The Belleville Senators continued their ice cold start by tallying back to back losses while allowing 12 goals against across two games. Neither goaltender played well, the defense was lacklustre and the forward lines got shuffled more times than I could possibly count.
It’s not all bad news, however, as this week we finally saw a Senators team take advantage of their powerplay time. As we talked about last week, Belleville has incredible depth, especially at forward. The fact it took a few games for this particular team to string together some success is the surprise of the season so far for me. But we’ll get more into that later.
Friday, October 18 - Hershey 5, Belleville 1
Here are the highlights.
- Marcus Hogberg allowed five goals on 31 shots (0.839 SV%), all at even strength.
- Jordan Murray scored the lone goal for Belleville, with assists from Logan Brown and Alex Formenton.
- Nick Paul was recalled to Ottawa, Formenton took the left wing spot on the top line with Brown and Drake Batherson.
Saturday, October 19 - Providence 7, Belleville 4
Here are the highlights.
- Filip Gustavsson got the start, allowed five goals on 21 shots (0.762 SV%) before getting pulled.
- Hogberg allowed two goals on nine shots (0.777 SV%) in relief of Gustavsson.
- The BSens finally scored on the powerplay - not once but four times.
- Josh Norris scored his first professional goal, joining Batherson, Brown and Michael Carcone as Saturday’s goal scorers.
Open The Floodgates
After going 0-for-everything on the man advantage, the BSens finally got themselves on the board in a big way. It took a few games but Belleville’s depth of skill up front finally clicked on Saturday, as they tallied four powerplay goals on five attempts.
The first three goals were scored by the same powerplay unit, featuring Maxime Lajoie as quarterback with Brown and Norris on each half wall. This particular set up sees Brown on his natural side with Norris, also left handed, playing the right side for the one timer - which happens to be exactly how the first goal was scored.
The second powerplay goal of the game saw Brown stepping into a shot and ripping it top corner. Based on the lack of movement, it’s safe to assume Providence goaltender Kyle Kaiser probably didn’t see it.
The BSens definitely have the skill to be scoring regularly on the powerplay - we’ll find out this week if this was the start of something potent or just a blip on the radar.
Stu to the Rescue
Earlier this week, Belleville announced that they’ve signed Stuart Percy to a PTO. The 26 year old former first round pick played 41 games with Belleville last season prior to a trade that sent him to Providence in exchange for Austin Fyten. As mentioned last week, the depth is there up front but the defenders are lacking. Percy is far from the player he was expected to be when the Toronto Maple Leafs used the 25th overall pick on him, but he’s a steady defender who should provide a bit of extra stability on the back end for Belleville.
Problems in Net
Belleville has a few issues to sort out with its roster but it’s safe to say that neither Hogberg nor Gustavsson have started the season off as expected. The season is young, and there’s plenty of time to turn things around, but when both of your goaltenders are sporting a sub-0.900 SV%, you’re going to start asking questions.
I’m sure Troy Mann will give his Swedish netminders more time but you can’t help but wonder if Joey Daccord gets asked to step up and show what he has at some point before Christmas. He hasn’t exactly been a brick wall in Brampton but I tend to avoid putting too much stock into goaltender performance at the ECHL level - where the opposition is sloppy and the team in front of you, in this case, is sloppier.
The Week Ahead
Keep an eye out for more line juggling as it doesn’t appear that Mann has strung together the same groupings once in this young season. I’ll be hoping to see more prospects playing prime minutes and better goaltending as Belleville fights for a much needed six points this week.
The BSens welcome Phil Varone’s Laval Rocket to CAA arena tonight for their first meeting of the season before hitting the road this weekend to face Chris Driedger’s Springfield Thunderbirds and Paul Carey’s Providence Bruins for a back-to-back.