With four games in the week, let’s get right to the recaps.
Wednesday, February 13 - Belleville 3, Syracuse 0
As the hot streak rolled on, the Senators found themselves with a tough opponent in the Syracuse Crunch on Wednesday night. They certainly rose to the occasion on the back of Marcus Hogberg.
The first period was relatively quiet until the halfway point, when Drake Batherson floated a pass to where Nick Paul would be deep in Syracuse territory - displaying Batherson’s always impressive mind for the game - and Paul’s shot eventually led to a rebound recovered and buried by Paul himself. Into the second frame, with the BSens leading by one, Cody Goloubef got his name on the scoresheet with a wrister from the blueline that evaded multiple bodies, including that of Eddie Pasquale, before finding the back of the net for his fifth of the season. It wasn’t until late in the third that Belleville would get on the board again. Adam Tambellini took advantage of an empty Crunch net and sauced one from inside his own zone to seal the deal for the hometown team.
Nick Paul - He’s been fantastic since being returned to Belleville. It’s likely due to his linemates but he’s made plenty of plays himself to set Batherson and Logan Brown up as well.
Marcus Hogberg - 31 shots, 31 saves - including a beauty around the 22 second mark of the highlight pack.
Adam Tambellini - Besides the empty net goal, Tambellini had a solid game including five shots on net.
Here are the highlights.
Friday, February 15 - Cleveland 2, Belleville 1 (SO)
The BSens extended their streak to 11 straight games where they earned at least one point on Friday night. Following his shutout on Wednesday, Hogberg was given the nod once again.
In a strange turn of events, the not-Senators scored the first goal of the game? I know, I was surprised too. It wasn’t until midway through the game that Christian Wolanin would get the good guys on the board with his sixth goal of the year. A loose puck came off the back boards and Wolanin came streaking in, faked the shot to freeze Jean-Francois Berube before finishing the wrap around.
While I’d like to think the BSens did everything they could to end this one in regulation time, they failed to convert on five straight powerplays between the second and third periods and ended up going to a shootout. The Monsters eventually took home the W - which is weird considering I didn’t think Belleville was allowed to lose at this point? And to top it off, Batherson didn’t get a point. So that was weird.
Marcus Hogberg - He’s really found his game after some shaky play last season and Friday night was no exception.
Christian Wolanin - It was great to see Wolanin back on the ice as he suffered a pretty scary looking injury not too long ago. Luckily the hit looked worse than the outcome and Wolanin didn’t miss a beat while he was off recovering.
Aaron Luchuk - He didn’t see a ton of ice but I thought he was very effective when he played.
Here are the highlights.
Saturday, February 16 - Belleville 4, Cleveland 2
On the second night of a back-to-back - and with Filip Gustavsson up with the big club - Hogberg got the nod again. With the taste of a loss in his mouth, Batherson made sure Belleville jumped to an early lead in this one. He channeled his inner Mark Stone, stole the puck and delivered a silky finish on the breakaway. This ended his pointless drought of roughly 110 minutes. Right at the end of the period, Stefan Elliot joined the fun with his sixth goal of the campaign. He pinched down low in the offensive zone and received a perfect pass on the backdoor for the easy score.
The Monsters put a quick damper on the party in the second period but in the final frame Belleville got right back to it with another early period goal. On a rare shift with Batherson, Filip Chlapik sniped an absolute rocket for his 15th. Halfway through the third, they were at it again and Batherson got back on the board once again.
Cleveland did narrow the scoring deficit by one but it wasn’t enough.
Drake Batherson - After a long pointless streak of approximately the amount of time it takes to watch half a dozen episodes of The Office, Batherson continued to add to his impressive campaign on Saturday.
Marcus Hogberg - 37 shots, 35 saves.
Nick Paul - Paul had a pair of assists and four shots on net and was, once again, a big contributor for the top line.
Here are the highlights.
Monday, February 18 - Belleville 4, Laval 3 (OT)
In the final game of a busy week, after playing three games in four days, Coach Mann turned to... drumroll please... Hogberg again.
This matchup against Laval started off with the Rocket going up by a goal five minutes into the first period. With a lot of the play in Belleville’s end early in the game, things weren’t looking great. That is, until Laval went on a powerplay late in the first period. I know what you’re thinking. But Spencer, it was Laval that went on the powerplay, why is that a good thing for Belleville? Well...
Is there anything this team can’t do?
Anyways, the BSens took the 2-1 lead into the first intermission and looked to build on it in the second. Unfortunately, the second period was all about the Rocket. They scored two goals, including a shorthanded marker of their own, to take a 3-2 lead.
It took Belleville until the final few minutes of the third to really put the pressure on Laval but once they got buzzing, the result was inevitable. A backhand pass from Brown found the stick of Paul in front of the net and his beautiful backhander was launched into the top corner to even things up and force extra time.
If that wasn’t enough of a hero movement for Paul, he also scored the game winner using a slick power move up high to gain some spice and fire the puck through the wickets of Charlie Lindgren.
Nick Paul - This one is too obvious.
Christian Wolanin - It’s so nice having Wolanin back. He adds an element of puck movement on the backend that doesn’t exist in his absence.
Darren Archibald - Say what you will about Archibald’s style of game, his two assists were huge in helping his team get the win.
Here are the highlights.
The Belleville Senators hype train has officially left the station. With 60 points on the season, the BSens are knocking on the playoff door sitting just one spot behind 8th in the East and two points behind 6th. One thing to keep in mind is Belleville has played 3-4 more games than the four teams ahead of them in the standings. So while this run has been spectacular and looks like it may never end, there are still obstacles in the way. Mainly an obstacle that’s out of their control.
An interesting piece of news came up this week regarding Julius Bergman. This is a name that doesn’t come up much in these posts, mostly because Bergman’s contributions lack skill or reason for inclusion. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Bergman, a piece received in the Mike Hoffman trade last summer, is likely to return to Sweden next year.
One final thing to watch for in the coming days is movement at the NHL level and what it means for Belleville’s chances at completing their Cinderella run to the playoffs. With names like Stone, Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel, Cody Ceci and more swirling around, call ups are inevitable. If I’m running the show, I’m not touching the core in Belleville no matter how much they do deserve a call up. With Ottawa’s games all but meaningless until the unparalleled run of success kickstarts in a few years, playing meaningful games and leading an AHL team on a playoff run is incredibly important to the development of players like Batherson, Brown Chlapik and Wolanin. That being said, if the Sens actually sell the farm or Belleville starts to flounder, you can expect some or all of these names in Ottawa before the end of the season.
Following a busy week, the Senators have a light schedule with just two games between now and next week’s post. They head on a quick road trip to face Binghamton (15th, East) and Rochester (2nd, East) before returning home for a few games at the start of March.