The Binghamton Senators improved to 2-0 in the preseason last night, winning 5-3 in a game in which they never trailed. Backstopped by a combination of Marc Cheverie and Scott Greenham, Binghamton was boosted past the Hershey Bears by three third period goals, maintaining their perfect preseason record.
Off to a quick start, the B-Sens got ahead of the Bears with Jean-Gabriel Pageau's first goal for the Senators organization, with helpers from Mike Hoffman and Mika Zibanejad. The teams would trade powerplay opportunities throughout the rest of the period, and in spite of being blanketed 11-2 in shots, Binghamton would escape the first with their one-goal lead intact.
Hershey leveled the game early in the second, finally seeing success on the powerplay following Brad Peltz getting the extra two in a gentlemanly scuffle. The game was tied for less time than it takes this incredibly famous and adorable panda to get a sneeze out, with Hoffman connecting on assists from Pat Cannone and Andre Petersson eight seconds after the drop of the puck. Hershey would add another halfway through the period, leaving the game knotted at two going into the third period. The Bears had not relented on their pressure, doubling their shot count in the middle frame, including one that eked through Marc Cheverie's five hole as the horn blew. For their part, Binghamton more than quadrupled their shot total in the second period, a misleading stat: shots were 22-9.
The third period was by far Binghamton's best of the game. A powerplay blast from the point by Jared Cowen resulted in a rebound on the stick of Mika Zibanejad, who gave Binghamton the lead. Moments later, a similar play resulted in Jakub Culek deflecting a rebound off a Chris Wideman shot to give Binghamton a 4-2 lead, forward Cole Schneider adding the other assist. Hershey would keep the game close to the end, adding one of their own to answer Culek and found themselves on a 5-on-3 later in the period, but it was nothing doing for Hershey's powerplay in the third, with the penalty killers clearing pucks and Greenham finding whatever made its way through. Andre Petersson ended the game in the final seconds with an empty netter from close range.
Overall, this was an encouraging preseason game. Though Binghamton was smothered in shots, they were nothing if not efficient, at one point touting 4 goals after 13 shots on Dany Sabourin. As for some thoughts on individual players...
Jean-Gabriel Pageau: The game's first goal-scorer put together a well-rounded game, even if he was less noticeable towards the tail end of the game. Pageau has good speed, but he's in it tough to make this team at the moment.
Jakub Culek: Caught in a 5-on-3 in the third period with a one-goal lead towards the end of a meaningless game, Luke Richardson had Jared Cowen, Pat Cannone and Mark Borowiecki on the ice as penalty killers. After a clear, Cannone was replaced by Corey Cowick, a player with AHL experience killing penalties. As Jared Cowen skated off for a change, he was replaced by-- Jakub Culek? Culek was an important part of the B-Sens killing the rest of the penalty, blocking a shot and forcing a poor pass from one of Hershey's men on the point. If he is going to make the team, it is going to be as a result of hockey intelligence and drive. Culek showed it tonight, exhibiting a strong forecheck and putting in a goal for good measure. Impressive night for a quieter Sens prospect.
Marc Cheverie: For a guy destined for Elmira, Cheverie made a good impression with the coaches in Binghamton, stopping all but two of the 22 that came his way through two periods of play (he was lucky on the slow shot that trickled through his legs, but was waved off as time expired). Perhaps his biggest play of the game was a sliding pad save on a one-timer Hershey passed through the slot in the dying moments of the third period.
Andre Petersson: Looks like it's been a good summer for the second-year AHLer. Petersson was absolutely bursting with energy and creativity tonight, working with good chemistry when out on the ice with Mike Hoffman. He turned on the after-burners and left the Hershey defenseman well in his wake to pot an empty net goal. Petersson is always a fun player to watch, slippery enough not to be pinned down in the corners. He will be a top-line guy for Coach Luke Richardson.
Brad Peltz: This is the first time I've had the opportunity to watch Peltz play. He didn't get too much ice time, but did drop the gloves in the first frame and showed off some physicality later on in the game. Though he's likely headed to Elmira, he could serve as a depth option for Binghamton should the need arise.
Mika Zibanejad: Peter wrote about Mika the other night, but his performance tonight deserved some more mention. Zibanejad's rebound goal in the third was not only an indication of his superb hand-eye coordination, but was also notable for where it was scored: standing right in front of the goal. Zibanejad can hold his own in the slot, and often looks not only fast, but bossy, playing on a different level.
Mike Hoffman: One of the team's more 'experienced' AHLers, Hoffman was out there in every situation tonight, and looked like a leader of the group. Hoffman was on the ice constantly in the third, and had a second period tally to boot.
Binghamton plays their final preseason affair against the Albany Devils tomorrow night. If you are looking to catch the game, the Team 1200 offered audio tonight, and it was also available on the AHL Live online video package. If you are wavering on whether or not to make the purchase, you can still get it for 150 dollars. It may be no small fee for poor quality video streams and sometimes synced audio, but the price is about to go up to 200 and, at seven dollars a game, you're either all in and watching the AHL, or you're about to really get into the baseball playoffs.