Jordan Binnington’s first full American Hockey League season has started as well as he or the Wolves could want. Entering Friday’s game in Milwaukee, Binnington is 5-2-1 with a 1.88 goals-against average and .924 save percentage. Before his Tuesday loss to Adirondack, Binnington had won five straight decisions.
Not bad for a guy who had to be talked into starting for the Wolves last season.
“I think, and this is just my impression, that I think Jordan had to convince himself that he belonged here,” Wolves coach John Anderson said. “He had to be convinced last year into playing that one game he played.”
That one game was a 4-3 shootout win over the Rockford IceHogs on Jan. 5. At that point, Binnington was a 20-year-old playing his first full ECHL season who was given a game while Jake Allen was briefly away with the St. Louis Blues.
Allen is now gone for good and Binnington along with Matt Climie will have to carry the load in the net for the Wolves, who return home Saturday night after a nine-game trip to host Iowa. They host Rockford on Sunday.
Now Binnington’s doubts – if there were any – should be gone and he’s showing why he’s the Blues’ top goaltending prospect now that Allen’s in the NHL.
“Once he got going, he’s been awesome. Just even in practice he’s gotten better. Very happy with him,” Anderson said. “Our goaltending has not been a problem for us and it is what it is.”
Binnington didn’t get off to the strongest of starts this season. In Binnington’s first outing, he made an error that led to Charlotte’s overtime winner in a 2-1 Wolves loss. Then in his next start he allowed four goals on 29 shots in a defeat to the IceHogs.
Since then, he’s gone 5-1 and allowed more than two goals only once.
“I think it’s been going well. Things have been going well. I started off the year, got a little loss there, it was a little frustrating,” Binnington said. “I wanted to get back in there.”
Binnington will be in net a lot for the Wolves, and he’s not too concerned about handling the rigors of his first full AHL season. He said his time in major junior and the ECHL has helped prepare him, and that experience is something he’ll lean on as the season wears on.
“It all builds up to learning experiences and being developed for the future,” Binnington said. “I think this is a good spot in my career.”