BINGHAMTON, N.Y. – A December match up of East division foes, the first since the announcement that the teams would participate in the first-ever American Hockey League Outdoor Classic in Syracuse this February took place at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena. The B-Sens hosted the first game of a home-and-home series this weekend against the Syracuse Crunch.
The game was all Binghamton, as the B-Sens bombarded Crunch goaltender Dan LaCosta with 43 shots, while counterpart Chris Holt stopped all 26 shots to earn first star honors and his second shutout in just as many starts.
Before the game, Josh Hennessy was honored for being named the AHL/Reebok Player of the Week for his outstanding performance the week ending Nov. 29. He continued his phenomenal play tonight with a goal and an assist. Hennessy opened the scoring just four minutes into the game, tipping in a shot from the point by Geoff Kinrade. Kinrade played keep-away from a Crunch forward and launched a wrist shot towards the net that Hennessy redirected in mid-air, beating LaCosta over his right shoulder.
The Sens cashed in on a four minute power play in the second period on an extraordinary effort from Kaspars Daugavins. Receiving a feed from Hennessy, a falling Daugavins slipped the puck to Zack Smith whose shot slipped under the arm of LaCosta, and landed in the crease. A still-sliding Daugavins’ slapped the puck in on a second effort to put the Sens up 2-0.
The Sens carried over a penalty kill off a Craig Schira hooking call at the end the second period, giving the Crunch an opportunity to bounce back, but it was Cody Bass who bolted up the right wing boards and surprised LaCosta with a wrist shot at the top of the right circle to put give the Sens three-goal lead just one minute into the third.
The Crunch defense couldn’t figure out a way to keep up with the B-Sens, as Jim O’Brien danced around their team 3:45 into the third. O’Brien started with the puck behind the Syracuse net, skated along the boards, untouched by two Crunch defenders, turned towards the slot, and wristed a laser top-shelf.
Max Gratchev earned his first AHL goal of his career with a power play goal that had fans on their feet. Gratchev’s impressive stick handling had a Crunch defender frantically swiping at the puck, but Gratchev fired a low shot from an impossible angle, from the goal line below the circle, that hit off of LaCosta’s skate and trickled through the five-hole to cap off the Senators’ blowout.
This was the Senators fourth straight home win, third straight shutout at the Arena as they continue to gain ground in the East Division. The B-Sens head north for the second game in the home-and-home series against the Syracuse Crunch tomorrow, Dec. 5, at the War Memorial at Oncenter.