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Binghamton Devils 3rd Quarter Grades

Team ended up with a 7-10-1-1 record with little to show for despite a modest four game win streak at one point

Goalie Ken Appleby (#41) has seen his stock rise recently with his time in New Jersey, as well as emerging as the #1 netminder for the Binghamton Devils.
Alicia Strauch

The Binghamton Devils finished the third quarter late Saturday posting a 7-10-1-1 record after the last 19 games and the team still sits in last place in the North Division at 18-30-6-3. The home and away records were nearly identical at 9-15-3-1 and 9-15-3-2 respectively. (This report excludes Sunday’s 7-2 home win over Utica as the third quarter had already expired).

One bright point in the quarter was the longest win streak of the season at four games and winning five of six before dropping the last two against Syracuse on Friday 3-2 and were shutout on Saturday 4-0 vs Lehigh Valley in Allentown, PA.

There was a trade that sent defenseman Viktor Loov to the Iowa Wild of the AHL in exchange for forwards Mario Lucia and Chris Bertschy that has paid off. In addition, defenseman Jake Walman was added on the basis of a loan as the St. Louis Blues’ rookie prospect has shown promise with his ability to cut around defenders while possessing a booming slap shot from inside the blueline that has raised eyes of many hockey fans in the Southern Tier. Too bad he’s not Devils’ property.

The Panel

With each quarter results, there are eight members within ‘The Panel’ including myself in no particular order; @AliciaS20, @KeithAHopkins, @enker1700, @Bing_da_Bling, @RogieVachon30, @crazybazookajoe, @EmilyRose474 and myself, @Ski931.

Grades are calculated as a group and divided by the sum of its members. Season statistics will be shown collectively for each player for an ongoing comparison throughout the season. Individual votes are also shown from each member from ‘The Panel’ on their player evaluations.

Grade Format

A+....96% - 100%

A......93% - 95.99%

A-.....90% - 92.99%

B+....87% - 89.99%

B......83% - 86.99%

B-.....80% - 82.99%

C+....77% - 79.99%

C......73% - 76.99%

C-.....70% - 72.99%

D+....67% - 69.99%

D......60% - 66.99%

F.......55% - 59.99%

Defense - 80.28 / B-, 76.01 / C, 78.78 / C+

The defense has been slightly improved with the addition of Steve Santini after he was sent down by NJ, but they have allowed an average of 28.39 shots per game putting them in 10th place equaling the second quarter, however giving up 3.18 goals on average for a ranking of 24th, up three slots. The PK is down five spots from 16th to 21st place at 81.9%.

#6 *Colton White - Inc., 70.12 / C-, Inc.

(32 gms, 2g 5a) Didn’t see much action in the third quarter and is currently playing for Adirondack Thunder of the ECHL.

#7 Brian Strait - 84 / B, 80.87 / B-, 71.87 / C-

(47 gms, 2g 5a) I think his age may be catching up with him. Looks slow and mistake prone. However, on a pairing with Josh Jacobs they make the best shutdown duo on the team. They are now the second pairing behind MacDoanld/Santini. @KeithAHopkins (85, 80, 72)

#8 Josh Jacobs - 86 / B, 82 / B-, 79 / C+

(51 gms, 1g 14a) With Strait’s injury, Jacobs has become even more important on the blueline. This youngster is our best and most steady defenseman playing opposite the other team’s top unit and has more than held his own. Very bright future for this kid and I’m excited to watch him develop. @enker1700 (90, 88, 85)

#9 *Jake Walman 82.37 / B-

(8 gms, 1g 2a) He has been a joy to watch in the short time he has been here. Skates well, shoots the puck well and won’t hurt you defensively. Although he is not NJ property (St. Louis), if he finishes the year here, he’ll be fixture on the blue line on the 2nd or 3rd pairing as a solid offensive and puck moving option. @enker1700 (81)

#16 Steven Santini 87.62 / B+

(14 gms, 1g 0a) Smart, steady and safe defenseman earning playing time while crafting his talent with the abundance of depth in the organization. Very skilled, yet not too flashy, stay at home player on the blueline that has been a major asset on the ice. @Ski931 (88)

Binghamton defenseman Jacob MacDonald (#23) continued his fine offensive play in the 3rd Quarter and leads the team with 40 points.
Photo provided by Alicia Strauch

#23 Jacob MacDonald - 85.33 / B, 87.87 / B+, 85.75 / B

(56 gms, 15g 25a) The best offensive player on the team with 40 points on the season while maintaining the blueline. Has been approached by the coaching staff to narrow his wind-up on the power play and just put the puck in play towards the net saving a possible turnover, in theory. His defense continues to be a work in progress moving into the fourth quarter. @Ski931 (82, 83, 84)

#28 *Yaroslav Dyblenko - 74.66 / C, 68.25 / D+, Inc.

(45 gms, 1g 5a) Another defenseman that had seen limited ice time in this quarter.

#32 *Michael Kapla - 70.38 / C-, 67.75 / D+, 66.12 / D

(46 gms, 5g 10a) Kapla IS improving. I’ve noticed a few excellent plays this quarter that makes me think he will be a good D-man for us next season. This quarter Kapla picked up 8 points (4G 4A) our of his season to date total of 15 (5G 10A). He is finding his stride with the team and continues to improve. @AliciaS20 (73, 70, 68)

#50 Viktor Loov - 81.33 / B-, 75.25 / C - Traded

Offense - 76.94 / C, 76.32 / C, 80.07 / B-

The offensive struggles continues for the last place BDevils beginning with the PP, currently ranked 22nd down from 15th at 15.9%, while goals for are 2.35 per game and in 30th place, also down from 29th from the second quarter while shots for at 27.63 per average, up one to 27th place. The inability to score goals has been no stranger that have plagued this team all season long.

#10 *Austin Cangelosi - 72.66 / C-, Inc., Inc.

(31 gms, 1g 3a) Was out for an extended amount of time due to his injury and has been a healthy scratch since his return.

#12 Tim Kennedy - Inc., 80.5 / B-, 74.75 / C

(47 gms, 2g 26a) This guy is an enigma to me. When he plays hard he is that first line center this team needs. Too many times he just doesn’t play hard and that is a drag on the whole team. Lost his place on the first PP line. 1G 8A for the quarter. 12 out of 18 games with no points though.@KeithAHopkins (Inc., 84, 74)

#13 Brandon Baddock - 72.22 / C-, 70.70 / C-, 75.37 / C

(43 gms, 3g 3a) Like the rest of the team, Baddock continues to struggle but is one of the leaders on the ice and off with his grit and toughness on occasions. Fringe player at best but likes to drop the gloves. @Ski931 (71, 70, 79)

#14 Christoph Bertschy - 88.62 / B+

(11 gms, 3g 5a) Boy has this guy been a great addition. In the ten games since he and Lucia were traded for Loov, Chris has added 3G and 5A. He is not afraid to shoot the puck which this team desperately needed. Gets first power play minutes and uses them well. Great offensive zone awareness. @KeithAHopkins (90)

#15 Jan Mandat - 70.55 / C-, 73.74 / C, 77.25 / C+

(49 gms, 1g 4a) Continues to show improvement with his hustle and determination while showing off his outrageous speed, sometimes too quick in loosing possession of the puck. This is one player to keep an eye on regardless in moving forward, while remaining under the radar for most outsiders. @Ski931 (69, 79, 78)

#17 John Quenneville - Inc., 87.87 / B+, Inc.

(31 gms, 10g 11a) Has been on the IR with a busted knee and is currently rehabbing in Binghamton.

#18 *Blake Speers - 77.11 / C+, 71.12 / C-, 79.25 / C+

(48 gms, 7g 4a) Well, I got my wish, he is finally seeing some Top 6 time, but no real PP time. He’s up to seven goals, shows good outside speed and has a decent release. He needs another year in the AHL to get stronger. Hoping for a true play making center for him for next season. @RogieVachon30 (77, 75, 80)

#19 Blake Pietila - 83.55 / B, 73.37 / C, 76.87 / C

(49 gms, 8g 8a) My Kiss of Death continues. After envisioning 20 Gs for Pietila, he’s up to 8. He doesn’t stand out, and some nights seems MIA. If his role is going to be a bottom 6 forward, he’s got to be more physical more consistently. @RogieVachon30 (84, 70, 75)

#21 Kevin Rooney - 71.11 / C-, 76.75 / C, 80.75 / B-

(53 gms, 10g 11a) Rooney continues to impress me with his hard-work and leadership. Rooney helps with BingDevil’s special teams and he is still 2nd in the league for short-handed goals. His physicality isn’t an issue but Rooney will need to get more pucks in the net if he wants to move up in the lines. This team now has a clear leadership core and is slowly improving. I’m excited for next season!. @AliciaS20 (73, 75, 81)

#22 *Brandon Gignac - 76.55 / C, inc., Inc.

(21 gms, 2g 1a) Out for the season with a torn ACL.

#25 Nick Lappin - 90.88 / A-, 83.37 / B, 87.5 / B+

(47 gms, 20g 15a) Nick gets a reasonably high grade from The Panel and I, but there’s a caveat to this that I have to point out. Nick does his job well in balancing the top two lines with high offense. He’s also earned the most consistent number of call-ups. But sometimes he comes off as streaky. Either he’s dominating a night or two in a row, or he’s invisible. You hardly know when he’s on the ice or not some nights. If he wants to make as much as splash in the NHL as the org is hoping for, he’s gotta stay a consistent powerful player. @crazybazookajoe (88, 80, 87)

#27 Mario Lucia - 83.62 / B

(10 gms, 2g 0a) Came over following the Loov trade and has been all over the ice, including time on the power play. But his skill level is borderline which reminds me of Jack Rodewald of last season for the BSens. Can’t complain too much with his talent above the ECHL level. @Ski931 (82)

#38 Bracken Kearns - 81.88 / B-, 77.62 / C+, 87.75 / B+

(56 gms, 12g 26a) The seasoned vet has proven his worth again this quarter. He has been a solid offensive player this quarter as well as the steadying veteran presence that this young team has needed. Looking for more of the same in Q4. @enker1700 (80, 85, 90)

Veteran forward Bracken Kearns (#38) has made the most out of this season so far with his 12 goals and 26 points in 56 games for the Binghamton Devils.
Photo provided by Alicia Strauch

#42 *Nathan Bastian - 75.55 / C, 73.37 / C, 74.75 / C

(50 gms, 7g 6a) Looks as though the long season is starting to creep up on the youngster as he’s becoming more invisible while remaining in the bottom six in this quarter. Although, experience will be on his side come next season for the recently turned 20 year-old. @Ski931 (72, 73, 76)

#43 Ben Thomson - 69 / D+, 69.25 / D+, 69.87 / D+

(53 gms, 4g 7a) Another disappointing quarter from Ben Thomson. His size and style of play mean that he’s frequently in the box. The penalties he takes are ill-timed and have resulted in too many goals against for the BDevils. Knowing when to be physical and when to hold back would help. I’d like to see better from Thomson. @EmilyRose474 (70, 70, 68)

#46 Michael Latta - 85.75 / B, 84.62 / B

(21 gms, 4g 6a) Latta missed a chunk of Q3 with an injury and you could tell there was something missing in the morale of the team. Now that he’s back, he’s not producing like he was when he arrived but those around him (the team) are. Even wore the alternate mark on his jersey a few times since coming back. Traded players have a hard time getting renewed contracts in this league. But it’s clear he brings a sense of unity to the team above all, when he’s on the ice. In other words, Latta should be first in line for a contract come postseason. @crazybazookajoe (85, 84)

Goalies - 84.27 / B, 84.31 / B, 84.37 / B

#29 Mackenzie Blackwood - 83.55 / B, Inc., 77.75 / C+

(29 gms, 6-16-5-1, 3.50 GAA 0.880 SV%) Not much to report for this quarter and will most likely be back in the ECHL with Eddie Lack back. A work in progress has been the mindset for the young goaltender. @Ski931 (84, Inc., 79)

#31 Eddie Lack - 87.62 / B+, Inc.

(5 gms, 1-2-2-0, 2.14 GAA 0.915 SV%) Been up for NJ and on the IR in Bingo for the majority of the third quarter.

#41 Ken Appleby - 85 / B, 81 / B-, 91 / A-

(24 gms, 9-12-2-2, 2.78 GAA 0.898 SV%) Ken Appleby has really impressed this quarter. Starting the season as our backup, Appleby has stepped right up and proved himself to be a reliable presence in net. Quick flashes of the glove have left many of us in awe. As long as he can keep rebounds under check and close up gaps against the post, he will continue to end the season on a high note when given the chance to play. @EmilyRose474 (89, 83, 90)

Coaching Staff - 80.49 / B-, 70 / C-, 77.37 / C+

Rick Kowalsky & Sergei Brylin

I like to judge coaches on their ability to adapt/change the personnel they are given to show improvement. Unfortunately, we’ve seen little change this year, & it starts at the top. This team has lost 10 (TEN) games this year when leading after two. I’ve never seen a number that high at this level. Watching the hi-lites (low lites) of last night’s (Friday) defeat, I see October mistakes being made in March. It isn’t system issues, but fundamental issues that should be corrected by this time of year.

I read an article in the Albany paper this week that Kowalsky didn’t move his family to Binghamton. Although I’d never question someone’s reasoning about their own family, the separation has to be wearing on him, and real or perceived, explains his seemingly unwelcoming attitude and poor body language when dealing with the media.

I watched Kowalsky captain a championship team (Trenton ‘06), how he doesn’t think he needs a captain on such a young team is numbing. Especially after having someone as respected as Rod Pelley the last few years as his captain.

With more young talent in the pipeline, I think a different voice behind the bench next season would be in NJ’s best, long term interests. @RogieVachon30 (72, 63, 80)

In Summary

Binghamton Devils’ GM Tom Fitzgerald has tried and done his part of improving this team, despite what the record has shown through three quarters of the season. All we ask for is to put an effort and care, and he has, as well as the Devils’ Organization as a whole.

What has been encouraging despite the losing record, is the fan turnout as numbers are up in attendance over last season as well as previous seasons. Even when the team has been losing, you could still feel the energy with the fans taking part of “Let’s Go Dev-ils” chants that have erupted recently in the third period.

What to look forward to in the fourth quarter? Building on next season with the hopes of finishing up strong. Give Blackwood some games to help nurture his development and continue to work on the power play, one of the sore spots that needs improvement. Also, some conditioning skills during practice would be beneficial.

Sadly, as the post-season will not happen once again for those of us in Binghamton, let’s have some fun watching hockey in the final 19 games supporting the Binghamton Devils on the ice, as well as off, whether it’s your local supermarket or classroom festivities throughout the region. (And with Sunday’s results, we are off to a good start!)

Thanks for reading!

* = Rookie status

Inc. = Incomplete