Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The unofficial start to hockey season in Binghamton is Wednesday night as the B-Sens host Hershey in their first exhibition game of the year.
And the team has some high expectations.
In this week's Action Sports spotlight, Gabe Osterhout talks to the team about the NHL lockout, the veterans, and what they expect for the upcoming season.
"Right now, this is the top league in North America and that's how you've got to look at it," says head coach Luke Richardson, talking about the AHL.
The NHL lockout is bad for professional hockey fans, but it may be good for Binghamton Senator fans.
Because of the lockout, the B-Sens have a few big named players on their roster, guys that would have been in Ottawa like Jared Cowen, Eric Gryba and Mika Zibanejad.
"Just happy to be able to have a chance to play somewhere and not be kind of stuck at home not knowing when I'm going to play so it's nice to be able to come here and get back on the ice and get in game shape for when or if the season starts so lucky in that sense and lucky I can play in the same organization, don't have to go over to Europe," says Cowen.
Players say they can't think about the NHL situation and are just concentrating on the season.
New head coach Luke Richardson expects big things, especially since the Sens brought in some veteran guys on defense, including Andre Benoit and Tyler Eckford.
"You can never go wrong with experience and I think those guys are helping with a couple of young comers coming in. I think that'll really be solid, especially in front of the goal tending. If we can have a solid defense, it just lets the offensive guys take that puck and be creative," Richardson says.
Offensively, the B-Sens have last year's top goal scorer in Mike Hoffman back.
Richardson says Jakob Silfverberg, MVP of the league in Sweden, will also have an impact.
"I think we're going to be very dynamic up front. I think we should have 3, probably almost 4 lines that can score so its always dangerous when you have that kind of depth and it's going to be a fun year," says forward Derek Grant.
Another key returning player this season with be goalie Robin Lehner.
After winning the MVP of the Calder Cup 2 seasons ago, Lehner was disappointed with his play last season.
And he can't wait to get back to work to show he's a much better player than he showed last season.
Richardson says Lehner came to camp in great shape, and more mature.
"I worked hard this summer. I tried to be in really good shape and worked on some stuff to get me a little faster and you know, sometimes you can't help the results. Sometimes, years like last year, and there's nothing we enjoy and nothing we want to do again," Lehner says.
For now, the B-Sens main concern is to grow as a team and continue to get better.
And if all goes right, they hope to raise the Calder Cup for the 2nd time in 3 seasons.
For this week's Action Sports spotlight, I'm Gabe Osterhout.