Superior special teams, dynamic offense, solid defense and spectacular goaltending. That pretty much sums up the River Rats' win Saturday night against the Rochester Americans. Albany dominated the game, 6-1.
Rookie netminder Mike Murphy had a stellar professional debut, stopping 28 of 29 shots and proving almost invincible. His chance at a shutout was spoiled with only 6:03 remaining in the third period.
Speedy playmaker Jerome Samson took home a goal and three assists. Samson, who led the River Rats in scoring last year, is now approaching the top of the league with seven points in three games.
Samson is gifted at finding and creating passing lanes. If someone is open with room to shoot, chances are Samson will find him. Last night he made several smart plays under pressure, including a no-look pass to Drayson Bowman, who ripped it home.
Bowman last night maintained his goal-per-game pace and also picked up two assists. Bowman now has five points in three games.
Captain Pat Dwyer continues to lead by example, creating opportunities out of sheer will. Dwyer tallied two points with a goal and an assist.
Center Stefan Chaput, who was assigned a larger role after Mike Angelidis was injured, had a three-point night with a goal and two assists.
Forward Nick Dodge and rugged defenseman Zack FitzGerald also scored.
Zach Boychuk and Harrison Reed picked up an assist each.
The Rats' energetic offense had Rochester's back against the wall. The Americans were simply too slow to keep up with Albany's youthful talent.
Meanwhile, in their own zone, the Rats looked more focused than ever.
Despite the loss of top D-man and alternate captain Brett Carson to a broken wrist, the Rats played a solid defensive game, perhaps the best of the season thus far.
Albany forced Rochester's forwards to the outside and did a good job of covering the traffic in front of Murphy.
The Americans stayed even on shots, but lacked genuine opportunities.
When the Americans did break through, Murphy was there to respond.
When the shutout was lost, nobody was more disappointed than rookie defenseman Jamie McBain, who made an uncharacteristic turnover in his own zone that led to the goal.
McBain knew his mistake cost Murphy the doughnut. You would have thought the game was on the line the way McBain smashed his stick in anger afterwards. The giveaway was a bad slip, but the emotion McBain showed for his teammate was good to see. The boys are truly pulling for each other.
Bryan Rodney and Jonathan Paiement had a great game. Hard to believe Paiement spent so much time in the ECHL.
Big Benn Olson played in his first contest of the season. His physical stay-at-home defense and enforcer mentality kept the Americans in check.
Matthew Pistilli skated in his first professional game. He had a couple of good shots and played well.
The River Rats went 2-for-8 on the power play, with Bowman and Samson hooking up for both goals. The Rats' penalty kill remained flawless, going 6-for-6 and standing at 12-for-12 on the season.
Brad Herauf was a healthy scratch.
The Rats' record now stands at 2-1-0-0, good for second place in the East Division. Albany trails Hershey by two points and has a game in hand.
The Rats play Wednesday night at home against the Norfolk Admirals.
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