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Belleville Senators Make History with First Franchise Win

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Ottawa Senators v Edmonton Oilers Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images

Friday, October 13 - Syracuse 4, Belleville 2

The Belleville Senators entered the weekend facing off against the Syracuse Crunch with both teams searching for their first win of the season. If there was one player that was determined to bring Belleville its first ever franchise win on Friday night, it was Andrew Hammond. Despite his 39 save performance, Belleville’s penalty box parade ultimately cost them the game.

Tye McGinn opened the scoring for Syracuse on a juicy rebound from a point shot on the powerplay. Dennis Yan added to the Crunch lead in the second period for Yan’s first professional goal and Anthony Cirelli’s first professional point. Chris DiDomenico, a name that was frequently mispronounced during the broadcast, cut the Crunch lead in half on a beautiful backdoor feed from Jordan Murray. Late in the second, Max McCormick tied the game on a shorthanded breakaway.

The third period began and the penalty trouble continued. Yan would score his second of the game, Cirelli would finish things off with an empty net goal. Then, well, this:

Belleville gave Syracuse 11 (yes, 11) powerplay opportunities on Friday night - tough to win a game like that. On the play Mike Blunden, Vincent Dunn and Max McCormick all received 1-game suspensions. Not a classy moment for the team.

Standouts

Andrew Hammond: This was an easy choice. Hammond was the one of the only Senators who came to play. Standing on his head, allowing only 1 powerplay goal on 11 attempts, the Hamburglar deserves a medal for this one.

Jordan Murray: Murray seemed to always be on the ice and he made a fantastic pass for DiDomenico’s goal. Not having much prior knowledge of Murray, he’s a darkhorse of intrigue for me at the AHL level. I’ll be monitoring him more closely as the season progresses.

Chris DiDomenico: There weren’t too many players who stood out in Friday’s loss but DiDomenico had a few scoring chances and was noticeable on the ice. I don’t expect much more than what he’s given so far but if he continues this type of contribution, there will be a regular place for him in Belleville this season.

Saturday, October 14 - Belleville 5, Hershey 2

It happened. We all knew it was going to happen at some point but after three losses to start the season, the Belleville Senators won their first game in franchise history. This was a completely different team than the one that played in Syracuse the night before.

Chandler Stephenson opened the scoring for Hershey in a familiar way - a rebound on the powerplay. Fresh off signing his PTO, Ethan Werek scored at the end of the first and the beginning of the second. For his first of the night, Werek beat Hershey goalie Parker Milner high short side after the puck luckily bounced off a shin pad in front and right to an open area for Werek to step into. His second of the night was a redirection off a Nick Paul pass on the powerplay. After Hershey tied it up, Gabriel Gagne, Jack Rodewald and DiDomenico would score three unanswered goals to lead the Senators to their first victory.

Standouts

Christian Jaros: Each game he’s played so far in the AHL has been great. Senators management kept comparing Jaros to Mark Borowiecki which (naturally) made me very nervous. He does compare in some ways, he’s a physical force and is going to hit you when he can. But one thing he does very well is break the puck out and pick his hits appropriately.

Chris DiDomenico: He comes with his flaws but DiDomenico was all over the scoresheet again on Saturday with a goal, an assist and four shots on goal. This team doesn’t have a lot of offensive prowess thus far, it’s good to see DiDomenico setting an example.

Nick Paul: I will completely admit that I kind of, sort of, entirely forgot about Nick Paul. He’s played in three of Belleville’s four games and has been somewhere between “not good” and “invisible”. On Saturday, he found the score sheet with two assists. Paul has a long way to go before being considered for a call up but it was nice to see him get involved on Saturday.

Here are the highlight’s from Saturday’s historic win:

Early Season Trend

One thing I’ve noticed thus far is Coach Kurt Kleinendorst’s lack of faith in the young players - sound familiar? When you look at Belleville’s roster, almost all of the skill comes from the kids. Kleinendorst seems to be favouring veterans over rookies in all situations so far this season - featuring McCormick far too frequently on the powerplay and giving Erik Burgdoerfer a ton of minutes on the back end.

If Belleville wants to win hockey games, Coach K is going to have to start giving players like Filip Chlapik and Max Lajoie much larger roles. The Senators aren’t going to regularly win with McCormick and Blunden leading the charge.

Coming Up

Belleville has the esteemed pleasure of playing Friday, Saturday and Sunday this weekend and Thomas Chabot has been returned to the club just in time to prepare for the busy weekend ahead. They still have five games left on the road before finally having their season debut at the newly renovated Yardmen Arena. The organization is certainly counting down the days: