The Albany River Rats swept through the first round of the AHL playoffs against the Wilkes-Barre Penguins but will now face a much more formidable opponent in the second round. The next foe will be none other than last year's Calder Cup Champions, the Hershey Bears.
The Bears finished this season at the top of the East Division, 29 points ahead of second place Albany. The team's 123 points were the highest in the entire AHL. Of course the Rats roster was constantly being raided by their ailing brethren in Carolina. Now that Albany has a full compliment of quality players, this should be a whale of a matchup.
On the other side of the coin the Washington Caps, the affiliate team for Hershey, recalled their top defenseman John Carlson for the playoffs. But the Bears still have plenty of fire power to work with.
Ex-Hurricanes property, Keith Aucoin led the Bears with 106 points this past season. Alexandre Giroux was next with 50 goals and 103 points. Giroux has 9 points in 5 games so far in the playoffs.
Jamie McBain is leading the River Rats postseason scoring so far with 4 goals and 4 points. Nick Dodge scored 3 goals and also has 4 points. Leading regular season scorer, Jerome Samson has 2 goals so far. Samson had 37 goals and 78 points in 74 games during the regular season.
The wild card in this series could be Oskar Osala, the ex-Bear who was traded by Washington to Carolina in the Joe Corvo deadline deal. Osala said that he hoped for a postseason matchup against his former teammates, and now he has his wish. We will see what he does with it.
The goalie matchup will be Justin Peters for Albany, (4-0, GAA 2.25 SV% .927), against Michal Neuvirth for Hershey, ( 3-0, GAA 1.67, SV% .924).
This should be a great series and we will provide as much coverage as we can. The schedule is as follows:
Game 1 – Sat., Apr. 24 – Albany at Hershey, 7:00
Game 2 – Sun., Apr. 25 – Albany at Hershey, 5:00
Game 3 – Tue., Apr. 27 – Hershey at Albany, 7:00
Game 4 – Thu., Apr. 29 – Hershey at Albany, 7:00
*Game 5 – Sat., May 1 – Albany at Hershey, 7:00
*Game 6 – Mon., May 3 – Hershey at Albany, 7:00
*Game 7 – Wed., May 5 – Albany at Hershey, 7:00
(* if necessary)