By: Cassie Burgess
A first round Calder Cup playoff series against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins is an all too familiar experience for the Binghamton Senators. After winning the East Division in the 2004-05 season, the B-Sens were set to play the Penguins in a seven game series that many expected to end quickly in Binghamton’s favor. Yet after a losing four consecutive games, one of which went into triple overtime, the B-Sens unexpectedly fell short in a playoff year that seemed destined to be theirs.
Today, eight years later, Binghamton is preparing for the battle with Wilkes-Barre in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals once again. And while the confidence is high, the apprehension is low.
“If we be ourselves but get our intensity and battle level up, we are going to be just fine,” B-Sens captain Mark Borowiecki stated. “We’ll play our game, play to our strengths but really kick it up another notch.”
Binghamton finished the 2012-13 season 6-2-0-2 against Wilkes-Barre. Despite winning six of the first seven games in the season series, the second half of the year proved more difficult as the Penguins outplayed and outlasted the B-Sens in their last three meetings.
“It’s gonna be a hard fought series. I think every series in this league is going to be like that,” forward Shane Prince explained. “Every team is tough and every team is good. Anyone can win on any given night.”
One of the more prominent challenges in facing the Penguins is power-forward Chad Kolarik. Scoring two goals and four assists in four games against Binghamton this season, he is one of the few players the B-Sens are keeping their eye on.
“[Kolarik]’s one of their skilled guys so if you get a chance to put a body on him you have to,” Borowiecki admitted. “We’re going to have to play everyone hard.”
After concluding the regular season with a 5-1 victory over the Syracuse Crunch, the B-Sens hope to maintain positive momentum heading into Game 1. With home ice on their side, the team is looking forward to playing the first two games in front of their faithful fans.
“The fans around here are really pumped for [the playoffs] and I think they’re gonna bring us a lot of energy in these first couple games,” defenseman Danny New said. “It’s a tight building, low ceilings; I’m looking forward to a good playoff atmosphere.”
Despite the history with the Penguins, the B-Sens remain optimistic, electing to focus on what’s ahead for the team instead of dwelling on the past.
“It’s going to be a fun series but it is going be a lot of hard work,” Borowiecki stated. “We are a pretty intense team and we are ready to go.”