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First Day Of Training Camp For Binghamton Devils

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Players took the ice for the very first time in what will be the inaugural season coming up for the BDevils

Binghamton Devils head coach Rick Kowalsky instructs his players at center ice in Thursday’s first day at camp.
Photo provided by Alicia Strauch

Binghamton Devils’ training camp officially began on Thursday as the new team in town went through the process of familiarizing themselves on the ice, as well as off, as the primary tenant in which they’ll call home for the 2017-’18 season at the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena in downtown Binghamton.

The spirited affair took place in the confines of the spruced up Arena, as the sound of pucks crashing against the boards along with player skates cutting into the fresh ice was all too familiar that hockey was indeed back in the Southern Tier region of New York on a crisp, autumn day.

Binghamton HC Rick Kowalsky paints a box onto the ice during drills for the Devils.
Photo provided by Alicia Strauch

It has been a long journey in return since the announcement was made concerning the Ottawa Senators relocation of their AHL team to Belleville, Can., while the New Jersey Devils came to grips it wasn’t working for them in Albany and decided Binghamton was better suited for their future plans. We can rest easy as all of that is behind us now.

Binghamton Head Coach Rick Kowalsky was the ring leader during the two hour session that felt very structured and fluid with a considerable eye on puck movement as Kowalsky was giving out orders, whether it was within a gathering by the side boards, or at center ice. Players were all business like for the most part, and skated hard during drills going all out and looked to be in excellent shape. This will be Kowalsky’s eighth season at the helm of the Devils’ affiliate and 11th season overall (three years prior for the Trenton Devils of the ECHL).

Also on the ice today was Assistant Coach Sergei Brylin, who worked the goalies (Scott Wedgewood and Mackenzie Blackwood) and eight defensemen in black jerseys (Tim Erixon**, Michael Kapla*, Josh Jacobs, Yarloslav Dyblenko, Tim Boyle*, Jacob MacDonald, Desmond Bergin* and Colton White*). This will be Brylin’s fifth season in the AHL with the Devils after a long career in the NHL with New Jersey and three Stanley Cups.

Binghamton Devils’ assistant coach Sergei Brylin communicates with one of his defenseman in camp on Thursday.
Photo provided by Alicia Strauch

Bracken Kearns, Nathan Bastian*, Blake Speers*, Brandon Gignac*, Brandon Baddock*, Ryan Kujawinski, Blake Pietila, Jan Mandat, Chris Calnan*, Austin Cangelosi*, Kevin Morris*, Tim Kennedy, Pierre-Luc Mercier* and Tim Harrison* rounded up the forwards in red and white jerseys.

Rookie Defenseman Tim Boyle won the shootout contest as he ended up with four goals past Blackwood that drew cheers from others as they peered on from the side boards. I mentioned the players were all business like, but found time to crack a smile with one another during breaks. Even Ben Thomson dropped the gloves with someone along one of the corners in giving out some tips if engaged in a fight.

Asst. Sergei Brylin works with the goaltenders on one end of the ice during drills on the first day of camp for the BDevils.
Photo provided by Alicia Strauch

There are final cuts still to be made by New Jersey as some of these players will end up in Adirondack playing for the Thunder of the ECHL, or simply cut loose. However, there is excitement in the air and anticipation as the former club in Albany had made the playoffs three out of the last four years. Let’s hope the trend continues here in Binghamton this season.

What’s Ahead

Binghamton has two preseason games coming up this weekend, both against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in a home-in-home series beginning on Friday at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. On Sunday, the game will be held in Binghamton, as I will have both recaps despite the lack of TV coverage/streams on Friday.

The official season will then kick off on Sat, Oct 7th as the BDevils will host the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in which should be a sellout, as I would be disappointed otherwise if it wasn’t.

**Erixon is on a PTO