The year was 1962 when the Springfield Indians won three consecutive Calder Cups (1960-62). The only time such a milestone had been accomplished in the AHL’s 74 year history. Going into this season the Hershey Bears looked to push aside the Indians once again in the record books, and win their third straight Calder Cup.
With the season in full throttle and March quickly approaching, the Hershey Bears entered Saturday in a decent position to make another championship run. Coming into the February 12th duel between the Hershey Bears and Binghamton Senators, the Bears had won 10 of their last 11 contests.
Shadowing first place Wilkes-Barre entering play, the Hershey motto, “Its all about the cup” started to come into reality with playoffs approaching.
Hershey didn’t arrive back at Giant Center until 6 a.m this morning after a long bus ride from Providence. However the Bears exploded out of the gate early and fired five chances on net within the first two minutes.
Overall the opening 20 minutes would even out as each team would have their share of power plays to work with. However, Binghamton would be the team to strike first. Colin Greening scored for the B-Sens on a wide open path in front of the net that generated off a turnover in the corner. The goal gave Binghamton a 1-0 lead to work with late in the first.
Minutes later, Dylan Yeo would score for Hershey on a soft wrister from far out, deflecting past Barry Brust of the Senators. The goal would knot the game up at one right before the horn would sound for the first intermission.
The two teams battled each other in the period as if they were even matched. Shots were 10-9 in favor of Binghamton and lead in the chance department. Hershey’s biggest concern in the first was giving up the middle of the ice in their defensive end. The Senators were able to enter the Bears’ zone and get chances from the slot.
In the second period from puck drop, it was the Senators demolishing the Bears in chances on net and time of possession. In the first five minutes of the middle stanza, Binghamton had a 8-0 shot run going against Hershey. Todd Ford of the Bears stood his ground in net, denying any pucks on net.
Similar to the opening period, as the play went on, things would even out between both teams when it came to pucks on net and chances.
Later in the period, with a 4-on-3 power play in hand, Derek Smith of the Sens would blast a shot past Ford. The goal on the man advantage would give Binghamton their second lead of the night, at a 2-1 count.
As the period started to run low, Roman Wick tapped home a beautiful pass to the back door side of the net. The goal for Binghamton gave them a 3-1 lead going into intermission and a two-goal lead to protect with 20 minutes remaining.
Hershey’s defense started to appear like they were tired due to suffering from the long bus ride home from Rhode Island in the early morning. Frustration also started to mount for the Bears as Boyd Kane of Hershey was nearly whistled for a penalty after shooting the puck down ice after the second Binghamton goal.
Time began to run low for Hershey as they continued to tire and made bad decisions with the puck in all ends of the ice. The Bears had their opportunity to pull within one goal of the Sens after Andre Benoit was sent to the box for a cross check.
A minute after the power play for Hershey expired, they managed to capitalize and pull back within one goal. David de Kastrozza for Hershey scored his first goal of the season on a quick tip in front of the net. The late goal made it 3-2, put the Senators back on their heels, and brought the loud Hershey crowd back to life.
Roman Wick scored again for the Senators late in the period on a messed up line change by Hershey allowing Wick to walk in on a breakaway, and score. Seconds later Steve Pinizzotto for the Bears scored on a bank shot from behind the goal line that bounced in the net, to make it 4-3, but with only seconds remaining.
Despite the late trade of tallies for both teams, Binghamton prevailed and fought off Hershey for a final count of 4-3. Amazingly, within the last five seasons it was only the Senators third win against Hershey at Giant Center, as home ice has certainly worked for the Bears over the last several years.
Hershey will return to the ice Sunday, February 13th in a show down against the first place Wilkes-Barre/ Scranton Penguins. The I-81 rivalry renews at Mohegan Sun Arena at 3 p.m. in the W-B.