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Binghamton aims to push Calder Cup series to limit

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Cody Bass and the Binghamton Senators want to make the most of their new life tonight, when they face off against the Monarchs in Manchester, N.H., in Game 6 of their Calder Cup playoff series (Just Sports Photography).

They've lived to play another day.

And the Binghamton Senators aren't quite ready yet to see their American Hockey League season hit an abrupt end.

The B-Sens face elimination one more time tonight at Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, N.H., where Game 6 of their Atlantic Division semifinal will be played (7 p.m., Team 1200, ahllive.com). The host Monarchs hold a 3-2 edge in the best-of-seven series and get a second shot at ending it after Binghamton stayed alive Wednesday night with a 5-4 overtime triumph on home ice.

Four of five games in the series so far have been decided by one goal, with three of them going to overtime before a winner was finally declared.

"It’s been a battle out there, it’s been a war," B-Sens centre Cody Bass said following the team's pre-game skate earlier today. "For us to have Game 6 right now and still be alive ... it could be dangerous for them. The longer they (let us stay) alive, the more we get to play hockey and we still feel good. We’re confident and, hopefully, we can get a win (tonight)."

Added goaltender Robin Lehner, who'll make his second straight start tonight: "Both teams stack up really even. Both are really hard-working teams. it’s been so close. It’s just been some details, some small breaks of the game, some bounces that have been the difference. Now we’re going to go back at them and see what happens."

If Binghamton prevails this evening, Game 7 would go Saturday night in Manchester (7 p.m., Team 1200, ahllive.com). The eventual survivor faces either the Portland Pirates or the Connecticut Whale in the Atlantic Division final. Portland, the division's regular-season champ, currently leads that series 3-2.

The B-Sens, meanwhile, are happy to have a new life and aim to make the most of it.

"We live another day, and anything can happen," head coach Kurt Kleinendorst told the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin. "That's where we're at right now. We've said all along we've got a lot of character in the locker room, and I think it showed (Wednesday) night. I don't see that going away any time soon. We'll go into Manchester, we'll take our chances and we'll just see what it gets us."

After Wednesday's triumph, Kleinendorst suggested "I’ve got to believe we’ll see (the Monarchs) at their very best on Friday." Bass, for one, expects to home side to push hard for the clincher tonight.

"As a group here, we know they’re going to come out hard," he said. "They did that the first two games here and we expect that from them (tonight), maybe even a little more from them. We’ve just got to weather the storm and then fire back at them. If we can bring the game to them instead of them bringing it to us, we’ll be in a good position."

That being said, the B-Sens know they're almost out of lives.

"We talked about a wounded animal," Kleinendorst told the Press & Sun-Bulletin. "Basically, that's what we are right now. We've scratched and clawed all year long. They had a chance to put us away (Wednesday) night and they didn't do it. They'll feel some pressures, but at the end of the day, they've got some wiggle room.

"We'll go in and get the guys refocused (tonight) and make sure that we're not going into this game full of ourselves because obviously we don't have any mulligans left. This is it. We're going to have to put our best on the table and over 60 minutes, we're going to have to get it done or we're going home."

And if it does indeed go to Game 7 ... then, who knows? But Binghamton wants to have an opportunity to write that ending to the script.

"We rattled their cage a little bit," Lehner said after the Game 5 triumph. "Can we win the next one? (If we do) all of a sudden, it’s 3-3 and we don’t know what happens."

Around the boards

The B-Sens continue to be terribly short-staffed on the blue line, with regulars Patrick Coulombe, Eric Gryba, David Hale and Derek Smith all out with injuries. Kleinendorst doesn't expect any of them, along with ailing AHL scoring champ and MVP Corey Locke, to be available the rest of the series ... Kleinendorst on Lehner, who made his pro playoff debut in Game 5: "I have to believe, because he hadn’t played in awhile — and even before that, I know he’d been out with some nagging little injuries — that for me, I would expect him to get better every night."


 








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