Wednesday, November 18, 2009

River Rats, Phantoms shuffle players

The Carolina Hurricanes recalled goaltender Justin Peters today from the Albany River Rats, who host the Syracuse Crunch tonight at 7 at the former Knickerbocker Arena.

Peters, 23, is filling in for ex-Rat Michael Leighton, who suffered a lower-body injury in Tuesday night's 3-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens. The Canes recently signed journeyman Manny Legace when No. 1 netminder Cam Ward was hurt.

This season, Peters is 6-5-2, 2.43 and .913 in 13 games for Albany. His partner is rookie Mike Murphy.

To take Peters' place in Albany, the Rats summoned veteran Mike Morrison from ECHL Florida. Morrison, 30, is 5-4-1, 2.79 and .903 in 10 games for the Everblades.

Making his return to the Rats lineup tonight will be former captain Tim Conboy. The 27-year-old natural defenseman had 22 penalty minutes in 11 games as a forward for the Canes this season. Playing on a one-way contract, Conboy has played 58 career games in the NHL and 305 in the AHL for Albany and Cleveland.


The Adirondack Phantoms host the Toronto Marlies for the only time this season tonight at the Glens Falls Civic Center.

Adirondack will be without forward David Laliberte, 23, who was recalled by the parent Philadelphia Flyers for their five-game road trip which begins tonight in Los Angeles.

A right wing, Laliberte has seven points (2g, 5a) in 10 AHL games this season, and has three points (2g, 1a) in four games with the Flyers since making his NHL debut on Oct. 31.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Remembering Bobby Frankel

Mechanicville native Chad Brown worked as an assistant for Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, who died early this morning of complications from lymphoma at the age of 68.

Brown went out on his own two years ago after two years under Frankel and is now based in New York.

“He proved you don’t have to grow up on a farm or be somebody’s kid to make it,” Brown said.. “Trainers come and go, but here’s a guy who won at the highest level decade after decade. And as a horseman, a trainer, and a human being, he was so caring about his horses, and his help. There’s never going to be another Bobby Frankel.”

Here is some reaction from other New York horsemen on today's news:

“He was a tremendous horseman, his horses always looked well, and he was a great caretaker. In some ways, he developed the trend of giving horses more time between races. He was very passionate about horses and passionate about racing.”
-- trainer Todd Pletcher

“He was an excellent horseman with an impeccable record. He was great to his horses and great to his help. He went from the bottom rung of racing all the way to the top, which is a mark not only of him as a horseman, but as a person. He will be sadly missed.”
-- Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey

"Bobby was a great horseman and a fierce competitor. Over the years he won many of the most prestigious races on the NYRA calendar with some of the most talented horses that have ever been stabled in New York. His passion for thoroughbred racing will be sorely missed."
-- NYRA vice president and director of racing P.J. Campo

Bobby Frankel 1941-2009

Hall of Famer Bobby Frankel, one of most successful and respected trainers in the history of thoroughbred racing, died today in California of complications from lymphoma. He was 68.

Frankel kept the details of his illness private during his treatments, but its severity was clear. For the first time in decades, Frankel did not attend the annual Saratoga Race Course meet this summer, leaving his string in the hands of trusted assistant Jose Cuevas.

"Bobby Frankel was one of the greatest trainers in thoroughbred racing history," said Alex Waldrop, president and CEO of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association. "His outstanding horsemanship, coupled with a keen insight into the game, made him a force in the sport for the last 40 years. His immense talent, and his abiding love for his horses, will be sorely missed."

Born and raised in Brooklyn, Frankel died at his home in Pacific Palisades, Calif. His horses won 3,654 races and $227,947,775 in purses from 17,657 starters during a career that began in 1966, ranking second in earnings to Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas. Frankel was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs in 1995.

"Bobby Frankel was a winner at every level he competed, including in the Breeders’ Cup, where his six career wins are part of his wonderful legacy as one of the true greats of our game," Breeders' Cup president and CEO Greg Avioli said. "We extend our deepest sympathies to Bobby’s family and his many friends."

Frankel began his career as a claiming trainer based in New York, before moving his headquarters to the West Coast. There, he began a rise to prominence that saw him dominate the sport in the early 2000s, win at least one Grade 1 race from 1988 through 2009, and top $10 million in season earnings eight times.

In all, Frankel was voted the Eclipse Award as top trainer five times (1993, 2000-03), and trained 10 horses to 11 year-end championships: Aldebaran, Bertrando, Ghostzapper, Ginger Punch, Intercontinental, Leroidesanimaux, Possibly Perfect, Ryafan, Squirtle Squirt, and Wandesta. His 25 Grade 1 victories in 2003 remains a single-season world record.

Always known as a force in Saratoga's biggest races (he won four Grade 1s in 2008; the Forego, Hopeful, Go for Wand and Personal Ensign), Frankel captured the first of 30 career individual meet titles at Saratoga in 1970, his only one in New York. He won 13 at Hollywood Park, 11 at Santa Anita and five at Del Mar.

Frankel was often seen as a bit of a curmudgeon by some writers who ambled by his barn in the mornings, but could also be a warm and engaging personality. His passion for the game and his horses never wavered.

My favorite memory of Frankel came in 2003, when he publicly traded barbs in print with late Hall of Famer P.G. Johnson, trainer of Volponi, who shocked the 2002 Breeders' Cup Classic at 43-1.

Frankel and Johnson, who died in August 2004, were stabled near each other on the Oklahoma training track backstretch in Saratoga Springs. In the buildup to the 2003 Whitney Handicap, Johnson playfully mocked Frankel and his high-profile operation, the exact opposite of Johnson's.

"He'll be the favorite, but the real reason is that Bobby Frankel is the favorite," Johnson was quoted as saying. "If 'Charlie Nobody' was the trainer, they wouldn't bet him. But with Frankel, they bet his image, his ego and the horse . . . I don't even want to think about it."

Volponi finished second to the Frankel-trained Medaglia d'Oro -- a horse Johnson had said was "all hype" -- in the Whitney. Medaglia d'Oro, who won the 2002 Travers in the slop over Repent, is the sire of superfilly Rachel Alexandra.

"Well, the horse is a good horse," Frankel said after the race. "Everybody knows he's a good horse except one guy, who didn't think he was a good horse. That's the guy that finished second.

"It feels really good. To be honest with you, I wanted it a little more because of what the article was. It bothered me. It's disrespect. I don't diss anybody else's horses. I wanted to kick his [butt]. I was a little bit upset, but the best revenge is winning. I learned that a long time ago. If you win, you don't have to say anything."

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Ex-Rat Hughes returns to new team

Forward Bobby Hughes is back with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers after being away from the team following his Nov. 4 arrest on two sexual-act charges dating back to his time with the Albany River Rats.

According to Mike Fornabaio of the Connecticut Post, Hughes took part in Friday's morning skate at BST's practice facility in Shelton, Conn., and declined comment when approached afterward.

"It's good for him to be with his teammates," coach Jack Capuano said. "It's the best place for him right now."

Hughes was expected to accompany Bridgeport to road games in Springfield on Friday and tonight against the Adirondack Phantoms at the Glens Falls Civic Center (7 p.m.). The Sound Tigers host Portland on Sunday.

The 22-year-old Hughes was arraigned Thursday in Albany on charges he sexually attacked a victim in Bethlehem last October. Hughes, who posted $50,000 bail and was forced to temporarily give up his passport, has denied through his lawyers having sexual contact with the alleged victim.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Senators shut out Phantoms

Binghamton scored three first-period goals and never looked back in a 5-0 road win over the Adirondack Phantoms tonight before a crowd of 3,404 at the Glens Falls Civic Center.

Denis Hamel and Derek Smith had two goals apiece for the Senators (7-7-2-0), and reigning AHL Player of the Week Mike Brodeur stopped all 21 shots he faced for the shutout.

Johan Backlund finished with 24 saves for Adirondack (6-6-1-0), which now sits alone in last place in a tight East Division with points, five behind second-place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, a 3-1 winner in Albany tonight.

Binghamton 3 1 1 -- 5
Adirondack 0 0 0 -- 0

First period -- 1, Binghamton, Condra 2 (Hennessy), 5:03. 2, Binghamton, Smith 3 (Hennessy, Condra), 6:57 (pp). 3, Binghamton, Hamel 4 (Bass), 16:19. Penalties -- Baier Bng (tripping), 2:00; Klotz Adk (hooking), 6:11; Curry Adk (interference), 17:28; Karlsson Bng (high-sticking), 19:57.

Second period -- 4, Binghamton, Hamel 5 (Karlsson, Kudelka), 8:54. Penalties -- Karlsson Bng (fighting), 3:10; Clackson Adk (fighting), 3:10; Keller Bng (tripping), 11:43; Keller Bng (holding), 18:42.

Third period -- 5, Binghamton, Smith 4 (Karlsson, St. Pierre), 15:37 (pp). Penalties -- Stephenson Adk (cross-checking), 1:08; Klotz Adk (elbowing), 8:59; Maroon Adk (elbowing), 15:11; Mormina Adk (delay of game), 17:51; O'Brien Bng (hooking), 19:08.

Shots on goal -- Binghamton 12-6-11 -- 29. Adirondack 9-6-6 -- 21.

Power-play opportunities -- Binghamton 2 of 6. Adirondack 0 of 5.

Goalies -- Binghamton, Brodeur 5-3-0 (21 shots-21 saves). Adirondack, Backlund 5-4-0 (29-24).

A -- 3,404.

Referee -- Geno Binda. Linesmen -- Mike Emanatian, Steeve Lemay.

Penguins 3, River Rats 1

Luca Caputi had two goals to back a 38-save effort from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton rookie goaltender Brad Thiessen as the Penguins edged the Albany River Rats, 3-1, tonight at the former Knickerbocker Arena.

Ex-Rats forward Ryan Bayda sealed the game on an empty-net goal with 8.5 seconds to play for Wilkes-Barre (8-4-1-1), which has won three in a row.

Defenseman Zack FitzGerald had the lone goal for Albany (7-7-0-2), which was 2-0-0-1 in its last three games. Rookie netminder Mike Murphy had 28 saves and fell to 2-3 this season; both his wins had come on home ice.

"They've given up, I think, 11 goals in the last seven games, so we knew it was going to be a strong defensive battle," Albany head coach-GM Jeff Daniels said. "They don't give up a whole lot. We had more than enough chances to win the game, and we just didn't score.

"Their goalie played well. He played real well. We had a lot of Grade A chances, a lot of quality chances. At the end of the game, (Stefan Chaput)'s all alone in the slot; on the power play we hit the post; he makes another save on (Jay) Harrison sliding across. We had more than enough chances to win that game, but their goalie was first star, and he deserved to be."

Actually, on the official game sheet, Thiessen was somehow named the third star, behind Caputi (No. 1) and FitzGerald (No. 2), even though on the two submitted media ballots, he was listed first on one and second on the other.

It was only the third pro start for Thiessen, an undrafted free agent signing by the Pittsburgh Penguins after three college seasons at Northeastern University. His last appearance came on Nov. 1.

"I thought he played well his first two starts, but he didn't get the result he was looking for," Wilkes-Barre head coach and former Rats defenseman Todd Reirden said. "He does a nice job for a younger guy in terms of composure outside the net. He challenges shooters and he's a confident kid. Our guys knew he was trying pretty had for that first win. I'm happy for him."

WB-Scranton 0 2 1 -- 3
Albany 0 1 0 -- 1

First period -- None. Penalties -- Caffaro, Wbs major (fighting), :04; Goertzen, Alb major (fighting), :04; Brookbank, Wbs major (fighting), 2:29; FitzGerald, Alb major (fighting), 2:29; D'Aversa, Wbs major (fighting), 12:12; Blanchard, Alb major (fighting), 12:12; Guenin, Wbs (cross-checking), 15:09; Guenin, Wbs (interference), 19:20.

Second period -- 1, WB-Scranton, Caputi 6 (Lee, Jeffrey), 3:11 (pp). 2, Albany, FitzGerald 2 (Bellemore, Dwyer), 9:56. 3, WB-Scranton, Caputi 7 (Tangrady, Smith), 12:10. Penalties -- Angelidis, Alb (hooking), 2:52; Pushkarev, Wbs (hooking), 3:39; Boulerice, Wbs major (fighting), 6:00; Herauf, Alb major (fighting), 6:00; Smith, Wbs (roughing),14:49; Herauf, Alb double-minor (roughing, served by Terry), 14:49; Caputi, Wbs (roughing), 19:41; Terry, Alb (roughing), 19:41.

Third period -- 4, WB-Scranton, Bayda 8 (Jeffrey, Strait), 19:51 (en). Penalties -- Smith, Wbs (delay of game), 12:56.

Shots on goal -- WB-Scranton 11-12-8 -- 31. Albany 14-11-14 -- 39.

Goalies -- WB-Scranton, Thiessen 1-2 (39 shots-38 saves). Albany, Murphy 2-3(30-28).

Power-play opportunities -- WB-Scranton 1 of 2. Albany 0 of 4.

A -- 5,141. T -- 2:31.

Referee -- Chris Cozzan. Linesmen -- Jim Briggs, Frank Murphy.

River Rats trail after two periods

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton forward Luca Caputi scored twice in the second period to give the Penguins a 2-1 lead over the Albany River Rats after 40 minutes.

Caputi netted his sixth goal of the season at 3:11, and added his seventh at 12:10 for Wilkes-Barre. Defenseman Zack FitzGerald tied the game at 1-1 for Albany on his second goal in 16 games this season at 9:56.

Rookie goaltenders Mike Murphy of Albany (21 saves) and Brad Thiessen of Wilkes-Barre (24 saves) have both been sharp. The Rats are 0-for-3 on the power play; the Pens are 1-for-2.

Wilkes-Barre is 6-0-1-0 when leading after two periods this season; Albany is 1-6 when trailing after two.

Former Union College defenseman Lane Caffaro, playing his second game for Wilkes-Barre in the absence of the recalled Deryk Engelland and Ben Lovejoy, fought Albany's Steve Goertzen just four seconds into the game. There have been four fights overall, three of them in the first period.