River Rats ring out 2006 by beating Sound Tigers

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.

Keith Aucoin had three assists on the day, defenseman Johnny Boychuk scored for the seventh time in 10 games and rookie Michael Vernace notched his first two career AHL points with a pair of assists.

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.

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.

Lee Goren also registered a goal and an assist, Alexandre Bolduc tallied two helpers and Wade Flaherty earned the win with 32 perfect minutes of relief, making 12 saves.

Mark Hartigan recorded a goal and an assist for the Crunch, extending his scoring streak to six games (6g, 3a).

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.

Grant Potulny and Jean-Francois David also scored for the Senators, who were poised to win in regulation before the Marlies’ Colin Murphy tied the score with 37 seconds remaining.

Brett Engelhardt paced Toronto with two goals and an assist, and Jean-Francois Racine made 43 saves but dropped to 1-4-2 in his last seven decisions.

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.

Joey Tenute added a goal and an assist, giving him 10 points (6g, 4a) in his last five games, and Alexandre Giroux scored his 26th goal of the season for Hershey, good for second in the AHL.

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.

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.

Peter Sejna added a goal and an assist for his eighth multiple-point game in his last nine outings, and Jon DiSalvatore scored for the third time in two nights.

Duncan Milroy and Corey Locke scored for the Bulldogs, who lost for the third night in a row following a 19-4-1-1 stretch.

Al Montoya made 28 saves for his second shutout in six days, backstopping Hartford to a 2-0 win in Portland on Sunday.

Brad Isbister and Ryan Callahan scored in the second period for the Wolf Pack, who have scored more than two goals in a game just once in their last nine.

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.

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.

Noah Clarke, Tim Jackman and Eric Werner scored for Manchester.

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.

Darryl Bootland and Josh Langfeld also scored for the Griffins, who are 3-1-2-0 in their last six games.

It was the second shutout of the season for Howard, who snapped a personal four-game losing streak.

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.

David Van der Gulik added a goal and an assist and Kris Chucko also scored for the Knights, who had been outscored 7-1 in their previous two games.

Curtis McElhinney made 21 saves for his first win since Dec. 16. His bid for his fourth shutout of the season was spoiled by Vojtech Polak’s goal with 5:21 left in regulation.