The Belleville Senators continued to roll this week, toppling the Rockford Ice Hogs and the Toronto Marlies in a back-to-back. Just like last week, it was a matter of letting all of Belleville’s weapons loose and reaping the benefits.
This week both JC Beaudin and Erik Brannstrom were sent to Belleville, partially for more ice time and partially due to healthy players returning to the Ottawa lineup. Beaudin made his return centring Filip Chlapik and Max Veronneau, while Brännström lined up with Jack Dougherty and led the top powerplay unit.
Friday, December 13 - Belleville 5, Rockford 2
Here are the highlights.
- Filip Gustavsson stopped 24 of 26 shots (0.923 SV%); both goals allowed were at even strength.
- The trio of Josh Norris, Rudolfs Balcers and Drake Batherson went to work again, combing for a goal and four assists.
- Brännström had a pair of assists, while captain Jordan Szwarz potted a pair of goals.
- Norris’ quick hands were the difference maker on this beauty:
Saturday, December 14 - Belleville 4, Toronto 1
Here are the highlights.
- Joey Daccord was solid, turning away 34 of the 35 shots he faced (0.971 SV%), bringing him to a 0.968 SV% and 1.00 GAA through his two AHL starts this season.
- Batherson and Szwarz added more goals to their season totals while Dougherty had an excellent game for himself, compiling two assists.
- Belleville’s discipline was questionable, allowing the Marlies to head to the powerplay nine times. Fortunately, they were successful in all but one of their trips to the penalty kill.
- Brännström scored his first goal of the season — which is also the first goal he’s scored as a member of the Senators organization — and it was a beauty.
Erik Brannstrom's 1st of the season!— Sens Prospects (@SensProspects) December 14, 2019
What a look of relief. That's 4 points in 4 AHL games (with 2 periods to go) for Brannstrom. Also neat: Joey Daccord picked up an assist on the goal. #GoSensGo pic.twitter.com/aw35f82Rj1
Flying Under the Radar
In this blog, I have a tendency to focus on the studs. With a cupboard full of prospects, the Belleville Senators have the pleasure of rostering some fantastic players who tend to get all of the attention. That attention is, of course, warranted. With the likes of Batherson leading the entire league in scoring while players like Norris and Alex Formenton are climbing the rookie scoring charts themselves, it’s tough to focus anywhere else. With that in mind, I’d like to take a moment to highlight two players we don’t talk about much.
The first is Jack Dougherty. Coming off a multi-assist performance against Toronto on Saturday, Dougherty has quietly worked his way into being a mainstay in the BSens lineup. While there’s plenty of opportunity as the blueline is the weakest part of the roster, Dougherty has taken full advantage by playing consistent minutes, and has put up eight points (1G, 7A) in 28 games this season. The 23-year-old former second rounder is in his fourth full season in the AHL and currently on pace to smash his personal best for points in a season (13). While we shouldn’t pencil him in for a slot in Ottawa, the right-handed pivot has done a solid job of rounding out an otherwise weak blueline in Belleville.
The second is Frank Corrado. Having joined the team on a PTO and recently signing on with an AHL deal, Corrado has been a solid, patient addition to Belleville’s blueline. With NHL experience under his belt, you can see that Corrado’s positioning and puck skills are at a more mature level than some of his fellow defenders. Through 18 games with the club, Corrado has compiled a handful of assists, one point off of matching his totals in 39 games with the Marlies last season. He was never going to blow you away with his offence, but his play thus far reminds me of the likes of Cody Goloubef and Stefan Elliot from last season. He’s there, he’s consistent and he’s reliable. I’d be happy to see him return to Belleville next season once his one-year contract runs out.
The Race is On
This time last year, the BSens had just started to heat up. On the backs of the dynamic trio of Batherson, Nick Paul and Logan Brown, Belleville started on their pursuit of a playoff spot. Unfortunately, it was too little too late as the team was in sole possession of last place in the North last December and had a mountain to climb.
This year’s squad has a different story to tell. As we head into the holiday season, Belleville currently sits tied for third in the North. While Belleville, Utica and Laval all currently have 33 points, our friends in the beautiful red jerseys have games in hand on both. They’re four points back of the Marlies — which is why Saturday’s win was so important — and seven points behind the Rochester Americans. Needless to say, Troy Mann and the rest of the BSens staff have set this team up for a much better chance at a playoff run than years past.
As we look ahead to the rest of 2019, things could not get more interesting for this run. Belleville has seven games left on the calendar for December. How many of those games are against members of the North Division, you ask? All of them.
It all starts tonight at CAA Arena as Belleville welcomes Francis Perron’s Utica Comets to town for their first meeting of the 2019-20 season.