|Geoff Kinrade and the Binghamton Senators aim for a second straight win over the Charlotte Checkers when Game 2 of the Eastern Conference is played tonight in North Carolina (Charlotte Checkers photo).
Like a pair of wily fighters, the Binghamton Senators and Charlotte Checkers went through a feeling out phase to start their Eastern Conference final.
Now it's time to get down to some serious business.
Game 1 of the teams' American Hockey League playoff matchup — a 7-4 victory by Binghamton on Thursday night at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C. — was wild at times, to say the least. The B-Sens and Checkers combined for seven goals in the first period alone, with neither starting goaltender surviving the night's offensive barrage. Fifteen minor penalties were assessed by the officiating crew, making the game's flow ragged at times.
More of the same in Game 2 tonight (7:05 p.m., Team 1200, ahllive.com) in North Carolina? Not likely, B-Sens head coach Kurt Kleinendorst said in the wake of a victory that stole away home advantage in the series for his crew.
"We won a hockey game, but we didn't play great," Kleinendorst told reporters afterward. "And I give them credit for that. Good teams find a way to win when they're not playing at their best. That's what we did (last) night."
"I just know my guys ... I think we'll be better (tonight). I know they'll be better. For us, right now, the goal is we come in here and we put (Game 1) behind us, because we're going to get what we earn, get what we deserve. That's just the way it works with us."
The B-Sens also expect a much stronger effort in Game 2 from the Checkers, who no doubt don't want to fall into a 2-0 hole with the next three games of the series set for Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena in Binghamton, N.Y.
"They will be way better," B-Sens forward Kaspars Daugavins
told the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin
. "It's good for us they weren't (in the opener), but they're a really good hockey team and they have a lot of skilled players that can score a lot of goals. But at the same time, we have to be better, too. Guys know that and this is the main thing to fix right now."
Goaltender Barry Brust, who played the final two periods Thursday in relief of starter Robin Lehner
and turned aside 27-of-28 shots he faced, echoed those sentiments.
"There's no doubt in my mind we'll see a better team tomorrow and we have to be better ourselves," he told the Press & Sun-Bulletin
. "Sometimes, there's a little bit of a feeling out period. Different series are different. I thought we adjusted really well. They're a lot different team than Portland, just like Portland's a lot different than Manchester."
While Lehner got the early hook on Thursday night, Kleinendorst quickly made it clear he's going back to the 19-year-old rookie for Game 2.
"(Lehner) is a young player," said Kleinendorst. "He's growing. He's learning. He's come a long way, but he's still got a ways to go. He definitely deserves the benefit of the doubt, but he'll be on a short leash."Ottawa Tourism honours Bell Capital Cup
The Bell Capital Cup was honoured as the Event of the Year during the 2011 Ottawa Tourism Awards, held Thursday night at the Ottawa Convention Centre.
The world's premier atom/peewee hockey tournament, held each year over the Christmas holidays, earned the distinction over such top competition as the Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest, the Canadian Museum of Nature's grand reopening and Canada Day festivities. The 2012 Bell Capital Cup is set for Dec. 28-Jan. 1.Around the boards
With seven straight road playoff wins, the B-Sens are two shy of the AHL record, set by the 1998 Philadelphia Phantoms ... More goals (three) were scored in the opening 2:42 of Thursday night's game than in all the first periods combined in Charlotte's six-game conquest of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the East Division final ... The B-Sens, who rate as the highest-scoring team in the Calder Cup playoffs, have notched at least four goals in a game on seven occasions during the current post-season. Their output in Game 1 was the highest single-game goal total of the AHL playoffs to date ... Binghamton's Ryan Potulny continues to lead all playoff scorers in goals (11) and points (20) ... Daugavins has racked up 11 points (7-4) in his last six outings.