Geoff Kinrade and the Binghamton Senators finished off a magical playoff run Tuesday night when they claimed the Calder Cup championship with a 3-2 win over the Houston Aeros at the Toyota Center in Houston.
The Senators, who joined the American Hockey League in 2002-03 as the top development team of the National Hockey League’s Ottawa Senators, had missed the playoffs for five consecutive seasons entering the 2010-11 campaign but finished it by earning the city of Binghamton’s first championship in 29 years of hosting an AHL franchise.
Kinrade is in his second year with the Baby Sens. The swift blueliner played his minor hockey in Nelson, and played two seasons of Junior B for the Leafs before heading off to the BCHL, where he became an all-star defenceman. Kinrade played four years of NCAA hockey with Michigan Tech.
Binghamton defeated the Aeros four games to two, winning the final three games in a row, and four of the last five after dropping the series opener.
The Senators also established an AHL record with 10 road victories this postseason (10-2) and finished 15-4 in their final 19 playoff games overall after falling into a 3-1 deficit against the Manchester Monarchs in the first round. Binghamton overcame that deficit — winning all four games of the series in overtime — before knocking off the Portland Pirates (4-2) and Charlotte Checkers (4-0) en route to the Finals match-up with Houston.
Head coach Kurt Kleinendorst, in his first season with the Senators, guided his club to the Eastern Conference’s crossover playoff berth after finishing fifth in the East Division with a regular-season record of 42-30-3-5 (92 points).
The Senators’ playoff roster featured 15 players who appeared in a combined 232 National Hockey League games with the parent Ottawa Senators during the 2010-11 season.
Senators rookie goaltender Robin Lehner won the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as the most valuable player of the 2011 Calder Cup playoffs.
The AHL continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 87 per cent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates.
— With files from