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Broom(e) County

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The Binghamton Senators have won the Richard F. Canning Trophy as the AHL’s Eastern Conference champions for 2010-11, claiming the title with a 4-3 overtime victory over the Charlotte Checkers in Game 4 of their best-of-seven series at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena in Binghamton, N.Y., on Wednesday night.

Team captain Ryan Keller scored the series-clinching goal off a face-off at 13:05 of overtime, and rookie goaltender Robin Lehner made 42 saves in the victory.

The Senators’ playoff run has been led by Ryan Potulny, the AHL’s leading postseason scorer with 14 goals – including one on Wednesday – and 25 points in 17 games. Potulny is one of 13 active Binghamton players who also saw NHL time with Ottawa in 2010-11.

Binghamton got out to a quick start in this one, as Potulny scored on the power play 12:34 into the game and Kaspars Daugavins made it 2-0 with a shorthanded goal in the first period’s closing minute.

That 2-0 lead held through most of the second period until Checkers forward Chris Terry (17:20) and defenseman Casey Borer (18:39) tied it up by scoring twice in a span of 1:39.

The Senators regained a one-goal lead when defenseman Andre Benoit buried a power play goal at 4:44 of the third period, and Charlotte was 1:24 away from seeing its season end before Terry forced overtime with his second of the night.

Keller’s game-winner came off a draw to the left of Charlotte goaltender Mike Murphy. Zack Smith won it clear back to Keller, who sent the puck through traffic and past Murphy for his eighth postseason marker.

The top affiliate of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators, Binghamton finished fifth in the East Division with a record of 42-30-3-5 (92 points) and crossed over to the Atlantic Division playoff draw. The Senators, under head coach Kurt Kleinendorst in his first season with the club, defeated the Manchester Monarchs (4-3) in the division semifinals, the Portland Pirates (4-2) in the division finals and the Checkers (4-0) in the conference finals to become the city’s first team to reach the Calder Cup Finals since the Binghamton Whalers in 1982.

Binghamton will face either the Houston Aeros or the Hamilton Bulldogs in the 2011 Calder Cup Finals. The Aeros currently lead the Western Conference Finals, three games to one.

Established in 1990, the AHL’s Eastern Conference championship trophy honors Richard F. Canning, who served the AHL for more than 50 years during his career, including a term as league president from 1958-61. Mr. Canning is recognized as the author of the AHL’s constitution, by-laws and regulations.

Eastern Conference Finals – Series “M” (best-of-7)
E3-Charlotte Checkers vs. E5-Binghamton Senators

Game 1 – Thu., May 12 – Binghamton 7, CHARLOTTE 4
Game 2 – Fri., May 13 – Binghamton 3, CHARLOTTE 0
Game 3 – Tue., May 17 – BINGHAMTON 7, Charlotte 1
Game 4 – Wed., May 18 – BINGHAMTON 4, Charlotte 3 (OT)