Third period goals from Bobby Butler and BSens Captain Ryan Keller were the difference in this one as the boys from Bingo sensed a chance at history and were not going to miss their opportunity.
Robin Lehner was strong and confident in the Sens net as he has been throughout the playoffs and was named the MVP of the playoffs. When Brust faltered in Round 1, Lehner took the ball and ran with it. The experience he gained this season will go a long way in his development as a star at the NHL level.
With their assistant coach Steve Stirling in the hospital after emergency heart surgery in the midst of the Finals, you could tell this team wanted to win this on for "Stirls". Nice touch by the captain Ryan Keller to bring out the nameplate of Stirling during the Calder Cup presentation too.
When this epic playoff run started almost two months ago, I think Sens fans in Binghamton and Ottawa were cautiously optimistic. A number of key players on the Bingo roster had gained some valuable NHL experience and the roster looked poised to go on a good run in the AHL playoffs. That was until that "run" hit a near season ending road block in the form of the club's first round opponent in the Manchester Monarchs.
Down three games to one and with their season on the line, the Sens fought their way to a 5-4 overtime victory and suddenly had life. Two more overtime victories backstopped by Robin Lehner and the Sens had survived a first round scare. The team never looked back...
With a confident Lehner between the pipes and scoring depth that was far superior to that of their opponents, Bingo was able to surge past Portland and Charlotte and book their spot in the final. Houston proved to be a worthy opponent but the Binghamton Senators were a team of destiny and simply wouldn't be denied.
Some of the credit has to go out to Bryan and Tim Murray and the rest of the Sens management team. When Murray took over as GM of this hockey club he made the AHL club one of his top priories. He got the right coach in place in Kurt Kleinendorst and built a team that could compete on a regular basis. The benefits will undoubtedly be felt by the NHL team down the road but for now, the organization can take great pride in having a championship team at the minor league level.
On a personal level, this playoff run and Calder Cup Championship has opened my eyes to the passion and dedication of the hockey fans in Binghamton, New York. I was lucky enough to make it down for two playoff games and can not say enough good things about the people in that city. We were welcomed into the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena with open arms and I can honestly say, the two games will go down as two of my most enjoyable live hockey experience.
In the AHL's 75th season, the Binghamton Senators are Calder Cup Champions! Enjoy it, Bingo!
GO BSENS GO!