The Pittsburgh Vengeance traveled to Binghamton this weekend for a two game set with the Jr Senators and came away with all four points, never trailing during either game.
The teams played an even first period in the opening game Saturday night, with both sides tallying 8 shots on goal. Pittsburgh notched the first goal of the game a little over halfway through the frame, as Thomas Polster redirected an Austen Zimmerman point shot to give the Vengeance the 1-0 lead. Nate Schwartz appeared to give the Vengeance a 2-0 lead on a wraparound effort, but the goal was disallowed because an errant puck found its way onto the ice. The Senators jumped on the opportunity and responded shortly after, beating netminder Jacob Zab to draw even heading into the second at 1-1.
Pittsburgh managed two goals in the middle frame, as Polster managed his second of the game and fifth of the season with a quick shot from the slot after a beautiful pass from behind the net by defenseman Justin Bioni 7:20 into the period. Bighamton found themselves in penalty trouble late in the second, and Dom Glavach added his team-leading 15th goal of the season on a 5-on-3 man advantage with 3:44 remaining in the period to extend the Vengeance lead to 3-1.
Senator forward Ryan Flanagan opened scoring in the third period with a powerplay blast from the blue line 7:20 in to draw Binghamton back within one. The Vengeance were able to stave off the Binghamton attack, and forward Jacob Friedman notched his first goal in a Pittsburgh uniform seven minutes later to regain the two goal lead for the boys in red. An eager Russel Westbrook fan blocked most of the net from the camera, but it was probably a pretty nifty goal. Nick Erker took advantage of a gift-wrapped turnover and added his first junior hockey tally into an empty Senator net with under two minutes to play before Binghamton and Friedman traded goals late in the game for a final score of 6-3. Zab stopped 21 of 24 Senator shots for his first victory of the season in the series opening win for the Vengeance.
The teams met Sunday afternoon for a matinee game. Pittsburgh once again jumped to an early lead, as Austin Martz opened the scoring 5:00 in with his third goal of the season, carrying the puck from his own end and depositing a wrister to beat the Senator tender blockerside. The Vengeance dominated the first offensively, outshooting the Sens 14-7 but only managing one goal. Schwartz extended the lead early in the middle frame when he was sprung for a breakaway with an outstanding outlet pass from Bioni.
Things got a little chippy a few minutes later, as Martz took umbrage with a hit from behind by Flanagan behind the Senator net and the pair squared off in a bout. Martz was hit with a major for slashing, Flanagan a major for checking from behind, and both received ejections for receiving two majors in a game after the fight. Tempers calmed as both were removed from the game, and the score remained 2-0 until Glavach added his second of the weekend, taking advantage of a Senator turnover down low and roofing one on the Binghamton netminder.
Pittsburgh held the 3-0 lead into the 3rd until Senator Brad Becker managed to beat Vengeance tender Tyler Hawk with a powerplay goal 2:39 into the final frame. Anthony Bates was awarded a goal as he was dragged down from behind with an empty net with a minute remaining and Hawk stood tall the rest of the game, stopping 27 of 28 Senator tries, as the Vengeance took home the 4-1 victory.
Pittsburgh has now won 7 straight contests, good for 2nd place in the NA3HL East with an 8-point cushion over 3rd place Wooster. Glavach's 16 goals are good for 4th highest in the league, while Bioni's 11 assists have him 10th in the NA3HL among defensemen. Hawk's save percentage rose to .954 and his goals against average on the season fell to 1.17, which tops the league for qualifying goaltenders in both statistics.
The Vengeance look to stay hot on another road trip this weekend, travelling to Toledo for two games with the Cherokee. Puck drop is 7:00 both Friday and Saturday, so be sure to follow along on hockeytv.com!