By Michael Sharp
Press & Sun-Bulletin
BINGHAMTON, N.Y. – After graduating from Binghamton High in 1988, Tom Severance followed his father into the United States Postal Service.
For the next four years, he learned every route in Binghamton, filling in for regular carriers, crisscrossing the city in a you-name-it mix of weather.
Yet even with all those steps, all those miles in the rain, sun and snow, he never could outpace that hockey bug.
And so it is that Tuesday, his latest route will take him to a milestone.
Now the head equipment manager for the Binghamton Senators, Severance, 39, will work his 1,000th professional hockey game on Tuesday, when the B-Sens visit the Syracuse Crunch.
“What do I love about the job? Just being around a team,” said Severance, who was the equipment manager for the Charlotte Checkers from 2001-05.
“Obviously winning’s a big part of it. Just being right there, (with) the action right in front of you. … I started playing hockey when I was 5, so that was a big thing for me.”He was voted by his peers as the ECHL Equipment Manager of the Year in 2003 and was voted by his peers to be the equipment manager for the 2004 ECHL All-Star Game.
And for the past 13-plus years, starting in 1995 as an assistant equipment manager with the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, he has indeed been right there in front of the action.
Once, 10 years ago, as a member of the West Coast Hockey League’s Colorado Gold Kings, he even joined it.
The team was short players on a road trip, so the man players refer to as “Sevy” suited up and logged six third-period shifts at forward.
“It was good for me to play a game … to actually get out there and throw the body, to see what it was like out there,” he said, remembering the ribbing he took during pregame warm-ups.
“You know what?” he added later. “That was my only game, and it was the best time of my life.”
Nowadays, as the man in charge of ordering and maintaining equipment, of keeping the dressing room orderly, of making quick in-game fixes like a one-man pit crew, he’s helping to continue a long line of Broome County natives-turned-equipment managers, like Ottawa’s Scott Allegrino, whom Severance credits as a big influence. Severance replaced Allegrino, a former equipment manager in Wheeling, in Binghamton when Allegrino moved up to Ottawa
As for how he landed that initial gig with New Jersey? Severance applied for a job with the IHL’s Atlanta Knights in 1994, after moving to Georgia. They didn’t have any openings, but they did pass on his name to the Devils, who interviewed and hired him a year later.
“I think he handles the players pretty well,” B-Sens assistant coach Mike Busniuk said, adding later: “If you have a trainer here that players don’t like, then that’s not very good for team camaraderie. So, they do like Sevy. They get along with him. And … he does his job, and that’s why he’s been doing it for a thousand games.”