The Binghamton Senators headed north up I-81 on Saturday night for a road contest with the Syracuse Crunch. The Senators sent the 5,849 Crunch fans in attendance home disappointed by downing the hometown Crunch 4-2.
The Senators were able to light the lamp first when defenseman Lance Ward found a hole in Syracuse net minder Mike Ayers, firing the puck just inside the post, to give the B-Sens the first lead of the game. Steve Martins picked up the lone assist on Ward’s third goal of the year, at the 7:44 mark of the opening frame.
Binghamton captain Denis Hamel then gave his club an early two-goal advantage when he was able to find the back of the net for the 38th time this season. Hamel took a pass from teammate Jeff Heerema at the top of the face-off circle and just rifled a shot over the blocker-arm of Ayers for the 2-0 lead. Heerema and Tomas Malec picked up the assists on Hamel’s 19th power-play tally of the year.
Ayers’ two goals allowed on nine shots prompted the Syracuse coaching staff to make a change in net as Andrew Penner relieved the starter after just 10:43 of first-period action.
As the time remaining in the opening period ticked down under two minutes, the clubs found themselves each with one man in the penalty box, resulting in a four-on-four situation. Defenseman Filip Novak picked up the puck in the Binghamton defensive zone and skated it end-to-end before making a beautiful drop pass to Charlie Stephens, who then ripped the shot past Penner for the 3-0 lead. Novak recorded the lone assist on Binghamton’s third goal. With his 17th goal of the year, Stephens extended his career-high point-scoring streak to eight games.
Syracuse finally got on the board, making it a 3-1 game, at the 12:41 mark of the middle frame. With Filip Novak serving a two-minute hooking minor, Mark Hartigan took a shot from the high slot that slipped by Binghamton goaltender Kelly Guard. Alexandre Picard and Geoff Platt each recorded an assist on Hartigan’s 33rd goal of the year.
It didn’t take long for the Sens to re-capture their three-goal advantage however. With only nine seconds remaining in the middle stanza and with Syracuse’s Ben Simon and Jeff MacMillan both in the box serving minor penalties, Brandon Bochenski gave his club the 4-1 lead. Bochenski picked up a rebound, off the end boards, from Jeff Heerema’s original shot and found a hole in the Syracuse net minder from a nearly impossible angle. Heerema and Novak each picked up their second helpers of the evening on Bochenski’s 19th marker of the season.
The Crunch were able to make it a two-goal game, for the second time, when Andy Canzanello picked up his seventh goal of the season just 3:36 into the third period. The goal came on the power play with Binghamton’s Brandon Bochenski in the sin bin for goaltender interference. Geoff Platt and Mark Hartigan each recorded an assist on the Canzanello power-play marker.
Kelly Guard made several phenomenal saves, 36 in all, en route to his 15th win of the season. Mike Ayers started the game between the pipes for the Crunch, but was yanked from the net after just 10:43. He made seven saves on nine shots. Andrew Penner made 21 saves on 23 shots in 47:46 of relief duty.
The Sens closed out the night 2 for 7 on the power play while the penalty-killing unit held the Crunch to 2 goals on 7 man-up chances.
Binghamton headed home immediately following the game as they will return to the action at The Arena on Sunday evening when the Manchester Monarchs make their first and only visit to Binghamton this season. The game is scheduled for a 5:05 p.m. face off. Ticket information is available by calling 722-SENS.
Also fans, remember to send your e-mails now for the next “Ask the Sens” segment when Charlie Stephens will sit down to respond to your questions. All e-mails should be sent to AsktheSens@binghamtonsenators.com by Wednesday, March 8th.