Wednesday, December 26 - Belleville 4, Toronto 1
While fans were lining up for Boxing Day sales, the Belleville Senators were prepping for a busy week just down the road at Scotiabank Arena. With Marcus Hogberg making his eighth start of the season, the Marlies took first blood as a wrister from far out beat the Swede up high. Early in the second, the BSens responded with a floater of their own. Erik Burgdoerfer sent a shot on net from the edge of the offensive zone, it hit a few things on the way and beat Toronto’s Kasimir Kaskisuo for the captain’s third of the season.
It was Logan Brown’s turn to get his name on the scoresheet next as he showed off his puck handling skills en route to the goal.
🚨 Logan Brown’s 5th of the season, giving him 11 points (5-6-11) in 19GP with AHL Belleville. pic.twitter.com/aG0f78m331— Sens Prospects (@SensProspects) December 27, 2018
Christian Wolanin continued his excellent play with a quick snap shot upstairs on the powerplay early in the third. It was a fantastic shot as he used the Marlies defender as a screen. The fourth goal was scored by Jordan Murray on yet another floater from the point that he deflected into the back of the net.
Marcus Hogberg - Hogberg was dialled in for this one, with a fantastic 0.969 SV%.
Logan Brown - You can see more glimpses of Brown’s skill level when he plays with other skilled players - and sees time on the powerplay. His goal was great but it was one of many chances Brown created in the Marlies zone throughout the game.
The PP - led by Brown, Wolanin and Rudolfs Balcers, the BSens powerplay went 2 for 6.
Here are the highlights.
Thursday, December 27 - Belleville 6, Laval 4
On the second game of a back-to-back, Belleville turned to their other Swedish netminder in Filip Gustavsson. The first period of the game was exceptionally exciting. Tobias Lindberg kicked off the scoring for Belleville with a shot from far out. The lead didn’t last long as the Rocket responded within a few minutes to even the score. Less than two minutes later, Joseph LaBate responded with a goal of his own. Gabriel Gagne sent a shot towards the net but it hit a body in front. In a scramble to find the puck, LaBate tipped it past Laval’s Etienne Marcoux to regain the lead. What happened next? You guess it. Less than two minutes later, Laval tied things up on a back door feed Gustavsson had little chance of getting. You would think that was enough scoring for the period but a weird bounce off a shot from behind the goal line by Max McCormick was enough to regain the Belleville lead for a third time in the first frame.
The second period was much quieter. A few chances were exchanged throughout and Laval had one opportunity with the man advantage but the only goal was scored by the Rocket in the final minute of the second to tie the game back up.
The third period was similar to the first. Jack Rodewald kicked things off with a goal just over 30 second in. McCormick found Rodewald for a breakaway pass and he made no mistake. Halfway through the period, Rodewald added a penalty shot goal to the stat sheet. With time winding down, Laval did manage to get back within two goals but a Drake Batherson empty netter sealed it for Belleville’s second straight win.
Filip Gustavsson - His 0.851 SV% may not look fantastic but half of Laval’s goals were on the powerplay and you rarely see the best of the best making a save on the backdoor goal by Alexandre Grenier.
Jack Rodewald - Rodewald is just shy of producing at a point per game through 26 games this season and he was one of the the clear offensive catalysts for Belleville in this game.
Tobias Lindberg - Lindberg’s game wasn’t perfect but given his position in the lineup (fourth line winger), he made the best of his linemates and ice time. I hope he sees time with some more skilled players as he works his way into the lineup.
Here are the highlights.
Saturday, December 29 - Belleville 3, Binghamton 2
It wasn’t the perfect year for the Belleville Senators but they were committed to ending 2018 on a three game winning streak and they came through for the fans at CAA Arena on Saturday. With Hogberg being recalled by Ottawa, Gustavsson got the nod for his second straight start.
Less than a minute in, Rudolfs the Red-Goal-Light-Nosed Reindeer (sorry, trying to delete) Balcers got the scoring started for Belleville. Using the defender as a screen, Balcers fired a shot on net that trickled across the goal line. Unfortunately, Binghamton’s Blake Pietila tied things up on a short side snipe seven minutes later. An excellent display of patience and edge work saw Andrew Sturtz score his second of the year just 30 seconds later to pull the BSens ahead by one. Later in the period, Lindberg flew through the neutral zone and found Boston Leier streaking down the side boards. Leier prompty deposited the puck into Binghamton’s net for his first goal of the season. The BDevils managed to add another but it wasn’t enough as the BSens finished 2018 on a high note.
As an aside, Logan Brown left this game with a lower body injury and did not return.
Filip Gustavsson - Gustavsson stopped 21 of 23 for a much nicer 0.913 SV%.
Tobias Lindberg - Lindberg impressed me for the second straight game. He doesn’t have an incredibly high end skillset but he did the little things really well.
Rudolfs Balcers - When he gets on the scoresheet and when he doesn’t, Balcers’ skill is always on display. I’m not sure where his ceiling is but his floor is definitely in the NHL.
Here are some highlights.
Wednesday, January 2 - Laval 4, Belleville 2
The BSens had every intention of starting the year the way they ended it - playing a strong brand of hockey. With Hogberg making the start for Ottawa against Vancouver, it was Gustavsson’s net again last night in Laval. With Brown watching from the press box, Lindberg was slotted into the first line centre role
Unfortunately, the game did not start as planned as Laval opened the scoring and then added two more before Belleville could get on the board. Down 3-0, halfway through the second period, Gagne finally got his team on the board. Gagne, a native of Laval, used his booming shot to beat Connor LaCouvee up high. About seven minutes into the third, it was Gagne again who finished a nice pass from Francois Beauchemin on the far post to cut the lead to one. The comeback was in sight. As the BSens pushed, they doubled their opponents in shots on net for the period. As the clock was ticking down, Grenier added a fourth Laval goal and ended the BSens bid for a full comeback.
Gabriel Gagne - Gagne has struggled this season. The inconsistency of his offensive game has found him on the fourth line more often than not. Last night was different as he found the back of the net twice and led both teams with seven shots on net.
Drake Batherson - While DrakeyB didn’t get on the scoresheet, he spent the night making heads up plays doing his best to achieve the comeback. He had three shots on net as well.
Paul Carey - Carey recorded his 20th assist of the season as he set up Gagne for his first of the game.
Here are the highlights.
With the number of injuries at both the NHL and AHL level, there was a lot of roster movement in the past week. Logan Brown left the game on Saturday with a lower body injury. We did get a quick update earlier today from Joel Vanderlaan on both Brown and Filip Chlapik.
Logan Brown is the closest of the injured #BSens to returning and is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Troy Mann tells me the big centre did skate today along with Filip Chlapik in Belleville.— Joel Vanderlaan (@Joelvanderlaan) January 3, 2019
Wolanin, Elliot and Rodewald were all recalled by the Senators to offset some of the players they’ve lost to injury recently. Speaking of injury replacements, Belleville signed blueliner Alex Breton to a PTO this week. Most recently, Breton has been playing in the ECHL where he’s tallied 23 points in 33 games - which is pretty solid for a defenseman. Last season, he served as the captain of the QMJHL’s Gatineau Olympiques. I would assume the Sens brass had a chance or two to see Breton play in his four seasons playing across the bridge from Ottawa.
And, finally, the Senators made a trade! On New Years Day, Ottawa waived Tom Pyatt and I was ready to write about his impact on the Belleville lineup as he was certainly going to clear. Shortly after clearing, Dorion sent him packing along with Mike McKenna. In return, Ottawa received Anders Nilsson (who is unlikely to spend time in Belleville ever) and Darren Archibald (who is likely to spend a lot of time in Belleville). You can read more about the deal here.
Sitting just five points out of a playoff spot, Belleville continues its push towards the postseason this weekend with a back-to-back against the Charlotte Checkers.