After being outscored by Hershey 15-4 in the first two meetings this season, the Binghamton Senators beat the Hershey Bears 4-2 Friday night in front of a sold out crowd at the Broome County Arena.
“It was a great game for everybody,” said Binghamton coach Kurt Kleinendorst. “If you couldn’t enjoy this one, you’re not much of a hockey fan.”
Binghamton Goaltender Barry Brust was the star of the show, making 42 saves on 44 shots and even chipping in offensively on Roman Wick’s empty net goal that put the game away with 36 seconds left.
“It didn’t seem like it,” said Brust of his number of saves. “A lot of their shots were from the outside and they didn’t have very many chances I thought. Early on they had a couple, but after that they didn’t have that much.”
Hershey was playing shorthanded, using only 11 forwards in the game, but Binghamton was without the services of Corey Locke, the AHL’s leader in points. They were also missing Francis Lessard, who hurt his shoulder Wednesday night at Syracuse.
Binghamton got on the board first, when Craig Schira shot one from the face off circle and beat Dany Sabourin in the Hershey net 3:30 into the game. Andre Benoit and Mike Hoffman drew the assists.
For Binghamton, it was the first lead they have had over Hershey in any of the three games this season.
The B-Sens extended that lead 8:56 later when Erik Condra shot one in front that deflected off a Hershey defender and into the back of the net. Wick got the primary assist and Benoit got his second of the night.
Binghamton got into trouble at the 12:55 mark when Benoit picked up the first penalty of the night, an interference call. Boyd Kane cashed in with 24 seconds left on the man-up when he beat Brust with a one-timer, closing the gap to 2-1.
Binghamton went to the locker room with the lead, despite trailing 13-11 in shots.
The second period saw the physical play pick up, which had the full house at the arena buzzing. It was a pretty even period, which featured one penalty call per side and resulted in 4-on-4 hockey which neither team could take advantage of.
Sabourin was much better in the second period, turning aside all 10 shots he faced. Brust was good as well; flashing the leather and making a shoulder save with 5:23 left in the period on a hard slap shot.
Despite his solid effort, Hershey was able to get the game-tying strike past Brust when Andrew Joudrey scored with 2:39 left in the period.
The third period started with 14 seconds of power-play time for Hershey with Condra in the box for delay of game. The B-Sens were able to kill it off and were rewarded 4 ½ minutes later when Bobby Butler took a pass from Colin Greening and slapped it past Sabourin to give the B-Sens a 3-2 lead.
For Butler, it was his 14th lamp lighter of the season, which puts him three ahead of second place Luke Adam for the AHL lead. Butler came close to adding another, minutes later but he and Zack Smith just missed hooking up on a pass that would have found Butler’s stick at the far post.
Hershey turned up the pressure late in the period and Brust was there, grabbing a couple out of mid air with his glove and getting in front to stop good chances by Hershey.
“Brusty was there when we needed him. “He’s different than any other (goaltender) I’ve played with as far as on the ice,” said Binghamton captain Ryan Keller. “He plays the puck and takes responsibility off the defensemen which helps. It’s nice to have him back there.”
Not only was Brust good between the pipes, but he and Keller got involved in the offense when Binghamton added an empty net goal to put the game away.
After making a save with 45 seconds to play, Brust made a great pass from his knees with an empty net at the other end. Keller picked up the Brust and passed ahead to a wide-open Roman Wick, who skated it in with Sheldon Souray trailing him and pushed it into the wide-open net, giving Binghamton the two goal lead with 36 seconds left.
“I don’t think they expected me to shoot it from my knees,” said Brust, of his pass. “Sometimes guys will just pass it over to the side, but I saw a lane, and Kells filled that lane. I didn’t even care if I hit his stick; I just wanted to put it on his body and make sure I shot it high enough and hard enough, and thank goodness I did.”
“He’s a high-risk goalie if you haven’t noticed, he likes to do it with a little bit of color,” said Kleinendorst with a smile. “He’s been awfully good for us and I just wonder where we’d be without him under the circumstances. With Brodeur being shelved and Lehner being shelved, I don’t think anyone really thought Barry Brust would be carrying the load for us, but he deserves every start he’s getting.”
For more info: Hershey @ Binghamton gamesheet
Game Notes: Prior to Friday’s game, the B-Sens released goaltender Zame Kalemba from his professional tryout agreement. Robin Lehner was the backup on Friday, but it remains to be seen if he will start tonight’s game against Hartford. Coach Kleinendorst would not commit to a goaltender when asked Friday night.
The B-Sens host the Hartford Wolf Pack for the final time tonight at the arena. The team will be changing its name to the Connecticut Whale on November 27th.
The puck drops at 7:05 p.m. tonight. Tickets are $17.75 for side seating, $16.75 for end seating. Fans can purchase tickets at Ticketmaster.com, by phone at 1-800-745-3000 or in person at the Binghamton Senators’ executive office or the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena box office.