This marks the first edition of the season for the Bites as I provide whatnot related tidbits concerning all Binghamton Devils hockey related up to this point.
First I take a look at the numbers, then fill you in on the results of three consecutive games with the Phantoms last week, and provide some updates from a featured guest writer covering the Adirondack Thunder of the ECHL.
By The Numbers
It’s been an okay beginning as the Binghamton Devils are in third place in the North Division with 12 points and a 5-5-2-0 record after 12 games, 3-3-1-0 at home and 2-2-1-0 on the road and have earned six out of a possible ten points in the last five outings.
The club currently sits in 7th place in the Eastern Conference, as the top 8 in each conference makes the post season. Sure it’s early, but taken in consideration of the numerous player movements over the course of the last two weeks within the organization, it’s encouraging.
Forward Brett Seney leads all rookies in the league with 9 assists in 10 games and his point total (1g, 9a) is tops on the team with him still up in NJ as of Tuesday night.
Next up special teams, and it hasn’t been all that pretty.
Taking a glance at the standings, Binghamton is last in 31st on the power play at a measly 10.0%, 28th on the penalty kill with a 75.6% rating while allowing 5 shorthanded goals, one off the pace of 6 responsible by the Utica Comets. The mere non-existence of defenseman Jacob MacDonald spells volumes for what he brought to the table last season, as Michael Kapla is not the answer in his replacement.
However, there doesn’t seem to be a better option other than Kapla until Yagor Yakovlev returns. And who knows when or if even that will ever happen.
On the offense, the Devils have managed to score an average of 2.67 goals per game for the 26th spot in the AHL. Nick Lappin leads with six, followed by five by rookie Marian Studenic and that’s about it. The rest have generated three or fewer.
The team is ranked 23rd in goals against giving up 3.64 on average. Besides the defense, player movements also fall in net within the first dozen games as the BDevils had four different starters.
Cam Johnson (4), Mackenzie Blackwood (4), Cory Schneider (3) and Eddie Lack (1) have all seen action. Difficult to get on a roll if you are a hot goaltender as Johnson was sent to Adirondack, Schneider returned to NJ (after rehab), and Lack is currently on a conditioning stint of his own. Blackwood looks to be the eventual #1 goaltender when the dust finally settles with Lack a question in his future for the organization.
Shot totals haven’t been too bad as the Devils are slated in the 20th position with an average of 29.00 per game, and 11th in shots against with an average of 28.92.
When leading after the first period they have won all five of their games and are 4-1-1-0 when scoring first, so it appears it’s critical that the team gets an early jump and sustain the lead after the opening 20 minutes.
Just the opposite though when trailing after two periods with a 0-5-1-0 record going into the third, so not necessarily a comeback equipped, brand of style for Binghamton. Although, I would say the effort has been there in the final 20 minutes so far with the occasional let downs that come with the territory.
The BDevils have three first rounders listed in the line-up with Michael McLeod (2016), John Quenneville (2014) and Pavel Zacha (2015). Now either this is a good thing or just the opposite. I would say Zacha is the most polished of the group after seeing him for a small sample size in Allentown, but McLeod does show promise. Things to work on? Defensively he needs to be better. By all means though, let’s not rush him.
That leaves JQ, as with anyone with a hockey IQ realizes his window of opportunity is slowly diminishing, but A for effort as of late.
3 Game Series with the Phantoms
Binghamton and Lehigh Valley squared off for a trio of tilts in eights days with the Devils earning three out of a possible six points to remain in third place in the North Division.
On Saturday, 10/27 the Phantoms scored four unanswered goals en route to a 5-2 victory in Binghamton.
The Devils were not prepared as they fell flat while the defense didn’t help out Blackwood, as Binghamton suffered their fourth loss in a row on home ice. It was an ugly affair that needed to be flushed right away.
The game also triggered some misfortunes as two key players went down with injuries with forward Eric Tangradi and defenseman Brian Strait out with no timetable in returning.
The guys then had the week off to work in practices with an upcoming home-and-home series set on the horizon for Friday, Saturday with the same Lehigh Valley team. However, as a result, both contests ended up in overtime.
Rookie defenseman Colton White delivered the game winner with a sweet burn on forward Chris Connor before burying the puck, corner high past goaltender Carter Hart for the BDevils 4-3 victory on Friday.
⚠️ Warning: Viewer Discretion Advised ⚠️ pic.twitter.com/XfITi5N2Cm— Binghamton Devils (@BingDevils) November 3, 2018
What mattered most was McLeod with another strong outing, as he scored late in the third that sent the contest into overtime for his second goal in nine games, as the home crowd went into a frenzy.
A similar story would unfold the next night, but things went awry very quickly for the Devils as the Phantoms went on to win it in overtime by a final of 3-2.
Binghamton outplayed Lehigh Valley for nearly 53 minutes before a odd development took place with just over six minutes left in the third. Phantoms’ head coach Scott Gordon pulled goalie Alex Lyon that gave his team a six on four man advantage with a player from both teams in the box. And it worked as a goal that cut the deficit to one and more importantly, momentum. But, it was still a one goal lead for the BDevils.
Then this happened.
Bad turnover at the end by Pietila. pic.twitter.com/sGVIFpoRM9— Jeff Ulmer (@Ski931) November 4, 2018
A nonchalant clearing attempt by Blake Pietila in the closing seconds opened the door instead that would’ve not only run out the clock, but won the game. However, the Phantoms tied it up with 4.5 seconds remaining. The worst case results for the Binghamton Devils so far this season.
Meanwhile, Zacha added an assist in his season debut for Binghamton along with a game-high six shots.
The BDevils next ten games are split evenly, five at home and five away for the rest of the month of November.
Adirondack Thunder Updates
I’d like to introduce Tracey Lake on her first input of the season for the Bites as she will provide future updates from Adirondack on a regular basis. She is an active writer for
@InsideAHLHockey and for @RawCharge.
The Thunder are exclusively affiliated within the Devils’ Organization this season and are off to a strong start with some future potential prospects at the ECHL level.
While New Jersey and Binghamton have gone through some early season struggles, the Devils’ ECHL affiliate, the Adirondack Thunder, has done the opposite.
The Thunder currently own the ECHL’s best record at 8-2-0-0 and take a six-game winning streak into their Wednesday night road match-up against division rival Brampton.
One of the main storylines so far has been the goaltending, which currently ranks second in the ECHL with a 2.40 goals against average. When the season began, it appeared that Colton Phinney, who filled in with Binghamton while Mackenzie Blackwood traveled with the parent Devils overseas, would be the number one in net. In 5 starts, the New Jersey native went 4-1-0 with a 2.95 GAA and a .896 save percentage. The other goaltender on the roster, Alex Sakellaropoulos, was no slouch either—in 4 appearances, he is 2-1-0 with a 2.72 GAA and .900 save percentage.
When Cam Johnson was reassigned by Binghamton on October 29th, the question of who would stay on the roster was raised, considering how well both goaltenders had been playing. Just hours after Johnson was reassigned, Phinney was dealt to the Atlanta Gladiators, along with rookie forward Shane Eiserman, for cash considerations. Ironically, he would be named the ECHL’s Goaltender of the Week for the week of October 22-28 the next day, after picking up a pair of wins in his last two appearances.
Johnson has started off his ECHL career on a high note, winning his first two starts. He made his Thunder debut against Newfoundland at home on October 30th, stopping 34 of 35 shots in a 5-1 win. On Friday, he stopped all 16 shots in a 3-0 shutout win in Worcester. He sits at 2-0 with a 0.50 GAA and a .980 save percentage.
The league took notice, naming Johnson the latest ECHL Goaltender of the Week on Tuesday.
As for the skaters, let’s check in with those who spent some time with Binghamton this season:
- Brian Ward (AHL contract) has appeared in all 10 Adirondack contests, with four goals and three assists. He also leads the team with 25 penalty minutes.
- John Edwardh (AHL contract) got off to a great start at the beginning of the season, earning the first ECHL Player of the Week award for the season after a four-point effort against Maine on October 13th. An injury during the season-opening road trip derailed his hot start. He currently has three goals and three assists in six games.
- Mike Szmatula (camp invite) is off to a good start in his first full pro season. In 9 games, he has four goals and two assists.
- Jake Linhart (camp invite) has appeared in all 10 games so far, with one goal and six assists, including his first two pro points in his debut on October 13th.
Thanks, Tracey and welcome aboard!
Feel free to add your thoughts below and thanks for reading. Also fans, the Quarter Grades & Evaluations Report featuring The Panel is right around the corner!