Another new Rat, Keith Aucoin, had been used to hearing the jeers of Albany fans when he'd score a goal. Saturday night, he was cheered as he scored twice, including the eventual game-winner on a third period power play.
"I don't know what it is. I've always liked playing at this rink, and it's good for our team if it keeps going like this," said Aucoin.
It was obvious from the moment that the Rats took the ice that Albany hockey fans were in for a different experience than what they endured during the final six years of the team's 13-year affiliation with the New Jersey Devils. The new players " a mixture of prospects from the National Hockey League's Colorado Avalanche and Carolina Hurricanes " skated aggressively and pursued the puck wherever it was on the ice.
That aggressive play led to an early power play chance, and the Rats took advantage. Pat Dwyer sent a pass to Scott Kelman, who jammed it into the goal for a 1-0 lead less than six minutes in.
The Rats also showed perseverance. After losing Johnny Boychuk and Cody McLeod to game misconducts for their participation in a six-man fight at 7:35 of the first period and Tim Conboy to an injury following a fight, Albany's 15 remaining skaters fought off fatigue late in the game to hold on to the lead.
"We wanted to put on a good show, and we came out in the first period and played unbelievable," said Aucoin. "We battled, we stuck up for each other and when you do that, you play well as a team, it goes a long way."
The win gave Albany a 2-1 start to its season and some optimism for River Rats fans looking for a break after six consecutive losing seasons.
"It was an ugly win, but it's a win that we can take," said Albany head coach Tom Rowe.""