After the Binghamton Senators disappointingly missed the playoffs last spring, the team is back with a new look and direction for its upcoming 2009-10 season.
“I’m excited about all the new additions we have,” said head coach Don Nachbaur. “All the intangibles are there; it’s the matter of getting the continuity and team building — getting that group all thinking as one and playing as one.”
The Binghamton Senators, nicknamed the B-Sens, are the local team in the American Hockey League, which is the National Hockey League’s highest developmental organization. Each team in the AHL has a parent NHL club, with the exception the Anaheim Ducks, who do not have an AHL affiliate. Binghamton’s parent team is the Ottawa Senators.
Each season, the AHL’s 29 clubs compete for the Calder Cup, the world’s second-oldest hockey trophy, named after Frank Calder, the first president of the league.
Last season, Binghamton was poised to make the Calder Cup playoffs by holding on to the fourth and final playoff seed in their division, which consists of the Adirondack Phantoms, Albany River Rats, Hershey Bears, Norfolk Admirals, Syracuse Crunch and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
However, three unfortunate losses and a late-season winning streak by the Phantoms ruined their chances, as they were able to pass Binghamton in the standings. The B-Sens ended the season with 91 total points, the highest for a team in AHL history to not make the playoffs.
Division rival Hersey won the championship, beating the Western Conference’s Manitoba Moose 4-2 in a best-of-seven series.
The following is a preview of the Binghamton Senators 2009-10 roster:
Binghamton’s biggest offseason signing is Martin St. Pierre, a center who formerly played for the Providence Bruins. In each of his four AHL seasons, the Ontario native has collected 50 or more assists.
St. Pierre will be joined by a group of veteran Binghamton forwards, which includes Ilya Zubov, Josh Hennessy and team captain Denis Hamel. Hennessy, Hamel and center Zack Smith all scored over 20 goals last season and could do the same again this year.
Once again, veteran enforcer Jeremy Yablonski, who has had past mixed martial arts experience, will add protection to the lineup.
“It’s all a great mix together and hopefully we can all work the same way and do the best we can on the ice,” Hamel said.
The B-Sens defense has a younger look this season with newcomers Geoff Kinrade, Mat Roberson, Paul Baier and Craig Schira.
AHL veterans Tomas Kudelka, Drew Bannister and Derek Smith should provide scoring from the back end.
Binghamton’s starting goaltender for its upcoming season will be Mike Brodeur, a former starter from the Rochester Americans.
In the 2008-09 AHL season, Brodeur registered an 18-13-4 overall record with the Americans, including a 2.45 goals against average and .921 save percentage.
Broduer’s backup will be Andy Chiodo, who played last season with the Dynamo Minsk, a team in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League, the top European hockey league.
The B-Sens will be coached by Don Nachbaur, a former NHL player for the Hartford Whalers, Edmonton Oilers and Philadelphia Flyers.
Nachbaur has had previous head coaching experience with the Western Hockey League’s Seattle Thunderbirds and Tri-City Americans, winning over 400 games.
“He’s an honest coach that demands a lot out of his guys,” Zack Smith said. “That’s good, you got to hold guys liable for what they do and hopefully we have an honest team.”
Nachbaur previously was an assistant coach for the AHL’s Phantoms from 2000 to 2002 and will be entering his first season as an AHL head coach.
In 2009-10 preseason play, the B-Sens finished with a 3-1 overall record.
The training camp roster defeated division rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton twice with scores of 4-2 and 6-2 on the weekend of Sept. 19. They also split a pair of games against the Syracuse Crunch.
“These guys are out there trying to win a job on the team,” Nachbaur said of the new players.
When coming to roster cuts, he said, “It’s made for real tough decisions in net, in the back end, and up front … but those are great dilemmas to be in.”
Binghamton opens its regular season on Saturday, Oct. 3 at 7:05 p.m. against the Hartford Wolf Pack, the AHL-affiliate of the New York Rangers.
Nachbaur hopes his team comes out and dictates their game plan early.
“The immediate [thing] is to come out of the gates and win hockey games,” Nachbaur said. “It’s tough to play catch-up throughout the season.”
For ticket information, call (607) 722-7367 or visit binghamtonsenators.com