In what has become an annual tradition, Ottawa Senators faithful had a chance to get a look at the team’s top prospects as their AHL affiliate from Binghamton visited the Canadian Tire Centre to host the Toronto Marlies.
The opportunity to get a peak at the franchise’s top young talents was unique due to circumstances. Because of the game’s unique location Jean-Gabriel Pageau was sent down following the Sens’ game on Saturday night and former second round pick Shane Prince was recalled, only finding out that he’d make his NHL debut shortly after the game’s conclusion.
The game saw the Senators continue their tradition of support for Do It For Daron, which raises awareness for mental health, as several advocates took to the ice to drop the ceremonial first puck.
Just moments into the game, Colin Greening, no stranger to the Canadian Tire Centre, opened the scoring off of a feed from Derek Grant.
The Senators lead was short-lived however, with Marlies rookie standout Connor Brown batting home rebound out of mid-air. The goal was Brown’s 15th of his rookie campaign.
The two teams, who will also play out of the Air Canada Centre this week, were keen to establish that Battle of Ontario-like rivalry with Frazer McLaren and Guillaume Lepine dropping the gloves nearly immediately after the tying goal.
The early pace continued with the Marlies drawing a tripping penalty off of a William Nylander feed to Sam Carrick before Nylander took a high-sticking penalty of his own before the powerplay was finished.
The two teams would trade chances but Bibeau would be the goaltender that was forced to come up big on a handful of chances in tight.
Binghamton took a 13-12 edge in shots into the second period. On an early Marlies powerplay however, it was Brown taking a redirected chance off the arm, forcing him immediately to the dressing room.
Late in the third, after considerable time missed, Brown returned to the ice, drawing a penalty on his first shift. The Marlies, unable to capitalize on the PP, managed to control play, outshooting Binghamton 15-5 in the period.
The start of the third period began the way the rest of the game had, with another minor penalty, this time to Marlies centre Byron Froese for tripping. After starting the game without success with the man-advantage, Binghamton finally capitalized off a goal from Carter Camper, his seventh of the year.
After a good chance from Marlies forward Josh Leivo, Binghamton winger Alex Guptill would take a hooking penalty with 6:24 remaining in the final period. It would be Binghamton however, who would strike, extending their lead to 3-1 with a shorthanded Jean-Gabriel Pageau goal.
Moments later the Marlies would respond with Ryan Rupert finishing off a Connor Brown play for his eighth goal of the year.
The penalties kept on coming, this time for the Marlies as Sam Carrick went off for goaltender interference, giving Binghamton a powerplay with just under four minutes remaining. The ‘hometown’ team would capitalize with a tic-tac-toe passing play, as Pageau found Cole Schneider for the tap-in.
Binghamton would add an empty netter, improving their record to 20-23-6. The Marlies record fell to 20-19-9.
Despite the win, it was a bitter sweet day for Pageau, who played 23 games with the Senators before being rejoining Binghamton for a three-point afternoon with two goals and one assist.
“It’s hard [being sent down] but I’ll take it again, work hard again to maybe have a chance to come back,” Pageau said of his desire to stay in Ottawa, following the game.
Another former Ottawa forward, Colin Greening, offered some encouragement to his teammate.
“It’s great to have Pageau back, what an impact he’s had already,” Greening said.
Head coach Luke Richardson was equally complimentary.
“When we lost Pageau to come up to Ottawa, deservingly so, he was our best player, it really took the heart out of our team,” Richardson said. “I call him the heartbeat player and that’s what he is.”
Fresh off a different set of news, Shane Prince was riding a high following the game.
“It’s a surreal feeling,” Prince said. “It’s the call you are waiting for your whole life. I am beyond excited.”
Prince will make his NHL debut Monday night against the Carolina Hurricanes.