To finish off 2014, the Binghamton Senators hosted the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on New Year's Eve. Through three meetings this season, the Sens have a record of 1-1-1 against the Phantoms and they would love to end 2014 on a positive note. After some shaky games from Andrew Hammond of late, the Sens went with Scott Greenham in net looking for his third straight win.
The Sens opened the scoring off the stick of David Dziurzynski. Derek Grant won the faceoff, Matt Puempel fed Dziruzynski who would rip it over the Lehigh Valley goaltender's right shoulder. The puck would get stuck in the net's twine and had to be cut loose after the referees struggled to pull it loose. Pretty bizarre, I've never seen or heard of that happening before.
The Phantoms replied with a pair of goals. The first came off a scramble play that caught Greenham swimming out of his net. Defenseman Alex Grant tried to slide across and stack the pads to cover for him, but no such luck. Tie game. Shortly thereafter Fredrik Claesson would get caught in the neutral zone, and the Phantoms would break in two-on-one against Alex Grant. The cross-crease pass would get through and be one-timed past the Greenham to put the Sens down 2-1. Before the first period was over, the Sens would even up the score. After some extended pressure, Carter Camper passed the puck behind the net to Cole Schneider, who quickly threw it into the slot for Shane Prince to rifle it home.
Early in the second, the Prince-Camper-Schneider line would strike again. On a delayed penalty call, Camper would feed Patrick Mullen at the point who put it on net for a tip. Schneider was able to get his stick on it to deflect it past the Phantom goalie to give the Sens a 3-2 lead.
Midway through the second, the Sens would get on the board again. After working it around the zone, Camper would throw it up to the point for Alex Grant who blasted it by the Phantoms goaltender to put the Sens up by a pair. A few minutes later, Alex Grant would foil a Lehigh Valley breakout attempt and keep the puck in the zone. He chipped it over to his brother Derek Grant (not actually related at all), and he would fire a wristshot short-side for the 5-2 lead. The goal also completed Alex Grant's Gordie Howe hat trick (goal, assist, fight).
Just before the second intermission, Derek Grant would win an offensive zone faceoff clean back to the point. Chris Wideman would pass it down to the half-wall for Matt Puempel to snap one into the Phantoms net.
After the pair of first period goals, Scott Greenham shut the door the rest of the way for the Binghamton Senators to give them a 6-2 win in a 33-save effort.
Binghamton Senators 6 - Lehigh Valley Phantoms 2
Binghamton Senators Record: 15-13-3
Friday: Binghamton Senators at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
After shutting them out in Binghamton a week ago, the Sens looked for similar success while heading into W-B/Scranton to kick off the new year. The Binghamton Senators signed a new goaltender, Peter Mannino to an AHL contract at the end of 2014. It was unclear as to what this meant for the Hammond-Greenham tandem. Prior to Friday's game, Greenham was sent down to the ECHL Evansville Icemen. The 30-year-old Mannino has bounced around the AHL and ECHL, while receiving action in six NHL games over the years.
On Friday they went back to Andrew Hammond in goal, who has been less than spectacular of late. The Sens would come out firing but it would be the Penguins who would get on the board first. The Pens would make the Sens look like pylons while working the puck around the zone. They would throw it cross-crease for a wide open net goal to go up 1-0.
Just over two minutes later the Pens would work it around the zone again, feed the point for a shot, and tip it past Hammond for the two goal lead. Less than two minutes after that, the Penguins' Sahir Gill would take it hard to the net off the rush and the puck would go in off a Senators' backchecker and into the goal. Despite not scoring in the period, the Sens would get their share of chances but were not able to find the back of the net. The Sens would outshoot the Pens 17-7, but would go into the first intermission down 3-0.
In the second, it would be more of the same for the Sens. Hammond was unable to control a shot off the rush and the rebound would find an enemy's stick to make it a four-goal deficit. Later in the period, the Penguins would work it around the zone on the powerplay. A missed shot from the point would bounce off the back wall and out front to the Penguins' Drazenovic who would put it past Hammond for his second of the game.
The Penguins' goalie Matt Murray would hold on for the 30-save shutout over the Senators. The Senators did show some good things early, but seemed to be a bit deflated as the game progressed.
Binghamton Senators 0 - W-B/Scranton Penguins 5
Binghamton Senators Record: 15-14-3
Saturday: Syracuse Crunch at Binghamton Senators
After backing up Hammond on Friday, Saturday's game saw newly signed goaltender Peter Mannino get his first action as a Senator. Also, the Senators were without defenseman Chris Wideman due to his recent recall to Ottawa, but they did add Marc Methot to the lineup for an AHL conditioning stint.
The Crunch opened the scoring before the game was three minutes old. The Crunch's Neilson came down wide on Alex Grant, bounced it off the side of the net and it bounced out front to Kunyk who beat Mannino.
On a late first period Crunch powerplay, Methot got his signals crossed attempting to reverse the puck. The puck was picked up behind the net by Syracuse's Blunden who wrapped it around on Mannino. The Sens would go into the first intermission down 2-0.
Blunden would get his second of the game for the Crunch on a powerplay following an Aaron Johnson hooking call. Syracuse would center the puck from the right corner to a wide open Blunden in the slot who would make no mistake to put them up by three.
While killing another Johnson penalty, Brad Mills stole the puck and took off on a breakaway. He was stopped on his initial shot, but Max McCormick was there to finish off the rebound to get the Sens on the board. After the shorthanded goal, the Sens went into the second intermission down 3-1.
The Sens would continue their way on the comeback trail early in the third. Johnson would lay the body on a Crunch forward trying to carry it out of the zone, the puck squeaked over to Puempel who passed it cross-ice to Schneider who went five-hole on Gudlevskis. Later in the period on a Senator powerplay, an Alex Grant point shot would bounce around in front and Puempel would get to the loose puck to bury it to even the game at three.
With three minutes to go in regulation, Camper would show off some nice stick-handling down low in the zone. He walked out front and wristed one on net. The puck would bounce off a Crunch defender and float over their goalie to put the Sens up by one in the dying minutes. Syracuse pulled their goalie with about a minute and a half to go and were able to tie the game on a scramble goal from Blunden to complete his hat trick.
4-on-4 overtime would solve nothing, but 3-on-3 would spell trouble for the Sens. After a failed Sens attempt in the Crunch zone, they would counter it with a 3-on-1 attack which finished with a goal with only 12 seconds left in the overtime period.
In the overtime loss, Mannino played well by stopping 41 of 46 shots. Most goals came off of high quality scoring opportunities or shots on second chance scrambles. Claesson played well on the back-end, laying the body on several Crunch forwards. Methot showed some rust in his first game in a long time by missing some hits and not being as sure-handed as we are used to seeing.
Binghamton Senators 4 - Syracuse Crunch 5 (OT)
Binghamton Senators Record: 15-14-4
The Week Ahead:
Wednesday, January 7 at 7:00pm. Binghamton Senators at Portland Pirates
Friday, January 9 at 7:30pm. Binghamton Senators at Worcester Sharks
Saturday, January 10 at 7:00pm. Binghamton Senators at Manchester Monarchs
Notable Updates from North American Prospects:
Tobias Lindberg: Picked up two goals and added an assist in a 6-4 Oshawa Generals win over the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds on Sunday. He now has 17 goals and 29 assists through 36 games.
Francis Perron: He had a big week in the assists department, picking up seven assists over four games with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. He is 11th in the QMJHL with 151 shots on goal. The seven assists this week brings him to 18 goals and 33 assists through 37 games.
Chris Driedger: Started and lost four games this week for the ECHL Evansville Icemen, giving up 16 goals in total.
Nick Paul: He has potted a pair of goals and has looked good playing for Canada in the World Junior Championship.
Curtis Lazar: May as well include him as part of this list! He has been lighting it up for Canada at the World Juniors, scoring five goals and adding four assists through six games. He is tied for the tournament lead in goals and is ranked fourth in points.