ELMIRA, NY -- You won’t find the Binghamton Jr. Senators at the Ice House Sports Complex next season. In fact, when you look at the NA3HL Northeast Division in 2019-20, you won’t find Binghamton Junior Senators at all. The organization is headed west about 60 miles down I-86 to Elmira and will become the Elmira Jr. Soaring Eagles.
“This is a great opportunity for us, one that will help us recruit and develop players even further than we have over the last few years” said Head Coach Anthony Langevin. “We have had an incredible four seasons in Binghamton. We captured our Divisional Regular Season and Playoff titles each of the last three and did so through the support of the fine people of Binghamton. We’re thankful to the Binghamton community for supporting us throughout the years, but we’re excited to move to Elmira and make the Murray Athletic Center home.”
Langevin continued, “I truly enjoyed the crowd at each and every home game, especially this past season. We went undefeated, at 26-0-0, and the major reason is because of our huge home ice advantage. For that, our players, coaches, and staff will forever be grateful. To everyone at the Ice House Sports Complex, especially owners Mike and Ingrid Rogers, we thank every one of you for the past four seasons. In addition, I would like to thank all of our billet families, staff, and fans in Binghamton. We will miss all of you, but hope to see you at our home games in Elmira!”
The Murray Athletic Center is the off-campus athletics complex for Elmira College, a NCAA Division III institution. It is comprised of three domed facilities, which house the ice rink, a basketball court, four indoor tennis courts, and a weight room, plus two outdoor fields. The Jr. Soaring Eagles will have access to the certain parts of the facility for training and development.
“We will have our own locker room and a coaches’ office to start," said Langevin. "And nothing will change in terms of our available ice time. The ice will be available for skill work from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. every day. (New) Athletic Director Renee Carlineo has been fantastic to work with and we can’t be more excited to get started in Elmira.”
The Binghamton Jr. Senators have been one of the best teams in the NA3HL over the past couple seasons, falling in the Silver/Fraser Cup round robin round or better each of the last three years. That success will resonate with an Elmira community that is passionate when it comes to hockey. Elmira College’s men’s team averages upwards of 1,000 fans a night, even in what are considered down years in their standards. The city also had the Elmira Jackals for over 15 years, starting in the UHL in 2001 becoming the Buffalo Sabres’ ECHL affiliate in 2007. The team ceased operations in 2017 but still drew an average of 2,300 people per night in their final season, which was the fourth-straight in which the team missed the playoffs. The love for hockey in the town of Elmira never seems to fade. This all leads to an optimistic outlook from Langevin when it comes to potential support from the community.
“We had great fans in Binghamton and drew good crowds, averaging around 400 per game”, said Langevin. “The Murray Athletic Center is a beautiful arena and the people in the area support all levels of hockey, from college to pro. We feel we can be another fixture in the hockey community in Elmira and get up to 1,000 people a night at our games.”
Even doubling attendance from the 422 Binghamton averaged in the 2018-19 regular season to around 850 would vault the Jr. Soaring Eagles to the near top of the NA3HL attendance list. Currently, only three NA3HL average attendance over 850 people per game, Breezy Point, Rochester, and Alexandria.
Between the team’s recent success, the new facility, and the anticipated community support, the Jr. Soaring Eagles are set up to recruit at a far higher level. The trio of factors should appeal to any player looking to develop and secure opportunities at higher levels of hockey, whether it be Tier II junior leagues or NCAA colleges.
“Our goal remains to recruit players that want a chance at top-level development and move on to higher levels of hockey”, said Langevin. “We hit the trifecta with this move. We have a great facility with amenities that mirror a college-level program, a successful developmental and on-ice success track record, and a new community that supports hockey. We have no doubt that making the Murray Athletic Center our home will only help our recruiting and development moving forward.”
The Jr. Senators have consistently sent players to higher levels of hockey since they returned to Binghamton four years ago. The development program the team installs each year has helped players achieve growth as players and as people, become candidates for the NA3HL Top Prospects Game, and receive numerous college offers. This year was no different as the final three ‘98s made their college decisions.
Greg Simmons, a forward from Corning, NY, recorded a career-best season in 2018-19, finishing seventh in the NA3HL in scoring with 103 points in 47 games. He was selected to play in the 2019 NA3HL Top Prospects game for the Northeast Division and garnered a handful of NCAA Division III offers. However, Simmons craved the traditional, “big school” college experience and decided he would spurn those offers and commit to the University of Alabama’s ACHA Division I team.
Mike Padgeon will be headed to the NCAA Division III ranks next season as he committed to Anna Maria College in Paxton, MA. Padgeon, another Northeast Division Top Prospects game representative, wrapped-up his final year in junior hockey with 123 points in 47 games played. He is anticipating going to Anna Maria and being an impact player from the first time he steps on the ice.
Lastly, Jr. Soaring Eagle coaches won’t have to look far to keep tabs on their standout netminder in the coming years, in fact, they’ll get a front row seat on his college career. Jeff Zero, after finishing up a 17-3-0 season and leading the league with a 1.71 goals against average, committed to Elmira College and will now share the purple and gold colors with his former junior team.
With these three announcing their decisions, the Binghamton Jr. Senators will have moved on all five 1998-born players to college hockey, which is 100% of their age-outs. The team also had one younger player sign a NAHL tender, leading to a potential Tier II assignment for the 2019-20 season.
"We harp development, exposure, and player placement. From our unlimited ice time from 7am-5pm, to our individual video sessions between our morning and afternoon practices, our goal is to move on all our players onto the next level in their careers”, raved Langevin. “For younger players, we do our best to promote and move them on to the North American Hockey League. For our older guys, we move them on to college hockey programs with them putting in the time and work."
The Murray Athletic Center has another Soaring Eagle team calling it home starting this summer, the Jr. Soaring Eagles. (Photo Courtesy - Elmira College Athletics)