by Rob Lippolis

BINGHAMTON - Nikita Ivashkin scored a hat trick in the first period as the Binghamton Black Bears held on for a 7-5 victory over the Danbury Hat Tricks on Wednesday night inside Visions Veterans Memorial Arena.

Nikita Ivashkin kicked off the scoring just 3:25 into the game as he wrapped the puck in from behind the net for the 1-0 lead. Ivashkin slid the puck under the leg pads of goaltender Brian Wilson with assists from Sam Holeczy and Josh Newberg. 

Ivashkin struck again at 5:46 of the first period with a great individual effort goal. Ivashkin moved into the offensive zone, cut to his right, then back to the left releasing a low snap shot that beat the right leg pad of Wilson. The goal was Ivashkin’s second of the night from Brandon Contratto for a 2-0 lead. 

Danbury got on the board on a deflected shot at the hash marks. Dmitry Kuznetsov fired a shot from inside the blue line that got tipped and beat goaltender Joe Sheppard. Dustin Jesseau was given the assist at 9:18 of the first and Binghamton’s lead decreased to 2-1.

Ivashkin completed the first period hat trick at 11:26 for a 3-1 lead. Geno DeAngelo worked the puck into the zone and below the goal line to set up Ivashkin for his 26th of the season. MJ Maerkl was credited with the secondary assist.

Thomas Aldworth increased the lead to three goals on the power play late in the first. At the end of a great shift, Aldworth beat Wilson for his second of the year from Tyler Gjurich and Tyler Harkins and Binghamton took a 4-1 lead into the first intermission. 

Just 1:02 into the second period, Tyler Gjurich scored his first of the night to give Binghamton a 5-1 lead. Newberg was awarded the assist on Gjurich’s fifth of the season.

Kuznetsov got one back for Danbury at 2:09 of the second period with a great shot that beat Sheppard over the shoulder. The goal was Kuznetsov’s second of the night and 18th of the year with assist from Garrett Gallagher and Jesseau to decrease Binghamton’s lead, 5-2.

Gjurich struck again - this time on the power play - to give the Black Bears a 6-2 lead. After hitting the cross bar earlier in the power play, Gjurich fired a low shot that beat Wilson for his second of the night and sixth of the season. Brandon Contratto and Ivashkin had the assists, and the goal came at 7:16 of the middle period. 

Johnny Ruiz beat Egor Nosov on a rush and scored a shorthanded goal late in the second. Binghamton took a 6-3 lead into the third period with Danbury leading in shots, 25-22.

Danbury scored twice in the third period to get within one goal. Kuznetsov scored his third of the game at 13:44 of the final frame and then John Macdonald scored with the net empty to make it a 6-5 Binghamton lead with 1:34 left in regulation.

Jens Petersen tapped in an empty-net goal for his first of the year and a 7-5 lead with 1:04 remaining. That held up as the final score as Sheppard stopped 35 shots in the win.

The Black Bears return home on New Year’s Eve against Watertown at 6 p.m.