04/28/2013 9:09 AM
By Matt Borrelli
It has been 690 days since the Binghamton Senators raised the Calder Cup in Houston on June 7, 2011. Playoff hockey can once again call Binghamton home. The fourth seeded B-Sens, who for much of the season were in contention for the best record in the American Hockey League, are facing off in the first round of the 2013 Calder Cup playoffs against their East Division rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins who finished one spot back of Binghamton to grab the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference.
This time of year is unlike any other. Constant excitement, intensity, and hope are continuously flowing in and out of the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena. With this team being so young, and missing the playoffs last season, there isn’t much playoff experience to go around. Sure you have veterans such as Mark Borowiecki, Brett Lebda, and Hugh Jessiman; you also have rookies like Cody Ceci and Buddy Robinson. How did this team prepare for a tough first round match-up?
Behind the intensity of playoff hockey is the idea that a couple of bad shifts or a bad couple games sends a team into the offseason without any reward for their handwork over the past seven months.
“Playoffs are a big time of the year,” Ceci said. “I just went through it with my [Ontario Hockey League] team (the Owen Sound Attack) so I know what it’s all about. Every game, every shift matters. You have to be ready for what [Wilkes-Barre/Scranton] throws at you.”
Without ever playing in a professional playoff hockey game myself, I was curious about how players prepare for each game.
“You’re a little more focused all of the time…you have to focus” Ceci went on to say. “Going into a game people get a little bit nervous, because it’s such a big time of year…I just got here, but these guys have been with each other all year, it’s always tough when you have to play for your whole season. You have to play that much harder”.
Veteran forward Hugh Jessiman is no stranger to big games, having appeared in 32 American Hockey League playoff games prior to last night’s Game 1 match-up with the Penguins.
“It’s really just rest, rest, rest. It’s the biggest weapon,” said Jessiman.
“We feel good and energized,” Jessiman continued. “It’s a controlled emotion. In the playoffs, you have to stay focused on the task at hand, yourself and as a team”.
“Focus” seems to be the key to a series win. Following a heartbreaking 3-2 overtime loss to the Penguins in Game 1 last night, the B-Sens look to regain their focus and rebound tonight to tie the best-of-five series. If Binghamton can right the ship and regain their focus, playoff hockey will not just be a flash in the pan this season.