The reality in any professional sports league that’s separated by divisions is that games against your division rivals are of utmost importance in the race for the playoffs. This is most true when speaking about the AHL. Due mostly to travel and expenses, the AHL schedule is almost entirely made up of games against teams in your division. For example, Belleville has 24 games this season against the Toronto Marlies and the Laval Rocket. That’s 31.5% of the season played against just two teams. In total, in their 76 game season, Belleville will play against members of the North Division 54 times.
This past weekend, Belleville faced off against the Utica Comets for a divisional home and home. With a huge four points on the line, our boys in red did not disappoint.
Friday, January 24 - Belleville 5, Utica 2
Here are the highlights.
- Filip Gustavsson posted a 0.928 SV%, allowing a pair of goals on 26 shots.
- Belleville was perfect on the penalty kill through five infractions.
- Jordan Murray, Michael Carcone, Logan Brown, Morgan Klimchuk and Parker Kelly were your goal scorers.
- Brown’s goal brought him to 24 points in 18 games in the AHL this year.
Saturday, January 25 - Belleville 4, Utica 2
Here are the highlights.
- Joey Daccord turned aside 30 of 32 shots (0.938 SV%), improving his seasons save percentage to 0.917 through 15 games. This makes him 9th in the AHL for goalies with 14+ starts.
- Filip Chlapik led the offense with a goal, an assist and six shots on net.
- Drake Batherson, Rudolfs Balcers and Klimchuk joined Chlapik in the goal scorers column.
- Batherson, Brown and Erik Brannstrom connected for an absolute beauty.
Gone in 13.356 Seconds
Due to illness, Josh Norris was unable to suit up for the Belleville Senators this weekend and he also had to miss out on his first showing at the AHL All Star game. In his place, the league elected to send Alex Formenton instead. Formenton’s 21 goals and 13 assists has him sitting fifth in rookie points and second in rookie goal scoring. But it wasn’t Formenton’s point production that had the attention of the AHL during this year’s AHL All Star Skills Competition.
Formenton’s 13.356 second fastest skater attempt won him the award at this year’s competition and places him third in AHL All Star history. Compared to the NHL equivalent on the weekend, Formenton’s time would have him sitting barely behind some guy named Connor McDavid (13.215 seconds). The dude’s fast.
While the North Division was unsuccessful in the 3-on-3 portion of the event, Formenton and Balcers managed to both make their way on the scoresheet.
Following four points against a division rival this weekend, the BSens have made themselves slightly more comfortable atop the North. Currently, with 58 points, they are four points ahead of both Rochester and Utica. While Belleville has played one less game than Utica, Rochester has three important games in hand on the Senators which makes them the team to watch over the next few weeks.
The divisional back-to-back trend continues as Belleville heads to Laval for games on Friday and Saturday before a home-and-home with Toronto next week. Every game is important but this Belleville squad sure seems up for the challenge.