Being unable to build up momentum has been the story of the Belleville Senators so far this season. It seems each time they start to string together a few solid games, they can’t manage to get rolling - and this week was no exception.
Wednesday, November 28 - Laval 2, Belleville 1
On Wednesday night, the BSens visited the Laval Rocket for a midweek tilt. Belleville had a tough time in both ends in this one. You can place blame up and down the lineup but you’re not going to win many games in the AHL by scoring only one goal. The game started out with the teams exchanging a few chances but it was the recently waived Karl Alzner who scored a weak one from far our on Filip Gustavsson to open the scoring. Before the period could end, Logan Brown scored on an absolute bullet of a snap shot, top corner.
The second period was played mostly at even strength and saw the two teams exchange a combined twenty shots. The two netminders kept the score even until five minutes to go in the frame when an awful turnover by Patrick Sieloff made its way in front of the net and quickly behind Gustavsson for the eventual game winner.
Logan Brown - Scoring the lone goal in the game is probably enough to earn honours in this one but his goal wasn’t the only time his offensive skill was on display Wednesday night. We’re slowly seeing Brown find his game in Belleville - albeit there are still things to work on.
Filip Chlapik - While he didn’t find the scoresheet, he and Rudolfs Balcers were the only other spotlights in the offensive zone for Belleville.
Rudolfs Balcers - See above.
Here are the highlights.
Friday, November 30 - Belleville 4, Utica 2
After a lackluster offensive performance on Wednesday, Belleville came to play Friday night against Utica. Marcus Hogberg returned from injury and got his first start of the season after a brief conditioning stint with Brampton of the ECHL.
The first goal of the game was scored halfway through the first after Erik Burgdoerfer’s shot on net was deflected by Chase Balisy and then batted out of the air by Adam Tambellini. The one goal lead was held until late in the second period when Utica’s Tanner Kero scored at an incredibly sharp angle to even things up. The Comets would then take the lead before the period ended after Michael Carcone turned Burgdoerfer into a pylon.
Six minutes into the third, Balisy found Brown for his second in as many games. A few minutes later Jordan Murray retook the lead for the Senators on a slick wrister from the left circle for his third of the season. A Chlapik empty netter sealed the deal for Belleville in a much needed win.
Logan Brown - A goal and an assist for Brown with plenty of time on the powerplay. He’s working his way into the lineup just fine after missing a chunk of the season with an injury.
Marcus Hogberg - Hogberg has played two games this season. One in the ECHL where he sported a 0.935 SV% and one in the AHL where his 0.926 SV% earned him his first win of the season. Not. Too. Bad.
Ben Sexton - Sexton found himself with a secondary assist on the game tying goal but, more importantly, his play in the offensive zone created a number of chances for the Senators.
Saturday, December 1 - Lehigh Valley 4, Belleville 2
While the big Sens were laying a beatdown on Erik Karlsson’s San Jose Sharks (yeah, still weird) on Saturday, the baby Sens were following up a strong performance with another loss. The BSens kicked off the scoring early in the first when Gabriel Gagne’s wrist shot beat Alex Lyon through the wickets for Gagne’s second of the season. Early in the second Nick Paul found Paul Carey and Carey found the back of the net for the two goal lead. If I hadn’t already spoiled things at the beginning of this recap, you’d probably be far more excited to continue reading.
Chris Conner lead the charge for the Phantoms with two goals in the second half of the game.
The Penalty Kill - The Senators allowed the Phantoms to go on the powerplay on five separate occasions but were perfect throughout.
Filip Gustavsson - At a high level, four goals against isn’t great. When you take a closer look, one of those goals was an empty netter and the other three were more the fault of the defenders in front of him. Gustavsson made 33 saves for a tidy 0.916 SV%.
Gabriel Gagne - It wasn’t a perfect game for Belleville’s inaugural All-Star but getting on the scoreboard is important for Gagne as the season progresses. He’s capable of scoring more, he just needs to find it.
Here are some more highlights.
It’s been an up and down season for Belleville thus far. There are more shining moments than there were last season, but overall it feels similar. The North Division is still open as the Senators currently sit seventh (out of eight) but are only four points behind third.
What’s been very troublesome about the BSens to date is their consistency. In 23 games there have only been two occasions where they’ve been able to win back-to-back games - and they’ve never strung together a “streak” of more than two wins. On the flip side, they’ve only had three occasions where they’ve posted consecutive losses. Basically, what this is telling us is they have no issue bouncing back from a loss but can’t seem to build off a win.
As we roll into the holiday season, I’ll be taking a closer look at the first few months of the season - examining the powerplay, penalty kill, goaltending and player usage as best I can to give you a better look at how Troy Mann’s first season in Belleville is really going.
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