Disclaimer: In seasons past, I’ve given you the run down of Belleville games in a weekly recap style post. This year, we’re going to try something a little different. First, you’ll see quick bullet point recaps of each game accompanied by a link to watch the highlight pack. Second, we’ll touch on any trends, news or notes related to Belleville in an attempt to hit you with what’s most important!
As Belleville’s season begins, and expectations take new heights, I’ll be looking to report on more wins than in previous years. There are a ton of reasons to be optimistic about this group - and a few reasons to be cautious - and the BSens finally came alive in game 3 of the season against the Devils. Past that, we take a look at the surplus of forwards, demand for defenders and what Belleville’s leadership group is likely to look like in a season where the roster can be best described as a turnstile.
Saturday, October 5 - Toronto 4, Belleville 1
Here are the highlights.
- Marcus Hogberg appeared between the pipes, stopping 29 of 32 shots (0.906 SV%).
- Alex Formenton scored his first professional goal with assists from Michael Carcone and Christian Jaros.
- Belleville was unsuccessful in four powerplay attempts and allowed a pair of goals to Toronto’s skilled powerplay unit on five attempts.
Friday, October 13 - Binghamton 2, Belleville 1
Here are the highlights.
- Hogberg got the start, stopping 19 of 21 shots (0.905 SV%).
- The BSens peppered Evan Cormier with 38 shots.
- Morgan Klimchuk picked up the lone goal, with an assist from Nick Paul.
Saturday, October 14 - Belleville 5, Binghamton 4 (OT)
Here are the highlights.
- Filip Gustavsson started, stopping 27 of 31 shots (0.871 SV%) - one of the four goals allowed was on the penalty kill.
- Paul, Logan Brown and Drake Batherson reunited and contributed a combined 12 points to the win, including Batherson’s game winner.
How about Filip Gustvasson with the poke check and Logan Brown's chip pass to set up Drake Batherson for the OT breakaway winner!? I don't think there was a whistle all overtime. Great comeback win for Belleville #GoSensGo pic.twitter.com/EpHTMcjnwu— Sens Prospects (@SensProspects) October 13, 2019
- Belleville went to the penalty kill seven times compared to only heading to the man advantage twice.
We’ve covered this topic already, so I won’t toss you too far down the rabbit hole, but the trend of having too many prospects in Belleville will only continue to impact Ottawa’s prospects if movement isn’t made at the NHL level. Saturday’s roster featured two healthy scratches in Max Veronneau and Jonathan Davidsson - two players with very real NHL futures who need to be playing.
This isn’t a slight on Troy Mann in any way, as the veterans he has playing over these prospects should definitely be regulars in the lineup. The issue starts and ends in Ottawa and I’ll be closely monitoring how each move at the NHL level will impact the team in Belleville.
While the forward group continues to be crowded, Belleville’s blueline could use some help. With Erik Brannstrom playing well with the big club and Christian Wolanin recovering from his season delaying shoulder surgery, there’s a pretty wide gap between the top 2-3 defenders in Belleville and the remainder of the lineup.
Both Christian Jaros and Maxime Lajoie spent deserving time in Ottawa last season and have both started their respective seasons off well. After that, Jordan Murray appears to have continued taking the right steps towards becoming a strong AHL blueliner, showing skill with the puck both in the transition game as well as quarterbacking a few powerplay shifts. The remainder of this defensive unit leaves much to be desired. While it makes sense to have Cody Goloubef occupying the healthy scratch slot with Ottawa (instead of a prospect), having him returned to Belleville would strengthen the right side and provide stability that this roster is currently missing when Jaros and Lajoie step off the ice.
Oh Captain, My Captain
My initial pick for Belleville captain prior to the season was Goloubef. He checked off all the boxes - veteran player, reliable guy, good in the room and, most importantly, likely to stay in Belleville all year long. That’s the real tough part about picking a leader at the AHL level. You want to pick a player you trust to be on the ice in key situations who’s also great in the room. The problem is, a lot of the time, the player you may trust the most in these scenarios is likely bound to get recalled at some point. Assuming a healthy blueline heading into training camp and having all of Wolanin, Brannstrom, Jaros and Lajoie ahead of him in the defensive depth chart, Goloubef was the most logical skater to be the third captain in Belleville’s short history. Fortunately for Goloubef (and his bank account), it looks like he’s secured that healthy scratch spot in Ottawa where he’ll factor into the odd NHL game.
At this point, it would appear that Belleville will run a leadership-by-committee style dressing room this season, as Ottawa will be calling up anyone and everyone who deserves a shift in Kanata.