ALBANY, N.Y. (February 19, 2005). His appearance at the AHL All-Star Classic this past week may have boosted the confidence of Albany rookie, Zach Parise, who led the River Rats tonight in a decisive, 6-3, win over the Hamilton Bulldogs. Parise scored the game's first goal and assisted on two others.
Special teams played an important role tonight. The Rats killed off all nine Hamilton power plays, while scoring three themselves in nine chances. Zach Parise played significant time on the Rats' second-unit penalty kill squad, with Ryan Murphy and Pascal Rheaume keying the first-team unit.
Forward Ahren Nittel, who had a pair of goals in last night's 4-1 Albany victory in Providence, had a quick wrister from the right side for a power play goal off of a good set-up behind the net from Parise. Nittel had the primary assist on Parise's power play goal.
Albany chased Hamilton's starting goaltender, Dan Ellis, who was pulled midway through the game after yielding four goals on 15 River Rats' shots. Yann Danis finished the game, but surrendered a pair of Albany goals. Ari Ahonen turned aside 46 of 49 Hamilton shots.
The Bulldogs played a solid game offensively and generated plenty of good chances. Chris Higgins caught Ahonen sliding side to side to knot the scoring at one several minutes after Parise's rebound shot put the Rats in the lead.
The second period saw a half-dozen goals, starting with Ilkka Pikkarainen's quick shot from the left wing circle that finished off a sharp pass from Aleksander Suglobov. Twenty seconds later, Gavin Morgan found himself alone in the Rats' zone with no defenders. He bested Ahonen at short range.
Suglobov later fired a good shot, skating right to left between the circles, that Dean McAmmond tipped to give the Rats a 4-3 lead midway through the game. McAmmond carded his second of the night late in the second period after first making a great "keep" to save the puck from leaving the attack zone, then dancing into the circle before snapping one high into the net.
Corey Locke had a great unassisted goal for Hamilton early in the second. After stealing the puck at the blue line, he darted in on Ahonen before deking him and snapping it upstairs.
Bobby Allen pinched in on an Albany power play to roof one for the Rats' final 6-3 margin.
Late in the game, Ray Schultz of the River Rats demonstrated loyalty to his captain, Pascal Rheaume, even if it cost some time in the penalty box. After Raitis Ivanans used a two-hander to slash at Rheaume, Schultz literally jumped Ivanans, with a flying leap that caught the Bulldog from behind and wrestled him to the ground. Schultz racked up 31 penalty minutes in the process, but no doubt sent a message that wood-chopper slashes will not be overlooked or ignored.
The three stars: third, to Aaron Voros of the Rats, with three assists; second, to Dean McAmmond of Albany, with two goals; and, first, to Zach Parise, with one goal and two assists.