The Binghamton Senators started the third quarter one point out of a playoff spot in the North Division. Things were looking up for the first time in quite some time. Fans were buzzing with excitement in what would be, in their mindset, a good send off in making the post-season one final time before they would leave, and feel good about it I suppose.
Then reality hit, and man did it ever in this last quarter shattering wishes for many including myself.
The BSens have lost their last six in a row and seven of ten to fall 11 points out of that once unseemly, and yet somehow attainable playoff spot to finish at 7-12-0-0 in the third quarter and an overall record of 23-31-2-1 for the season. Just the opposite results as the 2nd Quarter Grades report suggests when the team went 11-7-0-0 during that span, as Binghamton currently sits in 6th place within the division.
3rd Quarter Results are underway with some help from The Panel, as they have an extended role to voice their own analysis for two players picked by each member of the group along with their overall votes. I then offered a briefing of my own on the others they did not opt on.
With each quarter, results are my grade number posted first, followed by a second number that represents The Panel’s vote. Their vote was then divided amongst the seven member’s** (excluding my own grade) and then applied to a letter format that is broken down by the following;
(Season statistics is also shown collectively for each player for an ongoing comparison.)
#6 *Andreas Englund
1st 83 / 85 B, 2nd 88 / 88.16 B+, 3rd 88 / 89.85 B+
(50gms, 2g 5a) Englund has really come into his own over the course of this season and particularly this last quarter. Able to use his size effectively, he has no trouble clearing the zone or moving his man off the puck. He's also willing to step in to defend a teammate while still maintaining a high level of skill on the ice. In comparison to some similarly-sized players, he exudes more confidence, even as a rookie. ~ Emily Rose (92)
#7 Chris Carlisle
1st 80 / 77.16 C+, 2nd 84 / 82.67 B-, 3rd 81 / 78.85 C+
(56gms, 2g 11a) Reminds me of Chris Wideman in stature, but needs a lot of work to be compared in skill. Impressed with his effort, but seems misdirected and production falls short. ~ Erin Lynn (75)
#15 Chris Rumble
1st 70 / 71.66 C-, 2nd 82 / 84.5 B, 3rd 85 / 86 B
(47gms, 6g 18a) Possesses a booming slap shot that has been quite effective from the blueline with just your average man-on-man coverage. Hope he is re-signed during the off-season as one of the best offensive blueliner’s on the team. (And when I say re-signed, it’s not for Belleville.)
#21 Michael Kostka 1st, 71 / 79.16 C+ 2nd, 74 / 71.66 C-
#23 Patrick Sieloff
1st 72 / 79.83 C+, 2nd 78 / 82.16 B-, 3rd 79 / 79.57 C+
(44gms, 2g 7a) Has recently returned coming off an injury that lasted a handful of games, but other then that, just your average defenseman with very little chance of surviving at the next level. Was hurt in his one fight that forced him to miss a handful of games.
#24 Ben Harpur
1st 68 / 65.16 D, 2nd 69 / 74.5 C, 3rd 76 / 82.85 B-
(50gms, 1g 23a) A multitude of points in his last several games, consistently on starting lineups, a willingness to stand up for his teammates and drop the gloves even when coach reprimands the players for it, and best of all spent the end of Feb wearing an A. Good overall defenseman? No. Skates slow and turns over a ton of plays. Improving to where he needs to be? Positively. ~ Crazy Joe (78)
#28 Guillaume Lepine
1st 79 / 73.66 C, 2nd 82 / 79.66 C+, 3rd 78 / 74,57 C
(44gms, 1g 2a) Lepine is a consistent, average defenseman. He can be counted on to do his job and drop the gloves as needed. As noted in Q2 his is a dying breed of fighters but his physicality is much appreciated by fans and teammates alike. ~ Alicia Strauch (75)
#8 Kyle Flanagan
1st 83 / 85.42 B, 2nd 86 / 86.14 B, 3rd 86 / 85.57 B
(50gms, 9g 16a) Kyle has had a very predictable 3rd quarter. Plays hard even though he lacks size. AHL-only guy that is a very good playmaker. Currently 4th on the team in points which is already a career high. 5G, 5A this quarter. One of the most dependable players on this team. ~ Keith Hopkins (88)
#9 *Alex Krushelnyski
1st 72 / 72.4 C-, 2nd 79 / 75.14 C, 3rd 74 / 76.42 C
(41gms, 3g 4a) Even though Krushelnyski is a late bloomer in the AHL, being 26 and this is his official rookie year, “Krush” has grown to be a great 3rd-4th line player in recent games. In his 41 games played he has managed just 7 points, but in hockey they don’t keep track of the amounts of times he’s made smart decisions with the puck. His hockey awareness is stellar and has good potential going forward. ~ Buckles_27 (80)
# 10 Buddy Robinson 1st, 74 / 76.91 C 2nd, 87 / 86.42 B
#12 *Jack Rodewald
1st 80 / 80 B-, 2nd 92 / 93.28 A, 3rd 83 / 86.28 B
(48gms, 16g 8a) Par for the course for Rodey and that’s just what this team needs and deserves. Production seemed to be lacking juuuuuust a tad this quarter, but he’s still an exceptional player bar none. I consistently see him watching the puck and double-taking the play. That’s the sign of an extremely focused player. ~ Crazy Joe (86)
#13 Nick Paul
1st 83 / 75 C, 2nd 84 / 84.14 B, 3rd 81 / 84.57 B
(54gms, 10g 17a) He has proved to be a reliable player for the B-Sens playing in 53 games this year, only second to Chris Carlisle. Paul has been one of Ottawa’s top prospects for a couple years now, and if he wants to take his play to the next level, he needs to be more of a factor on the score sheet and in the corners. Look for Paul to finish the season strong and catch the eye of the parent club heading into next season. ~ Buckles_27 (83)
#14 Mike Blunden
1st 84 / 85 B, 2nd 79 / 77 C+, 3rd 88 / 89.42 B+
(48gms, 12g 10a) His best offensive output of the season that has benefited in the move to the top line with Akeson and Varone being the feeders on the attack, which has shown up with his scoring in the third quarter. Recently was called up, as the aging Captain hopefully has some reserves left in the tank heading into the 4th Quarter.
#16 Chad Nehring
1st 73 / 77.4 C+, 2nd 76 / 74 C, 3rd 70 / 69.42 D+
(36gms, 3g 10a) This quarter Nehring has only played 11 games due to injuries. He finally got his first goal of the year on 1/15/17 and has added 2 more since with 10 assists on the year. This veteran acquisition looked good on paper but has failed miserably so far. He put up 48 points in 76 games last year for Hartford. He is getting nowhere near that total this year. He plays hard and has energy but not that killer drive to get the goal. ~ Keith Hopkins (65)
#17 Max McCormick
1st 84 / 83 B, 2nd 84 / 85.57 B, 3rd 90 / 91.71 A-
(48gms, 16g 10a) He's gritty, sometimes erratic, but his passion makes him fun to watch. He has a presence on the ice and in my opinion, has a lot of potential. ~ Erin Lynn (92)
#18 *Gabriel Gagne
1st Inc., 2nd 70 / 69.57 D+, 3rd 68 / 67.71 D
(24gms, 0g 3a) Belongs in the lower level as his skating mirrors the way he plays with an over abundance of fear when he takes possession of the puck. Big body that has shown zero performance. Update: Was re-assigned to Wichita on Thursday.
#19 Jason Akeson
1st Inc., 2nd 92 / 88.71 B+, 3rd 94 / 93.42 A
(39gms, 10g 24a) When paired with the right linemates, has been dynamite. He has quick hands and is quite the play-maker. At times, he can get pushed around which has resulted in some seemingly careless errors this quarter. That being said, he is often able to go on to make a play that overshadows any errors that he's made in a game. Looking for a strong fourth quarter from Akes, so long as he has good chemistry with his linemates. ~ Emily Rose (93)
#20 Ryan Rupert
Inc., 3rd 72 / 68.66 D+
(28gms, 3g 3a) Has been recently re-called from Wichita and has filled in with otherwise minimum skating with the puck and also poor forechecking. Looks like an outsider looking in on most occasions.
#22 Phil Varone
1st 88 / 86.16 B, 2nd 90 / 91 A-, 3rd 90 / 90.42 A-
(49gms, 13g 25a) Probably the most talented player on the team. He is able to win a game on his own as evidenced by his two SH goals against Syracuse; but frustratingly inconsistent. Needs to be more consistent effort wise. ~ MVK (88)
#25 Casey Bailey
1st 86 / 86.66 B, 2nd 93 / 93.71 A, 3rd 86 / 89 B+
(47gms, 15g 10a) Pretty consistent player that carried into this quarter and was rewarded with a call-up recently. Could be an adequate addition on the fourth line someday in the NHL if he continues with his fine play. One of the team leaders that seems apparent with good ice vision and possesses a high hockey IQ.
#26 Marc Hagel
(14 gms, 0g 2a) Recently brought into the fold as a result of a late season trade. Doesn’t bring much to the table with limited talents with and without the puck while his skating seems suspect at times.
#27 *Francis Perron
1st 82 / 78.66 C+, 2nd 83 / 83 B, 3rd 83 / 84.85 B
(54gms, 6g 14a) Perron continues to show flashes of greatness. He has a great shot and can send/receive passes. However, Perron either needs to put more weight on to avoid being moved off the puck or learn how to create more space if he wants to be effective. He needs at least another season in the AHL before we can really know if he will translate to the NHL. ~ Alicia Strauch (85)
#45 Zack Stortini 1st, 60 / 65.66 D 2nd, Inc.
#29 Matt O'Connor
1st 80 / 77 C+, 2nd 72 / 73.5 C, 3rd 81 / 79.33 C+
(11-14-1-0, 3.19 GAA, 0.889 SV%) Has shown improvement but still looks to be fighting the puck and the play instead of the opposite in letting the game come to him. I’ve exhausted all adjectives in regards to his performance this season as well as last, and the only reason he is here is Hammond’s hip injury. Was pulled during the first period in Utica on Friday after giving up 4 goals in 3:05 minutes.
#30 Andrew Hammond
(2-3-0-0, 3.24 GAA, 0.884 SV%) Out with season-ending hip surgery. Looked really bad in his last outing in Toronto before suffering his injury.
#33 Chris Driedger
1st 92 / 88 B+, 2nd 94 / 89.16 B+, 3rd 85 / 83.16 B
(10-13-2-1, 2.85 GAA, 0.912 SV%) Our best player and our rock. Needs more consistent playing time to get into a grove and has the ability to carry the team for stretches. Ottawa would be wise to keep him on board. ~ MVK (88)
1st 81 / 80.33 B-, 2nd 87 / 84 B, 3rd 85 / 79.16 C+
Head Coach Kurt Kleinendorst has been disappointing overall, although Ottawa has done him no favors in terms of personnel, as is the case with many minor league clubs. Discipline seems to be better than last year, but appears to have lost the locker room as the team doesn't like his no fighting policy and frustratingly inconsistent play. (Although I am personally a big KK fan.)
Assistant Coach Steve Sterling is a likable guy, but with both special teams units being near the bottom, it's clear that he is not getting the job done. As mentioned above, I am cutting them some slack as the personnel has been a revolving door. ~ MVK (83)
As the last 19 games play out in this, the final season of Binghamton Senators hockey after 15 years representing the Ottawa Senators’ top minor league team, somethings haven’t changed, unfortunately, with yet another losing season upon us here in the Southern Tier Region of NYS.
Quite apparently, it’s either sink or swim for the fans in Binghamton leading up to the fourth and final quarter, as Ottawa will make the move sending the club to Belleville heading into the 2017-’18 campaign.
The bottom line is this team lacks depth with too many ECHL fill-ins doing the best they are capable with limited skill-sets shown at the AHL level. There is so much the coaches can accomplish and at the same time keep an even keel with the local media when asked why this team, or the organization for that matter, is in such disarray with a recent bad history in developing prospects.
Frustration is a word I’ll put mildly when gauging the temperature here on the streets in Binghamton and with zero activity at the trade deadline, it hasn’t helped matters much for BSens’ fans.
With all that set aside and on a somewhat more practical, yet personal note, I have a lot of mixed emotions swirling around in my head leading up to what will be my final piece addressing BSens’ hockey, coinciding with my four years (two years at SenShot & two years here @ S7S) of providing coverage between the two websites in a savvy social media market.
However, this will be a tough transition that I’ll admit. I’m not quite ready to face just yet and the magnitude it carries once the final few games are essentially over with. In the back of my mind, it’s been more of a constant struggle on what I will/need to address, but at the same time, there’s still one more quarter remaining in Binghamton Senators’ history, so I guess I can handle it. At least I do hope so.
Thanks for reading and don’t be afraid to follow one of The Panel members’ on twitter provided below.
* = Rookie
Inc = Incomplete