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MacDonald Happy to Be Back

By Phil Janack

Schenectady Daily Gazette, April 18, 2008

PHILADELPHIA - Former RPI captain Kirk MacDonald rejoined the Albany River Rats for practice Thursday morning, skating with the main group before making the trip here for Game 2 of their first-round playoff series tonight.

On an AHL contract, MacDonald began the season with Albany but was assigned to ECHL Florida on Dec. 2 after being a healthy scratch for 13 of the Rats' first 24 games.

The 24-year-old forward played 43 games for the Everblades, scoring 14 goals and 34 points, leading the team with three short-handed goals and a plus-23 rating.

"It's always tough to get sent down, but you've got to look at the big picture," MacDonald said. "We had a lot of good players here at the time, and I wasn't playing much. I got a chance to go down there and play a lot of minutes and try and get better.

"I tried to do the things that make me successful down there, like play both ends of the rink and be physical and be that power forward. I think I was able to improve my game and sort of adapt to the pro level a little better. It was a great experience, for sure."

Florida was swept by Columbia in three first-round playoff games. MacDonald had two goals, one on the power play, and was minus-1.

"I really didn't even think I was going to be coming back," MacDonald said. "When the season ended Saturday, I thought I was done. Then I got a call from [Rats coach] Tom Rowe Monday afternoon and they wanted me to come up. I was, like, ‘Absolutely.' It's a great opportunity to come here and play on a team that's got an opportunity to do some really good things here in the playoffs."

BY THE NUMBERS

Philadelphia has won 14 consecutive playoff home games dating back to 2004, including all 11 in a run to the 2005 Calder Cup. The Phantoms did not reach the playoffs in 2006 or 2007.

Wednesday's loss marked the first time in 92 games that Philadelphia failed to score a goal, since a 4-0 loss to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on March 21, 2007.

Albany's last postseason shutout came on April 17, 2000, a 2-0 home win over Rochester where Frederic Henry had a franchise playoff-record 41 saves to extend the first round series to a decisive fifth game, which the Amerks won.

LOOKING AHEAD

One of the dates for the final two games of the series has been determined.

Though no formal announcement was made, the Phantoms Web site shows that a Game 6, if necessary, would be played Saturday, April 26, at the Wachovia Center. If needed, the Phantoms would also host a Game 7.

When the Phantoms-Rats matchup was finalized, the dates for Games 6 and 7 were left open, pending playoff schedules for the NBA's Sixers and NHL's Flyers. The Sixers will now play at the Wachovia on April 25 and 27. Even if they advance to the second round, the Flyers would be on the road that weekend.

A logical Game 7 date would be Monday, April 28. The AHL requires that the first-round series be completed by April 29.