Kinrade ready for first Calder Cup Final
By Bruce Fuhr
The Nelson Daily Sports
Geoff Kinrade and his Binghamton teammates have had a little more than a week to enjoy a sweep of the Charlotte Checkers and the Richard F. Canning Trophy as the Eastern Conference Champs.
The team sitting at the opposing bench of the American Hockey League Championship series, Houston Aeros, have had only hours to savour their title after almost blowing a three-game lead before ousting the Hamilton Bulldogs in seven games.
Which is always a concern heading into an important seven-game set.
“I’m not sure how we will respond to this situation . . . there are pros and cons to (having all that time off),” the 6-foot, 207-pound Kinrade told The Nelson Daily on the eve of the Calder Cup Final, beginning tonight in Houston.
“We’ve had more time to rest and repair, but also more time to lose focus. I think we’ve done a good job at keeping busy and we are all anxious to play. I now I feel we are ready.”
Kinrade, 25, is in his second season with the Ottawa Senators AHL affiliate. The first season didn’t go so well as the B-Sens failed to make the post season.
This year, everything has come up roses for Kinrade & Company. Binghamton fought and kicked its way through the first three rounds of the playoffs to get to the American Hockey League showdown.
After surviving a seven-game thriller against Manchester Monarchs — which the B-Sens won all four games in overtime, only the second team in AHL history to achieve this mark — Binghamton won eight of the next ten games to reach the final.
“We are a very strong team,” said Kinrade, who told The Nelson Daily before the playoffs started this B-Sens team has the players to go all the way.
“If we keep playing like we have been, we’ll have a very good chance at winning.”
While Binghamton, 42-30-3-5, needed a late-season run to nail down sixth spot in the Eastern Conference while Houston, 46-28-1-5 was cruising along to finish second in the Western Conference.
The Aeros continued its strong play in the playoffs, sweeping past Peoria Rivermen 4-0 before getting a pair of fights against Milwaukee Admirals and Hamilton — winning both series in seven games.
“We don’t know much about Houston as (due to a quirk in the schedule) Binghamton hasn’t played them in the two years I’ve been here,” Kinrade explained. “All we know is that we should expect our toughest challenge yet.”
“We have been anxious all week to start the series . . . no one on the team cared who we would be playing,” Kinrade adds. “We knew both (Hamilton and Houston) are good. We are just happy to be playing finally.”
Once again, Binghamton starts a series on the road, with game one Friday in Houston.
Game two goes Saturday, also in the Lone Star State before the AHL Final shifts back to Binghamton for games three and four Wednesday and Friday, June 3.
“(Starting on the road) hasn’t been a problem for us yet, so it’s definitely not a bad thing,” Kinrade confessed.
If necessary, game five is played in Binghamton Saturday, June 4. The series closes out Tuesday, June 7 and Thursday, June 9 in Houston.
While Kinrade’s main focus is the AHL Championship, he’s also keeping a close eye on the happening on the west coast and the Vancouver Canucks.
Growing up a fan of Kirk McLean, Greg Adams and Trevor Linden, Kinrade hopes this is the year the Canucks can finally raise Lord Stanley’s Mug above their shoulders.
However, even winning the Cup may not erase the disappointment experienced 17 years ago.
“I know there are a lot of happy people back home, but I know win or lose this year, it won’t come close to the ’94 playoff run,” Kinrade explained.
“That still goes down, in my books, as the most exciting playoffs I have ever seen. I don’t think I ever recovered from that playoff.
“(Fact is) I’ve found it hard to enjoy watching hockey since then.”
Maybe creating a little playoff magic by Kinrade will erase those Canuck nightmares of 1994.
It all starts Friday in Houston for the well-rested B-Sens.
Geoff Kinrade Pro Career Notes:
Kinrade was signed to new AHL ATO by Norfolk on 04/10/09. He made his NHL debut on 04/09/09 vs. Washington.
Kinrade signed by Tampa Bay (NHL) to an Amateur Tryout Contract on 04/09/09 and released the same day. He was released from AHL ATO by Norfolk on 04/09/09.
Kinrade recorded his first pro/AHL/Admirals multiple point game with two assists on 04/03/09 vs. Philadelphia and scored his first pro goal – the game-winner – on his first pro shot in his first pro game for #2 star on 03/20/09 vs. Binghamton (Jeff Glass).
He signed to an Amateur Tryout Contract with Norfolk (AHL) on 03/20/09.