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UPDATED - Special Monday Rats edition - Phil Janack

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Poor Bobby. This poor guy can not catch a break. Nicest guy and a good player. Poor guy just can not get healthy. Every time he gets close he has a setback. He is the type of player we need on the ice too. Hope we can get him back out there as soon as possible.

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ALBANY, NY - The Albany River Rats announced today that forward Bobby Hughes and defenseman Benn Olson have returned to Albany after recently playing for the Florida Everblades of the ECHL.

Hughes, 21, made his ECHL debut with Florida while playing in a brief two-game conditioning assignment this past weekend. In two games for the Everblades Hughes registered one assist and one shot on goal. The Richmond Hill, Ontario native missed 37 games due to a lower body injury this season and has last played for Albany on November 8th vs. Providence. In seven games played for the River Rats this year Hughes has two points (1 goal, 1 assist) and four penalty minutes.

Olson, 21, missed 18 games due to an injury suffered on November 27th at Binghamton and was loaned to the Everblades on January 29th once he was cleared to resume full contact. Olson made his ECHL debut with Florida and appeared in five games during that span, recording no points and 14 penalty minutes. In six games with the River Rats this season the Port McNeil, British Columbia native has one assist and 21 penalty minutes.

The River Rats are in action at 7:00 pm on Tuesday, February 10th as they battle the Portland Pirates at HSBC Arena in Buffalo, home of the Buffalo Sabres. Albany

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Special Monday Rats edition: updated

By Phil Janack

Monday, February 9, 2009



OK, so when I said to check back later, I didn't anticipate it being THIS much later, but better late than never, right?

The Carolina Hurricanes returned forwards Michael Ryan and Jakub Petruzalek to the River Rats today. Both were on the ice for this morning's practice at RPI's Houston Field House, and both will be in the lineup when Albany plays Portland at HSBC Arena in Buffalo Tuesday night.

It was the second recall this season for Ryan, who has played five games for the Canes, four in his most recent stint. For the 23-year-old Petruzalek, it was his first time in The Show.

"It was probably the biggest experience in my life right now," Petruzalek said. "My dream became true. I was dreaming about it since I was a little kid, since I was, like, 3 years old. It took me 20 years but my dream came true and I'm really happy with it. Everybody up there was unbelievable. It was a huge experience for me, and I think I can put that to the game here in Albany."

Petruzalek saw some time with Ryan, his Rats linemate. Asked if Petruzalek appeared nervous, Ryan said, "He wasn't too bad. He said he was, but he didn't look nervous. It was a good night for him. He hasn't stopped talking about it."

In his Feb. 5 debut, Petruzalek assisted on Sergei Samsonov's goal in a win at San Jose. He was scoreless in his second game Feb. 7 at Phoenix.

"I was a little nervous at the morning practice," Petruzalek said. "Coach was yelling, too, because the morning skate wasn't that good. Then the new coach, Paul Maurice, grabbed me to the side and talked to me. I was a little nervous until the anthem. After the anthem, I had my first shift and got my first few bodychecks in. I got really good ice time. I'm real happy with that."

And picking up a point in his major-league debut?

"It was just a bonus," he said. "The first game you're just looking not to make too many mistakes, play the system, play the physical style I'm playing here. Nothing is better than the first win in the first game in the NHL."

Having familiar faces from Albany like Canes assistant coach Tom Rowe, former teammates Ryan, Mike Leighton, Ryan Bayda and Brandon Sutter and Czech countryman Frantisek Kaberle gave Petruzalek a comfort factor.

"That helped so much," he said. "I feel way more confident now, and way faster on the ice."


Ryan is looking forward to his return to Buffalo, where he played all of last season. He spent his first five pro years in the Sabres organization, which did not re-sign him last summer. He agreed to a free agent deal with Carolina Oct. 31.

"It should be nice," Ryan said. "I'll see some guys tonight. It'll be a little different being in the opposing dressing room. It might feel a little weird, but it's not like we're playing against the Sabres. It's the young kids in Portland now, and I'm only familiar with maybe four or five of them."

Albany's all-star representative who leads the team with 23 goals and 36 points in 36 games, Ryan downplayed showing himself off in front of the Sabres brass.

"I'm sure I'll run into a few of them," he said. "We'll see. It should be interesting."

Ryan was glad to get another crack at the NHL, where he has now played 71 games, but doesn't come back waiting for his next recall.

"They have five days off between games, and they wanted us to come down and play, and make some calls on some guys that have been out of the lineup up there, if they'll be healthy enough," he said. "I have no idea what's going on ... I'm just getting focused on being back in Albany here. That's where you want to be. Bottom line is, I'm here right now so I'm looking forward to getting back with this group of guys."


Even though Ryan was at practice, all of his gear wasn't. He skated wearing a helmet with No. 9, rather than his usual No. 21.

"Some of my equipment didn't make it back, so they kind of threw some things together," he said.

The difference was noticed by head coach Jeff Daniels. Already this season, seven players have worn No. 9 for the Rats, starting with Cohoes native Marc Cavosie and followed by a litany of young players on pro tryouts.

"I had to do a double-take, actually. I wasn't sure what was going on there," Daniels said. " 'Who's the new kid we got here?' That's the number of choice for all the young kids that come up from the PTO's. We're fortunate he'll definitely not be on a PTO."

Daniels plans to keep Ryan and Petruzalek together, centered by rookie Nick Dodge, which was Albany's top line before their recall.

"It's good to see them back here," Daniels said. "Obviously, we wish they could have stayed up longer for their sake, but we'll definitely take them back here. They obviously bring a lot of skill to our lineup. At the same time, we're not going to change our game. They've got to adapt to our game.

"The message is going to be, just because they're back, we can't change our game. They've got to step in and buy into what we've been doing lately, which is just playing simple and banging bodies and putting pucks at the net. We don't want to turn into a cute team and a finesse team just because we got two guys back. That's where we got in trouble earlier in the year. These two guys are definitely going to help, but they've got to buy into what we've been doing."

Line combinations from practice: Ryan-Dodge-Petruzalek; Joe Jensen-Dwight Helminen-Jerome Samson; Nicolas Blanchard-Mike Angelidis-Pat Dwyer; Brad Herauf-Harrison Reed-Ryan Weston.


Albany's lineup is further reinforced with the addition of rookie defenseman Benn Olson, who rejoined the team after spending some time with ECHL Florida. He returned along with center Bobby Hughes, who was assigned for a weekend of conditioning.

Olson was scoreless and minus-1 with 14 penalty minutes in five games for the Everblades. It was his first action since breaking his thumb in a Thanksgiving night fight in Binghamton.

"Ols has had some tough breaks the last four, five weeks with his thumb, and before that it was just a numbers situation," Daniels said. "He was playing real well before he got hurt. Now is an opportunity while we have six 'D' .... to get himself established in the lineup so when we do have seven 'D' he's not the guy we take out."

The seventh defenseman, Bryan Rodney, remains on recall in Carolina. The other five here are Tim Conboy, Brett Carson, Casey Borer, Mark Flood and Jonathan Paiement.


Hughes played only 1 1/2 games for Florida, leaving a Feb. 7 game midway through the second period, not to return. He was scratched on Sunday.

He did not make the trip to Buffalo and Binghamton, where the Rats play Wednesday, and Daniels isn't expecting him to play Friday, Saturday or Monday Feb. 16 -- all at the former Knickerbocker Arena.

"Not unless something changes in the next day or two," he said. "I don't see him back anytime real soon. His health is still an issue with him."

Hughes had sports hernia surgery in mid-December. His last game for Albany was Nov. 8.

"It's just that it's so weak with the muscle there, and there's some scar tissue left over from where the incision is and everything," Hughes said. "Hopefully, I'm going to come back Thursday and skate and just keep working on it, and it won't be too long."

Hughes was credited with an assist and was minus-3 for Florida.

"I played Friday and I was really bad. I was awful," he said. "I was great with the puck and that was nice, but I just couldn't move my feet. They were like cement bricks. Once I got going, I was OK and I could move, but for me to just stop and start and try to get some speed quickly, it just wasn't happening. I was behind the play a lot.

"It felt great to be in a freakin' game, but it was not exactly the outcome I was looking for."


Tuesday night gives both Albany and Portland players the chance to experience a regular-season game in an NHL arena.

"It will be a good experience for them," Daniels said. "I think for the most part, most of our guys have played at least an exhibition game in an NHL building, so they'll be used to it. From what I hear, there'll be a good crowd there. There's a lot of guys from the Ontario area, so I'm sure a lot of family will be coming to the game. It will just be a good experience."

The emphasis will be on getting two standings points, and nothing else.

"We do not have to put on a show there," Daniels said. "I'm sure they're going to come out hard, trying to impress all the coaches and management in Buffalo, but our game has to stay simple and try to capitalize on their mistakes."


Rats enforcer Trevor Gillies, out since Dec. 20, was running the stairs at Houston Field House during practice, a good sign as he continues to work toward his return from a concussion .... Center Yannick Tifu skated in practice wearing a yellow non-contact sweater. Out since Jan. 3 with a knee injury, he is being sent to Florida for conditioning ..... Daniels said he is leaning toward starting goalie Justin Peters against Portland. Peters was in net for Saturday's shootout win over Portland at the Glens Falls Civic Center ..... The Pirates rebounded from that loss with a 3-2 win at Hershey on Sunday.

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