Being a Belleville Senators fan hasn’t exactly been easy in 2023. The calendar year started off with a bang, as the BSens won their first three games by outscoring their opponents 14-4. Since that third win on January 7th, Belleville has only two wins through their last twelve.
This past weekend, Belleville took a trip to Cleveland for a back-to-back with the Monsters. This matchup had a lot of implications, given that Cleveland is the other team at the bottom of the North Division fighting their way back up. Unfortunately, while the Monsters were just two points up on Belleville when the weekend started, they are now six points up, with one fewer game played.
Friday’s game saw Kevin Mandolese in net, allowing six goals on just 30 shots. While Jonathan Aspirot and Scott Sabourin were able to find the back of the net, it was nothing compared to the six goals Cleveland buried. The impressive rookie out of the Blue Jackets organization, David Jiricek, was all over the scoresheet, throwing four shots at the net and banking himself three assists.
The big problem Belleville faced on Friday came from the special teams performance - or lack thereof. Cleveland got six opportunities on the man advantage, scoring twice, while Belleville had nine (!) powerplays and only managed to capitalize once.
Saturday night in Cleveland was a bit more lively for Belleville, as the club lost a tight game by a score of 3-2. On the same night Zach Hyman scored a penalty shot goal against Ottawa, Cole Cassels got the same opportunity in the AHL and made no mistake.
Cole Cassels (@BellevilleSens) nets a penalty shot against his former squad to start off #BELvsCLE. pic.twitter.com/Va7hZunIPs— American Hockey League (@TheAHL) February 11, 2023
Unfortunately for Belleville, they weren’t able to take the 1-0 lead into the locker room for the first intermission. Just two minutes later, on the powerplay, Jake Christianson grabbed his fourth of the year to tie things up. Opening the second wasn’t any better for Belleville, with Trey Fix-Wolansky burying another powerplay goal just three minutes in.
A couple minutes later, Angus Crookshank tallied his 15th, courtesy of a Matthew Boucher assist.
Boucher ➡️ Crookshank— Belleville Senators (@BellevilleSens) February 11, 2023
The forecheck gets rewarded #ForTheB https://t.co/R4DGO70Jdf pic.twitter.com/Oi5WUEWRUO
The party didn’t last long, as the fury of powerplay excellence continued for Cleveland. While the announcer was informing the crowd of Crookshank’s goal, Cole Fonstad got to work and found the back of the net to give Cleveland their first lead of the game. This was the final lead change, as the third period ended scoreless.
- Angus Crookshank is now pacing 23 goals on the season for his first full professional campaign. So far this season, Crookshank has been a bit of a rollercoaster on the scoresheet. When he contributes, it’s in bunches, then he’ll go a few games with nothing only to grab a couple points in the next few games. He has two goals and an assist in his last three games and all eyes will be on him to find more consistency down the stretch if he wants to be considered as a potential callup for Ottawa.
- Belleville’s special teams had a rough go this weekend. Their 12 attempts on the powerplay only netted a single goal while Cleveland went on the powerplay 14 times, scoring five goals in the process.
- Jacob Bernard-Docker had an odd moment happen during Friday’s 6-2 loss. He was issued a fighting major! To my knowledge, this was JBD’s first fight.
- Scott Sabourin just keeps scoring. He’s now up to 16 goals on the season and now has eight goals and five assists for 13 points in 15 games in 2023.
- Roby Järventie has been back in the Belleville lineup for six games following a lengthy injury. In this time he’s scored once and added one assist. Järventie is fully healthy but it’s clear that he’s getting back up to game speed.