Ryan Bayda recorded a hat trick and Shane Willis picked up five points with two goals and three assists as Albany took a 7-3 decision from Bridgeport in a New Year’s Eve matinee at the Arena at Harbor Yard.
Bayda, who also had an assist for four total points, opened the scoring 2:02 into the game, then put the River Rats back in front for good at the 9:36 mark of the first period. Former Sound Tiger Ben Guite added a goal and an assist to help Albany to a 4-1 lead at the first intermission.
Eric Boguniecki and Jeff Tambellini each had a goal and an assist for the Sound Tigers, who lost their fourth in a row. Frans Nielsen had two assists, and Jamie Fraser scored his first career NHL goal in the loss.
With the win, Albany moved four games above the .500 mark (18-14-2-0) for the first time since the 1998-99 season.
MANITOBA 4, SYRACUSE 3
Brad Moran had a goal and two assists and Jason Jaffray recorded his 20th goal of the season as Manitoba extended its points streak to seven games (3-0-2-2) with a 4-3 win over visiting Syracuse before 11,611 fans at the MTS Centre.
It was Moran’s second straight three-point game, and Jaffray’s third in a row with at least one goal and one assist.
Mark Hartigan recorded a goal and an assist for the Crunch, extending his scoring streak to six games (6g, 3a).
BINGHAMTON 5, TORONTO 4 (SO)
Jeff Heerema notched two goals and an assist in regulation before converting in the last half of the seventh shootout round to give Binghamton a 5-4 shootout win over visiting Toronto at a sold-out Broome County Arena.
HERSHEY 5, PROVIDENCE 2
Hershey closed out a memorable calendar year with a 5-2 win over Providence before 8,544 fans at Giant Center on New Year’s Eve.
The Bears, who won their ninth Calder Cup championship in June, got two goals and an assist from Eric Fehr en route to their sixth straight win.
Ben Walter and T.J. Trevelyan had a goal and an assist each for the Bruins. Trevelyan has scored a goal in five straight games, and finished his first month in the AHL with 13 points (10g, 3a) in 14 December outings.
PEORIA 3, HAMILTON 2
Trent Whitfield recorded a goal and two assists to lead Peoria to a 3-2 win over Hamilton at Carver Arena.
Whitfield, who has 13 points (5g, 8a) during his current seven-game scoring streak, had a hand in all three Rivermen power-play goals on the night.
HARTFORD 2, PORTLAND 0
Al Montoya made 28 saves for his second shutout in six days, backstopping Hartford to a 2-0 win in Portland on Sunday.
It was Hartford’s second straight shutout of the Pirates. Stephen Valiquette did the honors in a 1-0 shootout decision on Dec. 16.
Dov Grumet-Morris stopped 36 shots for Portland, which is winless in four straight (0-3-0-1).
Attendance at the Cumberland County Civic Center was 7,005.
MANCHESTER 3, SPRINGFIELD 0
Jason LaBarbera made 26 saves for his fourth shutout of the season, completing a busy month of December with a 3-0 win over Springfield before 9,561 fans at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
LaBarbera played 14 games in December, going 9-5-0 with a 2.24 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage.
The Monarchs won for the fourth time in the last five nights to open up a six-point lead atop the Atlantic Division.
GRAND RAPIDS 3, ROCHESTER 0
Jimmy Howard made 32 saves and Kip Miller recorded a goal and two assists as Grand Rapids posted its second consecutive shutout, 3-0 over visiting Rochester in front of 8,422 fans at Van Andel Arena.
It was the second shutout of the season for Howard, who snapped a personal four-game losing streak.
OMAHA 5, IOWA 1
Andrei Taratukhin recorded a hat trick as Omaha snuffed out Iowa’s five-game winning streak with a 5-1 win at Wells Fargo Arena.
Taratukhin has six goals in his last four games after scoring three times in his first 30 contests.