Mike Gwizdala's Blog

The Albany River Rats and their fans took out their eight years of collective frustration in one felt swoop and the victims Wednesday night were the Philadelphia Phantoms.  In the first Calder Cup Playoff game in Albany in eight long seasons and one affiliation ago, the River Rats gave the Phantoms a spanking coupled with Philly's first blanking all year 4-0.

If one were to use a song to epitomize Wednesday's game, it would be Thin Lizzy's "Tonight There's Gonna Be A Jail-break."  And while later on in the action the inmates would certainly come to run the asylum, the River Rats first goal came when Jakub Petruzalek busted out of the box after his penalty expired and Mike Angelidis had the presence of mind to find him wide open down the length of the rink to beat goalie Scott Munroe on a nifty move to put the River Rats out front 1-0 in the first.

The River Rats were also paced by a solid penalty kill and the brilliant play of ex-Phantom and "Baz" Bastien Award winner Michael Leighton who turned away 39 Philadelphia shots to record the shutout.  Highlighting that was one shot in particular where Leighton turned blindly batted away the puck with his glove in the early going. 

In the second period the River Rats continued to control the tempo with some thunderous hits, with guys like Tim "we've got a great big" Conboy and Bryan Rodney helping to set the tone.  And after "Send It In Jerome" Samson got credited for the River Rats second goal on the night which was kicked in by a Phantoms player, Rodney who played arguably his best game of the season picked up a loose puck and whizzed it on past Munroe to put Albany up 3-0.

Moving along to early in the third period of action, another ex-Phantom Marc Cavosie victimized Philly on Albany's second power play goal for the capper.

But apparently Philly wasn't done getting their bell rung.  And for a team that comes from the city that brought us "Rocky," they certainly had trouble holding their own against a team whose mascot is "Rowdy!"  The brawl which happened with around 30 seconds to go, resulted in 52 penalty minutes combined for both squads. 

Though the game was mostly chippy throughout, it all got started on a line change where River Rats defenseman David Cornacchia was run into the divider by the Phantoms Triston Grant, then all hell broke loose.  Then it was Grant who started grabbing at the back of Conboy's jersey before Ryan Weston stepped in and absolutely slammed Grant to the ice.  As more players joined the fray, Trevor Gillies and Conboy teamed up blasting Philadelphia players with haymakers and upper-cuts, specifically Frederik Cabana and Darroll Powe who just blasted by the two Rats enforcers.  Both Gillies and Conboy received five for fighting and a game misconduct. 

All in all it was quite the eventful night for playoff hockey to be back in Albany.  So Philadelphia wanted Albany in the first round huh?  Well now the River Rats have the Phantoms right where they want them, down 1-0.

For those wishing to see the brawl (oh and mind the dorky Philly announcers): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=frwBZUq_L7g 


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