Over to you, Don!
The Binghamton Senators got 46 saves from goaltender Ben Bishop and winger Jakob Silfverberg contributed with a goal and an assist, leading the home team to a 3-2 win over the visiting Toronto Marlies and making Thanksgiving that much happier for the majority of the 3,052 fans in the stands.
There were more than a few in that crowd cheering for Johnson City native Jerry D’Amigo, who got to play in front of the hometown crowd, as a member of the opposition.
“We tried to approach the game just like another game,” said Binghamton coach Luke Richardson. “It’s a big holiday down here and it’s a great tradition. We wanted just to let that Thanksgiving spirit in the stands to kind of filter down to us, instead of us thinking about it and doing it. It was great; we got off to a good start with a two goal lead and used the building to our advantage.”
Shane Prince got the home fans on their feet early in the contest. Prince, who scored his first AHL goal in last Saturday’s win over Rochester, picked up right where he left off, getting his second tally in as many games 2:22 into the game. He sent a shot up and over Toronto goalie Ben Scrivens, giving Binghamton a 1-0 lead. Silfverberg and Pat Cannone earned the assists on the goal.
Binghamton has been successful shorthanded this season, scoring a league-leading six goals with a man in the penalty box. Thursday, they showed they could score four-on-four as well.
With 13:29 left in the period, Hugh Jessiman and Nazem Kadri were each sent to the box for roughing. Early in the sequence, a Marlies player went down and Silfverberg found himself all alone on a breakaway. He streaked in on Scrivens and pushed it home, making it 2-0.
“This game was my best so far in Binghamton,” said Silfverberg. “For me it felt nice to have a couple points and get the win. Every game I learn something and feel more and more comfortable out there.”
Silfverberg now leads the team in scoring, with three goals and six assists.
Binghamton just missed adding to their lead late in the period, when Mike Hoffman did a 360, while passing the puck to Cannone, who sent a blast just wide of the net.
Bishop saw 14 shots in the period and held Toronto scoreless through 20 minutes. Binghamton had two of their 13 shots find the back of the net.
In the second period, Toronto turned up the heat and closed the gap, as Carter Ashton scored 1:06 in, shortly after Binghamton killed off an abbreviated Toronto power-play.
Bishop would be under fire all period, with Toronto getting the better of the offensive zone play. He was up to the task, making 19 of 20 saves in the period. Many of those could’ve easily given Toronto a lead coming out of that third period.
The effort of Bishop in that period was not lost on Richardson, but neither was the struggle that his team had on both ends
“I think it started around the end of the first period,” he said. “We started turning pucks over and we stopped moving our feet. We gave up too many odd-man rushes and too many chances. That kind of happened to us last game too, so it is something we have to look at because we can’t ask our goalies to do that every night, even though they’re probably one of the strongest tandems in the league.”
Bishop made one of his best saves of the night with 15:17 left in the second, on a point-blank shot from Ashton. He snatched it out of the air and denied what would’ve been the tying goal.
Binghamton managed just seven shots in that second period and was lucky to get out of there with a one goal lead.
In the third, Binghamton benefitted from another 4-on-4, as Binghamton’s Andre Petersson was whistled for slashing at the 4:23 mark and Toronto’s Ashton follows 28 seconds later, as he was tagged for goaltender interference.
It took just 46 seconds for Binghamton to get the insurance goal they needed, as defenseman Patrick Wiercioch went coast-to-coast, weaving through a couple defenders and beating Scrivens all by himself.
“That goal is probably gonna overshadow one of his best defensive games of the year,” said Richardson. “He’s playing more physical, he’s taking charge, he’s playing a lot of minutes and he did a great job. He’s an offensive talent and it’s nice when you play that hard defensively to get the chance to shoot the puck and score.”
The Marlies had a golden opportunity with 5:20 left, as they had 1:32 of power-play time. The defense stepped up and Bishop made the saves he needed to keep the Marlies off the board for the time being.
They did solve Bishop with 1:30 left in the game, when Matt Frattin beat him, but that was as close as the visitors would get, as the defense clamped down and Bishop made some key saves down the stretch.
“He was good, he was solid,” said Richardson of Bishop’s effort. “Everything you could ask for from a goalie.”
For D’Amigo, it was not the outcome he wanted, as he was kept off the scoresheet, but he was still glad to be home.”
“It’s always great to see all the people in the stands that I know,” D’Amigo said. It was great to see them and kind of enjoy my first Thanksgiving, in five or six years.”