Nolan keeping fingers crossed
Caught up with injured River Rats winger Brandon Nolan at practice this morning and he is scheduled to visit a specialist on Wednesday to get an update on his condition.
Nolan will be reevaluated after working out under the doctor's supervision. As of yet, Nolan has been unable to skate or do any physical activity on his own, but he has remained with the team.
"It's really just day to day," Nolan said. "I'm going to do some workouts and see where I'm at. I don't really know what's going on yet. We'll just get there and work out and see how I feel, and if everything's all right, I could be back, hopefully soon."
Albany's leading scorer at the time of his injury who continues to lead the club with 22 goals, Nolan suffered a concussion on a hit by Bridgeport defenseman Scott Ford Feb. 22, where Nolan was knocked off his feet and his head clipped the boards.
Nolan initially said he felt well enough to return in that game, but was wisely held out by coach Tom Rowe.
"I saw a doctor after the game, and everything was fine," Nolan said. "Then some things came up. Tom was really good about it, and really cautious. It was probably a good thing I didn't come back when I wanted to."
The absence of Nolan and injured rookie Jerome Samson (20 goals) is a noticeable void in the Rats' offense, one that has generated one goal in the last three games, all losses, one each in overtime, a shootout and regulation. They have not scored since the 7:13 mark of the third period last Wednesday vs. Portland, a drought approaching 140 minutes.
As a result, today's practice was all about getting pucks to the net, getting people to the net, screening the goaltender and digging for rebounds. Rowe stopped drills several times to keep the boys focused.
"The last two games they played really well," Nolan said. "Not being able to score is frustrating, but I don't think anyone's going to be gripping the stick too tight if they keep playing like that."
One new face on the ice today was 23-year-old forward Mark Pavli, who just completed his senior season at American International College in Springfield, Mass. Listed at 6-feet and 180 pounds, Pavli was tied for the team lead with 16 assists and was second in scoring with 23 points, one behind the leader. He had 67 points in 113 games over four seasons for the Yellow Jackets.
Albany, third in the East with 80 points, hosts Hershey, fourth with 74 points, Wednesday night at 7. The Rats don't play at home again until April 9.
Part of the reason for the lengthy absence is this weekend's ECAC final four, featuring Colgate, Cornell, Dartmouth and Harvard. Defenseman Joey Mormina didn't have any trouble picking a winner: he played for Don Vaughan's Raiders from 2001-05.
"When I was a senior, the guys that are seniors now were freshmen," Mormina said. "We were actually pretty close to that class. It would have been nice to see them, but I've been in contact with them. It's too bad we'll be out of town, but hopefully I catch the celebration on Saturday night when we get back."
To get to Albany, Colgate had to beat 17th-ranked Clarkson last weekend. Rats winger Chris Blight played for the Golden Knights, also from 2001-05.