Previously, when the schedule read Binghamton in the American Hockey League, it meant a bunch of underacheivers -- mostly from the Hartford organization -- coming to town to grant a quick and easy victory.
But in their first trip into the Arena wearing the colors of the New York Rangers, the fresh look of the new red and blue Binghamton made the Skipjacks' locker room mostly black and blue. The hometown boys looked like they had been through a war zone rather than a hockey game.
Miraculously, the Jacks were victorious last night, fighting back from a 3-0 second-period deficit to defeat the strong but tired Rangers, 5-3.
"They sure dished out the punishment, especially in front of the net," said Jacks coach Robbie Laird, whose team tied an AHL record with nine first-period goals in Friday's 12-5 win over Hershey, but who also couldn't muster a decent shot for the initial 30 minutes last night.
"It took us some time to get going but I think this win will prove to be very important for us," Laird said. "Obviously, you don't want to be in a situation where you're down three goals, but this is a real character builder for us and it shows we can win coming from behind."
The big, lumbering Rangers outhustled and outhit the Jacks early, getting goals from Tie Domi, Brian McReynolds and Rob Zamuner. But in the last period of their third game in three nights on the road, the Rangers crumbled under the speed of the crafty Jacks.
"We're not a team that's going to go toe-to-toe with a physical team," said Jeff Greenlaw, who got the Jacks' third goal. "They've got some guys who can hit hard. We're going to win hTC games by skating better and getting around them, like we did in the third period."
The Jacks drew four penalties in the third period by forcing the Rangers to pull them down crossing into the zone. The Jacks hit on two of the chances and were 3-of-7 for the game.
"A good power play is necessary to beat a team like this," said center Alfie Turcotte, who had the second goal and two assists. "You know they are going to have their share of penalties and you just have to bear down and capitalize."
For Turcotte, as well as Reggie Savage, bearing down meant taking an goodly amount of abuse as the pivot man in the crease on the extra-man attack.
"They're pushing on you and whacking you all the time -- even when you're already down," said Savage, who was held scoreless.
"It's really a no-man's land, being in front of the goalie," Turcotte said. "But if you hold your ground eventually someone on the wing will get open and maybe you can disrupt things enough for them to beat the goalie."
Last night patience paid off for the Jacks, but as defenseman Chris Felix said, it's not a healthy situation.
"After scoring so often and so easy on Friday there's a tendency to believe another win will be easy," said Felix, who had the first goal and an assist. "We can't spot teams three-goal leads. That will start to catch up with you real quickly."