As the season moves forward, the Belleville Senators move closer and closer to “must-win” territory. With this string of losses, the team finds themselves at the bottom of the North Division and the Eastern Conference. While they’re only seven points out of a playoff spot, they’ll need to rely more and more on the teams ahead of them losing games while they find a hot streak somewhere.
Wednesday, January 16 - Laval 4, Belleville 2
On Wednesday, Filip Gustavsson was given another start for BSens, adding to his busy schedule of late. Early in the first period, the Rocket struck on the powerplay with some sleek passing from the point that eventually found Jake Evans who banked the puck past Gustavsson for a 1-0 lead. That lead didn’t last long. Jack Rodewald displayed confidence with the puck at the blueline on a delayed penalty call. He passed the puck to Stefan Elliott who returned the favour seconds later by finding Rodewald in front of the net for the tap in.
Early in the second period, with the BSens on the powerplay, we saw Stuart Percy get out skated and out muscled on an odd man rush as Alex Belzile got the best of him and found a wide open Byron Froese to regain the lead. Less than a minute later Rodewald played the role of difference maker once again on an odd bounce to tie the game at 2. Later in the frame, Laval found themselves on the man advantage again and made no mistake as a wide open Alexandre Alain beat Gustavsson clean from the slot.
Daniel Audette added yet another Laval powerplay goal in the third period to solidify the win for the home team.
Jack Rodewald - I keep waiting for Rodewald to slow down but he continues to impress, scoring both goals for Belleville.
Logan Brown - Brown set up Rodewald’s second goal on a set play we’ve seen these two players connect on before. Brown got the puck up high, passed it low to Rodewald who spins and shots from in close.
Special teams (negative) - Laval’s four goals were all scored via special teams. Three on the powerplay and one shorthanded. That can’t be a trend that continues.
Here are the highlights.
Friday, January 18 - Syracuse 5, Belleville 3
As far as excitement goes, this game was right up there. Marcus Hogberg was given the start after being returned from Ottawa. Continuing on the trend from the Laval game, the special teams were exposed again on Friday with the Crunch opening the scoring with two powerplay markers in the first period.
Let’s skip ahead to the second period where the BSens found themselves trailing 3-0. In the first half of the period, the Senators were at the tail end of their own powerplay when a bouncing puck found Elliott’s stick. The Vancouver native quickly dished it to Filip Chlapik who wired it into the back of the net for his 10th of the year. Later in the period some fantastic passing led to another Rodewald goal. As they entered the zone, Chlapik dropped the puck to Jordan Murray who quickly found Rodewald on the opposite side of the ice and he made no mistake beating Eddie Pasquele.
The BSens came out swinging in the third period, as they continued their pursuit of a comeback. Just over five minutes in, the faceoff was returned to centre ice. A clean win saw the BSens jump into the Crunch zone, Rodewald slid the puck to Klimchuk who sniped one upstairs to even the game up. The Sens had just over 13 minutes to complete the comeback. Unfortunately the Crunch were able to find the back of the net twice in the second half of the frame to end the comeback bid.
Morgan Klimchuk - He’s had an off season, given his previous AHL numbers, but he’s been great thus far in a BSens uniform.
Jack Rodewald - Rodewald keeps showing up to play and I’m here for it.
Jordan Murray - There are some defensive flaws in Murray’s game but he had a good showing on Friday night. He moved the puck well and contributed on the scoresheet. If he can play at that level consistently, he’ll find some success at the AHL level.
Here are the highlights.
Saturday, January 19 - Belleville 5, Utica 2
On the second game of a back-to-back, the BSens went with Hogberg again between the pipes. Just like Friday night, this was a drama filled affair. Unlike Friday night, the outcome was much more enjoyable if you’re a Sens fan.
Just under five minutes in, the Comets opened the scoring and yes, it was on the powerplay. A few minutes later, they extended their lead to 2-0. To add to the drama, Utica was awarded a penalty shot just a few minutes later and the opportunity to extend their lead early in the game. Luckily for Belleville, Hogberg made a glove save to keep the game within two.
Then the BSens got to work. To get themselves on the board, Belleville started with a strong entrance into the zone. Friend of the blog (probably not) Drake Batherson saw Klimchuk streaking in and wired a pass right on his tape. Just as quickly as it arrived, the puck left Klimchuk’s stick and flew directly under the crossbar like a heat seeking missile. Almost exactly two minutes later, Batherson and Klimchuk connected again to tie the game at two.
The second frame (yes, all of the above happened in one period) saw the BSens continue their strong play and add two more goals to their side of the scoresheet. The first was a Darren Archibald revenge goal as he snuck a puck through the five hole for the eventual game winner against his former team. The second was a great play off the faceoff on the powerplay. Archibald won the draw back to Rodewald who found Cody Goloubef sneaking down from the point and he made no mistake. Max McCormick finished things off with an empty netter.
Morgan Klimchuk - Another pair of goals, I sure hope he’s found his groove in Belleville.
Drake Batherson - It’s been a quiet series of games for Drakey B - his last point was on December 27th, 10 games ago. The funny part is he’s still just shy of a point per game in the AHL.
Marcus Hogberg - After allowing 5 on Friday, Hogberg stood tall on Saturday stopping 21 of 23 pucks and every shot he faced in the final 50 minutes of the game.
Here are the highlights.
During Friday night’s game, the BSens lost Brown to another injury. Brown took a crosscheck that forced him to leave the game and he didn’t return. The good news is, it’s expected he’ll return this weekend so this wasn’t a serious injury. That being said, every Logan Brown injury is a bad injury given his history of missing time.
You can bet Gustavsson is a bit relieved to see Hogberg returned to the AHL. While playing time is important, Gustavsson started every single Belleville game in 2019 up until Friday night.
With the All Star Break underway for the Ottawa Senators, Rudolfs Balcers and Christian Wolanin were reassigned to Belleville to ensure they saw some playing time over the next week. Wolanin was promptly named as a replacement for the AHL All Star game which takes place this coming Sunday.
Belleville heads home this weekend for a back-to-back with the Toronto Marlies. You’ve heard this before but this is an incredibly important set of games if the BSens have any intention of playing past the end of the regular season.