While we were filling our stomachs with turkey and egg nog, the Belleville Senators were busy at work trying to claw their way back into the playoff conversation after a less than optimal start to the season. We have a number of games to review so I’ll keep it concise.
Friday, December 22 - Syracuse 8, Belleville 2
This was an important matchup against a division rival and the Senators fell flat. The game started off on the right note with Colin White firing a laser past Louis Domingue. Syracuse responded with not one, not two.. ok they responded with six unanswered goals after which Andrew Hammond was replaced by Chris Driedger. Driedger allowed another two after Jordan Murray made the game slightly closer in the second period. There weren’t many, if any, Senators who were on their game for this one.
Maxime Lajoie: The Senators were missing Thomas Chabot (probably hopefully forever), Christian Jaros and Andreas Englund which meant Coach K was forced to play Lajoie. While there’s still plenty of room for growth in his game, Lajoie moves the puck very well and helped the otherwise lacklustre BSens escape their zone successfully more than anyone else.
Colin White: Scored a goal, which is more than all but one of his teammates can say.
Jordan Murray: See above.
Here are the highlights.
Tuesday, December 26 - Belleville 2, Toronto 1
The Marlies got on the board first with a rocket from the point by Andrew Nielsen on the power play. The Senators returned the favour on their power play as White ripped a shot from the point which was deflected by Ethan Werek to tie the game at one. Then Tyler Randell did something I’m almost certain Tyler Randell has never done before:
Francis Perron's 4th of the season stood up to be the GWG, and snapped a 6 game pointless streak 🚨— Sens Prospects (@SensProspects) December 28, 2017
Perron has 13 Points (4G, 9A) in 29GP this season. Not far from last year's pace. pic.twitter.com/zqZNLe9UM8
Perron’s goal would end up being the game winner.
Andrew Hammond: Hammond turned away 32 of 33 shots against a skilled Marlies team with a lot of firepower. Hammond was the biggest factor in this win.
Francis Perron: Easily one of Perron’s better games, and not just because he scored the game winner. While stuck on the fourth for unknown reasons, he still managed to be productive and made smart play after smart play.
Colin White: White is heating up and playing very well. He’s been rewarded with a slight upgrade in linemates and the ice time to go with it.
Here are the highlights.
Thursday, December 28 - Laval 4, Belleville 3
In typical Senators fashion, they followed up their solid performance against Toronto with a bit of a dud against Laval. While the score was close, the Senators surrendered 39 shots (to their 26) and gave up eight power play opportunities, allowing goals on two of them.
The game started with two Laval goals in the first period - one from Nick Petti walking across the blueline and firing a shot low glove on Hammond, the other from Eric Gelinas on the power play. Already down two goals, Belleville kicked off the second by allowing Kyle Baun to score an ugly rebound to extend Laval’s lead to three. Coach K’s favourite duo of Jim O’Brien and Max McCormick would connect to bring the game within two. After allowing Gelinas to score another power play goal the Senators would make this a close one in the third period. McCormick would make the game 4-2 with nine minutes to go by banging in a rebound past Michael McNiven. Jack Rodewald then snapped his nine game pointless streak but unfortunately the Senators late push wasn’t enough and they dropped another game.
Jack Rodewald: Rodewald has been ice cold since returning from Ottawa and finally ended his drought to bring Belleville within a goal of forcing extra time. He added four shots on net in what I’m hoping is a return to form for him.
Andrew Hammond: While his save percentage wasn’t fantastic, Hammond was basically on his own for this one. Facing 39 shots and eight power plays isn’t an easy task for any netminder.
Colin White: Are you seeing the trend? White added four shots of his own but didn’t crack the gamesheet. He’s been on his game lately which is fantastic to see after his season started with a broken wrist.
Saturday, December 30 - Belleville 3, Providence 2 (OT)
Belleville made a move I’d been hoping they’d make for a few weeks - they recalled Marcus Hogberg. Hogberg has spent the majority of the season playing well for a relatively poor Brampton Beast team in the ECHL. To make it better, Coach K gave Hogberg the nod and he did not disappoint.
Captain Mike Blunden opened the scoring on a nice feed from O’Brien halfway through the first. Fourteen minutes into the second, Englund hit Werek with a shot from the point and Werek shovelled the loose puck past Zane McIntyre to increase Belleville’s lead to two. As expected in any hockey game, Hogberg’s perfect night wasn’t going to last forever as Chris Breen got the Bruins on the board with his first of the season. Anton Blidh would even the score halfway through the third to force overtime.
Just under two minutes into overtime, Chris DiDomenico did literally all the work to allow Erik Burgdoerfer to win the game for Belleville. Seriously, watch the highlight.
Marcus Hogberg: Because, of course. Hogberg turned away 27 of 29 shots for his first career AHL win. To make it even better, Belleville was a perfect 4 for 4 on the penalty kill with Hogberg turning away a number of good chances.
Ethan Werek: Werek seemed to be all over the ice for this one as he scored a goal and added seven shots on net. This was an impressive performance considering Werek started the game on the bottom line in Coach K’s blendered lineup.
Chris DiDomenico: DiDo played with White and Rodewald and I think it was one of the better games we’ve seen from him since returning from Ottawa/Tampa Bay. Not to mention his effort on the game winner was pretty fantastic.
Sunday, December 31 - Toronto 5, Belleville 1
Time Square was far from the only location where the ball was being dropped on Saturday as the Senators followed up a strong game against Providence with a poor one against the Marlies. As much as I’m sure everyone loves reading my recaps, there’s not a lot to say about this one. The Marlies outshot Belleville 41-20 and scored multiple highlight reel goals to take this one easily.
Belleville’s lone goal was scored by DiDomenico after Andrew Nielsen put a pass right on the tape of McCormick who found DiDo alone in front for a freebie.
One of my goals for 2018 is to leave as much negativity as I can at the door which, for me, is a struggle. That being said, there weren’t really any standouts from this game against Toronto. Belleville gave the Marlies three first period power plays effectively deflating any momentum they could have gained to start the game. The Marlies returned the favour in the second period by allowing Belleville to have two man advantage opportunities but they couldn’t get anything going. To add insult to injury, the Senators allowed Toronto to score two shorthanded goals.
Here are the highlights.
Wednesday, January 3 - Belleville 3, Binghamton 2 (SO)
The Senators hosted the Devils for what seems like the millionth time in the last month and came out with a 3-2 victory in the shootout. After going down by a goal, newly-demoted Nick Paul would get the Senators on the board by firing a rebound over the shoulder of Eddie Lack. Brian Strait regained the lead for the Devils about ten minutes later and the Senators went into the second intermission in a familiar fashion; trailing. Halfway through the third, Perron found Reinhart in front of the net with a beautiful backhand pass to tie the game. Hogberg was solid through three periods and in the extra frame.
Gagne, who’s built a reputation for taking slapshots in the shootout, deviated from the norm and snapped a shot over Lack’s shoulder as the only successful shootout attempt. The Senators completed the comeback for a much needed two points.
Marcus Hogberg: Hogberg was busy in his second AHL start as he stopped 35 shots and all three shootout attempts for his second AHL victory.
Francis Perron: Perron played another solid game last night, finding the scoresheet with an assist and five shots on net.
Christian Jaros: This is a name we haven’t talked about in a while. It’s mostly because he’s had some injuries and missed some time but I loved his game against Binghamton. He’s a physical menace who can also move the puck and I thought he was easily Belleville’s best defender last night.
Here are the highlights.
Andrew Hammond was recalled by the Avalanche, leaving Hogberg and Driedger to share the net for a little while longer. For those wondering, Danny Taylor has been a scratch for the last few games. I’m guessing his time in Belleville is close to over. In two starts with Belleville, Hogberg has been impressive. Granted, it’s an incredibly small sample size of AHL games to jump to any conclusions but it’s been great to see his game steadily progress since arriving in North America last spring.
In less exciting news, Gagne is in the middle of a seven game pointless streak which found him on the fourth line against Binghamton. While I understand the idea of sending a message, putting one of the few guys who can score goals with bad linemates in limited minutes isn’t exactly setting anyone up for success. Hopefully Gagne’s shootout winner will provide an extra boost to the sophomore so he can get back on track as Belleville’s leading goal scorer.
The Senators face the Devils for the zillionth time on Friday in Binghamton.
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