As the Binghamton Senators skated off the Broome County Veteran Memorial Arena ice surface for the final time this season (last night) they found themselves one win away from their first Calder Cup Championship in franchise history. The ruckus, over-capacity, sellout crowd of 4,727, including a bus load of Sens fans from Ottawa, were at their loudest and most fanatical as they watched Bingo scratch and claw through Game #5 against an ornery Houston Aeros team. Undoubtedly disappointed by their effort the night before in Game #4, Houston made life difficult for the B-Sens, especially during the second period. They were more physical, more offensive, and they had no intention of going back home down 3-2 in this series. The B-Sens were able to weather the proverbial “storm” that Houston was unleashing thanks in large part to the goaltending prowess of Robin Lehner. Lehner’s crease ‘tending kept the game deadlocked until Zach Smith was able to hammer the nails into the Aeros’ Game #5 hopes.
The first period was a chess match if ever there was one. Twice Binghamton took one goal leads (on goals by Corey Locke and Erik Condra), and both times Jean-Michel Daoust and the Aeros replied. Momentum shifts were frequent, but it was Daoust’s second tally of the frame that was most concerning for the home team. The goal came late, with only seven seconds to go and it propelled the Aeros going into the second period.
Feeding off the energy of the late goal, Houston looked like a revitalized team to start the second frame. The club took shots from all angles, testing Lehner and his sometimes adventurous rebound control. Lehner was up to the task. The increased pressure forced Bingo into penalty trouble midway through the frame; the team bent but it did not break. As the period winded down, the B-Sens would have been happy with a tie score through 40 minutes, but as fate or luck would have it, on a power-play of their own, Smith found the back of the net with 8.5 ticks left on the clock. An enormous goal that nearly erased what the Aeros had done up until that point.
While the Aeros continued to get shots in the third, the sense was that this was going to be Bingo’s night and that Lehner would not be scored upon again. Zed Smith insured victory at the four minute mark with his second huge goal of the night. In the end, a determined Binghamton team got the job done. Said head coach, Kurt Kleinendorst, “If you’re going to be a champion, these are the kind of games when you’re not necessarily at your very best, … but you still find ways to get it done. That’s where our game was tonight. We weren’t as clean tonight as we were last night, and we’ll certainly have to give the Aeros a little bit of credit for that because they made things very difficult on us. We battled hard.” (Joy Lindsay)
- final shots favoured the Aeros 43-27.
- Bingo was 1 for 4 on the PP, Houston was 0 for 4.
- With the win, the B-Sens became the first team to win consecutive games this series.
- After only registering four goals in their first three games, Bingo has now scored seven in the last two games.
- Lehner’s numbers continue to get smaller and more grandiose in all the right places. The Swedish rookie is now 13-4, with a 2.11 GAA, .939 % to go along with his 3 shutouts.
- Jared Cowen left the game with a suspected concussion, but the team would not confirm. A tough break for Jared if he is forced out of the line-up at this point.
The teams will now fly back to Houston for Game #6 (and potentially Game #7). The B-Sens will have to be up to their absolute road best if they want to get their hands on the hardware. And they’ll obviously want to do it quickly and end this thing in Game #6 on Tuesday night.
These are the moments that sports fans live for. And we live for them because they are rare. Regardless of what goes down in Texas, it has been a tremendous pleasure covering this run by the baby Ottawa Senators. Personally, I couldn’t have asked for a better inauguration to my blogging “career”. And if they manage to pull it out and win the Calder Cup, the positive ripples it will send through both organizations will be… just what both organizations need after some trying times in recent memory. Thanks for reading.
Go B-SENS Go!
Thanks (again) for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.
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