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Albany River Rats

Albany River Rats
City Albany, New York
League American Hockey League
Operated 1993–2010
Home arena Times Union Center

Red, black, white

Affiliates Carolina Hurricanes (2006–2010)
Colorado Avalanche (2006–2007)
New Jersey Devils (1993–2006)
Franchise history
1990–1993 Capital District Islanders
1993–2010 Albany River Rats
2010–present Charlotte Checkers
Regular season titles 2 1994–95, 1995–96
Division Championships 4 1994–95, 1995–96, 1996–97, 1997–98
Calder Cups 1 1994–95

The Albany River Rats were an ice hockey team in the American Hockey League. They played in Albany, New York at the Times Union Center.


  • History 1
    • Founding to 2010 1.1
    • Move to Charlotte 1.2
    • 2009 bus crash 1.3
    • Affiliates 1.4
  • Season-by-season results 2
    • Regular season 2.1
    • Playoffs 2.2
  • Team records 3
    • Single season 3.1
    • Career 3.2
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Founding to 2010

The team was founded as the Capital District Islanders (playing at Houston Field House on campus at RPI located across the Hudson River in Troy, New York) in 1990. They changed their name in 1993 when the New Jersey Devils sold their old affiliate the Utica Devils to become linked with this team.

In 1998, Walter Robb purchased the franchise from original owner Al Lawrence, allowing the franchise to remain in Albany. Garen Szablewski has served as CEO and president of the River Rats for 15 years, since 1994.

The Rats' glory days came in the mid- to late-1990s making seven consecutive playoff appearances, winning two division titles, and taking home the AHL's Calder Cup in 1995. Also in 1995, their parent club, the New Jersey Devils, won the Stanley Cup.

However, wins declined after the 1997–98 season, the last time Albany won a playoff series. The River Rats finished last in each of the six seasons between 2000–01 and 2005–06. A new affiliation with the Carolina Hurricanes beginning in the 2006–07 season brought hope of a return to AHL glory not seen in Albany since the late '90s.

On March 22, 2006, the Devils announced that they were cutting ties with the River Rats after the 2005–06 AHL season, as the parent club announced the purchase of the Lowell Lock Monsters. Despite the move, the River Rats were not relocated.[1] In April 2006, The Carolina Hurricanes signed a one-year agreement (with the option to renew for two additional) with the River Rats to be their farm affiliate.[2] Later on, Carolina was joined by the Colorado Avalanche in a one-year partnership agreement. On February 22, 2007, the Carolina Hurricanes and Albany River Rats announced that their affiliation agreement had been extended through the 2008–09 season.[3]

On April 24, 2008, the River Rats lost 3–2 to the Philadelphia Phantoms in the longest game played in AHL history. The Phantoms' Ryan Potulny scored 2:58 into the fifth overtime. Albany gave up 101 shots on goal, and goaltender Michael Leighton made 98 saves.

Move to Charlotte

On January 22, 2010, a report out of Raleigh, North Carolina, that the franchise was to be sold and moved to Charlotte, North Carolina. The new franchise was to be the new affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes with a team name of the Charlotte Checkers.

On February 10, 2010 the River Rats web site announced that the sale of the River Rats was complete, and that they would be moving to Charlotte at the conclusion of the 2009-10 AHL Season. "Capital District Sports, Inc. announced today that its subsidiary, the Albany River Rats, has sold its American Hockey League franchise to MAK Hockey, LLC located in Charlotte, North Carolina. The sale will not affect the remainder of the 2009-10 season, with regular season games concluding on April 10, 2010 followed by the 2010 Calder Cup Playoffs." [4] However after the conclusion of the 2010 season the team would relocate to Charlotte, North Carolina, and be known as the Checkers and play in the Time Warner Cable Arena.

Shortly following the sale of the franchise, officials in Albany, as well as AHL President Dave Andrews, told media outlets that the city would likely have a team for the 2010-2011 season and might even keep the River Rats title and logo, which remained the property of former owner Walter Robb. It was reported in the Albany Times Union and the Portland Press Herald on March 15 that talks between the Times Union Center and the Portland Pirates to relocate the Pirates had broken off. Both newspapers reported that Times Union Center GM Bob Belber had said that it would go in a new direction and try to sign a deal with the Lowell Devils and bring back the Devils affiliaton to Albany. On the 6th of June, the New Jersey Devils announced the relocation of the Lowell Devils to Albany, to begin play in the AHL in the 2010-2011 season as the Albany Devils.[5]

This market was previously served by: Albany Choppers of the IHL (1990–91)
The franchise was replaced by: Albany Devils of the AHL, a relocation of the Lowell Devils (2010–present)
The franchise was later known as: Charlotte Checkers

2009 bus crash

On February 19, 2009, five people were seriously injured when a bus carrying the team home from a game in Lowell struck a guard rail and rolled on its side on Interstate 90 in Becket, Massachusetts. Nicolas Blanchard, Joe Jensen, Jonathan Paiement, Casey Borer, and the River Rats radio color commentator John Hennessy were taken to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield with "serious" injuries.[6]


Season-by-season results

Regular season

Season Games Won Lost Tied OTL SOL Points Goals
1993–94 80 38 34 8 84 312 315 3rd, North
1994–95 80 46 17 17 109 293 219 1st, North
1995–96 80 54 19 7 115 322 218 1st, Central
1996–97 80 38 28 9 5 90 269 231 3rd, Empire State
1997–98 80 43 20 11 6 103 290 223 1st, Empire State
1998–99 80 46 26 6 2 100 275 230 2nd, Empire State
1999–00 80 30 40 7 3 70 225 250 4th, Empire State
2000–01 80 30 40 6 4 70 216 262 6th, Mid-Atlantic
2001–02 80 14 42 12 12 52 172 271 4th, East
2002–03 80 25 37 11 7 68 197 235 5th, East
2003–04 80 21 39 11 9 62 182 257 7th, East
2004–05 80 29 38 6 7 71 198 248 7th, East
2005–06 80 25 48 4 3 57 206 278 7th, Atlantic
2006–07 80 37 36 4 3 81 246 258 4th, East
2007–08 80 43 30 3 4 93 213 198 3rd, East
2008–09 80 33 40 3 4 73 219 258 7th, East
2009–10 80 43 29 3 5 94 244 231 2nd, East


Season 1st round 2nd round 3rd round Finals
1993–94 L, 1-4, POR
1994–95 W, 4-0, ADK W, 4-2, PRO -- W, 4-0, FRE
1995–96 L, 1-3, COR
1996–97 W, 3-1, ADK W, 4-3, ROC L, 1-4, HAM
1997–98 W, 3-0, ADK W, 4-0, HAM L, 2-4, PHI
1998–99 L, 3-2, HAM
1999–00 L, 3-2, ROC
2000–01 Out of playoffs
2001–02 Out of playoffs
2002–03 Out of playoffs
2003–04 Out of playoffs
2004–05 Out of playoffs
2005–06 Out of playoffs
2006–07 L, 1-4, HER
2007–08 L, 3-4 PHI
2008–09 Out of playoffs
2009–10 W, 4-0 WBS L, 0-4 HER

Team records

Single season

Goals: 46 Jeff Williams (1998–99)
Assists: 63 Keith Aucoin (2006–07)
Points: 99 Keith Aucoin (2006–07)
Penalty Minutes: 348 Matt Ruchty (1994–95)
GAA: 2.10 Michael Leighton (2007–08)
SV%: .931 Michael Leighton (2007–08)


Career goals: 155 Steve Brule
Career assists: 214 Steve Brule
Career points: 369 Steve Brule
Career penalty minutes: 1197 Rob Skrlac
Career goaltending wins: 77 Peter Sidorkiewicz
Career shutouts: 8 Peter Sidorkiewicz
Career games: 423 Jiri Bicek


  1. ^ "What's next for the River Rats?".  
  2. ^ "River Rats announce new affiliation, lease". 2006-04-04. Archived from the original on 2006-11-12. Retrieved 2006-04-17. 
  3. ^ "River Rats to remain Carolina’s top farm club through 2008-09". Carolina Hurricanes. 2007-02-22. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-03-06. 
  4. ^ "Capital District Sports announces River Rats sale". Albany River Rats. 2010-02-10. Archived from the original on 21 February 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-10. 
  5. ^ "Devils shift AHL operations to Albany".  
  6. ^ The Canadian Press (2009-02-19). "Three seriously injured as bus carrying AHL team crashes".  

External links

  • The Internet Hockey Database - Albany River Rats
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