In a game that meant nothing for Albany’s playoff position, the River Rats dressed just 19 players Saturday, six of whom had played fewer than 10 games in the AHL.
The River Rats pulled out a 3-2 win over scrappy Adirondack to close out the regular season and the 12-game rivalry series. They did so with just five defensemen, four at times when Tim Conboy was accumulating his 23 penalty minutes.
“It’s really good to see when they come in, especially the D guys who got a lot of minutes playing back there,” Albany forward Mike Angelidis said. “They got their first games in, they played hard, they got big minutes. Usually, getting thrown to the wolves like that is pretty hard, especially in the AHL. Those guys did a fantastic job. They competed, they didn’t do anything wrong, they played their game and played like they’ve been in this league for a while, and that was nice to see.”
The River Rats will practice Monday and Tuesday in preparation for their Wednesday playoff home opener, their opponent yet to be determined, at 7 p.m.
Angelidis scored Albany’s first two goals, both as he was streaking to the goal on the left side for teammates who made precise and timely passes. First, Brad Herauf sent a diagonal pass through traffic from the top of the right circle for Angelidis, who finished to the left side of goalie Jeremy Duchesne. In the third period, Chris Terry sent another well-placed pass to Angelidis on his way to the net.
Albany took the final lead on Oskar Osala’s rebound goal at the 14:31 mark.
By that time, the 43-29-3-5 River Rats were down to 18 players, as Steven Goertzen was sent off with a misconduct call at the 6:14 mark of the third. With 25.4 seconds remaining in the game, and the 32-41-3-4 Phantoms playing with an empty net in favor of a sixth skater, Conboy was sent off. In all, three players for each side were sent to the dressing room, including Herauf and Adirondack’s Patrick Maroon after the final buzzer.
Playing down a defenseman from the start, sometimes down two, would be difficult for any experienced player. Aside from Conboy and Jonathan Paiement, Albany had three defensemen who had played 10 or fewer games before Saturday. For Kyle Lawson, this was his 10th.
“I think we did all right,” Lawson said of the young players. “I wouldn’t say it was anything spectacular, but we were able to get the win. [Friday in Wilkes-Barre], I think a more veteran team probably wins that game. It’s hurt and helped, but it’s something that’s great for the experience and something we can use to build this summer, heading into next year.”
Despite the penalties, Albany coach Jeff Daniels said the veterans who skated Saturday continued to prove their worth by leading the inexperienced players to a win in the finale.
“Especially Timmy, he’s a leader,” he said. “Ideally, you don’t want to play with five D, down to four at times with Timmy taking some penalties. But they’ve been here all year for us, they’ve played well for us, and it just shows the depth we have.”
Albany 1 0 2 — 3
Adirondack 0 0 2 — 2
First Period — 1, Albany, Angelidis 11 (Herauf, Paiement), 5:03. Penalties — Herauf, Alb (cross-checking), 12:23; Lepine, Alb (holding), 17:51.
Second Period — None. Penalties — Maroon, Adk (hooking), 6:14; Maroon, Adk (high-sticking), 13:03; Mormina, Adk (slashing), 18:13; Syvret, Adk (interference), 19:51.
Third Period — 2, Adirondack, Kalinski 10 (Laliberte), 1:08. 3, Albany, Angelidis 12 (Terry), 7:11. 4, Adirondack, Syvret 5 (Gustafsson, Maroon), 12:43 (pp). 5, Albany,
Osala 25 (Tlusty), 14:31. Penalties — Terry, Alb (slashing), 0:43; Goertzen, Alb, major-misconduct (fighting, unsportsmanlike conduct), 6:14; Maroon, Adk, major (fighting), 6:14; Conboy, Alb, minor-major (roughing, fighting), 8:22; Zajac, Adk, double-minor (interference, roughing), 8:22; Mormina, Adk, minor-major-misconduct (instigating, fighting), 8:22; Micflikier, Alb (roughing), 11:26; Conboy, Alb (cross-checking), 17:12; Conboy, Alb, double-minor-misconduct (roughing, unsportsmanlike conduct), 19:34; Legein, Adk, misconduct (unsportsmanlike conduct), 19:34; Ross, Adk, double-minor-misconduct (roughing, unsportsmanlike conduct), 19:34; Herauf, Alb, misconduct (unsportsmanlike conduct), 20:00; Maroon, Adk, misconduct (unsportsmanlike conduct), 20:00.
Shots on goal — Albany 5-12-12 — 29. Adirondack 6-8-15 — 29.
Power-play opportunities — Albany 0 of 6; Adirondack 1 of 5.
Goalies — Albany, Peters 25-18-2 (29 shots-27 saves); Adirondack, Duchesne 1-3-0 (29-26).
A — 4,968. T — 2:23.
Referee — Ghislain Hebert. Linesmen — Rich Patry, Mike Emanatian.