Rats cancel game Sunday; three players released from hospital

February 20, 2009
Updated 3:57 p.m.
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Clockwise from top left are River Rats players Casey Borer, Joe Jensen, Nicolas Blanchard and Jonathan Paiement.
Clockwise from top left are River Rats players Casey Borer, Joe Jensen, Nicolas Blanchard and Jonathan Paiement.

— Four of the five men hospitalized after Thursday's crash of an Albany River Rats bus were released from the Massachusetts facility this morning, a team employee said.

Players Casey Borer, Jonathan Paiement and Joe Jensen were released along with Rats color commentator John Hennessy. Rats forward Nicolas Blanchard is still in the hospital, according to a team member.

"I did not realize how bad I looked," Hennessy told The Gazette this afternoon. "I was drenched in blood."

"The care we got in that hospital was unbelievable," Hennessy said. "The people there were great and treated us so well."

Also new this afternoon, the team held a special meeting and decided to postpone Sunday's home game. Team officials had already decided to postpone tonight's game. Sunday's game is rescheduled for March 16.

The team will hold its first practice since the crash on Saturday night at RPI's Houston Field House.

Several members of the Rats organization were injured early Thursday when the team bus rolled over on its way back from a game.

The bus was en route back to Albany after a Wednesday night game in Lowell, Mass., just before 3:30 a.m. when it rolled over on Interstate 90, about 18 miles east of the New York-Massachusetts boarder, Massachusetts State Police spokesman Sgt. David Mahan said.

"It was snowing at the time and the bus hit a guardrail and turned over on its side," Mahan told The Daily Gazette.

A total of 29 people were on board. Three were taken to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield with what Mahan described as serious injuries. Two others were taken by ambulance with neck pain.

River Rats updates

Gazette sportswriter Phil Janack is posting updates on the River Rats on his blog, Phil-ing in the Blanks. Click HERE.

The team was traveling back to Albany from a game against the Lowell Devils. Albany lost 3-2 in a shootout. The Rats' game tonight against Bridgeport in Albany has been postponed.

"It was extremely scary," team head coach-general manager Jeff Daniels said. "We're very fortunate to escape the way we did, injury-wise. Some guys are banged up pretty good and they're going to miss an extended period of time, but it's nothing career-threatening."

Broadcaster suffers concussion

Albany broadcaster and director of media relations Owen Newkirk said he suffered a mild concussion in the accident. He was asleep at the time.

"I woke up when I heard someone, I'm guessing it was the driver, yelling to hang on," Newkirk said. "I woke up and sat up, and couldn't really see anything. I just grabbed the seat, I guess. The bus flipped on its left side. I'm on the right, so I ended up on top. I just remember hanging on and thinking, 'This is gonna hurt.' I closed my eyes, and the rest is just a blur."

Newkirk said the team had already been delayed about 2 1/2 hours because its original bus had broken down near Worcester, Mass. with engine trouble, and a second bus had to be sent to pick up the team.

"I was sleeping and woke just as it was all happening," Daniels said. "We just kind of lost control and couldn't recover. We started spinning and flipping and rolled over on our side on top of the guardrail, and we were just missed by a couple of semi trucks. Eventually, the guys kind of crawled out and got to a safe area, and everyone was accounted for."

Daniels said that everyone was able to get off the bus on their own.

"Everyone had to be checked by the doctor just to get cleared," Daniels said. "They've been extremely caring and outgoing toward the team."

Among those believed to be uninjured was the driver, whom Mahan identified as Stanley Novac, 63, of Glenmont.

The bus was operated by Yankee Trails.

Conboy not on bus

Finishing out a four-game AHL suspension, River Rats captain Tim Conboy was not with the club when the team bus crashed.

Conboy was at the Albany Airport this morning, waiting for a flight to New York after being recalled by the Carolina Hurricanes.

"I just heard about it about two minutes ago," Conboy said. "I was checking my stuff in and the lady asked me if I was in the River Rats bus crash, and I was like, 'What? You're kidding me.' I haven't had a chance to talk to anybody yet. I'm going to call Mad Dog (Rats trainer Brian Maddox) and see what's going on."

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February 19, 2009
12:16 p.m.

Dranon you are rude! There are a lot of people out there who care about hockey. I am a fan of a rival team and I am praying for those who are injured. One of which used to be here during training camp and a few games. It caused way more damage than $5.00 worth. And I am not too sure who you are but honestly you need to get a life. How would you feel if someone you knew was on that bus? Would you still be talking the way you are?!

February 19, 2009
12:44 p.m.
tc says...
(This comment was removed by the site staff.)
February 19, 2009
12:53 p.m.
sandpiper214 says...

Obviously dranon is just someone looking for attention. Not even brave enough to give a real name when you are disrespectful. Karma's a wonderful thing, can't wait until yours kicks in.


February 19, 2009
1:21 p.m.
BB says...
(This comment was removed by the site staff.)
February 19, 2009
1:55 p.m.
STIXDIX says...
(This comment was removed by the site staff.)
February 19, 2009
9:05 p.m.
kdfsjljklgjfg says...

I'm sure people care less about you than the team, dranon. Car wreck with you a year from now, about 50 cents worth of damage.

February 19, 2009
9:13 p.m.
gec1025 says...

I think that we should all have sympathies for the everyone involved in the crash and their families. I enjoy hockey (it is my favorite sport). I may not follow other sports, but that doesn't mean that I would want anything untoward to happen to their players and staff.
What happened to caring for your fellow man (or woman)?

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