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MacDonald Off to a Good Start with Rats

By Chris Fitz Gerald

Troy Record, March 28, 2007

DELMAR - By all accounts, Kirk MacDonald's first week as a professional was a successful one.

In three games last week after the former Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute right wing was signed to an amateur tryout contract, MacDonald recorded his first career point as a pro and rated a minus-one.

"It went pretty well," MacDonald said. "I was getting regular shifts out there and I got an opportunity on the power-play. I guess that's all you can ask for right now."

The 23-year-old MacDonald notched his first point at the AHL level when he assisted on Pat Dwyer's goal at 19:38 of the third period in a 3-2 shootout loss at Hamilton on Saturday.

"He played real good, he played some real good hockey," Albany coach Tom Rowe said of MacDonald. "We fell off a little in Syracuse (a 3-2 loss on Saturday); I thought eventually he would have a little bit of a fatigue factor. But he played a lot, he played among the top six forwards all weekend and he did a great job."

MacDonald, who skated with wingers Pat Dwyer and Cody McCormick over the weekend, skated in practice this week with McCormick and Cody McLeod.

After missing the 2005-06 campaign battling testicular cancer, MacDonald returned to lead the Engineers in goals (12) and tied for the team lead in scoring with 27 points in 33 games.

"I'm just trying to get pucks in deep and playing the body," MacDonald said. "That's my game is to provide some energy, so I'm just going to keep doing that when I'm in the lineup and work as hard as I can."

Irish eyes are smilin': The Rats announced that defenseman Noah Babin has joined the club after completing his senior season at Notre Dame.

The 23-year-old Babin, who was signed by Carolina to a two-year contract which commences with the 2007-08 season, scored two goals and registered 20 assists in leading the Fighting Irish to within a victory of the Frozen Four.

A teammate of Carolina's 2005 draft selection Kyle Lawson at Notre Dame, Babin finished his college career with 49 (10-39) points and 106 penalty minutes in 144 games.

"He's a great skater," Rowe said. "We signed him on Ronnie (Francis') recommendation and he feels he's a legitimate guy for us to play some real good, quality 5-on-5 and special teams play."

Dwyer breaks out: Dwyer scored two goals in as many games this weekend after tallying only two goals over his previous 30 outings.

"It was good, I got two goals last weekend and got myself back on track," Dwyer said. "But when it comes down to it, it would have been nice to get the four points as a team."

Dwyer has recorded points in 37 games this season, second most on the club behind Keith Aucoin (43).

Dwyer and defenseman Johnny Boychuk are the only two Albany players to appear in all 69 games this campaign.

Booster club awards: Among the accolades handed out at Sunday's River Rat booster club banquet, defensemen Mitch Love and Craig Conboy were each honored with the John Cuniff award for toughness and gritty play.

"I knew Cunny really well and Cunny was a no-nonsense guy," Rowe said of the former Rats coach who passed away in May 2002 after a battle with cancer. "Those two guys (Love and Conboy) deserved it because whenever we needed a team protected or needed a little bit of life out there. It seemed like whenever I looked up, it was either Conboy or Love or (Cody) MacLeod getting involved out there. ... There's a lot more to a team than just scoring goals all the time."