Rat ready for season debut
Second-year forward Jerome Samson has been cleared to play and will be in the lineup when the River Rats begin a three-game weekend against Hershey on Friday at the former Knickerbocker Arena.
Coming back from an ankle sprain suffered on the second day of Carolina Hurricanes training camp last month, Samson took part in full practice Tuesday morning for the first time this season. He had been skating the last several days with a yellow non-contact sweater.
"I took the time I needed to get ready to play a game again," Samson said, "and I feel real good about it. I'm excited."
Samson's offense will be welcomed by an Albany team that has scored just 13 goals in six games, an AHL low. By contrast, Hershey's 44 goals are far and away a league high, 17 more than the next-closest teams (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Peoria).
As a rookie, Samson scored 21 goals in 65 games after netting 44 in 71 games in his final junior season.
"He has a knack around the net, and he proved that last year," Rats first-year head coach-GM Jeff Daniels said. "Definitely, we welcome those types of players the way we're going right now. He's a big addition, but at the same time, we're not going to put it all on his shoulders right away, that's for sure."
Also from practice today:
* Injured forward Joe Jensen skated with the yellow jersey, his first time on the ice, staying out by himself after the team left for its off-ice workout.
"He's going to skate today and see how it feels," Daniels said. "He'll most likely not be available this weekend, but it's a good sign to see him actually on the ice. Hopefully, he keeps going forward."
* Rookie forward Stefan Chaput, injured in last week's OT loss to Binghamton, did not skate Tuesday. He picked up his first pro point, an assist, against the Senators but missed the past two games.
"It's just kind of a precaution right now," Daniels said. "He's hoping to skate maybe tomorrow. There's an outside chance he can play this weekend, but he's feeling better."
* Dwight Helminen, recalled from Albany on Monday, will center Carolina's fourth line in tonight's game at Montreal. Daniels was unsure whether the Canes would be calling for further reinforcements.
"They're at their limit right now. They've got six 'D' and 12 forwards, with Dwight up there now," he said. "Anything can happen. As far as I know, they're going with what they have. Dwight is getting the chance to play and it's good for him."
Makes you wonder, doesn't it, if Matt Murley would have been the first Rats recall this season, had he stuck around instead of going to Russia. Guess we'll never know.
* No AHL disciplinary action is expected against captian Tim Conboy, who was ejected from Saturday's 3-0 matinee loss to Philadelphia following an altercation with the Phantoms' Steve Downie. Conboy got 29 penalty minutes: two minors, a major, a misconduct and game misconduct, the latter for persisting in his fight with Downie despite the intervention of linesman Frank Murphy.
"I would have thought we'd have heard something by now, so he should be all right," Daniels said. "He got a little carried away, but Timmy's an emotional leader, and he's looking after a teammate."
Conboy, whose 43 PIM in four games ranks seventh overall, took exception to Downie's high stick on Rats rookie center Nick Dodge.
"I kind of went bananas," Conboy said. "Maybe I should have calmed down a little bit, but when you see a guy swinging his stick around like that, there's no place in the game for that. I have no problem with playing aggressive and playing tough and fighting, stuff like that, but there's no need to swing your stick at someone."
* Albany practices Wednesday at the former Knickerbocker Arena and on Thursday at RPI's Houston Field House, both at 10 a.m.