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The Albany River Rats have won five of their last seven games and are 7-3-1-0 in their last 11 games. News, notes and storylines heading into this week's action:

- The River Rats are 15-13-2-0 (.533) for 32 points after 30 games, a 44 percent improvement over last season (8-20-0-2, 18 points). They begin the week in fourth place in the East Division, two points in front of fifth-place Bridgeport.

- The River Rats recorded their 15th victory December 23 with a 5-4 overtime win at Syracuse in their 30th game - the fastest the club has reached 15 wins since 1998-99 (24th game). The River Rats did not record their 15th win last season until their 45th game.

- Albany has won three of its last four road games and four of its last six. The River Rats are 9-8-0-0 (.529) after 17 road games this season compared to 4-12-0-1 (.265) last season.

- Defenseman Johnny Boychuk is the River Rats nomination for CCM Vector/AHL Player of the Week for the period ending December 23, 2006. Boychuk had four goals in three games during the week, including his first career hat trick with three goals in Albany's 5-4 overtime win December 23 at Syracuse. The three-goal game was the first career multiple-goal game for the third-year pro and matched his career high for most points in one game (three assists January 27, 2006 vs. Hartford).

- Goaltender Tyler Weiman has compiled a record of 7-2-0 with a 2.17 goals-against average and .927 save percentage over his last 10 appearances. The third-year pro has recorded seven of the club's nine road wins.

- Center Ben Guite was held scoreless December 23 at Syracuse, snapping a career-high eight-game point streak. The Montreal, Quebec native had four goals and six assists during the streak - the longest recorded by an Albany player this season.

- Right wing Pat Dwyer has earned points in five of his last six games (two goals, three assists) and seven of his last nine (three goals, four assists). The second-year pro has been one of the club's most consistent players this season, recording points in 17 of his 30 games (eight goals, nine assists).

- Right wing Jesse Boulerice has been cleared to play after missing the past 11 games due to injury. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Plattsburgh, NY native has four goals and two assists with 34 penalty minutes in 11 games this season.

- A sled-hockey team from Buffalo called the Buffalo Sabres will put on a demonstration of the sport during the first intermission of the River Rats game Wednesday, December 27 vs. the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at 7 p.m. at Pepsi Arena. Brad Emerson, a member of the United States Paralympic Sled Hockey Team, will be on hand for the demonstration.

ALBANY RIVER RATS UPCOMING GAMES

Albany River Rats vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (Pittsburgh Penguins/Edmonton Oilers)

When: Wednesday, December 27 at Pepsi Arena, 7 p.m.

Radio/Internet: ESPN Radio 104.5 FM (WTMM) & B2 Networks.

Promotions: First 100 fans receive a free ski pass from Killington Ski Resort. Everyone else receives a buy one, get one free ski pass.

Season Series: River Rats trail 0-3-0-0; 0-1-0-0 at Pepsi Arena.

Last Meeting: Albany lost 6-0 November 22 at Wachovia Arena at Casey Plaza.

Quick Hits: The River Rats have been held without a goal in their last 145:16 minutes against the Penguins dating to October 20, when Jesse Boulerice scored at 14:44 of the second period...Wilkes-Barre/Scranton enters the week with a one-point lead over Hershey and Norfolk for first place in the East Division with 48 points (22-4-2-2) and have earned standings points in each of their last nine games (7-0-1-1)...The Penguins .800 points percentage is the best in the AHL...They have scored the second most goals in the AHL (120) while giving up the third fewest (77)...RW Jonathan Filewich (15-16-31) leads the Penguins in scoring...Jeff Deslauriers (11-3-1, 2.22 GAA, .916 SPCT) and Andrew Penner (11-3-1, 2.63 GAA, .903 SPCT) share the goaltending duties.

Albany River Rats vs. Hershey Bears (Washington Capitals)

When: Friday, December 29 at Pepsi Arena, 7 p.m.

Radio/Internet: ESPN Radio 104.5 FM (WTMM) & B2 Networks.

Promotions: Meet Dora the Explorer!

Season Series: River Rats trail 0-3-0-0; 0-2-0-0 at Pepsi Arena.

Last Meeting: Albany lost 7-4 December 20 at Pepsi Arena.

Quick Hits: The River Rats have not beaten a Hershey team since March 28, 2004 - a streak of 16 consecutive regular-season losses...Hershey's winning streak over Albany matches Philadelphia, which won 16 straight games against Hershey from October 2003 to December 2004, for what is believed to be the AHL record for most consecutive wins over one opponent...The Bears enter the week tied with Norfolk for second place in the East Division with 47 points (20-4-3-4), one point behind division-leading Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and have earned standings points in nine of their last 10 games (7-1-1-1)...C Alexandre Giroux (21-11-32) leads Hershey in scoring...G Frederic Cassivi (12-5-4, 2.63 GAA, .913 SPCT) has been between the pipes for 23 of the Bears' first 31 games.

Albany River Rats vs. Binghamton Senators (Ottawa Senators)

When: Saturday, December 30 at Pepsi Arena, 5 p.m.

Radio/Internet: ESPN Radio 104.5 FM (WTMM) & B2 Networks.

Promotions: Win a trip to Six Flags Great Escape Lodge & Indoor Water Park; See Bugs and Daffy Live!

Season Series: River Rats trail 0-1-0-0; first meeting at Pepsi Arena

Last Meeting: Albany lost 4-0 November 15 at Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena.

Quick Hits: The Senators enter the week having lost their last four games and in seventh place in the East Division with 21 points (9-19-1-2)...They have given up a league-high 127 goals...The Senators are led in scoring by RW Jeff Heerema (15-16-31) and rookie C Andrew Ebbett (8-19-27)...Kelly Guard (5-10-1, 3.68 GAA, .878 SPCT) and Jeff Glass (4-10-1, 3.91 GAA, .888 SPCT) share the goaltending duties.

Albany River Rats vs. Bridgeport Sound Tigers (New York Islanders)

When: Sunday, December 31 at the Arena at Harbor Yard.

Radio/Internet: ESPN Radio 104.5 FM (WTMM) & B2 Networks.

Season Series: River Rats lead 1-0-0-0; 1-0-0-0 at the Arena at Harbor Yard.

Last Meeting: Albany won 5-3 November 26 at the Arena at Harbor Yard.

Quick Hits: The River Rats begin the week with a two-point lead over Bridgeport for fourth place in the East Division...The Sound Tigers (13-12-1-3, 30 points) are 5-5-0-0 in their last 10 games, but have lost three of their last four...A pair of first-round picks in 2003 lead Bridgeport in scoring - LW Jeff Tambellini (15-14-29) and C Robert Nilsson (7-16-23)...Nilsson was the 15th player selected in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Islanders while Tambellini was chosen 27th overall by Los Angeles...G Wade Dubielewicz (8-3-3, 2.54 GAA, .918 SPCT) has been the main man in net for the Sound Tigers.
 
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