Lots to talk about as we begin with the goaltenders in what has become a hot topic surrounding the Devils’ Organization with the recent slew of activities including Adirondack and the injuries that would soon follow.
Revolving Door in Net Within the Organization
Between injuries and call-ups, the Binghamton Devils have gone through nine different goaltenders after 40 games this season. Here is where we are at in no particular order:
Cory Schneider - Spent some time on a rehab assignment and was declared fit to go despite his sub-par performance in the three games he participated in Binghamton. With a record of 1-1-0-0, 2.67 GAA, 0.897 SV%, Schneider appeared to be sluggish and showed signs of rust with the lack of playing time.
Eddie Lack - Out with season-ending hip surgery that end up reoccurring from last season.
Mackenzie Blackwood - His steady net presence in Binghamton earned him a ticket to NJ after Schneider faltered once again and went on the IR with a lower-body strain. However, Mac is currently out with a lower-body injury himself, but doesn’t appear to be as serious.
Cam Johnson - Johnson, who started the season in the ECHL for the Adirondack Thunder, is now backing up Keith Kinkaid for NJ with Blackwood out. Talk about a rapid turn of events. Good for Cam, but he’s no where near ready for NHL action.
Jeremy Brodeur - Son of New Jersey legend Marty Brodeur was inked to a PTO last Saturday in a backup role for Evan Cormier. His numbers read 0-10-0-0, 4.18 GAA .890 SV% this season combined with the Norfolk Admirals (1 gm) and Allen Americans (14 gms) of the ECHL.
Evan Cormier - Recently won his first professional game for Binghamton last Saturday with a 26 save effort against Bridgeport. The 21-year-old native of Bowmanville, ONT, CA has showed signs of being a work in progress with additional time in his development, but so far so good in his short stint.
Patrick Williams sent this tidbit concerning Cormier via twitter last weekend that I thought was interesting;
What a year for goaltender Evan Cormier.— PATRICK WILLIAMS (@pwilliamsNHL) January 6, 2019
He started with a training-camp invitation with Florida, went to U. of Guelph, signed a PTO with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and has since landed in Binghamton. Given New Jersey's health issues in net, he might have the top job in Binghamton.
Pat isn’t wrong. It could be a while before health issues are completely healed for the Devils’ to return to normalcy. The former 2016 4th round pick (#105 overall) by New Jersey has been solid in his limited time as the turn of events have forced him to be the #1 guy in Binghamton for now.
With a league-high nine different netminders it was the focus of a recent trivia contest held by BDevils’ radio broadcaster Rob Lippolis. Those listed besides Brodeur, Cormier, Blackwood, Schneider, Lack and Johnson are Alex Sakellaropoulos, Colton Phinney and Charles Williams.
Not sure who the eventual winner was to Rob’s contest, but surely well deserved as I don’t ever recall so many players at this position for Binghamton, even at the half-way mark.
2nd Quarter Grades Recap
This past Saturday, the Binghamton Devils’ 2nd Quarter Grades report was posted with the aid of members of The Panel. Check it out with loads of information concerning current prospects in the Devils’ Organization playing for the BDevels. A must read for the true Devils’ fan.
In it, you’ll find every player that is currently in the line-up and let’s say, outside the box mentality that includes the average fan’s perspective in a voluntary environment. This is my way of giving back to the fanbase and seeing how they think in a controlled project. I like where this is going as we march on into the second half of the season.
(If any of you has a desire to be a possible candidate as a future member of The Panel, shoot me a PM through my twitter account. I
might have room for one more addition.)
5 Minutes for Fighting
Let them fight!
How’s this for an idea? Ease the restrictions for fighting in the AHL.
Being a hockey fan for over 40 years I have seen changes that have taken place with mixed emotions. But I get it. Protect the prospects projected for the NHL some day against any antagonistic actions from the oppositions. It’s become a big business and is why there is a player safety committee in place to help deter such actions along with scaling back the art of dropping the gloves.
But, it’s a slightly different world when it comes to the AHL.
I have been bothered by the rules of the lack of mixing it up as part of my hard earned buck to be entertained at the minor league level. Sure there are prospects that are exciting to watch in every sense of the spirit of the sport, but I really miss the rivalry between cities within the AHL circle. Simply put, in regards of anticipation of some rough stuff to make me jump out of my seat without the interruption of the linesmen.
With attendance down across the AHL, the product on the ice has become a snoozefest. And don’t tell me numbers are up as corporate seats are already paid for in advance whether they show or not. I’m talking about the casual fan that opts for a football game on TV over making an effort to watch live hockey in their community.
Any little dust-off that could possibly create some fan excitement is quickly defused by the on-ice officials joining in on the fracas and preventing what we want to see, a battle between two players representing a rivalry. I’m not asking for drastic matters, but maybe take in consideration for those that love the sport with the occasional flair of old-time hockey at the AHL level. A change of rules for leniency would help, but I know it’s wishful thinking with the ongoing efforts of the AHL to follow the footsteps of the NHL.
The irony to all of this? Binghamton is the most penalized team in the North Division (577) and second in the league behind their foe, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (638). All without fighting, which is a whole new topic up for debate someday soon. (Which turned out to be a fun one with the Pens in their recent appearance in Binghamton).
Do I need fighting to exist to keep myself interested? No. But I sure do miss it.
Adirondack Thunder’s Latest News by Tracey
When we last checked in on the Adirondack Thunder, they were going through a rough patch, having only one win to their credit for December.
Since then, Adirondack has gone on a roll, going 7-0-1-0 and jumping into a first-place tie with Newfoundland in the ECHL’s North Division.
The most impressive part of this? Adirondack is doing it without having most of their key contributors in the lineup. Injuries and illness to three of the Thunder’s regular forwards, and with no one available to come down from Binghamton due to theirs and New Jersey’s injury situations, have forced the team to bring in reinforcements from the Southern Professional Hockey League.
Brian Ward has remained in Binghamton, and goaltender Alex Sakellaropoulos has become an AHL backup-on-demand, joining both the Devils and the Utica Comets on PTO deals. In between those stints, he continued his outstanding play, picking up his first two professional shutouts on December 22nd against Brampton and on New Year’s Eve against Newfoundland. Forward Mike Szmatula also got some AHL time—ironically with Adirondack’s former AHL affiliate, Stockton, where he appeared in 2 games.
Szmatula Named an ECHL All-Star
Speaking of Szmatula, he will be representing the Thunder at the 2019 CCM/ECHL All-Star Classic in Toledo on January 21st. In a similar format to the NHL and AHL events, the ECHL will have a 3-on-3 tournament with four teams, but there’s a catch: instead of the four league divisions each fielding a team, there will be a team representing each conference, and the host team Toledo Walleye will split into two squads. Additionally, in between the rounds, the Skills Competition will be held. NHL Network will be televising the full event, which begins at 7:00 PM.
ECHL to NHL Pipeline
Since Adirondack joined the ECHL in 2015, they have seen five alumni make it to the NHL. Four of them are goaltenders from the New Jersey organization: Scott Wedgewood made a rehab start in December 2015 after his ankle injury; Ken Appleby spent parts of the last three seasons with the Thunder; Mackenzie Blackwood had two separate stints with the team last season; and now Cam Johnson joins the list, just six weeks after making his last appearance in Glens Falls. The fifth player, Ryan Lomberg, is the only Calgary prospect.
Latest Thunder Stats
John Edwardh (AHL contract): 25 GP, 8 goals, 13 assists, 21 points
Szmatula: 31 GP, 14 goals, 10 assists, 24 points
Jake Linhart (camp invite): 25 GP, 3 goals, 9 assists, 12 points. Returned to the lineup on December 28th after Hershey released him from his PTO on December 22nd.
Non-Devil You Should Know
Or, a non-Devil you should know more about since he got a chance in Binghamton just before Christmas: forward Conor Riley.
Riley is currently in his third professional season after spending four years at the University of Maine. He joined the Thunder on an amateur tryout after his senior season, and appeared in a pair of games, going scoreless. After starting the 2016-17 season in the SPHL with Peoria, Riley returned to the Thunder in December of 2016 and has been a fixture in the lineup ever since. He has become one of Adirondack’s most versatile players, playing in all situations at forward and even seeing time on the blueline when injuries and call-ups depleted the defensive corps.
So far this season, the native of Massena, NY has appeared in 32 games, with 14 goals (tied for the team lead with Szmatula) and 9 assists. He made his AHL debut with Binghamton on December 21st against Providence and scored his first AHL goal in Utica the next day.
Thanks, Tracey and thank you Devils’ fans for checking in! As always, let us know your thoughts down below!