BINGHAMTON – Just when they thought the game was over, the Manchester Monarchs had one more trick up their sleeves, as they tied the game with a minute left in regulation. However, it was the Binghamton Senators that had the last laugh as they defeated the Monarchs 5-4 on Mike Hoffman’s late-overtime goal Friday night in front of 3167 fans at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena.
The battle of league heavyweights lived up to the hype, as Binghamton (20-9-0-3 43 pts, 1st East) took game one of the two-game season series. While both teams did not bring forth their best hockey; Manchester’s accuracy and adjustments, combined with Binghamton’s speed and skill, made for an epic game with an even better finish.
“[Manchester's] just a good solid team. They really skate. They’re hard on the puck,” coach Luke Richardson assessed.
“It’d be fun to play them lots,” he laughed. “But we’ll be happy to just play them once in a while.
“…We just gave them a few cracks and they found them.”
Innocently enough, the Senators looked sharp to start the game, and the Senators top line seemed to slay the proverbial dragon early, on Stephane Da Costa’s 10th goal of the year at 3:38 in the first. Da Costa came in down the middle and under pressure sent the puck to Mike Hoffman. Hoffman than let a cross ice pass go to his linemate Cone Schneider, while Da Costa snuck into the slot, where he was fed the puck. For good measure, Da Costa added a move around Monarchs’ goalie Jean-Francois Berube, giving the Sens an early 1-0 lead.
“Just like practice,” Da Costa said. “Hoffman made a great pass to Schneider and Schneider to me down the middle.
“…When you drive the middle, the D’s got to back up, and that opened it up a bit.”
After Hoffman took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for arguing with the linesman, Manchester (22-8-2-4 50 pts. 1st Atlantic) proved they were not going to make it an easy game. At the 19:11 mark, Jordan Weal centered the puck in the crease, where Tanner Pearson sent the puck home off his skate to tie the game at 1 goal apiece. His 12th of the year was reviewed, but called a good goal, with Linden Vey assisting.
Binghamton hit the post and crossbar in the first but escaped the bad luck tied in the intermission. They did capitalize to lead off the second stanza, scoring the next two goals.
First, the Sens continued to contribute to their league lead in shorthanded goals. while Corey Cowick sat in the sin bin for high sticking, Buddy Robinson was hustling down behind the Manchester net, beating his man to the puck. He sent it into the slot for Jim O’Brien, who couldn’t get control of it, but a hustling Fredrik Claesson ended up with the puck at the left point and just let it rip past Berube to make it 2-1 3:24 into the period. It was the defenseman’s 2nd goal and 14th point of the year and the team’s ninth shorthanded tally.
5 minutes later, another Binghamton defenseman scored, as Chris Wideman earned his third of the year and 20th point. Wideman let go another hard slapshot from the top of the left circle to give the B-Sens a 3-1 lead. Andre Petersson and Hoffman assisted on the goal that gave the B-Sens a bit of breathing room.
Of course, the old hockey adage says the two goal lead is the hardest to hold. Sens players would agree if you asked tonight, as Manchester returned the favor, scoring the next two.
First, at the 18:00 mark with David Dziurzynski serving a delay of game penalty, Weal got a feed in the left circle and sent home a hard slapshot of his own that went top shelf to make it 3-2. Pearson and Vey assisted on the goal that sent the Monarchs into the locker room with confidence.
Despite it taking seven minutes, the first tally of the third belonged to Manchester as well, as Brandon Kozun intercepted the puck in the neutral zone and took it himself, scoring from the right circle to the way top shelf off the post, making it a 3-3 tie with 7:32 left in regulation.
The Sens answered, as they seem to do all too often, 2:02 later at the 9:35 mark. Cowick worked the puck behind his net and went around into the right circle, he let go a line drive wrist shot that apparently was tipped by Dziurzynski. It was credited as his third of the year and gave Binghamton a 4-3 lead that they held onto until there was 1:22 left in the game.
Off Berube’s pass, Colin Miller sent in a hard slap shot from the blue line that caught Nathan Lawson completely off guard and tied the game at four goals apiece. With the teams tied, the game headed to overtime.
“It was kind of a weird play,” Richardson admitted. “It just kind of surprised everyone.
“…We kept our composure and handled ourselves well [for the rest of the period] and overtime.”
It was a hard fought extra session, with a shootout written all over it, but at the 4:25 mark Da Costa reeled the puck in behind the net and let it go to a sneaky Hoffman who was on the doorstep and put home an easy goal from just outside the right goal mouth to end the game with a 5-4 final score. It was Hoffman’s 16th of the year.
“I was pretty tied, actually,” Da Costa admitted. “I tried to not give up the puck. I beat my guy to the corner and Hoffman was open.”
“It was a good one to get,” Hoffman said. “There was a lot of adversity throughout the game. Emotions were high a lot of the time. At the end of the day, we got the two points and that’s all that matters.”
Binghamton continues their stretch of four games in seven days as they take on the Syracuse Crunch Saturday night at home. Manchester continues their tour of the East Division Saturday at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
AROUND THE AHL:
- Jason Akeson scored 51 seconds into overtime as the Adirondack Phantoms defeated the Hershey Bears 1-0 In Glens Falls. It was a powerplay goal. This may not seem abnormal, but it was the only non-fighting penalty called and the 12th total penalty minute of the game. The teams combined for 62 shots before Akeson’s game winner. Goalies Cal Heeter and Riley Gil were the first and second stars respectively.
- Hartford’s Dov Grumet-Morris and WB/S’ Jeff Deslauriers were in a deep battle as they took a 1-1 tie to the shootout. Paul Thompson scored in the 6th round for the Penguins in their win as they keep pace with Binghamton in the East.
INSIDE HOCKEY’S THREE STARS
3. Tanner Pearson (MAN) G, A
2. Stephane Da Costa (BNG) G, A
1. Mike Hoffman (BNG) GWG, 2 A