Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Rats announce first Hall of Fame class

ALBANY — The inaugural class of the Albany River Rats Hall of Fame is now complete.
Ex-River Rat players Steve Sullivan and Geordie Kinnear and former head coach John Cunniff comprise the Hall of Fame’s first class of inductees.
The three will have their names and biographies with the organization displayed in the Times Union Center’s Exhibition Hall. The Hall of Fame display will also include a replica of the 1995 Calder Cup American Hockey League championship trophy, along with team and league awards, as well as signed memorabilia.
“When we began this process there was plenty of conversation as to the long list of worthwhile candidates that have skated for our organization,” Albany team president and CEO Garen Szablewski said. “Coach Cunniff, Geordie and Steve perfectly represent what Albany River Rats should be and we look forward to 2011 when we announce another deserving Hall of Fame class.”
Cunniff was named the second River Rats coach in May of 1996 and spent five seasons behind the bench in Albany, guiding the Rats to a 187-165-39-20 regular season record and a pair of division championships (1996-97, 1997-98). He led Albany to a 21-18 postseason mark and to consecutive trips to conference finals (1996-97, 1997-98) and his coaching tenure is the longest in team history.
Cunniff passed away in May of 2002 after a prolonged battle with cancer.
Kinnear, 36, is currently in his seventh season as an assistant coach with the River Rats.
An original River Rat, Kinnear skated for the club during his first six pro seasons (1993-94 to 1998-99) and the team reached the playoffs each year. A member of Albany’s Calder Cup championship team in 1995, the rugged defenseman was selected to four consecutive AHL All-Star Classics (1995-1999) and served as Albany captain for three campaigns (1996-97 to 1998-99).
Sullivan also helped lead the River Rats to the 1995 Calder Cup title, as he tallied 11 (4-7) points in 14 playoff games that season.
In the 1995-96 season, the center recorded 75 (33-42) points in just 53 games to help guide the River Rats to a then AHL record 54 regular-season victories.
The 35-year-old Sullivan is a veteran of 811 NHL games with New Jersey, Toronto, Chicago and Nashville.
Sullivan, who played in three seasons (1994-95 to 1996-97) with the Rats, still ranks second in Albany franchise history with a plus-83 plus/minus rating, eighth in goals (72) and points (171), and is tied for 10th place in assists (99).


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