HEAD-TO-HEAD: Tonight’s contest is the second game of the East Division Semifinals between Binghamton and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The Senators lead the best-of-seven series 1-0 after winning 5-2 last night at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena in the first ever playoff meeting between the teams. Following tonight’s game the series will head south to Wachovia Arena at Casey Plaza for games on Monday and Wednesday.
REGULAR SEASON SERIES: Binghamton 7-1-0-0
After a 2-0 setback on Halloween the Senators won seven straight against the Penguins to finish the season series. In the first game MARC-ANDRE FLEURY stopped all 28 Binghamton shots and RAMZI ABID scored the game winner while Sens goalie RAY EMERY made 23 saves on 24 shots. Binghamton then won three of the next four in overtime with ANTOINE VERMETTE scoring the game winner on Nov. 19th and DENIS HAMEL scoring a sudden death goal the next night on the road. The teams did not meet again until Jan. 7th when Binghamton scored three power-play goal on their way to a 5-1 win. One week later the Sens overcame a two-goal night from RAMZ ABID, including an extra attacker goal with two seconds left, to win on JESSE FIBIGER’S overtime goal. Binghamton capped four games in five nights with a 6-2 win in Wilkes-Barre on March 13th. ANTOINE VERMETTE had a goal and two assists in that game. The teams finished the regular season series two weeks ago with Binghamton winning 3-1 on April 6th behind a pair of second period short-handed goals and posted a 5-2 victory on April 9th thanks to a four-point night from JASON SPEZZA (2 goals, 2 assists).
SPEZZA led all scorers in the series with 16 points (5 goals, 11 assists) in eight games. RAMZI ABID led the Penguins with 8 points (3 goals, 5 assists) in eight games. Sens goalie RAY EMERY played in six games with a record of 5-1-0 and a goals-against average of 1.82. MARC-ANDRE FLEURY was in goal for five games with a record of 1-3-0 and a goals-against average of 3.00. The Binghamton power play was effective converting on 8 of 40 chances (20.0%) while Wilkes-Barre/Scranton scored on 4 of 38 opportunities (10.5%). Five of Binghamton’s league-leading 24 short-handed goals came against the Penguins.
BINGHAMTON SENATORS: Binghamton has now made the playoffs in all three of their seasons since joining the AHL in 2002. The inaugural B-Sens made it to the Eastern Conference Finals before falling to Hamilton while last year’s squad was eliminated by the Norfolk Admirals in a qualifying series. The Sens finished the 2004-05 regular season on a roll earning points in 24 of their last 27 games (20-3-1-3). Last night Binghamton scored two goals in the opening period and RAY EMERY stopped all 15 Penguins’ shots prior to the first intermission. Defenseman ANTON VOLCHENKOV (0g, 2a), center JASON SPEZZA (1g, 1a), forward ANTOINE VERMETTE (1g, 1a) and winger JOSH LANGFELD (1g, 1a) each scored two points to lead the way for Binghamton. The Senators last night won a playoff series opener for the third time in franchise history. The previous two wins came in overtime (2-1 vs. Bridgeport on 4/26/03 and 3-2 vs. Worcester on 4/10/03). Binghamton went on to win both of those series en route to their Eastern Conference Finals appearance. RAY EMERY has now started all 17 of the Senators playoff games in their three-year history. The Sens tied a franchise record for power-play goals in a playoff game last night with two. Binghamton also scored two power-play goals twice in the Eastern Conference Finals against Hamilton two seasons ago. The 5-2 win also matched a playoff franchise record for largest margin of victory. Binghamton also won by three goals against Bridgeport (3-0) on May 3, 2003.
Several Senators earned individual honors for their efforts during the 2004-05 regular season. SPEZZA won the Les Cunningham Award as the league’s most valuable player and the John B. Sollenberger Trophy as the top scorer. SPEZZA is the first Binghamton player to win both of the awards since Binghamton Ranger DON BIGGS in 1993. Rookie scoring leader BRANDON BOCHENSKI was named to the All-Rookie Team while SPEZZA was named an AHL First Team All Star and defenseman BRIAN POTHIER was selected as a Second Team All Star.
B-SENS STREAKS: JASON SPEZZA finished the season on a 20-game scoring streak (7 goals, 29 assists) which is the longest in the AHL since RALPH INTRANUOVO scored in 20 straight for Cape Breton during the 1994-95 season. Goalie RAY EMERY tied a franchise record for consecutive wins by winning his last seven starts of the regular season and was not defeated in regulation in his last 11 starts (9-0-2). For his efforts EMERY was named the Koho AHL Goaltender of the Month for April. As a team the Senators finished the regular season with six straight wins and scored at least one power-play goal in their last three.
B-SENS TRANSACTIONS: Binghamton signed defenseman TREVOR JOHNSON to a 25-game professional try-out contract on April 19th.
WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON PENGUINS: The Penguins got goals from wingers MICHEL OUELLET and MATT MURLEY in yesterday’s loss. The goal was the first for MURLEY since Feb. 27th at Philadelphia and the second for OUELLET in his last three games including the regular season. The Penguins won three of their last four games including a pair of shutouts on back-to-back nights against the Norfolk Admirals who finished one point ahead of the Penguins in the East Division standings. In their last outing of the regular season the Penguins were defeated 4-2 at home by the Syracuse Crunch. The game was tied 2-2 after the first period with RAMZI ABID and KRIS BEECH scoring for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Syracuse scored one goal in each the second and third periods en route to the win on the final day of the regular season. MARC-ANDRE FLEURY started in net for the Penguins and stopped 13 of 17 shots.
PENGUINS STREAKS: Penguins defenseman ROB SCUDERI (2a) and winger COLBY ARMSTRONG (3a) both finished the regular season on two-game assist streaks.