The Binghamton Senators and Rochester Americans battled it out in a goaltender’s clinic tonight as Andrew Hammond and Nathan Lieuwen each had a remarkable evening, but the Senators would prevail in the end by a score of 2-1. With the club fresh off their 60 minute effort from Friday night’s win, they continued to follow their game plan and play another 60 minutes of hockey as Hammond had 38 saves while Lieuwen stopped a total of 31. Binghamton keeps pace in the East behind Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s 4-0 shutout at home and remain a point behind with still two games in hand.
Rochester gets an early two-man advantage in the first period with Corey Cowick and Jean-Gabriel Pageau in the box but Sens get some great penalty kill work from Mark Borowiecki, Fredrik Claesson and Derek Grant. Hammond makes a big time save on Adam Luke in the slot that energizes the big crowd. Cowick fresh out of the box gets a shorthanded breakaway but miffs on the shot.
Senators then go on their own power play as Cowick gets hit in the face by a stick from Luka Vidmar who just got called up from the ECHL. They effectively work the puck but didn’t get enough chances as Rochester kills it. Pageau and Cowick have a golden opportunity with Pageau shooting in up close on Lieuwen and Cowick trying to nail home the rebound but gets denied. Lieuwen has another great save from Alex Grant‘s blast from the point. Both Hammond and Lieuwen looked good in the period as we are looking at a goaltender’s dual so far.
Hammond starts off the second with another great save on Johan Larsson‘s shot up front as he gets a leg on the puck. Then with Alex Hutchings in the box for hooking, Sens score on the power play with a quick, beautiful set play from Stephane Da Costa feeding the puck down low to Mark Stone, deep near the net and with his give and go pass to Cole Schneider out front, one times a wrist shot into the half-open net. Lieuwen had no chance on the play as it transpired quickly and accurately and the Senators are up 1-0.
D. Grant misses a one timer from a cross ice pass from Shane Prince as the play goes on the other end of the ice with Hammond making a glove save on Nick Petrecki who tries to capitalize on a Sens turnover. Lieuwen blocks a Stone backhander and gets his own rebound fishing it to Matt Puempel out front as his one timer is also stopped by Lieuwen. Soon after Hammond with a huge save on Larsson as he gets his leg out and stops a potential goal with a scramble in front. Crowd roars their approval on Andrew’s effort in keeping it a one goal game. Lots of momentum ended up the Amerks way that period but Binghamton prevails and it remains a 1-0 contest.
Sens start the third on a leftover power play from the second but little comes from it as Rochester with some good forechecking. Later, Prince has his shot but the puck doesn’t appear to have crossed the goal line with player’s in the mix. Play is under review and replays show Lieuwen was able to stop the puck from crossing over as unlike last night’s review, this one is a no goal instead. All is forgotten soon after with Pageau scoring his 14th with a perfect low placed wrister to the far right of Lieuwen and into the net for all important goal and a 2-0 Sens lead.
Da Costa hits the crossbar dinging the iron so loud people outside the rink most likely heard it. However, things change in the contest as Rochester gets a fluke goal when Larsson scores his 15th of the season as his shot from along the boards rises up and over Hammond’s shoulder and bounces into the net ruining Andrew’s shutout bid and free doughnuts for everyone in the house. Tough one to swallow as Hammond has played very well and it’s now a one goal game.
A tense 2:42 left in the third would play out with lots of icing’s and whistles with Rochester pulling their goalie for the extra man. A big play would develop in the waning seconds with A. Grant blocking a shot from Luke’s stick and perhaps saving a goal with Hammond scrambling as D. Grant clears the puck out of their zone the length of the ice preserving the victory for the home fans.
NOTES & OBSERVATIONS
- Another tight, playoff atmosphere with Binghamton playing a decent 60 minutes again as this is the type of thing we need and to get accustomed to down the stretch run.
- A little drama ensues when Tim Schaller hits A. Grant into the boards late in the third resulting in a boarding penalty. Alex was not at all pleased on the play as he lets Schaller know it as it was a dangerous hit. I see a suspension on the brink as the hit could have been avoided and he did run Grant pretty hard.
- Pageau had a great night in his usual role of being a playmaker and throwing his body around. Just a joy to watch him give his all on a consistent basis each and every game.
- Speaking of Alex, I’m liking his game the more I see him. Good, solid D-man with a terrific slapper and seems to be a good fit on this close-knit Sens team. Real pro that fits Luke Richardson’s critiques in a player. I’ll miss Petey for his offense, but would make that trade in a heartbeat if offered again. Side note; Alex picked up the puck at the end of a period and handed it off to a youngster while exiting into the locker room. That’s a class move and I know some fans noticed it.
- Hammond back to back solid games over some tough opponents earning first star honors in each. Really is starting to peak at the right time leading into the post season.
3 STARS OF THE GAME
- #1 Hammond (38 saves)
- #2 Schneider (1g 1a)
- #3 Lieuwen (31 saves)
Sunday vs Rochester Americans.
Cover photo and inserts courtesy of Alicia Strauch.