River Rats hope to charge up other lines for Games 3, 4

Holding a 2-0 lead, Albany plays Game 3 of its East Division semifinal series of the Calder Cup Play

See, chemistry class really is applicable in the real world.

Combining one atom each of Do (Nick Dodge), Te (Chris Terry) and Go (Steven Goertzen), the Albany River Rats formed a strong, charged forward line.

Now, they just need to inject a few electrons into their other forward lines.

“Some guys are pressing a little bit,” Albany coach Jeff Daniels said. “Some guys are getting some chances and aren’t scoring. I’m hoping, now that we’ve got two games under our belt, we’ve got some chemistry with the lines. It’s just a matter of time before a couple of these guys break out.”

Holding a 2-0 lead, Albany plays Game 3 of its East Division semifinal series of the Calder Cup Playoffs today at 3 p.m. against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. Game 4 will be played there Monday night at 7.

To help Albany win the first two games, Dodge has scored three goals and handed out one assist. Terry has a goal and two assists, and Goertzen also has an assist.

Jerome Samson, the River Rats’ leading scorer in the regular season with 37 goals and 41 assists in 74 games, led the league in shots on goal in the 2009-2010 campaign with 332 (4.5 per game). He took 10 shots Jan. 2 in Syracuse and 11 shots Jan. 22 against Bridgeport.

In the playoffs, he has managed five shots in two games, being the focus of the Penguins defense.

In the first four periods of the postseason, he shared a line with Zach Boychuk, centered by Mike Angelidis. After the first period of Game 2, Daniels swapped Angelidis for Zac Dalpe.

“We’re looking for some offense from that line,” Daniels said. “We’ll tinker with a couple things until we get everyone going. Until we find that secret combination, we’ll keep looking for it.”

Samson said he doesn’t dwell on it and will continue to approach each shift the same — simply.

“When the game isn’t going your way, you have to go back to the basics and play as simple as you can,” he said. “You can’t comp­licate things too much on the ice, just drive to the net, chip it in, chip it out. I think it’s going to come around at some point.”

The swap moved Angelidis to a line where he was flanked by Drayson Bowman and Nicolas Blanchard. He is quite familiar with Blanchard and skated again with him in Saturday’s practice.

“Everyone’s playing hard and trying to do their job, the chemistry just wasn’t there,” Angelidis said. “We obviously haven’t played our best, but we’ve got to go into their rink ready to play and have every man battling and playing hard.”


The Penguins have found several opportunities for breakaways in both of the first two games of the series. Protecting against those breaks has to be a focus for the River Rats in Wilkes-Barre, and not just the defensemen.

“We’ve got to make sure F3 [third forward to the attacking zone] is always high and in the neutral zone, make sure F2 [second forward to the zone] is always watching that middle,” Angelidis said. “Just stuff like that, maybe tighten up a little bit in the neutral zone so they can’t break so fast.”

In Game 2, defensemen Brett Bellemore and Bryan Rodney both made stellar plays to throw the breaks on runaway Penguin Chris Conner. Jamie McBain also made a play to stop Dustin Jeffrey, but was whistled for slashing, giving a Jeffrey a penalty shot that was saved by goalie Justin Peters.

Making a play without giving a penalty can be tricky.

“I was blind, I was behind him and couldn’t see where [the puck] was,” Rodney said. “I just kind of put my stick where his blade was, hoping the puck was there at that time, and it was. I was fortunate enough to knock the puck away.”

It will be a position the River Rats are in a few more times in this series. The trick will be preventing as many breakaways as they can.

“They had quite a few [Friday],” Bellemore said. “It is pretty frustrating. We’re trying to get some offense going, we take a shot and they read that. They start flying. It’s difficult for a defenseman, but we’ve just got to try to limit those opportunities.”

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