The Binghamton Senators were in a giving mood on Sunday afternoon. Fresh off their thrilling overtime victory in Game two against the Manchester Monarchs on Friday, a victory made possible by an inspired third period comeback, the B-Sens opted to return the favour by giving up two substantial leads en route to a Game three loss. With the result, the Monarchs now lead the quarter final, Calder Cup series 2-1.
Bingo came out on fire in front of their home fans, building on the momentum they had attained in Manchester. Before the game was four minutes old, Andre Benoit had the crowd of 3,229 on their feet after blasting a shot passed Jeff Zatkoff. Roman Wick and Colin Greening on a nifty 2 on 1 feed from Zach Smith also tallied for the home team in the period. When the dust finally settled, the B-Sens were up 3-0 on the Monarchs and in complete control of the game. It looked like there was no turning back.
To start the second, Manchester’s Martin Jones was in goal in place of Zatkoff. The move may have sparked the floundering team. Bud Holloway got two pucks passed Barry Brust in the frame to cut the Monarch’s deficit to just one. With Manchester clearly stepping up their game, Bingo wasn’t doing themselves any favours. Said Smith, “I think we got too comfortable. It showed in our play. We kind of backed off. The first period, we controlled the play. We did what we talked about before the game, got pucks behind the D-men and worked them down low, and that’s how you control the game. Going into the second period, we didn’t do that. They’re a good team, and if you let up for a bit, you let them back into game.” The teams skated to their dressing rooms with Bingo holding a 3-2 edge on the scoreboard.
If they didn’t already, the B-Sens knew they had a game on their hands going into the third period. If they wanted to close it out with a win, they would have to get back to playing the style that had made them successful in the first. A Bobby Butler goal at 7:44 restored the two goal cushion and looked to right the ship. But complacency crept back in. Binghamton went on to squander the 4-2 lead minutes later, forcing overtime in the second straight game. Holloway capped off the Monarch comeback with a hat trick goal in the extra frame. Bingo went 2-5 on the power play while Manchester was 1-3. Final shots were 33-32 Bingo.
After the game, head coach Kurt Kleinendorst expressed disappointment in the blown leads but also pointed out the positives from the experience, “Worst lead in hockey, that three-goal lead, I hate that thing. I hate a three-goal lead too early, because inevitably human nature takes over. One group thinks they’ve got it, and the other group is a little bit ticked off and probably got yelled at a little bit. And the three-goal lead wasn’t our biggest issue. It was the two-goal lead with 11 minutes to go. We weren’t very disciplined. It’s unfortunate, but we’re still young at this. We’re inexperienced at this. We’re still learning as we go. Lesson learned.” It will be very interesting to see how the baby Sens respond in Game four. Both teams have now squandered leads late in games and gone on to lose in OT. The coach in Bingo believes his team will learn and adjust going forward, but that remains to be seen. Game four goes tomorrow night at 7 pm and we just might be looking at Robin Lehner’s playoff debut.
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