The Binghamton Senators put the exclamation point on a remarkable turnaround season by capturing the 2011 Calder Cup championship Tuesday night with a 3-2 win in Game 6 against the Houston Aeros at the Toyota Center in Houston.
The B-Sens, who joined the American Hockey League in 2002-03 as the top development team of the Ottawa Senators, had missed the playoffs for five consecutive seasons entering the 2010-11 campaign, but finished it by earning the city of Binghamton's first championship in 29 years of hosting an AHL franchise.
Binghamton won the final three games of the Calder Cup Final and four of the last five. The B-Sens also established an AHL record with 10 road victories this postseason (10-2) and finished 15-4 in their final 19 playoff games after falling into a 3-1 deficit against the Manchester Monarchs in the opening round.
The B-Sens overcame that deficit – winning all four games of the series in overtime – before knocking off the Portland Pirates (4-2) and Charlotte Checkers (4-0) en route to the Calder Cup Final against Houston, which is the top affiliate for the Minnesota Wild.
Binghamton coach Kurt Kleinendorst, in his first season with the club, guided the team to 42 victories during the regular season. The B-Sens' playoff roster featured 15 players who appeared in a combined 232 NHL games for Ottawa this season.
Rookie goaltender Robin Lehner won the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as the Most Valuable Player of the 2011 Calder Cup Playoffs, finishing 14-4 with a 2.10 goals-against average, a .939 save percentage, and three shutouts in 19 appearances. Lehner, 19, was a second-round draft pick (No. 46) by Ottawa in 2009 and appeared in 22 AHL games for Binghamton and eight NHL contests during the 2010-11 regular season.