BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — After losing top-line right wing Mark Stone and captain Mark Borowiecki to injuries in the first period, the Binghamton Senators salvaged the night by battling back to a 4-3 overtime victory over the Syracuse Crunch in their season opener Saturday.
Rookie defenseman Cody Ceci scored 2:13 into overtime to propel the B-Sens past the Crunch, who led 3-1 early in the third period. Mika Zibanejad tied the game 3-3 on a power-play one-timer midway through the third period. Corey Cowick and Derek Grant also scored for the B-Sens. Nathan Lawson made 32 saves.
“It was a pretty exciting game,” said Ceci, an Ottawa native and former 67′s star. “We played strong and fought back in the third, then had a good overtime … It’s four-on-four, so there’s a lot of ice. I like to jump up in the play, so I took the opportunity. I was just skating down the wall, and the guy kind of slid in desperation. I just waited him out, and then I had the whole far side, so I just put it there, and it was a pretty great feeling to score a goal like that with coming into a new team and a new town. I’m happy to be here, and it’s nice to start off like that.”
For head coach Luke Richardson, Ceci’s goal was the perfect end to a great game for the 2012 first-round draft pick.
“In training camp, I think he was a little nervous up in Ottawa, and he might not have showed quite as well as what we saw down here at the end of last season,” Richardson said. “I think by far he was our best defenseman (tonight), if not our best player out there, especially when we lost Boro and we had to play him (Ceci) quite a bit. It was fitting for him to get that goal because he has a great knack of getting up the ice. After the minutes, and the hard minutes, he played tonight, it’s not so easy to do. The ice was soft. It’s a lot of hard work out there. We’re excited to have him here. He won’t be here very long, probably, if he continues like this.”
It was also the perfect way for Richardson’s players to cap off a rally in defense of their fallen teammates.
“I think we took a step back, and tried to do it on the scoreboard more than we could have done it out there (on the ice),” said Cowick, another former 67′s standout. “You never want to see a guy go down, and a guy like Boro, he’s so heart and soul, and a guy like Stoney, who works his butt off every game — you want to do it for them. If they were out there, they would be giving it their all, so you don’t want to make it a waste. If they’re not going to play, you want to make sure you do it for them. Obviously … you want to win the game no matter what, but it gives you a little bit of added fuel.”
Stone suffered an apparent shoulder injury and was expected to be evaluated Saturday night. Borowiecki, a Kanata native, was injured on a hit by Philippe Paradis, but his injury is not believed to be serious.
“Boro just took a bit of a helmet to the head and whipped his neck back,” Richardson said. “But he seems to be OK on any kind of concussion symptoms. I think it was more just a little bit of a sore neck, so we kept him out precautionary for the rest of the game.”
Zibanejad, less than a week removed from his surprising demotion to the American Hockey League, ripped a one-timer past Crunch goalie Cedrick Desjardins to tie the game midway through the third period.
“We’re pretty lucky to have some guys down here who probably shouldn’t be here,” Cowick said. “We’re going to take advantage of them for as long as we have them.”
Cowick had cut the Crunch lead to 3-2 when he jammed Ceci’s rebound past Desjardins 6:42 into the third period, which was undeniably the B-Sens’ best of regulation.
“I think it shows that we’re creating a family mentality out there already,” Richardson said of his team’s effort in the third period. “They work for each other, they go fight out on the ice for each other, and they went right to the end. It’s easy to give up. It’s hard to work and win and come back from behind. I think they showed a lot of determination and character, and to show it this early in the season, is a huge positive for us and will go a long way this year.”
“We just made simpler plays,” Grant added. “The ice conditions weren’t the best out there. We just helped each other out with a little communication and played a little harder with a little more grit. I think we were sitting back a little early, and when we found a way to get pucks in and get pucks on the net, we had a lot of success.”
Grant found some success of his own 3:35 into the second period, tying the game 1-1 with a nifty goal off a shorthanded breakaway.
“I was able to pick the puck, and I didn’t know if someone was chasing me, so I tried to get on my horse there and was able to put it through his legs,” said Grant, who led the league with five shorthanded goals last season.
Dana Tyrell, gave the Crunch, affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning, a 1-0 lead early in the second period, and scored again after Grant’s goal to make it 2-1. Evan Rankin extended the Crunch lead to 3-1 with 1:02 left in the second.
The B-Sens will have the week off before traveling to Norfolk for a two-game set against the Admirals, affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks, next weekend.