The Binghamton Senators clinched their third division title in franchise history as a wild one played out tonight in downtown Binghamton that had that playoff type atmosphere feel. Andrew Hammond recorded 43 saves while Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored a hat trick and Mark Stone in setting him up with three assists as the Senators survive a ferocious Pens attack in the third period to hang on 5-4 which was once 5-0 game. The club plays a meaningless game on Saturday against the Norfolk Admirals as they beat Hershey 3-1 and gain a playoff berth. Plenty of fireworks to talk about so let’s get this rolling.
Three Wilkes-Barre/Scranton defenders try clogging up the slot in Binghamton’s 5-4 win and clinching the East Division Championship. Photo courtesy of Alicia Strauch.
Pens come out of the gate in the first looking strong getting the jump and get five shots on Hammond testing the rookie early. However, Sens are the ones that make it count first as Shane Prince gets one by Peter Mannino in front with a quick pass from Ryan Dzingel near the corner making it 1-0. Fredrik Claesson sends Bobby Farnham flying in to the boards on a hard check as the physical game picks up.
A bad miscue by W/B-Scranton when Pageau nets his 18th on a bad turnover given up by Simon Despres as Stone intercepted his outlook pass from behind the cage and slides the puck to Pageau who puts it top shelf by Mannino for a 2-0 lead. Sens get a late power-play with 23 seconds left and leave the ice to a standing ovation from the rowdy home crowd.
Just 18 ticks into the middle frame Pageau scores his second of the evening from Stone beating Mannino again making it a 3-0 contest. Mike Sdao and Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond get reacquainted exchanging blows with Leblond landing some big rights. David Dziurzynski makes it 4-0 with a nice deke on Mannino and made it look easy and the rout is on. Soon after with Dominik Uher in the box for hooking Derek Grant, Pageau completes the hat trick on the power play with a nice one time pass by Stone again set by the side of the net and beats Mannino short side as some hats are thrown to the ice but not many on this warm spring night.
Penguins stop the madness and finally gets on the board with Adam Payerl scoring his 5th as his around the back of the net shot rebounds in off of Hammond’s leg making it a 5-1 game. Harry Zolnierczyk pulls a cheap shot kneeing Chris Wideman while taking a run at him and Patrick Mullen takes exception and goes after him. Both end up wrestling on the ice as Wideman appears hurt. More chippy play ensues between the two hated clubs and it works for the Penguins with Tom Kostopoulos in for interference Farnham scoots down into the Senator zone and shoots missing the net but gets his own rebound off the lively boards while Hammond losing track of the puck for the shorthanded tally making it a 5-2 game.
Into the third period and Wideman is not on the ice which is not a good sign for the Senators as they look to protect their three goal lead. Hammond with a good blocker save on Barry Goers in the slot as W/B-Scranton has the momentum and turns this into a shooting gallery. Anton Zlobin tries to poke one in with Mullen on his stomach and Hammond trying to recover drawn out of position by an earlier play. Hammond looking strong and sure of himself as Pens continue to pepper the net-minder.
The Pens get into penalty trouble but survive several good opportunities by the Sens. Their power play bodes well but can’t get any results adding to their two goal lead. Well hold everything as Pens cut it to two by Nick D’Agostino‘s throw in to the front of the net gets tipped in by Hammond from Andrew Ebbett‘s blade making it 5-3. Pens continue to apply the pressure and score again on a great individual effort from Chuck Kobasew scooting along the side boards and puts a perfect wrist shot finding the back of the net and making the home fans quite nervous at this point.
Mannino pulled for the sixth attacker with a 1:12 left but Hammond stands strong as well as the defense in keeping the game a one goal difference. Pens call a timeout, and with 3.2 seconds left Pageau wins the face-off tieing up his man as the horn sounds as the Senators hang on to win 5-4 to the fans cheers while Pens had 26 shots in the third. The Binghamton Senators are the East Division Champions and will have home ice advantage in the first round of the AHL playoffs!
NOTES & OBSERVATIONS
- Binghamton and Wilkes-Barre a hell of a good entertaining game with Sens giving up four unanswered goals after being up by five. A few fights, lots of chippiness, and Pens fans in attendance rooting their team to almost complete the comeback which would have been devastating to say the least. Shots ended up 47-27 in favor of the Penguins.
- Mannino entered the game not giving up more than two goals a game in his last 13 with a 1.35 gaa. He couldn’t contain the explosive offense that Sens possess as in one point it was five zip.
- Senators capitalize on Penguins mistakes as this club forces you to make a decision quickly with emphasis on heavy fore-checking as well as back-checking. Defense was there all night and stood tall surviving that comeback by W/B-Scranton.
- This game missed the presence of Mark Borowiecki as the Pens were good at running after the forwards with only Darren Kramer being the only agitator. If Boro was playing the Pens might have thought twice about doing the antics they pulled off tonight on certain players. Mark should be ready come playoffs.
- The entire defense played well despite giving up four goals. Matt Puempel had another quiet game as he no longer feels the pressure to perform with bodies back. Also a reminder, we still have Stephane Da Costa sitting getting healthy and just about ready to go. Dziurzynski has turned into a scoring machine as of late.
- I saw outside the locker room afterwards Ceci, Pageau, Claesson, Prince and Dzingel hanging and chatting with family members and fans with some signing autographs as it was a happy time for many. This feels great if you’re a B-Sens fan!
3 STARS OF THE GAME
- #1 Pageau (3a)
- #2 Stone (3a)
- #3 Kobasew (1g 1a)
Saturday Night Host Norfolk Admirals.
Cover photo/inserts courtesy of Alicia Strauch.