This week’s edition of the Bites includes October and what’s happened within the Binghamton Devils’ Offense, Defense as well as the Goalies. Also, another season of updates surrounding the Adirondack Thunder from our insider Tracey Lake begins plus a funny interview clip from a local beat reporter.
Outside the results of the last game of the month that will take place later tonight in Utica, the club sits in 7th place in the North Division with a 3-4-2 record after 9 games.
Last Saturday, the BDevils scratched their way to a 3-2 OT win over the visiting Toronto Marlies and showed signs of improvement over previous outings. Ben Street has been named Captain while the Assistants were handed out to Chris Conner, Julian Melchiori, and Dakota Mermis.
Let’s begin with the Offense.
BDevils have three players in top 20 offense in the league. Conner & Brett Seney are tied for 7th with 5g, 5a in 9 gms each while Ben Street has 3g, 6a also in 9 gms for 16th place as all three make up for 54% of the team’s goal output.
Injuries go to Brandon Gignac, Mikhail Maltsev as they have missed a handful of games lately. Fabian Zetterlund has been a slow work of process in appearing in just three of the first nine games as the rookie adjusts to the pros on N/A soil.
Michael McLeod is playing hard, but at times he gets a bit
clumsy loose while handling the puck but as he has explosive power with 3g, 3a in 9 games to show for centering the second line between Chris Conner and Nathan Bastian.
The top line has been intact with Brett Seney - Ben Street - Joey Anderson as the power-play unit has been decent ranked 10th at 19.4% with all three involved.
However, this offense needs to show signs of improvement for any amount of success. Three players carrying the weight will not cut it in the long run.
Lots of movement that has taken place.
The player shuffle has been active and has been hit hard with several injuries to Josh Jacobs, Michael Paliotta, and Colby Sissons while Matt Tennyson remains with the big club filling in on the blue line.
So, that means bringing in some new guys along with forcing the call-up of Kelly Summers from Adirondack. Luc Snuggerud was recently signed to a PTO while veteran Kyle Cumiskey was brought in on Tuesday. Also, currently signed Joe Morrow has been a welcome addition adding grit paired with Colton White up top.
The off-season acquires of Julian Melchiori and Dakota Mermis have paid off so far as both are contributing. Jeremy Groleau is coming along in his development as the recently turned 20-year-old settles into his first full season in the pros.
I’m all for bringing in players with the veteran label attached, especially to the one component that has been troublesome for Binghamton in the past, and that is the defense.
I also learned that Brian Strait has been doing some scouting recently for New Jersey. The 31-year-old is in his last year of a two-year contract but has been sidelined with severe concussion-like symptoms and has yet to return since early last season.
Turning to the goaltenders, Evan Cormier has struggled while Gilles Senn has shined.
The two rookies in net for the BDevils have gone just the opposite of what I thought would happen early on. Cormier has struggled going 1-3-1, 3.44 GAA, 0.902 SV% while Gilles Senn has emerged to 2-1-1, 2.92 GAA, 0.893 SV%.
Perhaps we have a gem in the making.
What’s surprising is the agility of Senn. Listed at 6’ 5” his ability to move at ease in the crease with absolutely no ill effects is amazing. The 23-year-old Switzerland has quick legs in stopping the puck and creating momentum for the offense heading up the ice off a rebound. After just a few appearances, this is one prospect to keep an eye on.
I can’t declare the same energy from Senn for Cormier so far, but the season is still young and he is known to be streaky at times so the next chapter of the book remains open to his success.
Tracey Lake With The Latest From Adirondack
The first month of the regular season has been successful for the Adirondack Thunder, compared to their NHL and AHL affiliates.
After a 4-1 loss to Worcester on Friday, the Thunder have a record of 3-2-0-1 and seven points. They find themselves one point out of first place of the ECHL’s North Division going into a three-game road trip to Brampton, Worcester, and Reading this week.
The team has had to overcome injuries to two key veterans in forwards James Henry and Shane Conacher, and free agent defenseman Gabriel Verpaelst had to sit out the first four games after receiving a five-game suspension during the preseason. Another late signing, defenseman Jake Linhart, has yet to dress due to injury. At one point, Adirondack was only able to dress six defensemen, including three rookies. However, the defense has persevered, allowing 3.17 goals per game, good for 10th in the ECHL.
The offense is currently led by Montreal prospect Hayden Verbeek (6 points in 6 games), and a rather surprising name—rookie defenseman Charlie Curti, who was a Binghamton training camp invite. He has appeared in all 6 games, scoring three goals (good for first among ECHL defensemen) and adding two assists. He scored his first two professional goals in Adirondack’s 3-2 comeback win in their home opener on October 19th against Worcester.
In net, Eamon McAdam is making a case to be the Thunder’s number one goalie, starting 4 of the Thunder’s first 6 games. After taking his first loss on Friday, he is 2-1-0-1 with a 2.47 GAA and a .927 save percentage. He sits 9th among ECHL goaltenders in GAA, and fifth in saves with 127. The other Thunder goalie, Michael McNiven, is 1-1 with a 3.50 GAA and .877 save percentage.
After appearing in the team’s first three games with one assist, defenseman Colby Sissons became the first Thunder skater to get an AHL recall, rejoining Binghamton on October 18th. Fellow defenseman Kelly Summers joined Sissons on a PTO on October 23rd. With defensemen at a premium, Adirondack made a deal with Utah on Monday for rookie Ryan Black, who had only made one appearance for the Grizzlies.
Free agent pickup Felix Girard, who lead all Thunder skaters with four points in the first three games, was suspended by the team. He has left North America to sign with the EBEL’s Fehervar AV19. By suspending him, Adirondack retains Girard’s playing rights should he decide to return. To replace him on the roster, the Thunder brought back a familiar face—Mike Szmatula, last season’s team MVP, re-signed on October 16th after only appearing in four games for GKS Tychy in Poland. Since his return to North America, Szmatula has one assist in three games.
Some Familiar Names to Binghamton Fans
Nikita Popugaev (AHL deal): The 20-year-old has played in all six games, picking up four assists.
Ara Nazarian (AHL deal): Nazarian has appeared in five games with one goal and one assist. He scored the first Thunder goal of the regular season, getting his first as a pro 47 seconds into Adirondack’s 5-2 Opening Night win over Maine on October 11th.
Ryan Walker (camp invite): Walker has one goal and one assist in four games. He scored his first pro goal in a 5-1 loss to Worcester on October 12th.
Matt Salhany (camp invite): Salhany has one goal and two assists in five games.
Michael Sdao (camp invite): Sdao has no points in six games but leads the team in penalty minutes with 19.
James Henry (camp invite): The Thunder team captain has one goal and one assist in two games after missing the start of the season due to injury.
And I leave you all with this interview from Brett Seney by @NicoleMenner as the two Swedes in Ludvig Larsson (#24) and Fabian Zetterlund (#20) provide comic relief in the background.
What really happens Behind the Boards ⬇️— Nicole Menner (@NicoleMenner) October 29, 2019
Thanks @BingDevils for always keeping me on my toes pic.twitter.com/m6b3XEkcCr
Thanks for reading and in my best Ric Flair impersonation that has been all the rage in Binghamton, “Woooo!!”