Saturday, April 17, 2010

Rats' 'Dodge City' line leading the way

While most of their lines were reshuffled and restructured for the playoffs, one unit has remained intact and continues to lead the way for the Albany River Rats.
Predominately a defensive line throughout the season, center Nick Dodge (3 goals-1 assist), and wingers Chris Terry (1-2) and Steven Goertzen (0-1) have led the way offensively through the first two games against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the first-round of the Calder Cup playoffs, combining for eight (4-4) points.
“It’s been good the first two games,” Goertzen said. “Dodgey and Terry are playing great hockey right now and chipping in offensively like they can. We just focus on our defense and hopefully that leads to offense.”
Terry scored his first professional playoff goal in the first period of Game 2 and Dodge contributed a goal and an assist, including a key tally in the third period, as Albany edged Wilkes-Barre, 3-2 to take a 2-0 lead in the series.
“They’ve played well, their responsibility is not just to be a defensive line,” Albany coach Jeff Daniels said. “We expect them to contribute and they have for the past two games. ... Their line has been good for us all year.”
Yet perhaps even just as valuable, this unit has held the Penguins’ high-powered line of Dustin Jeffrey, Mark Letestu and Nick Johnson to only three goals in three games, all from Johnson.
“We’ve had some experience in the regular season playing against other big lines,” Goertzen said. “The thing is they have a lot of offensive talent on that line, so we have to be ready every shift.”
Daniels said he’ll likely stay with a pair of line changes made during Game 2 — as center Mike Angelidis was reunited with wingers Nicolas Blanchard and Drayson Bowman on the checking line. Bowman later set up defenseman Jamie McBain’s game-winning goal with 4:02 remaining.
In turn, rookie center Zac Dalpe was moved up to skate with wingers Jerome Samson and Zach Boychuk.
“Obviously they’re some matchups you look for,” Daniels said. “But at the same time, with the way we structure our lines, we’ve got four lines that can play. So even when we go on the road, if you don’t get the matchups you want, I’m still very confident about our lines.”
Angelidis added: “Everyone is playing hard and we’re trying to get better. We haven’t played our best hockey yet and that’s a good thing.”


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