12/12/2009 10:26 PM
BINGHAMTON, N.Y. - Tonight, the ice was completely covered with gloves, sticks, helmets…and teddy bears. On a night where local radio station Magic 101.7 and the B-Sens hosted their annual “Teddy Bear Toss,” Binghamton and Syracuse were far from friendly with each other. The cuddliest night of the year was highlighted by a bench-clearing brawl at the end of the second period.
The teddy bears rained down from the crowd just over one minute into the game after captain Denis Hamel opened the scoring on the power play. Down low, Derek Smith fed a back door pass to Martin St. Pierre. Crunch goaltender Kevin Lalande slid across the goal crease, leaving Hamel free in front to bury St. Pierre’s pass into a wide open net. The celebration was quick, as the whole Senators hockey team helped staff clear the nearly 650 teddy bears off the ice.
Syracuse would tie the game at one off a goal from Jared Aulin. Alexandre Picard brought the puck behind the B-Sens net and tried to stuff it in on a wrap-around. Goaltender Chris Holt denied the initial shot, but the rebound was missed by two Binghamton defenders and Aulin lifted a shot just under the crossbar at 14:01 in the first.
The B-Sens took a 2-1 lead eight minutes into the second period off a goal from defenseman Craig Schira. Martin St. Pierre tallied his second assist of the game with a blind pass between the legs of a Crunch defender, finding the stick of Schira at the blue line. Schira busted down the right boards, behind the net, pivoted out front, and roofed the puck over Lalande’s glove.
The B-Sens looked to build to their lead on the power play late in the second period, but it was Crunch winger Bates Battaglia who capitalized on a transitioning B-Sens line change. Battaglia beat Tomas Kudelka to a loose puck in the neutral zone, brought the puck down low and wristed a shot off-balance that snuck under the arm of Holt and trickled over the goal line to knot up the game at 2-2.
However, Binghamton would cash in on another power play two minutes later. Zack Smith made a heads-up play from the goal line, feeding Drew Bannister at the point, who then launched a wrist shot through traffic in front of the net. The shot found the back of the net after a redirection from Josh Hennessy, giving him Hennessy his thirteenth point in eight games.
With thirty seconds remaining the second period, Ryan Keller slipped a pass to Hamel who snuck behind the defense. Hamel cut to the front of the net and backhanded a shot that surprised Lalande and lit the lamp to give the B-Sens a two-goal lead going into the locker room.
The combination of frustration and a bitter rivalry was pushed to a breaking point as both teams jawed at each other at center ice after the buzzer. In the blink of an eye, the benches cleared and several fights broke out, leaving a barrage of equipment scattered across the width of the ice. When dust cleared, 106 penalty minutes and seven game misconducts were issued between the two teams.
Crunch backup goaltender Dan Taylor manned the pipes for Syracuse in the third period after Lalande was ejected from the game.
Battaglia scored his second goal of the game midway through the third with a laser of a wrist shot to pull the Crunch within one. Erik Condra regained a two-goal lead for his team thirty seconds later with a snap shot from the right face-off dot.
Martin St. Pierre capped off his four-point night with an empty net goal. St. Pierre gained third star honors with one goal and three assists, as Hamel received first star honors with two goals and one assist.
Up next, the Binghamton Senators head south to Norfolk to take on the Admirals next Friday, December 18.
-Go B-Sens Go-