BINGHAMTON - Don’t let their 22-23-3-4 (51 points 3rd North) record foll you, the Utica Comets are sneaky good. They knocked off one of the hottest teams in the AHL Saturday, as they topped the Binghamton Senators 3-2 in front of an announced crowd of 4679 at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena. The win was Utica’s fourth straight and snaps an equally impressive four game streak for Binghamton.
Binghamton (33-16-1-3 70 points, 1st East) didn’t seem to have the pep in their step, and while they did not play a bad game, faltered in the late minutes. Having arrived from an exciting game at the Bell Centre in Montreal at 4:30 am, the fatigue caught up to them at the end.
“The other team worked harder, ” Binghamton coach Luke Richardson said, refusing to blame the travel on the loss. “They deserve the win. That’s really unacceptable for us”
“You can’t be making excuses,” forward Mike Hoffman admitted. “You’re a little bit tired, but how many minutes are you going to play; 15 or 20? You have to go out there and give it everything you got. Travel is part of this league and you’ve just got to deal with that.”
The first period was Binghamton’s best, but they were not discipline with their offensive play. Time after time, the Sens made an extra pass when they had a wide open net to shoot at. Utica’s starting goalie, Joacim Eriksson was also impressive in net, stopping 27 of 29 shots he faced (Andrew Hammond stopped 27 of 30 for Binghamton).
The B-Sens were able to light the lamp in the 1st, as Hoffman led a rush on the right side in the neutral zone. He let go a hard shot from just above the right circle to score his 29th goal of the year and make it 1-0. Chris Wideman was credited with the assist at 13:11. The goal came four-on-four as Mike Sdao and Kellan Lain has been given unsportsmanlike conduct penalties for a bit of jarring after a whistle seconds earlier.
Utica battled back in the second stanza, ting the game at one goal apiece. Comets’ captain Colin Stuart scored his 12th goal as he took a second chance opportunity on Hammond from the base of the right circle. Jeremy Welsh and Andrew Mallet assisted at 9:18.
Hoffman scored his 30th of the year later in the period on one of the flukiest goals you will ever see. He had the puck behind the icing line in the offensive zone on the right side and tried to center it for a cutting Sdao. Instead of tipping off Sdao’s stick and in, it went in off the skate of a Comets’ defender and gave Binghamton a 2-1 lead at 11:32. Mark Stone was credited with the helper.
“Sdao was going back door so I was just trying to send a hard pass through,” Hoffman said. “I got a little lucky bounce off one of their D. I didn’t see it go in, I didn’t even know it went in. I’ll take it.”
Hoffman is second in the league in points at 67 and sits one goal back of Texas’ Colton Sceviour.
With the Binghamton again up one and the third period approaching, Stephane Da Costa took a tripping call that carried over into the third. Just 19 ticks into the period, Utica tied it up as Nicklas Jensen poked the puck past the right pad of Hammond for his 14th of the year. Patrick Mullen had the initial shot and Cal O’Reilly also assisted on the goal that tied the game at two.
Three was the magic number as Hoffman continued trying unsuccessfully for a hat trick. Meanwhile, Utica’s Frank Corrado scored the team’s third and his fifth of the year off the faceoff at 6:31. The Faceoff man O’Reilly assisted. It was all they needed as Utica skated to a 3-2 victory.
“You’re not going to win every game,” Hoffman said. “We’ve been playing some really good hockey and had spurts of it tonight. [We've just got to] put this one behind us and get ready for Wednesday.”
Binghamton is off until Wednesday afternoon when they head to Toronto to take on the Marlies at 11am. The team will then hop on a plane bound for St. John’s to take on the Ice Caps Friday and Saturday. Utica is on the road Sunday at Albany before returning home to take on San Antonio Wednesday.
Said Hoffman, the MVP of the All Star game last week in St. John’s, “I’ll try and bring [those] two points to the game in St. John’s”
NOTE: Mark Borowiecki, Cole Schneider, Jim O’Brien, and Wacey Hamilton were not dressed. The later two were healthy scratches with Borowiecki ready to go if needed, but still day to day. Richardson did admit the team struggled without their captain.
AROUND THE AHL:
- All 30 teams were in action Saturday.
- San Antonio saw it’s season best six game winning streak snapped Saturday afternoon, falling to Toronto 2-1. San Antonio is in the midst of their month long “rodeo road trip”.
- Five different Crunch players scored as Allen York recorded his second shutout of the year (and first in Syracuse) as Syracuse defeats Hershey 5-0 at the Giant Center
INSIDE HOCKEY THREE STARS
3. Colin Stuart (UTI) G
2. Mike Hoffman (BIN) 2 G (29, 30)
1. Frank Corrado (UTI) GWG