Binghamton Senators win 4-2 over the visiting Hartford Wolf Pack in front of a large, yet rather festive holiday crowd after a week long Christmas break. The Sens were led by Cole Schneider (1g 2a), Matt Puempel (3a) and Eric O'Dell (2g) as rookie goaltender Matt O'Connor wins his third of the season and second in a row to improve to 3-9-2, 3.53 GAA 0.881 SV%.
Hartford (12-16-2-0) kept chipping away keeping them within striking distance by narrowing several two goal leads to one on separate occasions. But it was the Senators (8-17-2-0) that brought the energy, along with some emotion, and a strong outing by O'Connor defending the lead as he settled in making 24 saves.
Hartford's Shawn O'Donnell had an early night as he was involved in two fights and was ejected in the first period. The first one he tangled up with Zack Stortini at center ice and didn't get too many punches in as Storts tied him up landing many up close before getting the take-down. Then after a scrum following stoppage, Max McCormick had some words for O'Donnell followed by minutes later as they would bump bodies in front of Hellberg and the gloves were off as McCormick gets the better of O'Donnell with another take-down.
O'Connor made some key saves stopping ex-WBS Pens Brian Gibbons and Adam Tambellini one-on-one on separate breakaways, but also had some luck with a shot ringing off the crossbar. However, the first goal was bad timing as the Senators were called for too many men with less than a minute left in the first and the Wolf Pack capitalized with Tambellini scoring through traffic with 4.8 ticks left making it a 2-1 contest at that point.
Three out of Binghamton's four goals were put in off of rebounds close in front of goaltender Magnus Hellberg without him having a chance of making a credible save. As a result, O'Dell scored two identical ones, his 10th and 11th, both on the powerplay as the Sens were three for five on the night. Schneider also scored his on the powerplay with him harmlessly tapping in the puck past Hellberg from a shot by defenseman Michael Kostka from the blueline.
BSens' defenseman Guillaume Lepine opened up the scoring in the first as he guided home a shot from the point that ended up by Hellberg for his first goal of the season as I thought he played one of his better games working well newly aligned with teammate Kostka on the top pairing.
Another ex-WBS Pens' Jayson Megna was the other goal scorer for Hartford as he picked up a loose puck through traffic in front and wheeled it into an empty net with O'C caught out of position in the second period.
Binghamton is in a midst of playing five games in the next eight days with two more scheduled on home ice beginning next week. If they can get by the Bears on Sunday in Hershey, who knows what's in store but it'll be a tough task as the Bears shutout the mighty Penguins on Saturday on home ice.
Michael Sdao, out. Ben Harpur, Nick Tuzzolino, injured. Danny Hobbs, Ryan Penny healthy. Mark Fraser 1st of 2 game suspension.
Chris Driedger back up
POST GAME NOTES
- O'Connor was ruthless in not caving in on the pressure of the the Wolf Pack as he had one of his better performances as he continues to feel comfortable in net.
- PP much better organized as two set plays with O'Dell parked near the net capitalizing on any rebounds with Puempel and Ryan Dzingel on point playing the role of set up men. Kostka was added to the first unit and Stortini saw limited action as the team shook it up a bit, and it worked out.
- Players met again at center ice giving the fans a hometown stick salute for the second straight time, as they have their support in what has been a disappointing season thus far. Hope they continue that trend and the club strings some wins together as a result.
- Fraser did
not receive a suspension from last Friday night's diabolical on Tanner Richard of the Crunch as he sat out the first of two games. That left the team a man short on the blueline with both Harpur and Tuzzolino out with injuries and were forced to call up Rutkowski from Evansville.
- Shots end up in favor of the Wolf Pack 26-24 but Binghamton's powerplay explosion was the key factor tonight.
The Senators take the bus and have a date with the Hershey Bears on Sunday, followed by two home games next week on Tuesday (Lehigh Valley) and Thursday (St. John's).
*Cover Pic & Insert Courtesy of Alicia Strauch.