After a decisive beat down of the Manitoba Moose on October 13th, the BSens returned home for the first time to the newly named CAA Arena and didn’t take their foot off the gas. Led by Drake Batherson, Rudolfs Balcers and Mike McKenna, Belleville took two of three games to reach a .500 record.
Wednesday, October 17 - Belleville 5, Binghamton 2
Last Wednesday, the Senators hosted the Binghamton Devils for their home opener. The team wasted no time in this one, scoring three goals in the first period. Brampton call-up Francois Beauchamin (not that one) scored his first of the season - showing strong puck protection on a wrap around just over two minutes into the game. Christian Wolanin was up next burying a freebie on a rebound following Nick Paul’s charge to the net. The final goal of the period was scored by Balcers following some slick puck work between Wolanin, Paul and Batherson on the powerplay.
Paul and Jack Rodewald would add two more goals before Joey Anderson and Yegor Sharangovich would add two for the away team.
Nick Paul - After signing what would seem to be a final “show me” deal with the Senators this summer, Paul is off to a hot start. He tallied a goal and two assists in this one as a big contributor up front.
Drake Batherson - The real6god had three assists in this one and his vision on the ice was on full display.
Mike McKenna - When you save 38 of 40 shots, you deserve a shout out.
Here are the highlights.
Friday, October 19 - Hartford 4, Belleville 3
With the Wolf Pack in town, Belleville hosted a few familiar faces in Bobby Butler and Cole Schneider on Friday night. Since McKenna played Wednesday, Filip Gustavsson was given the start in this one. Rodewald continued his solid start to the season by redirecting a Batherson feed past Hartford backup Alexandar Georgiev. The lead didn’t last long as 2017 first rounder Lias Andersson evened the score a minute and a half later. Still in the first frame, former Senator Butler beat Gustavsson at a nearly impossible angle to give Hartford the lead. After a Ty Ronning goal to give Hartford a two goal lead, Beauchamin tallied his second in as many games after some strong board work from Adam Tambellini. The other former Senator Schneider ended up re-establishing Hartford’s two goal lead and that was it for the Senators, as they fell 4-3.
Drake Batherson - Batherson has come as advertised so far. It doesn’t hurt that Coach Mann is currently playing his three most talented players together (what a concept). We’ll have to enjoy it while it lasts.
Jack Rodewald - We’ve seen this from Rodewald before. This time last year we were talking about Rodewald on the NHL roster and how well he played before falling off halfway through the season. Nonetheless, he deserves the recognition for his play thus far.
Filip Gustavsson - Gustavsson was a busy man behind a somewhat sloppy defence. Don’t get me wrong, this was an entertaining game, but there were many mishaps in Belleville’s end and the score could’ve been worse.
Here come the highlights!
Saturday, October 20 - Belleville 5, Rochester 4 (OT)
McKenna was given the net again after resting on Friday night. The stars of Saturdays game were, refreshingly, some names we haven’t talked much about yet. Some of you may be questioning the whereabouts of Gabriel Gagne. Have no fear, Gabe is here.
It was a quiet start to the season for Gagne and you could see the weight lifting off his shoulders as he scored on his patented half-slap shot off a pass from Balcers. The Americans responded with two goals of their own before Rodewald would get on the board again. Belleville captain Erik Burgdoerfer carried the puck across the blueline and fired a shot towards the net, where Rodewald was waiting for the deflection. While it didn’t end in a goal, I wouldn’t be doing my job here if I didn’t include the following clip courtesy of @SensProspects...
Drake Batherson, what a treat.
Anyways, the Senators entered the third period down by one but that wasn’t a problem for this currently high scoring offence. Just under seven minutes into the period, Gagne found Chase Balisy’s stick with a quick slap pass. After Rochester regained the lead, Tambellini scored a laser on the powerplay with Gagne receiving another assist on the play.
This one would need extra time, but not too much extra time. On the first shift, precisely 14 seconds into overtime, Wolanin’s speed was on full display as he skated end to end to find Balisy on the doorstep for his second of the game.
Gabriel Gagne - Last year’s lone representative at the AHL All Star game found the scoresheet three times on Saturday. Here’s to hoping this is just the beginning for him this season.
Chase Balisy - Balisy tallied two goals and an assist in this one, joining Gagne in breaking his pointless streak to start the season.
Christian Wolanin - While his effort on the game winning goal was fantastic, Wolanin had a solid game exiting his own end and playing quarterback in the offensive zone.
Highlights for everyone!
Logan Brown and Marcus Hogberg remain out with injuries but the more intriguing piece of roster news was Andreas Englund being a healthy scratch on Saturday. While the Senators are likely still high on Englund due things like “size” and “compete”, he hasn’t shown that he can be a difference maker from the back end anywhere other than his own corners. I think he’ll still be given opportunities to succeed as the season progresses but it seems as if Coach Mann wants to send a message early.
With Hogberg out with a tweak, Gustavsson will be backing up McKenna for the next few games. You rarely see a player, especially a goalie, losing their spot because of an injury but Gustavsson is certainly making the most of his stay in Belleville. He’s posted a 0.923 SV% across his two starts.
The line of Batherson, Chlapik and Balcers has been nothing short of spectacular for Belleville. This is easily the most entertaining line I’ve watched in a long time. All three forwards are producing above a point per game with Batherson sitting in a tie (with many others) for 5th in league scoring (2G, 7A in 6 GP).
The Senators will host Binghamton again before back-to-back games against Grand Rapids this weekend.