We have four games to review this week so let’s get right to it!
Wednesday, November 15 - Belleville 6, Lehigh Valley 2
The Senators kicked off their week with a big offensive performance. Ben Harpur was an unexpected but welcomed offensive force in the first period as he scored the first goal of the game on a point shot and the second goal of the game was scored by Jack Rodewald off a Harpur rebound. The Senators took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission. In the opening minute of the second frame, Gabriel Gagne cleaned up a rebound for his sixth of the season. After Lehigh Valley’s Mike Vecchione scored two goals to cut the lead to one, Gagne, Jim O’Brien and Colin White would score three unanswered to take the game 6-2.
Thomas Chabot, Max McCormick, Gagne, Rodewald and Harpur all registered multipoint games and Andrew Hammond posted a tidy 0.957 SV% as Belleville had trouble suppressing shots all game.
Thomas Chabot: Chabot had two assists and three shots on net for another dominant offensive performance in Belleville.
Jack Rodewald: In Rodewald’s return to Belleville, his presence was very clear. He scored a goal and an assist and made some great plays around Lehigh Valley’s net.
Gabriel Gagne: Gagne’s increase in ice-time is well deserved and paying off. He’s been great offensively and you can see his game rounding out each game. There are still some things to work on (strength, foot speed) but overall he was great again on Wednesday.
Here are the highlights for this game.
Friday, November 17 - Utica 7, Belleville 1
This one wasn’t so great and there really isn’t a lot to recap. Utica scored 5 goals on Danny Taylor before Gagne could score Belleville’s lone goal of the game early in the third period. The goal was very nice as Filip Chlapik set Gagne up and Belleville’s leading goal scorer sniped his eighth of the season. Otherwise, the most notable part of this game was Taylor was pretty weak again. He let in seven goals on 34 shots which begs the big question of: why was he left in the net? I’m really not sure what it was, maybe just allowing him to play the game out and save Driedger’s confidence? Either way, Taylor played poorly.
Filip Chlapik: Chlapik had a number of great plays, especially in the offensive zone, on Friday night. He set up Gagne for the lone goal and seemed to be one of the only players in a Belleville uniform who was focused on the game at hand.
Gabriel Gagne: He shoots, he scores. It’s becoming a wonderfully welcomed trend from the second year pro.
Thomas Chabot: Honestly, there really wasn’t a third player to talk about. Chabot was his normal self for the most part, broke the puck out well, made a couple of smart offensive decisions.
Here are the highlights, if you dare.
Tuesday, November 21 - Charlotte 4, Belleville 2
Chris Driedger made his first start of the season on Tuesday night after missing the first month and a bit with an injury. It was a big game for the Senators, coming off a blowout loss to Utica and welcoming back last year’s starting goaltender. Based on the first few minutes of the game, you’d think Coach Kleinendorst made some heroic pre-game speech to get the team fired up.
Ethan Werek opened the scoring with a one timer off a very nice backhand feed from Francis Perron. Twenty seconds later, Max Reinhart put away a laser beam while covering for Jordan Murray on the point. Charlotte’s Brenden Kichton would score a goal one minute later to bring the game to 2-1. That goal seemed to have cut almost all of the momentum from opening the game with two goals in 2.5 minutes. Slowly but surely, Charlotte erased Belleville’s lead and added two more to take the game 4-2.
Chris Driedger: Driedger’s long awaited return to the crease was a welcomed one. His save percentage was nothing to write home about but he did everything he could to keep Belleville in this one.
Filip Chlapik: It wasn’t Chlapik’s best night but he was still largely noticeable in the offensive zone. He had an assist and three shots on net. He has a patience with the puck that most of his teammates lack.
Max McCormick: This “standout” is not for good reasons. McCormick is a leader in Belleville and wears a letter. Whether he’s a contributor on the ice is another story for another day but he was ejected for mouthing off to the referee. Generally, in pro sports, you have to say something pretty dumb (offensive) to get yourself kicked out. That’s not something a good leader should be doing.
Here are the highlights.
Wednesday, November 22 - Belleville 5, Charlotte 2
A back-to-back against the Checkers should have been something the Belleville Senators had circled on their calendars. The last time these two teams met on back-to-back nights was at the beginning of November when Charlotte took both games 6-1 and 2-1.
Belleville opened the scoring less than five minutes into the opening frame after Andreas Englund broke up a Checkers break out and forced the puck back down low. Werek found Reinhart in front for his fourth of the season. After allowing Charlotte to tie the game later in the first, Belleville came out swinging in the second period by regaining the lead on a Dan Ciampini short side shot. Ottawa’s forgotten son Jim O’Brien would extend the lead to 3-1 ten minutes later. Although Charlotte would again score late in the period, Belleville put in their Max effort in the third period as both Reinhart and McCormick would find the back of the net (see what I did there?).
Driedger got the start for a second straight game and continued his solid play stopping 27 of 29 shots for his first win of the season.
Chris Driedger: Driedger’s stats (0.931 SV%) were much more reflective of his play on Wednesday night. He was solid throughout the performance. If he continues this play and Andrew Hammond is returned to Belleville, Taylor’s days as a regular starter may be numbered.
Max Reinhart: When you score two goals and add an assist, you’ll probably get a standout nod from me. Reinhart hasn’t been a regular contributor to the group this season so this game was more the exception than the rule. That being said, I thought he played a great game and was obviously rewarded for it. It’s not likely, but let’s keep our fingers crossed for more games like this from Reinhart, just in case.
Francis Perron: Perron made a gorgeous backhand pass to spring White who unfortunately didn’t do Perron a favour by making that pass an assist because my, oh my, was it beautiful.
Here are the highlights.
There were some things to like about this past week (welcome back, Driedger) and some things to forget (the entire Utica game) but it’s all a learning process. There’s still an obvious tendency for Coach K to lean on his veterans in virtually all situations. Gagne has managed to work his way into a bigger role but players like Perron and Chlapik still struggle to maintain regular top 6 minutes.
The Belleville Senators head down the 401 to Ricoh Coliseum for a back-to-back date with Colin Greening’s Toronto Marlies this weekend. With the big club claiming Gabriel Dumont yesterday, I’m expecting Nick Paul is likely to return in time for the double header.**
That’s all for now, thanks for reading!