If you thought that the impact of Ottawa’s COVID outbreak was bad for the Senators, you should have seen the rosters Belleville iced this past week. Throughout the past three games the BSens were missing some combination of Erik Brännström, Egor Sokolov, Lassi Thomson, Jacob Bernard-Docker, Andrew Agozzino and Maxence Guenette. In fact, for the final game of the week, Belleville’s defense consisted of Cody Goloubef and a bunch of other guys. No offense to those players, of course, but when Goloubef is the only recognizable name on your AHL blueline, you’re in for a not-so-fun time.
In the first game of the week, Belleville was shut out by Laval in a decisive 3-0 loss. The only real highlight of the game was Mads Søgaard, who stood tall - both literally and figuratively - for Belleville, giving them every chance to stay in the game. The Great Dane™ stopped 25 of 27 shots for a 0.926 SV%.
On Friday night, the BSens came alive against the Bridgeport Islanders, scratching and clawing their way to a 3-2 victory. Goloubef got the BSens on the board in the dying seconds of the first period while on the powerplay, with assists going to newly re-acquired forward Chris Wilkie and Cole Reinhardt. The second frame was all Bridgeport as the Islanders outshot Belleville by a 13-5 margin. Luckily, the BSens once again had The Great Dane™ between the pipes. While the Islanders managed a goal in the second, they had every right to expect a few more based on the run of play.
The third frame was where Belleville bounced back with goals from both Wilkie and Roby Järventie. The game winner, by Järventie, was particularly nice. Pontus Åberg was able to thread a pass onto Järventie’s stick as he deflected it past Cory Schneider.
Following a solid performance, all things considered, on Friday night, the BSens fell short against Utica on Saturday. The BSens kept things about as level as they could, expect when it came to the final score; unfortunately that’s the name of the game, isn’t it? Despite losing 4-1, Belleville and Utica were only separated by one shot and the BSens definitely had their chances. Overall, Belleville played well but, like their Wednesday affair with Laval, they couldn’t capitalize and sorely missed their key contributors that weren’t with the team.
The lone tally came from Åberg, who netted his second of the season while Belleville was already down 3-0 in the third period. Kevin Mandolese was solid in net, stopping 28 of 31 shots while making some key saves to keep Belleville in the game - particularly in the first period.
Overall, Belleville fared about as well as could be expected this week in every way but the final scores. BSens fans everywhere will rejoice when the COVID situation in Ottawa is sorted and we get to see the returned to some semblance of normalcy.
Mads Søgaard - Through two starts, Søgaard posted a 0.934 SV% this week, slowly raising his overall save percentage after a pretty slow start to the season. In his first three starts, Søgaard’s 0.821 SV% was looking shaky but, since then, he’s managed a very respectable 0.929 SV%. Let’s hope this is the real Søgaard. Afterall, Belleville will need it to be.
Roby Järventie - Like Søgaard, Järventie took a few games to warm up to the 2021-22 season - posting just one assist through his first four games. Since then, he has added three goals and three assists in eight games. If he continues on this pace, he’ll clear 50 points in his rookie AHL season.
Pontus Åberg - One of the BSens offseason signings, Åberg really stepped up this week in the absence of the majority of Belleville’s roster. He scored a goal and added an assist through three games while being relied upon heavily by Troy Mann in virtually every scenario.
The Callups - Belleville rostered Matt Murphy, Xavier Bernard, Spencer Watson, Cedric Pare, Hugo Roy, Chaz Reddekopp, Tyrell Goulbourne, Blake Siebenaler and Cole Fraser this week. Despite being personally thrilled to see a player named Spencer and a player named Blake in the lineup, there was no denying this was quite the week for the BSens in terms of testing the organization’s depth. All-in-all, these players came up, gave it their all and filled in admirably. No one would fault them for the effort.
The Offense - Listen, I’m just looking for something to put here. It’s hard to blame anyone for the lack of offense this week but the BSens averaged almost 30 shots per game while only scoring 1.33 goals per game. Tough to win with that kind of conversion rate. It’s also hard to convert chances when almost all the guys that you count on to do that aren’t with the team.
COVID - Seriously, just stop it. Please?