This game turned into a classic chess match with two teams playing their third game in as many days, and two goaltenders dueling it out between Philipp Grubauer and Andrew Hammond with both playing their best hockey of the season. With a playoff berth on the line for one club and the other trying to stay alive, Hershey Bears’ Captain Dane Byers tips one past Hammond in overtime for the 1-0 win and Grubauer earns the shutout and survives another day. The Binghamton Senators do get that point and clinch a playoff spot and with three home games left and reinforcements on the way, their attention is now focused on that East Division title. W/B-Scranton lost to Toronto so Senators are one point out with a game on hand still in their back pocket.
First period has Hershey going on the power play early with Binghamton having too many men on the ice. Bears don’t get set up with very little pressure being applied as they manage just one shot. Quick action with very little whistles being blown. Hammond great save with players piled up in the crease as Sens pull away on a three on one rush but Danny Hobbs can’t find the handle and falls down. Bears come right back and are inches from scoring as the puck sails wide of the cage.
Byers levels Mike Sdao and Darren Kramer goes after him near center ice and in the process receives the roughing call for another Hershey power play. Again their play is flat on the extra man advantage. Hershey throwing the body around but get careless as they are two men down with Patrick Wellar and Steve Oleksy in the box at the 1:23 mark. Golden opportunity for the Sens five on three but Grubauer comes up big stopping Alex Grant and Matt Puempel both twice while the Senators are effective in moving the puck, they don’t find any success for their efforts.
Grubauer nice save on Shane Prince and we begin the second with both teams playing desperate hockey. Hobbs again misses the net an another odd man rush. Good defensive coverage by Binghamton stifling the Bears offense. Grubauer mishandled the puck from behind the net and Cole Schneider fires it to Hobbs out front but Grubauer comes back and with the glove and dodges a bullet. Hammond makes a brilliant leg save on Kris Newbury and a Brandon Segal one timer and is playing sound goal-tending. Binghamton getting the better of the offensive chances but can’t put one by Grubauer. Hershey finishes out the middle frame with some pressure before the horn blows indicating end of the second. Shots 12-10 Bears in the period.
All Sens need is a point and they can clinch a playoff spot as this game has a chance of going to overtime as the third period is underway with Hammond getting some leather on Chris Brown‘s slapper. Grubauer with a nifty toe save on Kramer from about five feet out. End to end action in this thriller as either team looking for the other to make a mistake that perhaps would cost them a goal. Short shifts are in order by both sides. Hammond some how keeps the puck out of net on Segal’s shot as the Senators turn around to a two on one with Grubauer stopping Patrick Mullen on his door mat. As the period ticks away neither club blinks and Sens get the point to clinch as this one is heading to overtime.
With neither team having much left in the tank, the Senators endure relentless pressure by Hershey and Derek Grant missing a stick, the dam finally gave way when Byers tips in a David Kolomatis shot from up top and beats Hammond for the game winner. Tough one to swallow as Hershey gets a break as Sens couldn’t clear it out of their zone and Derek never did get a chance to get to the bench. Shots end up 41-39 Bingo.
NOTES & OBSERVATIONS
- Now that was entertaining. Intense action by both teams right from the start. I still hate Hershey.
- The loss in overtime is only the second for the Senators out of 11 played this season. I knew we were in trouble when Derek’s stick broke and there was nothing he could do as he was trapped in the Sens zone. So basically it was four on three there and Bears were too much to handle.
- Binghamton perhaps relieved to be returning to the post season but knowing Luke Richardson, he wants that division title that eluded him last year as his team fell short by a single point. Regardless, it’s playoff hockey time again and time to break out the shorts.
3 STARS OF THE GAME
- #1 Byers (1g)
- #2 Grubauer (41 saves)
- #3 Hammond (38 saves)
Wednesday Night Host Toronto Marlies.
Cover photo courtesy of Jeff Ulmer.