NEWARK, NJ - There are going to be times like this for the Binghamton Devils for a young team as they suffered their first regulation loss in four games of the season to the Hershey Bears by a slight 2-1 margin. It was a sloppy mess for the most part as the more experienced Bears club made the most despite an outstanding performance by goaltender Gilles Senn in his first game back since last year finishing with 41 saves.
Talk about a wake-up call after being with such a long layoff.
Binghamton (2-1-0-1) jumped to a rare, early lead when defenseman Michael Vukojevic dropped the puck off in the defensive zone for fellow D-man Reilly Walsh who then skated end-to-end, with some slick moves, as he beat Hershey netminder Ilya Samsonov shoulder high for his second of the season on the power play.
Hershey (2-0-2-0) would then score to equal things up 1-1 on a sharp wrist shot by Brett Leason that beat Senn, glove side for his first goal of the season less than two minutes into the second period.
Meanwhile, the BDevils were being outshot by a wide margin as Senn kept it even after 40 minutes. That would be an understatement as the Bears were up by a wide margin, 28-10. But the play of Senn would be the heart of the story in his first game back the rest of the way until a collapse in the final period.
Eventually, the Bears would go back up top when rookie Damien Riat scored his first pro goal through the wickets of Senn on a partial breakaway for a 2-1 lead.
With Binghamton back on their heels and saving their best for last in the final 20 minutes, the ice started to shift in favor of the home team, well, RWJ Barnabas Health Hockey House in this case. But Samsonov was also there to answer as he stopped all 15 shots he saw and could not overcome the eventual result.
Shots 43-23 Bears.
LINE-UP, GAME #4
Studenic - Street - Foote, St. Denis - Schmelzer - Clarke, Thomson - Schnarr - Zetterlund, Martel - Irvine - Koules
Bahl/Jacobs, Okhotiuk/Walsh, Vukojevic/Groleau
Senn - Cormier
Sissons, Rivera, Quenneville & Gignac
Brett Seney remains up top while Jesper Boqvist was sent from the taxi squad to Binghamton. However, Boqvist was suspended for a pair of games dating back to early March before the cancellation of the season. He’ll be eligible to play on Wed, Feb 24 vs Lehigh Valley. Colton White recalled from Binghamton to the taxi squad.
- Walsh and Vukojevic had the moves in the lone goal for Binghamton as the two rookie defensemen connected near their net but on the scoresheet, it was a different story with Walsh credited for the solo effort. Hopefully, that will be changed giving Vokojevic another to his already impressive offensive point total.
- Nolan Foote also stood out as he is improving and shows a high hockey sense in the offensive zone. Good hockey IQ so far on short window.
- Senn was vintage Senn, just a steady presence in the net all night long. He needs more games likes this to be MacKenzie Blackwood’s sole back-up in the near future. This season for the AHL is for naught standings wise, as the focus remains on development in my eyes. New Jersey is set in goal for years to come.
- Graeme Clarke made his pro debut and ended up with 2 shots but remained un-noticed like the rest of the troops. Good to see that first game under his belt and go from there.
- Devils PP was an issue in the latter stages with a 2-man advantage late in the final period that could have resulted in a tie game heading to OT. Major disappointment as the special teams continue to be a work in progress.
Damien Riat (1 g), Ilya Samsonov (22 svs), Gilles Senn (41 svs)