(Binghamton, NY) – The Rochester Americans overcame a pair of two-goal deficits and tied it up midway through the third, but a late goal from Binghamton Senators captain Mike Blunden with 2:16 remaining proved to be the difference as the hosts pulled away with a 4-3 win Saturday at Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena. The game was the first of two on the weekend between the North Division rivals, who will reconvene Sunday evening back in Rochester.
Daniel Muzito-Bagenda opened scoring for the Amerks with his eighth tally of the season, a shorthanded goal five minutes into the second stanza. Defenseman Erik Burgdoerfer had a two-point night with a pair of assists while Eric Cornel and former Senator Patrick Mullen each scored in the third period to bring the Amerks back from a 3-1 deficit. John Muse earned the start between the pipes, turning aside 33 attempts in the losing effort.
Binghamton’s goal leader Max McCormick opened up scoring with his 16th of the season, and but the Senators attack was led by Blunden and Nick Paul, both of whom notched two-point games with one goal and one assist each. Chris Rumble also found the back of net while Andrew Hammond finished with 22 saves in leading Binghamton to its third straight win.
The Amerks got off to a promising start as rookie Vaclav Karabacek hit the Senators goal post less than 30 seconds after the opening face-off. Muse stood between the pipes for the 11th time this season and was unable to ward off McCormick, who scored for the third straight game just five minutes in to give the Senators the early 1-0 lead. Rumble doubled the advantage over 10 minutes later, picking the upper corner from the top of face-off circle.
Rochester pulled within one 5:32 into the middle frame on a shorthanded tally from Muzito-Bagenda. After defenseman Brady Austin was sent to the penalty box for tripping, Tim Kennedy got hold of the puck as the B-Sens were bringing it out of their own end. Kennedy corralled his own rebound off the pads of Hammod and sent a cross-ice pass to a waiting Muzito-Bagenda, who had a wide-open net for his eighth goal of the season.
The Senators regained their two-goal advantage thanks to Paul’s eighth of the campaign, but Rochester would strike twice in the first 10 minutes of the third period to knot even the score at three apiece. Cornel beat Hammond on the power-play just 1:24 into the final frame before Mullen, who was acquired off waivers from Binghamton, got the better of his former teammate with his second goal in as many games.
Binghamton, however, would again regain the lead on a late goal from Blunden. After Muse denied an offering from Andreas Englund, the rebound became loose amid the net-front scramble that ensued. Blunden was able to spot the bouncy puck through the maze of bodies and snapped it home with just 2:16 remaining to seal the 4-3 win for the Senators.
The Amerks look to avoid the two-game sweep to the Senators as the home-and-home series shifts back to Rochester on Sunday, Feb. 19 for a rematch at The Blue Cross Arena. Game time is slated for a 5:05 p.m. start and will be carried live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester.
RCH: Muzito-Bagenda (8), Cornel (5), Mullen (2)
BNG: McCormick (16), Rumble (6), Paul (8), Blunden (8)
RCH: Muse – 33/37 (L)
BNG: Hammond – 22/25 (W)
RCH: PP (1/1) / PK (2/2)
BNG: PP (0/2) / PK (0/1)