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Thursday, February 19, 2009
AHL's River Rats in bus accident

Associated Press

BECKET, Mass. -- A bus carrying the Albany River Rats flipped onto its side on slick roads in western Massachusetts early Thursday, injuring four players and the minor league hockey team's radio commentator.

The bus carrying the AHL team home from a game in Lowell struck a guard rail about 3:20 a.m. on Interstate 90. Police said the bus rolled onto its side before coming to rest across the left travel lane and median.

Defensemen Jonathan Paiement and Casey Borer and wingers Joe Jensen and Nicolas Blanchard were hospitalized at Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, along with radio commentator John Hennessy, coach Jeff Daniels said. None of the injuries was considered life-threatening.

Borer spent parts of the past two seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes, the River Rats' NHL affiliate. He skated in three games in December with Carolina before he was sent back down to Albany, and he has one goal and two assists in 14 career NHL games with Carolina.

Jensen had one goal in six games late last season with the Hurricanes.

Daniels said most of the 28 players and staff were trying to sleep when the bus driver lost control. Daniels said he woke to a rumbling sound and realized the bus was sliding.

"Then guys were flying over the seats and we were on our side," he said.

Everyone was able to get out of the bus on their own, but many were cut and bloodied and some had broken bones and concussions, Daniels said. Some players could miss significant time, but Daniels said the injuries weren't career-threatening.

He compared the wreck to "one tough game."

"It's not an opponent you want to play again," he said.

Albany's game Friday night against Bridgeport has been canceled.

The crash remains under investigation, but police said winter weather and icy roads may have contributed to the wreck. The accident closed the left and right travel lanes of highway for more than seven hours, forcing traffic to use the breakdown lane.