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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Scouting the Binghamton Senators

With Christmas coming, why not look at the AHL teams that are little presents for the fans of other AHL teams, for example, Binghamton, New York. Bingo is the town that Syracuse looks down on. And, for the most part, so does the rest of the AHL. With a 6-12-2-1 record, the Senators have just 15 points, not as bad as the San Antonio Rampage, yet a welcome present on the schedule of any AHL team. The Wolves will not have the fortune of meeting this offering of victory this year, so as a Christmas present to those who need to know, what is it that makes the Senators suck so bad?

Scoring on an impressive 27.7 percent of powerplay opportunities, the second best in the AHL, you need to wonder. Could it be their almost equally disasterous lack of penalty kills? It is near the bottom of the league at 78.8 percent.

There is further problems in the pipes, or perhaps the poor penalty kill is a symptom of problems in the crease. The team has two goalies in the bottom of the standings, Billy Thompson is ranked 37 of the 40 AHL goalies listed with a GAA of 4.32, stopping 87.7 percent of shots, while his partner Kelly Guard, a particularly unfortunate name, is stopping 89.9 percent of shots, with a GAA of 3.15. Thompson’s production has fallen markedly this year. Last year he had a streak of 7 victories, an overall recored of 19-8-2 and a GAA of 2.44. Guard’s great moment was leading the Kelowna Rockets to the Memorial Cup in 2003-4 with a 1.56 GAA, then a record in the CHL. What has happened?

Steve Martins leads the team’s scorers with 7 goals and 13 assists, followed by Brandon Bochenski with 5 goals and 12 assists. Filip Novak, a d-man, is ranked 9th in the league with 4 goals and 11 assists. Rookie Patrick Eaves, has 5 goals and 7 assists. Rookie Gregg Johnson with 4 goals and three assists completes the list of AHL notables. Except for Filip Novak, none of these players cracks the top 20 of their category. Every other team I’ve written about has several players in the top 20 of rookie, d-man, goalie or scorer, except Binghamton.

Lance Ward, with 73 penalty minutes and Brennan Evans with 57 Pims at least give the team a presence in the sin bin, providing the team with more than a quarter of its penalties. That’s always nice work, if you can get it.

Dave Cameron took the team to a division title in 2004. The head coach coached the St. Michaels Majors to 87-30-10 during his time at the helm there, and coached the Canadian U-18 Gold medal World Cup team in 2003. He is backed by Mike Busniuk, a successful coach from the Muskegon Fury.

Juniors include Danny Bois, a captain on the London Knights. I won’t go into the detail as the Wolves are unlikely to meet the junior Senators this season. But, as is the case with the rest of the AHL, there is a bench of junior talent. Why do they suck? Lack of goals, goalies not able to stop the biscuit from finding the back of the net. For more information, a blog follows the Bingo team.


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