He’s never been much of a goal-scorer, but Albany River Rats rookie Ryan Weston sure knows how to celebrate like one.
Weston buried the rebound of Casey Borer’s shot 3:01 into the third period Sunday for his first pro goal, then proceeded to launch himself face-first into the left-corner glass.
“I was just a little excited about it,” Weston said.
What’s more, the goal stood up as the winner in Albany’s 3-1 victory over Portland that was sealed by Borer’s empty-netter with 32 seconds remaining at the Times Union Center.
“It’s always fun to see guys score their first goal and see how they celebrate,” said winning goaltender Justin Peters, who had 25 saves. “He did the ol’ layup off the glass. It was pretty funny.”
Weston credited Clifton Park native
Peter MacArthur, his teammate and roommate for four years at Boston University, for the celebratory slam. Weston had nine goals in 146 NCAA games.
“It was a tribute to Mac,” Weston said. “He used to do that at school all the time. That was his move.”
The goal itself was much less flashy. With the score tied, 1-1, Rats head coach-GM Jeff Daniels sent out his fourth line of Weston, enforcer Trevor Gillies and a rotating center against the Pirates.
Borer wound up with the puck at the blue line and cranked a shot that Portland goalie Jhonas Enroth stopped with his right pad. Weston swooped in and backhanded the rebound over Enroth’s leg.
“That fourth line, they’re out there to
create some energy and throw pucks at the net and crash the net,” Daniels said. “That’s what they did, and they got rewarded.
“The bench was real excited for [Weston]. It was obviously a big goal, and he let his emotions go after that, so it’s good to see.”
Matt Kostka’s wrister deflected off some Albany bodies in front of Peters for Portland’s first goal, a power-play tally 5:41 into the game. Dwight Helminen answered for the Rats at 11:25, redirecting in Michael Ryan’s shot on the man advantage.
The score stayed that way until Weston’s goal. Portland turned up the pressure on Peters and the defense, but the Rats held, aided by two Pirates penalties in the final 4:26.
“In the third period, we were kind of in bend-but-don’t-break mode,” Weston said. “We definitely threw up a big win against a top team.”
The victory was Albany’s second in a three-game weekend, and snapped a four-game losing streak to Portland, which has dropped three in a row.
“A few times, we’ve give up the lead and lost it in overtime,” Peters said. “It’s definitely a confidence-builder, as a team, to be able to hold a lead like that when they’re coming at the end.”
As he talked to reporters, Weston was smeared in the face with a towel full of shaving cream by Borer, who then produced a clean towel, as well. “Well, that was fun,” Weston said. . . . Weston, Peters and Helminen were the game’s three stars. . . .
Returned Sunday by the Carolina Hurricanes, defenseman Bryan Rodney had the secondary assist on Weston’s goal and was a plus-1. Rodney played two games for the Canes, including his NHL debut Dec. 12. . . .
Dwyer had two assists, for his third multi-point effort in six games since returning from Carolina. . . .
Sunday was Albany’s last home game until Dec. 27. The Rats play twice at Norfolk and in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton next week before the Christmas break.
Portland 1 0 0 — 1
Albany 1 0 2 — 3
First period — 1, Portland, Kostka 3 (Fretter, Gragnani), 5:41 (pp). 2, Albany, Helminen 7 (Dwyer, Ryan), 11:25 (pp). Penalties — Helminen, Alb (hooking), 4:17; Weber, Por (tripping), 6:37; MacDonald, Por (holding), 11:01.
Second period — None. Penalties — Weber, Por (tripping), 12:01; Paiement, Alb (hooking), 14:09; Melichar, Alb (hooking), 16:05.
Third period — 3, Albany, Weston 1 (Borer, Rodney), 3:01. 4, Albany, Borer 2 (Blanchard, Dwyer), 19:28 (pp, en). Penalties — Hunter, Por (tripping), 15:34; Murphy, Por (interference), 18:17.
Shots on goal — Portland 6-7-13 — 26. Albany 13-6-5 — 24.
Goalies — Portland, Enroth 8-4-0-2 (23 shots-21 saves). Albany, Peters 4-6-2-2 (26-25).
Power-play opportunities — Portland 1 of 3. Albany 2 of 5.
A — 2,127. T — 2:13.
Referee — Francis Charron. Linesmen — Steeve Lemay, Frank Murphy.