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Atlanta Thrashers Reassign Tomas Pospisil To Albany

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The newest River Rats player is 21-year-old forward Tomas Pospisil, loaned to the team from the NHL's Atlanta Thrashers via the AHL's Chicago Wolves.

Pospisil will make his debut tomorrow night when Albany hosts Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the second of a four-game homestand at the former Knickerbocker Arena. Pospisil was also included on the Rats Clear Day list, and will be with the club for its final 17 games.

"He's going to get a chance," head coach-GM Jeff Daniels said after today's practice. "I told him he's here to play; he's not just here to watch. A lot will be decided over the weekend, and we'll see how he responds. If he's capable, he'll continue to play and if not, he'll have to earn his ice time -- no different than any other guy."

Pospisil, drafted in the fifth round, 135th overall, by Atlanta in 2005, skated with Albany this morning. He had two points (1g, 1a) in 31 games for Chicago this season, and four points (1g, 3a) in 44 AHL career games. He also had 44 points (20g, 24a) in 56 ECHL games for Gwinnett the past two seasons.

As a Canadian junior player, he had 112 points (54g, 68a) in 115 Ontario Hockey League games for Sarnia.

"Watching him today, he's skilled and he's got some speed,' Daniels said. "We'll find out in the game tomorrow night what he can do."

A native of the Czech Republic, Pospisil could find himself on the same line as compatriot Jakub Petruzalek. The Rats leading scorer sat down with the young player today.

"I did a little research on him last night after the coach told me," Petruzalek said. "We've been talking since he got here. It's always nice to have a countryman here. On the ice, he seems like a really skilled guy, kind of like me where he likes to pass.

"He's two years younger than me, but on the ice he looks really comfortable, especially in the practice, making passes and not rushing anything. I hope we will be a good combination together."

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Ryan Weston, shaken up on a hit behind the Norfolk net with 3:19 left in Wednesday's 5-3 win, did not practice today and is questionable for tomorrow. He had been skating on the third line with Aaron Clarke and alternate captain Mike Angelidis.

"He's kind of day-to-day," Daniels said. "He may be a question mark for tomorrow, but I wouldn't expect it to be any longer than that."

Weston made a great play in the third period last night, stealing the puck from Norfolk goalie Riku Helenius behind the net and finding Aaron Clarke all alone at the top of the crease for Albany's second goal that tied it at 2-2.

Forward Mathieu Roy was returned to ECHL Florida after practice today. Roy was credited with Albany's fourth goal Wednesday, one originally given to rookie center Nick Dodge. Today, the Rats submitted a formal request to the league to change it back to Dodge.

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Meanwhile, center Bobby Hughes is available to return to the lineup this weekend. Hughes has played just 11 games this season, missing time following sports hernia surgery in mid-December and again after the team's Feb. 19 bus crash.

"I'll ease him back in if he does go tomorrow night," Daniels said. "Obviously, he has missed some time and hasn't skated a whole lot. I really don't want to put him in tomorrow night if I don't have to. He needs to skate a little more. Until I come to the rink tomorrow morning and find out who's available, it'll be a game-time decision."

Hughes, 21, has played 37 AHL games the past two seasons. He sat out the final 50 of his rookie year with a neck injury.

"The last four days have been good. I'm feeling much better," Hughes said. "I'm hoping it will last this time. That would be nice. As always, I'm just eager to get back out there.

"I'm sure he won't throw me right into the mix, but then I don't think he'll ease me in too much, either, because of the situation we're in. We've got a pretty steep hill to climb here, so the most important part for me is to come back and contribute and make sure I'm a big part of that comeback."

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Albany captain Pat Dwyer continued his recent hot streak, scoring two goals for the second straight game and third time in four games. The six goals give him 19 in 52 games this season, second to the departed Michael Ryan.

"When you get a streak like this, you just try to enjoy it and get as many out of it as you can," Dwyer said. "At the same time, we've got to keep winning. Our goal as a team is to try and get in the playoffs; that's first and foremost."

The 19 goals are a career high for Dwyer, who also has 16 assists. His highest pro point total is 45, set in 73 games as a rookie with the Chicago Wolves in 2005-06.

"Some of his goals might not be the prettiest goals, but it's all about putting pucks to the net and that's what he's been doing," Daniels said. "On top of that, his other part of the game hasn't dropped off at all. He's still our most reliable forward. It's not like he just opened up his game and forgot about the rest of it."

Dywer is a plus-4, tied with Ryan for the team high among regulars. Aaron Clarke is plus-5 in his eight games with the Rats since being plucked from ECHL Wheeling.

For Daniels, Dwyer's contributions go beyond the scoresheet. He inherited the captain's 'C' when Tim Conboy was promoted for good to Carolina; Dwyer also wore it in last spring's playoffs after Keith Aucoin stuck in the NHL.

"We'd be lost without him, really. He's definitely the leader of this team," Daniels said. "He leads by example. For as hard as he works, he gets rewarded."

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Clarke has five points (2g, 3a) in his eight games for Albany, the most he has played for any one AHL team. Clarke spent seven games with Binghamton and three with Providence earlier this season.

Rats games against Wilkes-Barre will take on added meaning for Clarke. He attended the Penguins' training camp last fall and wound up signing a contract with their ECHL farm team in Wheeling, W. Va., where he had 37 points (11g, 26a) in 40 games this season, and 36 points (19g, 17a) in 60 games in 2007-08.

In addition to Friday, Albany hosts Wilkes-Barre again on Monday, March 16, in a makeup from Feb. 22, three days after the Rats bus crash.

Clarke has played twice against Wilkes-Barre this season. He was scoreless for Binghamton in a 6-3 loss to Hershey on Dec. 28, and had an assist and was minus-2 in Albany's 4-3 road loss on Feb. 27.

"I actually went to camp there, so every time I play them it's kind of fun to show them," Clarke said. "I didn't get to play in any exhibition games there, which I was a little disappointed in, but it was my first AHL camp and it was kind of my foot in the door.

"That was a nice opportunity, but every time I play them I know all the guys so you're trying to do evertyhing you can to kind of show them what I have."

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Defenseman Jonathan Paiement skated after practice today in a yellow non-contact sweater, but no timetable has been set for his return. He has been out with thumb and facial injuries from the accident.

"He won't play this weekend," Daniels said. "I don't want to put a time on it. It's hard to predict how they're going to respond on the ice. Whether it's a week or a day or two weeks, I can't really put a time frame on it."

Forward Nicolas Blanchard, who suffered deep cuts to his side and stomach when the guardrail split through Albany's bus as it toppled on its side, could be back on the ice before the season ends April 11. He watched Wednesday's game from the stands.

"We're probably looking at April 1 or late March before that can be considered," Daniels said. "He had a little surgery yesterday to kind of touch up his stomach and clean out the wound. He went in yesterday morning and was out by noon. It was a pretty straightforward procedure from my understanding. He's coming along fine. It's just going to take some time."

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Justin Peters will get the start in goal tomorrow night ..... On scoring streaks for Albany are defenseman Brett Carson, six games (1g, 6a) and RW Yannick Tifu, four games (1g, 3a) .... Injured defenseman Casey Borer returned home to watch his younger brother play in the Minnesota state hockey championships. Borer is scheduled to return and rejoin play-by-play man Owen Newkirk on Monday's radio broadcast ..... Wilkes-Barre captain and ex-Rats alternate David Gove is not on the Penguins Clear Day roster. He was scheduled to get a second opinion on the disc injury in his back that has likely ended his season .... Former Rat defenseman Joey Mormina is a plus-36 in 56 games this season, second in the AHL to defense partner Ben Lovejoy.

http://dailygazette.com/weblogs/janack/200...other-new-face/

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