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"We Gotta Play Better as a Team:" Binghamton Devils

(Courtesy of Binghamton Devils)

“Do you wanna know why you’re so easy to beat?” hollered Binghamton Devils’ Head Coach Mark Dennehy, “you have no sense of f—ing urgency! That’s why Utica blew you right the f–k over.”

At practice on Tuesday, Oct. 8, Dennehy skated his players into the ground, or rather, into the ice, for their poor performance the previous Saturday, in their home opener against the Utica Comets.

The Devils lost 3-4 while starting off winning 1-0 in the first period, only to give up 4 goals in the second period and falter on a comeback in the third.

“I don’t like doing this, boys, *whistle* none of us do,” exclaimed Dennehy, in reference to his other staff members, as his players were sprinting.

Binghamton Devils in the middle of practice after a disappointing loss (Photo by Jake Bella/Ithaca Week)

It would come as a surprise then, that 18 of the 24 players on the Binghamton Devils’ roster are on two-way contracts, meaning that they could be pulled up to the NHL-level at any time. Essentially that means that these players are actively fighting for a spot on the roster of the New Jersey Devils – the parent team – every time they step on the ice.

In addition, the average age for a Binghamton Devils’ player is only 22.43 years old, therefore a grand majority of them still have very real hopes of making the NHL roster.

Yet, most of the production on the team comes from players who have already seen NHL ice and are either done with that part of their careers due to age, or they were pulled up temporarily and they are fighting for a permanent spot. Current point leaders are the following:

  • Chris Conner, 36, who is on a strictly AHL-level contract
  • Ben Street, 32, who has seen plenty of time in the NHL
  • Joey Anderson, who played 34 games in the NHL last year
  • Michael McLeod, who played 23 games in the NHL last year
  • Nathan Bastian, who played 3 games in the NHL last year

None of the latter four are older than 21 years old. Other big contributors have been Brett Seney, 23, who played 51 games in New Jersey last year, and is currently playing on the same line as Anderson and Street; and Mikhail Malstev, who is entering his first season of professional hockey this year.

Embed from Getty Images

After speaking to McLeod, the general attitude seems to be that he and a select few are focused on winning wherever they’re playing. They want to win for the Devils organization rather than trying to promote themselves. On the other hand, some players alluded to the idea that there’s a good portion of the team that plays for individual accolades, and this has led to the team’s lack of success. The team has never made the playoffs in the two-year franchise history and lost three out of the four games this season (including preseason).

Ben Street, after a close-call win in the preseason against Utica, put it this way, “I thought we did ok … We gotta focus on not playing too cute and learn how to play together.”

Seney went further, adding that, “We gotta play better as a team. We have to have a short memory and just play the game.”

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