For the Belleville Senators, opening weekend was not exactly what they had hoped for. Despite the addition of AHL veterans Max Reinhart, Ben Sexton and Erik Burgdoerfer and the influx of talented rookies Filip Chlapik, Christian Jaros, and Thomas Chabot, the Senators opened their inaugural season with back to back losses at the hand of the Laval Rocket.
Friday, October 6 - Laval 3, Belleville 0
The first period of game one was the only period this weekend in which Belleville outshot their opponent. Despite a strong start, Laval’s Daniel Audette managed to bang home a rebound on the power play a little over 7 minutes into the opening frame. After some great puck movement by Nikita Scherbak, Michael McCarron and Matt Taormina, the puck made it’s way wide of the net, bounced to McCarron who shot the puck off Danny Taylor and onto Audette’s stick for the game’s first tally. Seven minutes later, Scherbak beat Chabot for an odd man rush, threaded the puck to McCarron for his first goal and second point of the night. Nick Deslauriers would cap the game off with an empty netter late in the third.
Thomas Chabot: Chabot lead Belleville in shots on goal (5) in his AHL debut. His puck movement and vision on breakouts made him clearly stand out amongst his peers. He also quarterbacked Belleville’s top power play unit and looked very comfortable doing so. A number of Belleville’s scoring chances involved Chabot.
Max McCormick: McCormick also threw five pucks towards the net and performed his usual role of gritty forechecker as well as he’s always done.
Danny Taylor: Taylor turned away 22 of 24 shots on Friday night and only let in 1 goal on 8 penalty kills. Given the log jam in the crease in Belleville, it was important for Taylor’s playing time to have a good start.
Saturday, October 7 - Laval 6, Belleville 2
This game left much to be desired. Not only did the Senators lose 6-2 but they were also outshot an astonishing 46-19. The worst part about this performance is Belleville went into the third period down 3-2, a situation in which a comeback was very attainable. With a great opportunity to take command of the game, Belleville was outshot 12-2.
One important milestone was accomplished in game two. While Audette was serving a penalty for too many men, Chabot scored the first goal in franchise history.
The historic first goal in #BellevilleSens history belongs to @ThomasChabot1! #itBegins pic.twitter.com/p63URcJgDk— Belleville Senators (@BellevilleSens) October 8, 2017
The top power play unit of Chabot, Jaros, Chris DiDomenico, Chlapik and Sexton moved the puck around relatively smoothly before it made it’s way up to Chabot for a point shot which beat Charlie Lindgren.
Belleville’s second goal was also scored by the same power play unit. DiDomenico cleaned up the rebound following a Chabot one-timer.
Laval would then scored six (yes, six) unanswered goals to win the game 6-2.
Filip Chlapik: Chlapik’s combination of size, speed and hands are likely to take him a long way this season. Whether it was at even strength or on the power play, Chlapik consistently managed to make smart plays and successful passes to his teammates. He finished the game with a power play assist.
Thomas Chabot: It’s probably for the best that Chabot was recalled by Ottawa because I could write about him for days. He was outstanding in this game for the same reasons as game one. His night included 6 shots, a goal and an assist - both on the power play.
Max Lajoie: With Chabot and Jaros joining Belleville this season, Lajoie has been a bit overshadowed. He didn’t contribute much offensively in either game but his patience and skill with distributing the puck was noticeable. He’ll be one to watch as the season progresses.
There are many storylines to keep an eye on this season for the Belleville Senators and I’m excited to be the one to keep you informed. You’ll catch me here for a weekly recap and a few other pieces here and there.
If there is a particular Belleville narrative you’re interested in hearing more about this season, please let me know in the comments!