. I wasn't able to get into any games, but I got to be back with (Michael Leighton) again and it was great to get a taste of the regular season up there and see how the guys are and the talent of the players. I got to work with Tom Barrasso quite a bit while I was there, too, so that was nice."


The NHL's holiday roster freeze is from Dec. 19 to 27, preventing any movement during that time. The Canes still have Tim Conboy and Brett Carson, having returned Borer on Saturday and Rodney today.

Rodney was a noticeable presence for the Rats, picking up an assist, playing the point on the power play and logging a ton of ice time as Borer's partner. That's in addition to his prognosticating prowess.

"Rods was definitely a calming influence back there, and on the power play," Daniels said. "The way he moves the puck and sees the ice so well. He's obviously feeling good coming off a little high being in Carolina. He was pretty excited about that. He came down here with the right attitude and came out and played a good game for us."


The Rats had a special visitor in the locker room after the game, 8-year-old Tyler Hatch, a student at Bradt Elementary School in Rotterdam.

It seems Tyler's parents are season-ticket holders, and the second-grader attends every game wearing his white No. 5 Conboy sweater and every player's number written on his face in marker.

I'm told that every year, the Hatches give each player a small gift at the annual team Christmas party, but this year's bash was postponed until after the holiday, due to the team's schedule. Too excited to wait until then, Tyler and his family got permission from Rats president Garen Szablewski and Daniels to present the presents tonight.

It was a nice touch after a nice win, and a memory I'm sure young Tyler won't soon forget.


On a final note, with the Rats on the road and my holiday shopping hardly started, I'll be taking this week off. There will be no AHL notes on Sunday or daily blog posts, unless something absolutely huge happens.

So, here's wishing everyone an early Merry Christmas!


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

  • Create New...