By Sarah Larkin
BINGHAMTON, N.Y. - He is the kind of player you want on your team. He is the guy that goes out onto the ice every night to defend his goaltender’s crease or set up the game winning power play goal. It is his hard work and dedication that is allowing Derek Smith to make the strides that he has been able to make, and hopefully sooner rather than later it will all pay off with a call from the Ottawa Senators.
Smith is in his third season with the Binghamton Senators of the American Hockey League. The AHL is a league that helps build potential National Hockey League stars and allows them to perfect their skills in time. Although sometimes players get caught in the transition from college to professional hockey, never quite reaching their full potential all indications are that Smith does not fall into that category.
Smith made the move to Binghamton for the 2007-08 season, following a successful 2006-07 season at Lake Superior State University where the defenseman notched 30 points (10+20=30).
“It (the AHL) is a lot of fun. It’s a big transition from college, but we’ve had a great group of guys here the last couple of years. There are a lot of new faces this year, but we have a really good team and hopefully this season we will end up in the playoffs.”
So far Smith’s journey has created many memories and gleaned him a number of learning experiences. When playing in the AHL most, if not all, players out on the ice dream of making it to the NHL someday. For many it has been a goal of theirs ever since they started playing at a young age and it is a dream that stays with them throughout their career. Although Smith has only been playing pro hockey for three seasons now, he shares this goal. It is always in the back of his mind, keeping his motivation high.
“That is my ultimate goal. This is a great league, along with a great hockey team. Obviously my dream is to play in the NHL someday so I just have to keep working hard and hopefully I’ll get there someday,” explained Smith.
“I’m getting there. It’s something that I work hard for and will hopefully come someday. I can’t control whether I get the call or not, just how hard I work in practice.”
It is now the beginning of February and Smith is ranked fifth overall in scoring for Binghamton with six goals and 24 assists for 30 points in 44 games played. On the stat sheet, he is surrounded by power scoring forwards. The next closest blue liner trails him by 12 points. Smith is also second on the team in assists with 24, trailing only forward Martin St. Pierre. His chemistry with his teammates on the ice has not only helped the B-Sens during full strength situations but he has also become a key asset to the power play. 16 of Smith’s 30 points have come on the power play (3+13=16).
“You just try to go out there and get better every day whether it’s in practice or a game. Obviously it’s a goal to put up as many points as possible. Obviously you want to be good defensively as a defensemen and defense comes first. It is good to put up points though.”
Smith’s three seasons in Binghamton have allowed him to develop into the strong offensive defenseman he is today.
“It takes a while in this league; when I came here my first year I hoped to put up a lot of points, but it doesn’t happen overnight. You have to work hard at it and this year I’m getting a much better chance to play on the power play. It comes with getting older and getting more mature.”
A quiet scorer like Smith is not one to get much attention when it comes to the media, but here in Binghamton he’s a big hit with the fans. They love him because they know they can count on his dedication to this team and city. Every night he shows how much he loves the game of hockey and the stat sheet proves it.
More on Derek Smith…
Favorite team growing up: Toronto Maple Leafs
Player you looked up to growing up? Ray Borque
Pre-game rituals? Dress left side first
How do you spend your time away from the rink? We like to go to the movies and lately the boys have been getting into Call of Duty on the X-box.
What would you do if you weren’t playing hockey? Take my college degree in business and work with that.
-Go B-Sens Go-