After another undefeated weekend, the Binghamton Senators are beginning to establish themselves as one of the top teams in the American Hockey League.
Stephane Da Costa scored three times and added an assist and Ben Bishop picked up another win as the BSens scored a convincing 5-2 victory over the top team in the Eastern Conference, the Syracuse Crunch. The win is Binghamton's eighth straight.
With another BSens win in the books, we once again turn the floor over to Don Rieber for his take on last night's contest. The floor is yours, Mr. Rieber…
Da Costa Returns to B-Sens with a Bang
Stephane Da Costa played his first game since early in the season on Sunday and took no time at all to knock off the rust. Da Costa netted a hat trick and added an assist, in Binghamton’s 5-2 win over the East Division leading Syracuse Crunch.
“I was nervous for sure, I tried to keep it simple,” he said after the game. “It was a team effort and a great game for us.”
Binghamton coach Luke Richardson was glad to see the hard work pay off for Da Costa.
“He had a couple setbacks physically from the end of the summer till now, but he worked his butt off and I’m really happy for him,” he said. “He got a chance to get in there and use his skills at full capacity, which is probably the first time he felt like that all year.”
Binghamton did not score as early on Sunday as they have in the last couple games, but they did score first, which has served them well during their current eight-game win streak.
“I think we have a great group of guys who listen and want to learn,” said Richardson, when asked what he thought the key was to the streak. “It’s a credit to the guys. They work hard on the ice and I think through the month of November, it’s the consistency of their play and mentally they’re a strong group, they love to play and together and win together.”
Da Costa's night could've been even bigger, had he converted on his first chance. He was denied on the doorstep with about 11 minutes left, by Syracuse goaltender Dustin Tokarski on a B-Sens power-play. He got another chance when Shane Prince rang one off the post. He scooped up the rebound and put it home. With that, Binghamton was in front with 9:37 to go in the first. Prince earned the only assist.
Ben Bishop started his second consecutive game between the pipes for Binghamton and stopped 21 of 23 shots. One he was unable to corral came off the stick of Tyler Johnson, early in the B-Sens second power-play. Johnson passed the puck to Ondrej Palat, who gave it back to Johnson. He beat Bishop, who was caught out of position.
This marked the second consecutive game that the B-Sens gave up a short-handed goal. They had not allowed one in their previous 16 contests.
B-Sens defenseman Mark Borowiecki was forced to drop the gloves with 2:29 left in the period, when he and Radko Gudas went into the boards on what should have been an icing call. Syracuse winger Pierre-Cedric Labrie took exception and both got fighting majors. It was the start of a busy night for Borowiecki.
The first period ended with the score tied 1-1 and Binghamton leading 9-8 in shots.
Binghamton (12-4-1-1) regained the lead 3:35 into the second period on a nice feed from behind the Syracuse net by Cole Schneider, to Da Costa, making it 2-1. It took 5:09 to expand that lead as Jakob Silfverberg sniped one from the circle, beating Tokarski to make it a two goal game. Pat Cannone and Borowiecki claimed the assists.
That goal was on the heels of a big glove save moments earlier from Bishop, on Cory Conacher.
Syracuse (13-5-1-1) was able to close the gap with 1:51 to go in the second, as Danick Gauthier juked a Binghamton defender and beat Bishop to make it 3-2.
A late slashing call against Conacher meant that Binghamton would carry 1:42 of power-play time into the third period. They were unable to capitalize.
Syracuse mistakes were the story of the third period and they started early. Penalties against Labrie for slashing and J.P. Cote for interference, meant the B-Sens had 1:19 of 5-on-3 power-play time with 15:53 left. Cote argued and was assessed a 10-minute misconduct as well.
Mike Hoffman had a few good chances for Binghamton early in the sequence, but Tokarski shut the door, as he would for the entire sequence.
Binghamton’s Tyler Eckford has been playing well as of late and just missed a scoring chance off the post with 8:39 to go. He was picked up six seconds later when Patrick Wiercioch let one rip off the face-off, beating Tokarski clean to make it a 4-2 game.
Da Costa’s third goal of the night came 37 seconds later, on a feed from Prince. B-Sens captain Andre Benoit picked up the secondary helper.
From there, frustration set in for Syracuse, who was playing their third game in three nights. With 1:31 seconds left, Eric Neilson came on the ice with some bad intentions. He took Borowiecki down to the ice pounded away on him. Borowiecki really had no chance with his face planted in the ice and the linesmen, despite their best efforts, struggled to restrain Nielson.
When the dust settled Borowiecki got to his feet and took a fighting major with him. For his troubles, Neilson was assessed a roughing minor, fighting major, a 10-minute misconduct and a game misconduct.
“I think he was just trying to make up for a few plays earlier,” Borowiecki said of Neilson. “I didn’t really see it coming, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. “When you get a reputation guys come looking for you, it comes with the territory. For me in the future, be aware in a situation like that and try to protect myself a little more.”
“They got off their game a little bit when we got the score up on them,” said Richardson. “It’s going to be an intense rivalry, they are a good team and we expect to have a lot of good battles against them all year.”