Following a streak that saw Belleville gather five wins in a six game stretch, the team dropped back-to-back games against Utica and Lehigh Valley this weekend. The slightly good news is both losses came beyond regulation, so Belleville still managed to grab two points. The other slightly good piece of news is both OTLs were in games against teams who don’t have much of an impact on their playoff hopes given that Utica is way too far ahead of Belleville for their points to matter while Lehigh Valley is in a different division.
This means a team chasing their playoff dreams have secured points in seven of their last eight, something Belleville desperately needs to keep that door ajar.
Friday’s matchup came against Utica - the North Division’s second place team - and Belleville got themselves out to a hot start thanks to goals from Lassi Thomson and Angus Crookshank.
NO. 22 #ForTheB https://t.co/JOJOpjoQE4 pic.twitter.com/bGvFMkGmJo— Belleville Senators (@BellevilleSens) March 11, 2023
The happiness didn’t last long as the Comets buried two of their own, also in the first period, to even things up. Robbie Russo grabbed his sixth of the year on the powerplay while top prospect Alexander Holtz found the back of the net as well.
Early in the second, the Comets made quite the error letting Egor Sokolov have all the time in the world to find his spot and beat Isaac Poulter with his 18th.
is on the board #ForTheB https://t.co/4D1Usx6pGx pic.twitter.com/egi0Gzc9gT— Belleville Senators (@BellevilleSens) March 11, 2023
At almost the exact mark in the third period, the Comets answered back, tying things up on a goal from another of New Jersey’s top prospects in Simon Nemec. Speaking of top prospects, it was none other than Holtz who would secure his second of the game for the game winner, just 47 seconds into the extra frame.
On Saturday, after spending more time than they wanted on the ice on Friday, the BSens came out swinging. John Quenneville continued to make his impact on the Belleville lineup three minutes into this one with his third of the year.
Quenneville and Heard's creative 2-on-1 opportunity Saturday night vs the Phantoms tops off our #HighlightoftheWeek #ForTheB pic.twitter.com/TSQGjHVNos— Belleville Senators (@BellevilleSens) March 13, 2023
In this one, the two teams swapped goals like clockwork. Early in the second, Belleville took the lead, with Lehigh Valley tying things up a few minutes later. Belleville took the lead, once again, late in the second with Roby Järventie on the powerplay but the next goalscorer would be from the Phantoms to tie things up again. It took the majority of extra time for this one to be settled but, as you know, Lehigh Valley was the victor, grabbing the game winning goal in the final minute of the frame.
- I think we can officially say that Roby Järventie has found another level to his game and, interestingly, it comes at a time when the young Finnish scorer was moved from wing to centre. With injuries and recalls, Belleville has turned to Järventie as a new pivot and it appears the more he’s involved in the game, the more effective he is. Järventie has eight goals and three assists for 11 points in his last 13 games.
- John Quenneville has certainly found his spot in the lineup, as well, since joining the team in early February. He had a pair of goals this weekend, giving him three goals and three assists in his last five.
- Just like Ottawa, there is a goaltending crisis in Belleville. It’s tough enough that Mads Søgaard and Kevin Mandolese are in the NHL but, to add insult to literal injury, Belleville is also missing both Antoine Bibeau and newly acquired Dylan Ferguson. This means they’re currently running a tandem of Luke Richardson and Ryan Bednard, This duo has a combined 15 games of AHL experience.
- Mitchell Heard was signed to a professional tryout at the end of February and the 30 year old forward finally got on the board nine games into his audition with a pair of assists against Lehigh Valley. The Ontario native had spent the majority of the season in the ECHL racking up 43 points in 45 games and earning an opportunity to become a regular with Belleville.
- Lassi Thomson had a three game break from his offensive tear but got back on the horse in the last few games, with three goals and two assists in his last three games.