Despite missing five of their more important skaters on the weekend, the Belleville Senators managed to sweep the Manitoba Moose over the weekend.
Friday, October 27 - Belleville 4, Manitoba 3 (SO)
On Friday night, the Senators were missing Thomas Chabot (lower body injury), Chris DiDomenico (recall), Max McCormick (recall), Filip Chlapik (recall) and Jack Rodewald (recall). Ben Harpur returned to the AHL after suffering an injury with Ottawa and Vincent Dunn, Ben Sexton (injury) and Justin Vaive (PTO) also rounded out Belleville’s lineup.
The scoring started with a familiar face as Buddy Robinson deflected a point shot past Andrew Hammond. About three minutes later Noted Scorer Erik Burgdoerfer wrist shot found its way to the back of the net on the power play to tie the game at one. After a juicy rebound found Robinson’s stick for his second of the game, the first period ended with the Moose outshooting the Senators 14 to 9 - a position they’ve been in most of the season.
Sexton and Gabriel Gagne would score in the second to take a 3-2 lead. Sexton finished a smooth drop pass from Ethan Werek halfway through the period while Gagne finished a beautiful backdoor feed from Francis Perron.
The Senators almost held on to the 3-2 lead but with about 2.5 minutes left, Chase De Leo finished a very nice pass from Mason Appleton to tie the game at three. While 3-on-3 solved nothing, we headed to a shootout. But, this was no ordinary shootout. Somehow, some way, it took seven (!) goals to end this game. Daniel Ciampini, Gagne, Werek and Nick Paul all beat Moose goalie Eric Comrie. Hammond got beat by three Moose skaters before stopping Jack Roslovic to pick up a much needed victory.
Francis Perron: It’s nice to see the Perron that I was expecting to see slowly show himself. Besides setting up Gagne for the go ahead goal, Perron had a solid game. He was noticeably patient with the puck, setting up some good plays and rarely turning it over. I’d still love to see him shoot more.
Andrew Hammond: For the umpteenth time in a row, the Senators were outshot. Hammond turned away 35 of the 38 pucks he faced. He’s been solid all season and Belleville is lucky to have him. With Oscar Dansk being the fourth goalie injured for Vegas this year, I do wonder how long the Senators will have the Hamburglar.
Gabriel Gagne: This was probably his best game of the season for me. Gagne has caught my eye more and more each game. His foot speed leaves a lot to be desired, though. I’m not saying he’s Mark Stone (in any way) but he’s another player that will clearly benefit by spending an entire offseason (or three) working on his skating.
Honourable mention: Christian Jaros because, well, you know. He’s consistent positionally, breaks the puck out cleanly and gets involved in the offense (1G, 4A in 8GP). What more could you want?
Here are the highlights.
Saturday, October 28 - Belleville 3, Manitoba 2 (SO)
Saturday night saw the return of Chlapik and McCormick to Belleville’s lineup. They were both reassigned following Ottawa’s loss to New Jersey Friday night and made it to Winnipeg in time for the game on Saturday. Just like Friday night, this one also required a shootout.
In the first period, Belleville definitely looked like a team on the second half of a back-to-back while Manitoba looked fresh and ready to go - despite, you know, being in the same situation. Mike Sgarbossa and Peter Stoykewych, two players I had totally heard of before this weekend, both scored in the first period and Belleville had some work to do. Luckily, they were up to the task.
Sexton scored his second goal of the weekend 26 seconds into the second frame. O’Brien charged down the wing and whipped the puck towards the net. Michael Hutchinson luckily fumbled the puck and Sexton backhanded the rebound upstairs. Manitoba carried a one goal lead through the rest of the second and most of the third. This time, it was the Senators that came back late in the third to force extra time. With less than three minutes to go, Chlapik corralled a puck in the corner and sent it quickly out to Gagne in front of launched it past Hutchinson. Chalpik wasn’t done there.
After a quick stint in the big leagues, Chlapik’s confidence was on display on Saturday night and he made sure he was the guy to finish this one. Half a minute into overtime, Chlapik picked up the puck off a Roslovic turnover, outskated two Moose players and buried the puck low on the glove side. This was the first of many for #41.
Filip Chlapik: This is an easy one for a number of reasons. Primarily, he scored his first professional goal. He also assisted the game tying goal late in the third period. He topped that off with a team leading four shots on net. It was yet another great game for the young Czech.
Gabriel Gagne: Ok, this was his best game of the season for me. Besides getting on the scoreboard again, he was doing everything you’d expect of a player management traded up to draft. If Gagne puts more weekends like this one together, this is going to be a big year for him.
Ben Sexton: Heading into this weekend, Sexton hadn’t played since Belleville’s opening weekend in Laval. He jumped back into the lineup and had two solid games and was rewarded with two goals.
You can catch the highlights to this win here.
The Senators are now a respectable 4-4-1 which is good enough for 10th in the conference. After nine long games on the road, the team finally gets to open the doors of the newly renovated Yardmen Arena on Wednesday when they’ll take on the Syracuse Crunch in the first ever AHL game in Belleville, Ontario. This is a day management, players and fans have been waiting a long time for - and the facility is looking mighty fine:
Belleville will spend the first half of November at home as they try to build upon a decent start for a team that lived in the basement for much of the last two seasons.
The goaltending situation will be something to watch over the coming days as the Senators now have three healthy goalies on their roster and the word is Chris Driedger is close to returning from injury. Marcus Hogberg was recalled earlier today and, as far as we know, both Hammond and Danny Taylor are still healthy. Hogberg made three starts for the ECHL’s Brampton Beast and they were less than memorable (5.30 GAA, 0.863 SV%). He’s still searching for his first North American win and I expect management aren’t enthused with the lack of, well, everything in Brampton. I think you can expect a new situation for Hogberg to emerge within the organization at some point over the next week.