After losing the season opener in a shootout, the Bears came from behind to beat the Rochester Americans on Sunday evening. Keith Aucoin scored twice, Brian Fahey got his first as a Bear, and Andrew Gordon added his touch with his first goal and game winning goal of the year.
Now the Bears travel back up I81 for a visit to Binghamton tonight. The Senators also split their first 2 games, both at home, last weekend against Adirondack and Norfolk.
Last season Binghamton was thought to be an improved team that could give the Bears a run for the division. That turned out to be a poor theory as the Senators finished 5th in the East division and missed the playoffs by 5 points.
This year I think Binghamton is again a team that made some changes that I am sure they think will pay off. Gone are Binghamton mainstays Josh Hennessy and Denis Hamel. Hamel had been in Binghamton for much of the last decade but he is no longer.
Another key player who didn't return this year is last seasons leading scorer Martin St. Pierre. He scored 24 goals and added 48 assists last year.
That means 3 of their top 4 scorers from last season are gone. That is a combined 76 goals and 115 assists gone from a team that finished 2nd in the East division with 251 goals in 09-10.
In their place are a lot of younger players plus one name we all remember from 06-07.
Corey Locke joins the Senators this year after spending last season with Hartford. He scored 31 goals and added 54 assists for the Wolfpack last year so he is a decent upgrade over any player they had last year.
Other players the Sens are likely looking to for some scoring help are youngsters Bobby Butler, Colin Greening, and Mike Hoffman.
Butler joins the team after spending 4 years at the University of New Hampshire. In his 4 year career there he totaled 61 goals and 60 assists including 29 and 24 last season. He has stared fast this season as well with 2 goals and an assist in 2 games so far.
Greening also comes in from college hockey, from Cornell specifically, where he scored 55 goals and 63 assists in his four years. That includes last season when he scored 15 and 20. He has played in both games this season but has yet to record a point.
Hoffman comes from the QMJHL. Over the last 2 seasons he has scored 98 goals and added 81 assists in 118 games. Not included in those numbers are his playoff numbers over the last 2 seasons as well...in 40 games he scored 32 goals and 26 assists. Pretty impressive in the playoffs.
Those young guys join Ryan Keller (leading goal scorer in 09-10 with 34), Jim O'Brien (3 goals already this year), and Kaspers Daugavins (had 21 and 25 last season) for the 2010-11 season.
A younger and possibly improved offense joins with a few new faces on defense including Andre Benoit and David Hale who spent last season with Hamilton and the NHL's Tampa Bay respectively. Benoit, like Locke, was on the 06-07 Calder Cup champion Hamilton team.
And in goal Mike Brodeur returns and joins Barry Brust who comes over from Houston to help out.
Overall I think the Sens could be a dangerous team. It is a bit too early to make that conclusion as the young players need to get some games under their belt. I can say this...they won't be worse then they were last year.
Hershey won the season series 7-1 last year including all 4 in Binghamton. And most of those games weren't close as Hershey outscored the Senators 37-19 in those 8 games. Hershey scored 5 or more in 5 of the 8 games and Bingo scored 2 or fewer in 5 games as well.
This year the teams again face off 8 times during the regular season. Hopefully things go similarly to last year.
LET'S GO BEARS!!!!
News and Notes:
- Patrick Cullity was sent to South Carolina earlier this week in anticipation of Sheldon Souray being in the lineup this weekend.
- Dany Sabourin was placed on waivers late this week as well and is expected in Hershey today. He may get a start this weekend.
- There is a new Bears blog out there that you should all check out (in addition to visiting here of course), Sweetest Hockey on Earth is the site and it is owned/operated by the guys at Russian Machine Never Breaks (also known as RMNB). Both great sites, check them out for everything Caps and Bears.