Albany goalie Justin Peters faced 40 shots from the defending Calder Cup champion Hershey Bears, but allowed just one past him in a 3-1 River Rats win Friday.
The win over the Bears, who sit atop the East Division standings, gives the Rats a little momentum heading into two more divisional games tonight and Sunday.
“Obviously beating the Calder Cup champions in our barn here to start the weekend is something we can definitely build off,” Peters said.
The Rats got on the board 9:55 into the first period with a power-play goal when Jamie McBain set up Stefan Chaput at the right circle for a shot that was saved by Hershey goalie Michael Neuvirth, but bounced to the left side of the crease for Jerome Samson. Samson finished before Neuvirth could recover, notching his ninth goal of the season.
With 3:27 off the clock in the second, Albany grabbed a 2-0 lead on a favorable bounce. Brett Carson sent the puck around the boards from the left side, but it caromed off the left corner just as Neuvirth swung around to set up on the far post. The bounce found Mike Angelidis waiting and he tucked it away before Neuvirth knew where the puck ended up.
“We’re trying to watch corners a lot and when you get a bounce like that, it’s huge, especially against a good offensive team like that. We’re trying to shut them down, meanwhile score,” Angelidis said. “They’re pretty good defensively, as well. To get a greasy goal, as we like to say, they’re nice to get and we’ll take them any way we can as long as we keep getting two points.”
The Bears responded quickly, though, getting an Andrew Gordon goal 41 seconds later.
From that point, it was a matter of maintaining a one-goal lead. The Rats had to fight off a five-on-three Hershey power play in the third period, but the defense held fast.
“They were huge,” Albany coach Jeff Daniels said. “[Hershey has] got a lot of skilled players out there and I thought, for the most part, we handled them pretty well. Petey was there when we did have a breakdown. Especially that five-on-three kill in the third period was big for us.”
Peters credited his defense for keeping some of the Hershey heat off him.
“Blanch [Nicolas Blanchard], [Pat] Dwyer and Angie’s [Angelidis’] line, they came up real big tonight,” he said. “They played against their top line all night and they did a really good job of playing defense.”
The 12-10-1-2 Rats return to action tonight at 7 at Adirondack before hosting Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Sunday at 5 p.m.
“We’ve got to keep the momentum up from this win and go into Adirondack [tonight] and play a hard-fought game,” Angelidis said. “It’s going to be a long weekend for us. … We’ve got to bring it and get the the points because it’s going to be a tight division.”
Hershey 0 1 0 — 1
Albany 1 1 1 — 3
First Period — 1, Albany, Samson 9 (Chaput, McBain), 9:55 (pp). Penalties — Amadio, Her, major (fighting), 2:19; Herauf, Alb, major (fighting), 2:19; Yeo, Her (hooking), 9:39; FitzGerald, Alb (hooking), 18:16.
Second Period — 2, Albany, Angelidis 2 (Carson, Hennigar), 3:27; 3, Hershey, Gordon 12 (Kane, Aucoin), 4:08. Penalties — Gordon, Her (interference), 11:33; Conboy, Alb (slashing), 13:57; Kane, Her (roughing), 15:01; FitzGerald, Alb (roughing), 15:01.
Third Period — 4, Albany, Dwyer 10 (Harrison, Carson), 19:54 (en). Penalties — Samson, Alb (high-sticking) 1:56; Conboy, Alb (tripping), 2:51; Kane, Her (holding), 5:37; Helmer, Her (high-sticking), 8:38; Bouchard, Her (holding a stick), 12:13.
Shots on goal — Hershey 12-12-16 — 40. Albany 9-14-10 — 33.
Power-play opportunities — Hershey 0 of 4; Albany 1 of 5.
Goalies — Hershey, Neuvirth 8-5-0 (32 shots-30 saves); Albany, Peters 8-5-2 (40 shots-39 saves).
A — 2,624. T — 2:14.
Referee — Mark Lemelin. Linesmen — Bob Goodman, Steeve Lemay.