Wednesday, November 21 - Charlotte 3, Belleville 2 (OT)
After a beatdown on Tuesday, the Charlotte Checkers came to play on Wednesday night. Just over seven minutes into this one, Paul Carey continued his hot streak and roofed a shot short side to open the scoring. Before the first could end, 2017 first rounder Martin Necas evened the score for the Checkers after some strong puck work from Janne Kuokkanen. The second period was scoreless but it was all Checkers all the time as they almost tripled the BSens in shots on net. In the third, the Checkers failed to clear the puck and Ben Sexton fired a shot towards the goal. Filip Chlapik got a stick on it and deflected it past Alex Nedeljkovic.
With an empty net and an extra attacker, the Checkers controlled the play for the last few minutes of the third, forcing overtime on a one-timer from Aleksi Saarela. A misplay in the offensive zone by Chlapik and Sexton found the puck going the other direction quickly and Necas buried his second of the game to cap this one off.
Filip Chlapik - Chlapik is usually all over the ice (in a good way) but with his best pal Drake Batherson up with the big club, Chlapik has one less weapon to work with on his line. He was up to the task on Wednesday night.
Filip Gustavsson - There were some concerns earlier this season about Gustavsson’s consistency but he’s been stronger of late. The skillset is there, we’ll just need to keep an eye on the consistency of his performances. 33 saves through almost 65 minutes of hockey is solid in my eyes.
The Penalty Kill - Belleville finds itself in penalty trouble more often than not but went 6 for 6 in defending with a man down.
Here are the highlights.
Saturday, November 24 - Utica 4, Belleville 2
Saturday night saw yet another matchup with Belleville’s division rival - this time in Utica. While the penalty kill was strong in the previous game, the first frame saw Belleville go down by two. The first was a one-timer from (sigh) Jonathan Dahlen on the powerplay. The second was a perfect passing play between Michael Carcone, Zack MacEwan and Tanner Kero - with the latter putting the puck past Gustavsson.
The BSens had a tough task coming into the second but they came out strong, with Jordan Murray getting the Senators on the board just over two minutes into the period. Logan Brown fired the puck on net from up high and Murray was there for the deflection to cut the deficit to 2-1. Halfway through the second, Joseph LaBate found himself on a breakaway but wasn’t able to solve Thatcher Demko. Later in the period, a great zone exit by Stuart Percy led to Chlapik’s second deflection goal in as many games to even the score. Unfortunately the tie game didn’t last long. As his penalty had just expired, Cam Darcy jumped out of the box and found the puck on his stick for a breakaway and the eventual game winner. The Comets added an empty netter for insurance and it was all over in Utica.
Stuart Percy - I haven’t talked much about Percy thus far and it’s mostly because he doesn’t stand out too much one way or the other. Which isn’t always a bad thing, especially for a defenceman! That being said, he was strong in his own end on Saturday and Belleville’s second goal was almost entirely due to his effort.
Paul Carey - He didn’t get onto the scoreboard but he created a ton of chances for himself and his linemates.
Ben Sexton - Sexton found himself with an assist and three shots and, along with Carey, was strong in the opposing end.
Here are the highlights.
Brown has been back in the lineup for five games since coming back from injury and, while he hasn’t produced at an elite level thus far, you can see him gaining his confidence, holding onto the puck a little longer and make plays. He’s spent some time on the top powerplay unit and that’s really where he shines. I think we’ll start to see the production creep up as he keeps getting opportunities from Coach Mann.
Another name I haven’t talked much about here is Marcus Hogberg. Hogberg has been injured for much of the season but was reassigned to Brampton of the ECHL to get back into game shape. He got the start last night against Worcester and had a 0.935 SV% in a 2-1 overtime loss.
While Belleville hasn’t had a hot start to the season, there’s plenty of hockey left and the team is far from out of it. Currently, Belleville sports a 9-10-1 record which is good for 12th in the conference. That spot in the conference doesn’t look fantastic at first glance but it’s important to remember that the team in fourth is only four points ahead of Belleville. One quick hot streak and all of the sudden they’re in the mix.
We’ll find out if that hot streak starts tonight as the Laval Rocket host Belleville for their second matchup of the season. Belleville squeaked out a 2-1 win in the first meeting.