Binghamton Names New Head Coach

With the promotion of Binghamton Devils head coach Rick Kowalsky to the New Jersey Devils assistant position, the AHL club was looking for a new bench boss. And it did not take them too long. Mark Dennehy, former Merrimack College coach, was named to the position yesterday.

Dennehy had taken a job with the ECHL’s Wheeling Nailers (Pittsburgh’s affiliate) earlier this off season, but did decide to accept the Devils job when offered. The AHL is a higher level of hockey than the ECHL, so that might have factored into the decision.

New Jersey assistant GM and Binghamton GM Tom Fitzgerald thanked “Jim Rutherford, Bill Guerin, the Penguins’ organization and the Wheeling Nailers ownership group for the opportunity to speak with Mark on this position.”

Dennehy, according to the Binghamton press release, is 50 years old and coached at Merrimack for 13 seasons. He earned 161 wins with the Warriors with 2010-11 being his most successful season. They notched 25 wins that season and made it “to the Hockey East Final and the NCAA Regionals.” Dennehy also won the Bob Kullen Coach of the Year Award as Hockey East’s best that season. The press release also mentioned that he coached Devils prospect Brett Seney while at Merrimack.

The Dorchester, Massachusetts native played four years at Boston College from 1987 to 1991 as a defenseman and then played professionally one year with the Ayr Raiders of the British Hockey League in 1991-92. Following his playing career, he coached at UMass-Amherst as an assistant in 1995-96 and again from 2000 to 2005. In between, He spent two seasons at Princeton University from 1997-98 to 1998-99 as an assistant and then took a head coaching job at Fairfield University for a year in 1999-2000. He began his head coaching duties at Merrimack in 2005-06. He was relieved of his coaching duties following this past season.

He will next head to Slovakia this week as coach of Team USA Under-17 Select Team at the Five Nations Tournament according to the press release.

Fitzgerald said: “Mark has spent considerable time building, coaching and recruiting in one of college hockey’s most competitive conferences. His experience will help him connect with players coming from the collegiate and junior hockey levels. Mark is extremely excited for a new challenge and to take the next step in his coaching career.”

Devils and Adirondack Thunder Extend Affiliation Agreement

The Binghamton Devils announced via their website today that the New Jersey Devils organization has come to an agreement to keep the Adirondack Thunder the ECHL affiliate of both the New Jersey and Binghamton franchises through the end of the 2018-19 season.

The Devils’ press release mentions that Adirondack and New Jersey entered into an agreement for the first time as affiliates on August 8, 2017. Prior to that, the teams had an “informal working agreement” according to the release. That informal agreement went back two seasons to the 2015-16 season.

The release also mentions that several players from the Thunder “had several players with the team this season on New Jersey or Binghamton contracts.” These included goalies MacKenzie Blackwood and Ken Appleby and defenseman Colton White. Appleby was “the first Thunder alum that appeared in multiple games with Adirondack to go on to make his NHL debut.”

Adirondack made it to the ECHL’s Eastern Conference Finals, losing four games to one to the Florida Everblades, this season. Florida will play the Colorado Eagles in the Kelly Cup Finals, the championship of the ECHL.

New Jersey Assistant General Manager Tom Fitzgerald said: “On behalf of the New Jersey Devils, we are pleased to extend our partnership with the Adirondack Thunder as our ECHL affiliate for the 2018-19 season. We have seen firsthand how the staff in Adirondack has developed our players and helped aid in the transition to Binghamton. The success of the Thunder on the ice this season has been a direct reflection of that, and we all look forward to working together next season.”

The Thunder were formerly the ECHL affiliate of the Calgary Flames.

Binghamton Devils Edged By Phantoms in AHL Action

The NHL Network today aired a special American Hockey League game featuring the Binghamton Devils at the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (the AHL affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers). The Devils fell by a score of 5-3 at the PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania. I figured I would give a little bit of a recap here on the blog since it was Devils related.

The game was a lot closer than the score looked, as the Phantoms took a 4-3 lead with just under a minute left in the game and then added an empty netter to top things off.

Lehigh Valley got the scoring kicked off when Cole Bardreau scored at 3:19 into the first period with assists to James de Haas and Radel Fazleev. Nick Lappin tied things up from Steven Santini and Kevin Rooney at 6:08. That made it 1-1 going into the first intermission.

That first period was played penalty free, which would not be the case later in the game, as both teams beat a path to the penalty box throughout the final two periods. The thing was, both team’s power play units would respond and put the puck in the net when they had to.

It started when Philippe Myers took a tripping call at 7:42 of the second. John Quenneville converted on that one at 9:41 from Jacob MacDonald and Christoph Bertschy. That was Quenneville’s eleventh AHL goal of the year and put Binghamton up 2-1.

The Devils, however, would take a penalty when Jan Mandat went off for tripping at 10:10. Three seconds into that penalty kill, Josh Jacobs of the Devils would go off for high sticking, giving Lehigh Valley a 5-on-3 man advantage.

Will O’Neill of the Phantoms would oblige on that one, scoring from Myers and Danick Martel at 11:56. The game was now tied up at two and that is where it would stand going into the second break.

A rare, at this point, even strength goal was scored 8:02 into the third period when Lehigh Valley’s Mikhail Vorobyev notched his eighth of the year from Reece Willcox and Nicolas Aube-Kubel to put the Phantoms up 3-2.

But this game was so back-and-forth that things would not remain that way for very long. At 13:07, Aube-Kubel was called for boarding, putting the Devils on the power play. Lappin would score his second of the game on the ensuing man advantage, getting assists from MacDonald and Bertschy and tying things at three.

That was where it would stay until, with 59 seconds left in the game, and things seemingly headed to overtime, Mike Vecchione was the hero for Lehigh Valley. He scored from Colin McDonald and Willcox to put the Phantoms up 4-3.

That goal was reviewed to see if the puck was kicked in by Vecchione, but the replay confirmed the call on the ice: it was a good goal. Lehigh Valley had the lead and the Devils quickly pulled their goaltender, Eddie Lack, for the extra attacker with about 45 seconds left in the contest.

The Phantoms added an empty net goal from Phil Varone (assists to McDonald and Bardreau) at 19:53 and that was all she wrote at 5-3.

Binghamton got good goaltending from Lack, as he made 23 saves on 27 shots against. Lehigh Valley also had the empty netter, making their shot total 28 for the game. The Phantoms’ Dustin Tokarski made 23 saves on 26 shots.

On the power play, the Devils were a perfect 2-for-2 while Lehigh Valley was 1-for-4.

Lappin, with his two goals and four shots on goal (which led Binghamton) was awarded the second star of the game. Jacob MacDonald of the Devils also had two points (both assists), as did Christoph Bertschy.

This game was a battle of two teams going in two different directions. Lehigh Valley is looking for their magic number to clinch a Calder Cup Playoff berth while Binghamton has been struggling in their first season in their new surroundings. They relocated this past offseason from Albany to Binghamton, where they replaced the Binghamton Senators – who moved to Belleville, Ontario.

The Devils are in sixth place in the seven team North Division while the Phantoms stand at first place overall in the Atlantic Division. The Phantoms actually have more points than the Eastern Conference-leading Toronto Marlies, but Toronto has four games in hand and has already clinched a playoff spot in the North Division despite that.

North Division Wins AHL All-Star Classic on Home Ice

The North Division was down and out in the AHL All-Star Classic until a comeback and an improbable win in the final set them up to win the round robin formatted mini tournament.

The format is similar to the NHL’s in that it is three-on-three and is contested between the league’s four divisions. However, the AHL does things a little bit differently. Each division plays each other at least once in a round robin-style tournament with the two teams with the best record facing off in the final. The Binghamton Devils play in the North Division.

The pregame ceremonies involved a former Devil in a prominent role. Scott Pellerin, who was drafted by the Devils in 1989 and played 52 games for New Jersey between 1992-93 and 1995-96 and played in Utica for the AHL’s Utica Devils in the early-90s, was the honorary captain for the Eastern Conference. In addition, Binghamton Devil Bracken Kearns was the playing captain for the Eastern Conference.

The tournament got kicked off with the Pacific Division meeting the North Division. The Pacific won this one, 5-3. The Pacific got goals from Rudolfs Balcers, Kyle Capobianco and Nick Merkley in the first five minute half while the North saw Matt Taormina and Reid Boucher score. Capobianco and Balcers added one more each in the second half while Mitchell Stephens scored for the North. In goal, for the Pacific, Antoine Bibeau made six saves on eight shots and Cal Petersen made four saves on five shots. For the North, Linus Ullmark made two saves on four shots while Thatcher Demko was 2-for-5.

In the second game of the evening, the Central Division (who has won both of the previous two AHL All-Star Classics under this format) began the defense of their title against the Atlantic Division. The Atlantic won 5-2. Goal scorers for the Atlantic were Chris Bourque, New Jersey-native TJ Brennan (who had two), Alexandre Grenier and John Gilmour. Matt Puempel and Matthew Highmore scored for the Central. Between the pipes, Michael Hutchinson was 4-for-6 and Anders Lindback was 2-for-5 for the Central while Jordan Binnington allowed two goals on both shots he faced and Christopher Gibson saw no shots in his half of play.

The Central took on the North in the third game and the North won, 4-2. The Central actually got off to the quick 2-0 lead when Matt Lorito scored just eight seconds in and again at the 3:50 mark. But the North scored four unanswered: CJ Smith scored (with an assist to Binghamton’s Jacob MacDonald), then Gabriel Gagne. MacDonald added one of his own and Boucher put the game away as the North completed the comeback with an empty netter. For the Central, Hutchinson made six saves on seven shots while Lindback saw two shots and let in both. For the North, Ullmark let in two of the four shots he faced while Demko turned aside all seven shots he saw.

Game four saw one of the closer games of the tournament with the Pacific defeating the Atlantic 4-3. The Atlantic got a goal from Mitchell Vande Sompel just 51 seconds in to the contest, but the Pacific answered back with four straight. Dylan Strome, Andy Welinski, NIck Merkley and Strome again scored. The Atlantic added another from Vande Sompel and one from Austin Czarnik, but it was too little too late as the Pacific had done its damage. Bibeau turned away six shots on eight shots while Petersen stopped two of three for the Pacific. For the Atlantic, Binnington stopped 5-of-6 and Gibson 2-of-5.

Next up, the Pacific beat the Central 4-3. Capobianco got the scoring started at 2:50 into the first for the Pacific. The Central answered with Puempel scoring at 3:41. The Pacific then scored the next two with Rasmus Andersson and Strome scoring in succession. Cameron Schilling netted one for the Central right before time ran out in the first half. TJ Tynan then tied things briefly in the second when he scored at 2:55. But Andersson scored his second of the game at 4:48 to give the Pacific the win. For the Central, Hutchinson made one save on two shots and Lindback made two saves on five shots. Bibeau was tested six times and equal to four of them for the Pacific and Petersen stopped one of two faced.

The final game of the round robin featured an Eastern Conference battle as the Atlantic Division took on the North Division with the North winning 4-3 on an amazing comeback. There was no scoring in the first half, setting up a wild second. The Atlantic scored the first three from Vande Sompel, Czarnik and Brennan before the North came roaring back. Boucher scored at 2:09 to start the comeback, then Stephens scored, followed by the game tying goal from CJ Smith. Finally, Matt Taormina was the hero, scoring at 4:47 to give the North the win and to propel them into the final. Goaltending saw Binnington stop all three shots he saw in the first for the Atlantic while Gibson gave up four goals on eight shots. For the North, Ullmark stopped all of his four challenges in the first while Thatcher stopped two shots on five faced.

That would set up a six minute final game between the Pacific Division and the North Division with the North completing their comeback by winning 1-0 to take the tournament. CJ Smith scored the game winner at 2:40 into the first three minute half. Ullmark and Thatcher each faced two shots and turned them aside, with Thatcher, of the hometown Utica Comets, making a few amazing acrobatic saves. For the Pacific, Bibeau faced no shots while Peterson faced three and stopped two in taking the hardluck loss.

CJ Smith of the Rochester Americans was awarded the MVP of the tournament for his role in helping the North Division to victory.

Overall, it was an exciting weekend in Utica for the AHL All-Star Classic. It is always cool to see some of the up-and-coming youngsters on display with some veterans who may not have gotten much of a chance at the NHL level all being rewarded for their hard work and to see some wonderful hockey on display as well.

Binghamton Devils Gearing Up For AHL All-Star Game

Since the New Jersey Devils are in the middle of their five-day bye week, I figured now would be a great time to travel down on the farm and take a look at some of what is going on in Binghamton.

The AHL All-Star Classic is coming up on January 28 and 29 in Utica, New York and the Devils will be well represented at the festivities. Firstly, forward Bracken Kearns will be one of the playing captains along with Brett Sutter of the Ontario Reign.

The Binghamton press release says that Kearns is in his first season with the Devils organization, having played 12 previous pro seasons in professional hockey. He has played in 692 regular season games in the American Hockey League (at the time of the press release’s writing on December 19, 2017) and 35 regular season and seven playoff games in the National Hockey League, spread out over the Florida Panther, San Jose Shark and New York Islander organizations. He made one other AHL All-Star appearance in 2013 with the Worcester Sharks.

Kearns is 36 years-old and leads Binghamton Devils “with 15 assists and is second overall on the team with 20 points in 27 games played this season.” Again, this is from the press release from December, he now has 22 points in 35 games.

Kearns, a native of West Vancouver, British Columbia, was undrafted out of the University of Calgary and began his pro hockey career with the Toledo Storm of the ECHL. He got his first NHL call up in 2011-12 with the Panthers.

He said that he was surprised by the selection but that he is “really excited about it.” He said that it is “a fun time and always interactive with the fans” adding “I didn’t have kids last time, so hopefully they can come down to ice level and check it out.”

The Binghamton Devils’ other representative in the AHL All-Star Classic is defenseman Jacob MacDonald. He was named to the All-Star team on January 4.

According to the Devils’ press release, MacDonald leads Binghamton defensemen “with 24 points in just 34 games played after being signed to a PTO from the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye.” MacDonald, 24 years old, has also spent time with the Elmira Jackals (ECHL) and Springfield Falcons (AHL). He also leads the Devils and the AHL among defensemen in power play goals with six and is tied on the team with 15 assists. He is first amongst d-men in the AHL with eleven goals and is second overall in points with 26.

MacDonald is a 6-foot, 208-pound native of Brighton, Michigan who attended Cornell University, notching 21 points in 104 games there over four years. He is a graduate of the United States Hockey League prior to college, where he spent two years with the Waterloo Black Hawks.

Good luck to both men participating in the AHL All-Star Classic.

Binghamton Devils Unveil Logo, Jerseys

The newly-relocated American Hockey League affiliate of the New Jersey Devils, the Binghamton Devils, unveiled their logo and jerseys earlier today in an event at the team’s home arena, the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena.

The event was a combo logo and jersey reveal/fan fest/open house for the people of Binghamton to get to know their new team better. New Jersey Devil legend Ken Daneyko was on hand, as was radio play-by-play man Matt Loughlin.

Devils executive Hugh Weber was on hand yesterday at a press conference to introduce the new ownership and the team to the local media.

Once the fans were seated at the event, Daneyko and Loughlin took the stage to make the official unveilings of the logo marks and the uniforms. The uniforms themselves are nothing too special. The same new templates used by the big club with the red base for the homes and white for the roads with black shoulders and those even-sized stripes on the sleeves that every fan seems to hate. There are no stripes at the hem. The jerseys are exactly the same as what the NHL club will be wearing next fall.

The logos, however, are completely original to the Bing Devils. In total, four logos were unveiled. The primary logo is a red devil face with a hockey helmet on, horns poking out of the top of the helmet and a devil tail running behind the head. The visor of the helmet adds a little bit of grey and black to the red face. The helmet is white with grey shading and reads “Devils” across the forehead (where you would find “CCM” or another brand mark on a real helmet). The whole logo is outlined in black. There is a small black pointy beard at the chin of the devil face.

That is the logo that will be featured as the crest on the home and away jerseys.

The second logo unveiled was a wordmark that has the horns coming out of the name “Binghamton” on the top (with Binghamton rendered in red), “Devils” written below it in white with a grey shadow and a tail coming out from behind the word “Devils.” This is also outlined in black and white.

There is another logo that combines the wordmark and the primary logo (without “Devils” written on the devil face’s helmet). This is classified as a secondary logo.

Another interesting feature was another logo that will be featured as a shoulder patch. It features a hockey puck with flames at the top and a pitchfork in the middle (all in red outlined in white). At the bottom edge of the puck is written “Binghamton.”

All in all, it is not a bad set of logos and really surprising to me, since I figured the whole thing would result in the New Jersey Devils logo in the shape of a “B.” It is, instead, an original set of logos and, you might have to believe, a sign of things to come in New Jersey, since there are rumors of a Devils third jersey for the 2018-19 season.

The new logos, as well as information on the team, can be found at

Binghamton Devils Announce 2017-18 Schedule

The Binghamton Devils, the newly-relocated AHL affiliate of the New Jersey Devils, have announced their 2017-18 schedule as well as information about their logo and jersey unveiling.

The schedule, which was released yesterday, sees the Devils opening at home in Binghamton against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on October 7.

The team touts that fans of professional hockey in Binghamton will be seeing three new opponents this coming season: they will play the new Laval Rocket (AHL affiliate of Montreal who played as the St. John’s IceCaps last season), the Belleville Senators (Ottawa’s affiliate – played in Binghamton last year as the Binghamton Senators) and the Charlotte Checkers (Carolina’s AHL affiliate).

Binghamton’s first meeting with Laval will be in Quebec on October 13. They face the Rocket at home for the first time on January 6. They meet up with Belleville for the first time on November 8 at home and Charlotte on December 9 in Binghamton.

The home schedule breaks down with the Devils meeting the Rochester Americans and Syracuse Crunch five times – including a New Year’s Eve meeting with Syracuse. They will play the Utica Comets and Belleville four times each. Binghamton will meet the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, Laval, the Toronto Marlies (who eliminated the Albany Devils from last year’s Calder Cup playoffs, thus ending AHL hockey in the New York capital for the time being) and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins three times each. Charlotte and the Providence Bruins will come to Binghamton two times each. The Hartford Wolf Pack, Hershey Bears and Springfield Thunderbirds will all make one appearance each.

Binghamton opens their road season with that October 13 game at Laval. They will close the season out at Utica on April 15 in a 3 PM matinee with the final home game of the year coming the night before against Hartford.

As for the logo and jersey reveal, it will happen at the team’s Open House on Saturday, July 29. If you are a Devils fan in the Binghamton area or are a New Jersey fan looking to make the trip up to New York, it happens from 11 AM to 3 PM at the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena.

Good luck to the Binghamton Devils for their innaugral season in their new home.