Belleville Splits Opening Set

Belleville was impressive while splitting the opening two games of the second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs.

Belleville Splits Opening Set

On Wednesday, the Belleville Senators opened their second round series against the Cleveland Monsters. This kicked off a back-to-back at CAA Arena, which concluded Friday evening, before the BSens head to Cleveland to finish things off.

The good news is, Belleville won the opening game.

The bad news is, they lost Zack Ostapchuk for game two and, also, were defeated in game two itself.

Leaving Belleville with a tied series is obviously not the worst case scenario. After all, this basically means the series has reset to a best-of-three. Whichever team can take two of the next three games moves on. Belleville just accomplished this against Toronto not too long ago, they know what it takes to get there.

The small, unfortunate piece here is they have to accomplish this entirely on the road. As I mentioned in my primer for this series, due to AHL travel scheduling, this series opened up in Belleville and will close in Cleveland - rather than the usual back-and-forth we see in an NHL playoff series. The Monsters have the highest attendance rate of any team in the AHL - it's a low bar with an asterisk but this team almost doubled the average attendance of the Arizona Coyotes this year. Needless to say, this barn is going to be loud and it's not going to be in favour of the team in black, red and white.

For Belleville, the positives to take away from the opening set are abundant.

First, they won game one by a score of 2-1. Egor Sokolov and Angus Crookshank - two forwards you'd hope would step up in this scenario - were the goalscorers and Mads Søgaard turned aside 31 shots en route to a .969 SV%.

Second, while they lost game two, they forced the top team in the North to take them to overtime to earn that victory. In the tightly contested 4-3 battle, was either in the lead or tied with Cleveland for the bulk of the game. We also got to see Stephen Halliday continue his solid introduction to professional hockey with his first goal in the league.

Third, through two games, Belleville posted a 28.5% success rate on the powerplay while also holding Cleveland to just one powerplay marker of their own on six attempts - an 83.3% success rate for the good guys.

Finally, the team got the goaltending they needed. Søgaard was a busy netminder, turning away 62 of the 67 shots he faced. When you're looking to your goaltender to show up in a big moment, a .925 SV% through two games is exactly what you want to see.

It's relatively obvious at this point but, outside of winning both games at home, this was about as good of a start as you'd want to see from the "underdog" in the series. The team showed up and took game one, their goaltender was solid, the bigger names up front did the scoring.

If Belleville plays as they did at home while hanging out in Cleveland for the next three games, we may just see another series win from this team.

Let's go.

Not everyone can afford to pay for sports coverage right now, and that is why we will keep as much of the site's content free for as long as we can.

But if you are able to, please consider subscribing to help keep our articles free (and get a few extra perks).

Erik Condra
  • Ability to comment and participate in our community
  • Twice monthly newsletter available only to subscribers
  • Ad-free reading
  • Our undying love and appreciation
Brady Tkachuk
  • Everything from the Erik Condra tier
  • 10% discount on all merch
  • Access to any future paywalled content
  • A personal thank-you from the Silver Seven staff
Daniel Alfredsson
  • Everything from the Brady Tkachuk tier
  • Inner peace knowing you are supporting quality, independent coverage of your favourite sports team