As the Belleville Senators set their sights on a playoff spot, it was incredibly important for them to have a strong week. On the schedule were two teams. The first was the Cleveland Monsters, who sit just in front of Belleville but are also outside of a playoff spot. The second was the Western Conference leading Grand Rapids Griffins.
Wednesday, January 9 - Belleville 3, Cleveland 2
With an important two points on the line, Belleville turned to Filip Gustavsson between the pipes on Wednesday night - and he was busy. The first period saw Cleveland outshoot Belleville 9 to 2 but no goals were scored. It wasn’t until seven minutes into the second that the Senators would open the scoring. A Julius Bergman point shot deflected off Joseph LaBate in front to take the lead. Some defensive miscues and sloppy play in their own end made the Belleville lead disappear quite quickly with Nathan Gerbe banging home a loose puck. Just before the end of the period, Logan Brown slid the puck to Filip Chlapik who rifled it upstairs to regain the lead.
The third period did not start as the BSens would have liked as Cleveland got on the board in the opening minute. Luckily for the fans at CAA Arena, Brown was dialled into this one and his fancy stick work got his name in the goal column for the eventual game winner.
Logan Brown - A healthy Logan Brown is a good Logan Brown.
Filip Gustavsson - Gus didn’t receive a ton of help in this one, facing 37 shots when his own team only managed 12 (!!!!).
Here are the highlights.
Friday, January 11 - Belleville 4, Grand Rapids 3 (SO)
While taking points from the top team in the West doesn’t matter much for a team from the East, proving you can hang with the big dogs does. After a strong start on Wednesday, Troy Mann gave Gustavsson the nod again. Grand Rapids’ Filip Zadina got the scoring started early in the first period with a slick puck steal followed by a power move to the net. It took almost the rest of the period but Belleville didn’t let the Griffins lead heading into the first intermission. On the powerplay, Brown found Jack Rodewald at the side of the net and he roofed it for his 12th of the season.
A few minutes into the second, a Grand Rapids powerplay allowed the Griffins to regain the lead. It was Zadina (again) finding the back of the net on a backdoor feed from Jake Chelios (yes, that family). It didn’t take long for Max McCormick to even things up on a rebound from a shot by Chris Carlisle.
Halfway through the third period, LaBate found himself in front of the net again and redirected Erik Burgdoerfer’s point shot clean upstairs for his second in as many games. Holding a one goal lead late in the third is always nerve racking and this game was no exception. With Carlisle in the box, Chris Terry scored a one timer off Zadina’s cross ice feed.
Overtime solved nothing so we had to head to a shootout. Luckily for Belleville, Brown’s silky hands enabled him to send the puck upstairs on his backhand for the third round shootout winner.
Filip Gustavsson - 0.914 SV% across 65 minutes of play.
Logan Brown - An assist and the shootout winner, hard to argue.
Joseph LaBate - He found himself a bit of an office this past week in front of the net.
Here are the highlights.
Saturday, January 12 - Grand Rapids 5, Belleville 2
With Marcus Hogberg in Ottawa and the BSens on their way to a perfect week, Gustavsson was awarded the start on the second half of this back-to-back. The first period didn’t start the way everyone on the Belleville bench wanted it to, with Grand Rapids heading to the first intermission with a 2-0 lead.
Early in the second period, Brown got his team on the board. The gentle giant stepped out from the side boards and roofed it for his seventh of the season.
Logan Brown sniped home his seventh goal of the season last night. With points in four straight games, the rookie centreman continues to find his offensive groove in the AHL, tallying 17 points in 26 games after missing 14 games earlier this season with a knee injury. pic.twitter.com/Z6dJJOOnhh— Joel Vanderlaan (@Joelvanderlaan) January 13, 2019
Morgan Klimchuk got the assist for his first point as a Senator. Just three minutes later Klimchuk made an even better impression for his new team. He crossed the blueline and snapped a shot off the post and in.
Unfortunately, the Griffins scored three goals in four minutes late in the second to put this game out of reach.
Logan Brown - Is this thing on?
Morgan Klimchuk - Klimchuk made a big impression in his second game in a Senators uniform. The Regina native struggled to start the season, hopefully this trade is the spark he needed.
Discipline and the Penalty Kill - This is a negative standout. Four of the oppositions goals were scored with the man advantage. Belleville was given nine minor penalties throughout the game.
Here are the highlights.
In case you missed it yesterday, Colin’s prospect update featured someone who’s been mentioned on many occasions in this post: Logan Brown. It’s been a tough few seasons from an injury perspective for Brown but, as Colin points out, when he’s fully healthy, he’s fantastic. Let’s all cross our fingers he can play out the season in full health.
The BSens continue their road trip as they head to Laval, Syracuse and Utica this week. All three teams are ahead of Belleville in the Eastern Conference playoff race. This will likely be seen as a very important stretch when we look back on whatever success this season brings.