Over the past month, we’ve talked in excess about how if the Belleville Senators want any shot at the post season, they have to start a hot streak and they have to start it now. With a back-to-back against the Toronto Marlies over the weekend, this was the perfect opportunity to get the ball rolling.
Friday, January 25 - Belleville 6, Toronto 2
The weekend began with some reinforcements being returned to the Belleville lineup. As the NHL starts its All Star break, Rudolfs Balcers and Christian Wolanin were sent to Belleville to play big minutes and build on their strong play with the big club over the last few weeks. Marcus Hogberg was given the nod for the first game of the weekend.
It didn’t take long for the BSens to get on the board. Drake Batherson found Max McCormick streaking down the wing. McCormick fired a shot past Kasimir Kaskisuo to open the scoring less than five minutes in. The lead didn’t last long as former Senator Colin Greening tied things up a few minutes later. While the two clubs battled back and forth for the remainder of the period,
former Binghamton Senator former Toronto Marlie Tobias Lindberg banged home a rebound to take the lead into the locker room for the first intermission.
Early in the second period, the Senators found themselves with the man advantage. As the penalty was seconds from expiring, Aaron Luchuk wired a cross ice pass to Adam Tambellini who perfectly placed the puck on Filip Chlapik’s stick for an easy deflection and the two goal lead. Halfway through the frame, Carl Grundstrom cut the Belleville lead to one when Hogberg misplayed the puck behind the net and Grundstrom had nobody to shot the puck past. A few minutes later, while shorthanded, Balcers made his impact on the club in his first game back. As he crossed the blueline, Chlapik passed the puck over to Balcers who slid it incredibly slowly past Kaskisuo for his 15th of the year.
The third period was all Belleville. While on the powerplay, Batherson found Brown through a seam and the Raleigh native sniped one upstairs. Wolanin had the secondary assist. A few minutes later Stefan Elliot drove past the Toronto defense and beat Kaskisuo on the backhand for the final score of 6-2.
Logan Brown - With a goal on the night, Brown continues his strong play in 2019 with his seventh point in eight games this year.
Marcus Hogberg - Minus the blip on Toronto’s second goal, Hogberg was strong again on Friday with a 0.920 SV%.
Drake Batherson - After breaking his pointless streak last weekend against Utica, Batherson added another pair of assists on Friday.
Here are the highlights.
Saturday, January 26 - Toronto 3, Belleville 2 (SO)
After a solid showing on Friday, Trent Mann turned to Hogberg for another start on Saturday. This game didn’t start quite like the previous, as the first period finished with the BSens down by two. It’s tough to fault Hogberg for either, as he was left out to dry by his defence on both.
Out to lead the way on the scoresheet, Brown started the second period off with a beauty. Batherson connected with Andreas Englund for a quick zone exit. Englund shovelled the puck up to Brown who moved quickly down the wing and beat Michael Hutchinson at an insane angle to make it a 2-1 game.
Logan Brown's 9th of the season was a beauty— Sens Prospects (@SensProspects) January 27, 2019
Brown heads into the AHL All Star break having scored 12 points (5-7-12) over his last 14GP. Here's to hoping he stays healthy and continues to produce down the stretch for Belleville. pic.twitter.com/xsViC592XU
The remainder of the period was scoreless but Batherson thought he’d take a page out of Brown’s book and kick off the third frame with another Belleville goal. Just over a minuted into the period, Batherson won the puck back to Erik Burgdoerfer who quickly fired a shot on net. The rebound went right to the stick of a net crashing Batherson who roofed it to tie the game.
This one needed extra time and finally a shootout to decide it. Batherson scored an absolute beauty by freezing Hutchinson, quickly shifting to his backhand and flip the puck right under the bar. Unfortunately, former Senator Gabriel Gagne eventually won the shootout for Toronto - something Gagne was quite good at in a Belleville uniform last season.
Logan Brown - Brown is now on a point per game place since January 1st and has 21 points in 30 games this season.
Drake Batherson - I know, it’s getting boring seeing the same names. It’s early but it appears the monkey on Batherson’s back is gone again. He’s firing on all cylinders.
Filip Chlapik - He didn’t get on the board but his line with Balcers and Jack Rodewald created a ton of chances. They combined for 11 shots on net - just over 33% of the team total.
Here are the highlights.
The return of Wolanin and Balcers was just what the doctor ordered for Belleville. Injecting that level of skill both up front and on the backend was a game changer and it showed. Upon being sent back to Belleville, Wolanin also joined teammate and fellow rookie Drakey B at the AHL All Star Game in Springfield. The North Division won the 3-on-3 tournament for the second year in a row and Batherson was named the AHL All Star MVP.
The good news is that the BSens took three of four point from a team that is vying for the same playoff spot. The bad news is Belleville still sits seven points out of the final playoff spot and are likely to lose Wolanin and one of Balcers or Batherson as Ottawa gets back to work this week.
The week ahead sees Belleville take on Binghamton, Hershey and Toronto this week - all three of which sit between Belleville and that playoff spot they’re working towards.
Another week, another incredibly important set of points.
I hope to bring you good news this time next week!