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Formenton, Batherson Lead BSens to Victory

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Alex Formenton and Drake Batherson combined for three goals and seven assists this week as the Belleville Senators won two of their three games, further cementing their position atop the North Division.

AHL: FEB 29 Belleville Senators at Cleveland Monsters Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Belleville Senators fell to Laval before winning back-to-back games against Cleveland this week, improving their record to 37-17-4-1 (79 points). The BSens’ high powered offense was on display against Cleveland, outscoring the Monsters 9-2 across their two games. Per the usual strategy, Head Coach Troy Mann split the games between Joey Daccord and Filip Gustavsson, seeing both goalies pick up a win this week.

Wednesday, February 26 - Laval 4, Belleville 1

Here are the highlights.

  • Daccord turned aside 30 of 32 shots (0.938 SV%) while Belleville was a perfect 5-0 on the penalty kill.
  • Joseph LaBate teamed up with fellow veterans Morgan Klimchuk and Darren Archibald for Belleville’s loan goal.
  • Laval scored four unanswered goals to steal two points from the home team - albeit, two of them were empty net goals while Belleville was trying to even things up.

Friday, February 28 - Belleville 5, Cleveland 1

Here are the highlights.

  • Daccord was rewarded for a solid performance Wednesday by getting the start again Friday - backstopping the BSens with 23 saves (0.958 SV%).
  • Batherson outplayed Formenton with a goal and three assists, compared to Formenton’s measly goal and two assists.
  • Vitaly Abramov contributed a pair of assists himself, ending his three game pointless streak.
  • The captain Jordan Szwarz scored again, lifting his season total to 17 goals in 42 games.

Saturday, February 29 - Belleville 4, Cleveland 1

Here are the highlights.

  • Gustavsson stopped 20 shots (0.952 SV%) en route to the victory.
  • Szwarz added two assists to his weekend totals, truly leading by example.
  • Archibald scored his third goal in five games since returning to Belleville - he’s currently producing at a point per game clip in a Belleville uniform this season.
  • Formenton and Filip Chlapik both contributed a goal and an assist in the win, including this breathtaking sauce from Formenton to Chlapik for a shorthanded goal.

Short Staffed

With Ottawa’s roster being relatively fluid this season, it was expected that Belleville would be missing players due to recall. What the BSens are now experiencing is a mix of injuries and personal time away really impacting how the team will look down the stretch and into the playoffs.

Coach Mann reported yesterday that Erik Brannstrom will be out 4-6 weeks longer - for an injury that’s already seen him out of action since February 22nd. On top of that, Daccord will miss some time due to injury and Marcus Hogberg is currently overseas tending to an undisclosed family matter. The Silver Seven team of course wishes Hogberg and his family nothing but the best and we’re very happy to see the Senators give him time to be with his loved ones right now.

From a roster perspective, this means Ottawa has had to call Gustavsson up to slot in behind Craig Anderson which has shifted Alex Dubeau from ECHL Brampton to the BSens roster and has forced Belleville to sign Orlando Solar Bears (ECHL) goaltender Clint Windsor to a PTO. In just a matter of days, Belleville has gone from the dynamic tandem of Daccord and Gustavsson to a less than ideal ECHL level duo.

The good news is that it doesn’t appear that Daccord’s injury is too serious and he should be back in action shortly. Mann hasn’t been afraid to ride a particular goalie in the past - as we saw with Hogberg’s workload last season - so I imagine Daccord will play the bulk, maybe all, of the games for Belleville as long as Hogberg is away and Gustavsson is in Ottawa.

Artem Anisimov also left last night’s game with an injury. There hasn’t been an update as of writing this post, but this could see Belleville lose a centre to an emergency recall.

All this is to say, even atop the North Division, marching into the playoffs doesn’t come without obstacles.

Wolanin’s Return

After facing a lengthy off-ice battle with a shoulder injury, Christian Wolanin finally returned to the sport he loves on February 14th. Seen initially as an instant boost to the blueline, Wolanin has taken some time to catch back up with the speed of the game. After putting up 31 points in 48 games for Belleville last year, Wolanin contributed his first point of the year in his seventh game back.

Wolanin’s reaction to this goal probably only half expresses the relief he was feeling to finally get himself on the board. While the offense hasn’t been there, Wolanin’s ability to move the puck and get the play going in the other direction has improved with each game. I’m happy to see him stick with Belleville and continue his recovery, rather than being forced to move up to the NHL level before he’s ready. The remainder of this season and the playoffs will be vital to making Wolanin ready to take the next step in September.

Having his Cuppa

Josh Norris made his NHL debut last week in a well deserved call up. Outside of scoring his first NHL goal, Norris did pretty much everything you’d want from one of your top prospects in his short stint in the show.

In his three games with Ottawa, Norris shared the ice primarily with Brady Tkachuk and Bobby Ryan, while seeing a bit of powerplay time. In that time, Tkachuk had an assist and Ryan scored his well documented hat trick. While Norris didn’t get himself on the scoresheet, you could see the impact of his play with his new linemates.

Norris also provided a few light hearted moments over the past week, showing a bit of personality and giving Sens fans something to smile about.

Needless to say, the Senators appear to have a special prospect on their hands and, if the early days are any indication, a fun personality to add to their dressing room for years to come.