04/09/2011 8:59 PM
By Chris Cotrone
BINGHAMTON, N.Y. – Having already clinched a Calder Cup playoff spot with Wednesday night’s overtime victory over the Norfolk Admirals the Binghamton Senators could have coasted through Saturday’s season finale against the Adirondack Phantoms with no repercussions. They could have played like a team content with their season status; unwilling to hit, uninspired on the penalty kill, and without a sense of urgency to score, but that’s not what earned the Senators their first post-season trip since the 2004-05 season. So, it should come as no surprise that the B-Sens never even came close to mentally checking out of Saturday night’s contest, battling with the Phantoms for a full 60 minutes like their season depended on it. Roman Wick would net the only goal for the B-Sens who lead for much of the second period before seeing their lead disappear midway through the third. Although Binghamton would come up just short in this one, falling by the final score of 2-1, the Senators did end the season on a positive note, displaying the type of intensity necessary to make a serious run in next week’s playoff series.
The Senators’ ambitious spirit was on full display from the opening puck drop as Binghamton showed some defensive focus, killing three Adirondack power plays in the first period alone to keep the score locked at 0-0. Yet despite the lack of scoring in the initial stanza, there was no shortage of scoring chances as the B-Sens and Phantoms fired a combined 23 shots on goal to no avail. Goaltenders Barry Brust and Johan Backland were the main reason behind the stalemate, as the pair stymied any offensive production with a multitude of acrobatic saves throughout the period.
It wasn’t until 4:46 into the second that Roman Wick would finally get the better of Backlund, breaking the tie with his 20th goal of the season on the power play. Patrick Wiercioch set up the play from center point, kicking the puck left to Mike Hoffman, before the winger swung it across ice to the right circle. Wick slapped a quick one-timer and the puck sailed to the far side of the net and past the outstretched leg of Backland to give the B-Sens a 1-0 lead.
Brust continued his stellar play in the second period, making a number of tough pad saves, before finally getting beat by Michael Ryan to even things up once again. With 1:41 remaining in the second, Adirondack’s Kevin Marshall tried a shot from the far left point that was initially denied by Brust, but with the Binghamton netminder sprawled on the floor from the save, Ryan was able to lift the puck into the net to tie the game, 1-1.
The Phantoms would strike again 13:54 into the third to capture their first lead of the game thanks to Matt Read’s sixth goal of the season. Rob Bordson’s centering pass found its way to the wide-open Read in the slot before the forward slid a wrister through Brust’s five-hole to give the Phantoms the 2-1 lead. Yet in typical Binghamton fashion, the Senators refused to relent after conceding the go-ahead goal as they pushed to force an overtime period. The B-Sens yanked Brust for an additional skater with just under two minutes to play in regulation and controlled the puck for nearly the rest of the way, bombarding Backlund with shots that just couldn’t find the mark. Geoff Kinrade fought hard in the closing seconds to deny a Phantoms open netter and give the B-Sens one final shot at a tying goal, but the puck couldn’t find its way on net as the B-Sens’ regular season came to a close.
-Go B-Sens Go-