This week featured two games against the Manitoba Moose followed by a matinee against one of the AHL’s best clubs out of Utica on Tuesday.
To start the week, Belleville visited the MTS Centre in Winnipeg for a back-to-back with the Moose. On Friday night, with Mads Søgaard between the pipes, Belleville took home their only win of the week in a 4-3 shootout.
The first period featured two goals by the Moose, while Belleville’s lone goal was scored by Rourke Chartier. Chartier’s goal was his tenth of the season which is one of the many reasons Belleville changed his employment status from PTO to AHL contract this past week.
ROSTER UPDATE: On Saturday, the #BellevilleSens released F Rourke Chartier from his PTO and signed him to a standard AHL player contract for the rest of the 2021-22 season.— Belleville Senators (@BellevilleSens) March 14, 2022
The 25 year-old from Saskatoon has 10G + 13A in 30GP this season. #ForTheB
Presented by: @PlanetFitnessCA pic.twitter.com/PDhwEIzCLc
In the second frame, the Moose kept Søgaard busy by grabbing a 3-1 lead about eight minutes in on a goal from Nelson Nogier. It didn’t take long, however, for Belleville to get back into the match. Just a few minutes later, Mark Kastelic buried his 11th of the year, on the powerplay, with assists from Lassi Thomson and Zac Leslie. Right at the end of the second, Andrew Agozzino knotted things up for his 16th of the year. With the helpers going to Rourke Chartier and Egor Sokolov, this game featured offense from all the expected places.
With no scoring in the third or in overtime, this one required a bit of a skills competition. In the shootout, the BSens skaters made absolutely no mistake - literally. Jake Lucchini, Sokolov and Chartier all scored.
Sokolov’s goal, in particular, was an absolute spectacle.
Søgaard was the star of this one, stopping 45 of the 48 (!) shots he faced. In unfortunate news, Belleville lost Thomson to injury in this one, which Troy Mann confirmed is going to see the top blueliner miss a few weeks.
On Saturday, the team returned to the same arena to take on the same team once again. This game, however, looked a little different. Manitoba kicked off the scoring again, in the first period, while Belleville wasn’t able to accomplish much in that frame. That’s likely because they were shorthanded on three separate occasons.
Early in the second, however, Roby Järventie got the team on the board with a bullet on the powerplay from Alex Ovechkin’s Josh Norris’ spot.
Penalty trouble continued to plague Belleville throughout the second. While they were able to kill off all three of the penalties they took in the second, it felt very difficult for the team to gain any kind of momentum. Manitoba also took through penalties, one of which Belleville was successful on in the first minute of the second.
The third period felt much like the first two. Belleville took two more penalties, Manitoba scored two more goals and this one ended in a 6-1 final.
After a spectacular game on Friday, Søgaard was pulled after allowing his fifth goal on his 25th shot (0.800 SV%) early in the third. This gave Logan Flodell his first taste of AHL action - he stopped 8 of 9 shots.
On Tuesday, the big test came for Belleville. Utica, sitting incredibly far ahead of the entire division in first place, came to town to give the BSens an idea of what to expect should they be a playoff foe in the coming months. With Kevin Mandolese out with an injury and Mads Søgaard out with a non-covid illness, Belleville turned back to Flodell for his first career start.
To recap, Belleville was without their starting or backup goaltender and missing a top pairing defender in Thomson while facing a team that has absolutely dominated the North Division this season.
Cool, cool, cool.
In the first period, Maxence Guenette found the back of the net for his fourth of the season. If you’re going to be up against a tough opponent, the best thing you can do is, of course, score first. Guenette’s marker was the lone goal of the period, giving the BSens a bit of momentum heading into the first intermission.
BSens captain Logan Shaw extended Belleville’s lead, thanks to helpers from Chartier and Järventie. Unfortunately for the home team, Utica clawed their way back by cutting Belleville’s lead a few minutes later and tying things up in the second.
Given the circumstances, coming out of this game with one point was one of the more ideal scenarios I could have predicted for Belleville. While things were looking good - and Flodell was playing a steady, confident game - it only took Utica a minute of extra play to take home the win.
Belleville has a busy weekend ahead, with a three-in-three scheduled with the Hershey Bears, Hartford Wolf Pack and Syracuse Crunch.
- For two games this week, goaltending was the difference maker. On Friday, Søgaard posted a 0.938SV% while Flodell put up a 0.917 SV% on Tuesday - a great kickoff to his AHL career.
- Lassi Thomson was injured Friday night and Troy Mann confirmed he’ll be out of the lineup for a few weeks. I’d expect that he’ll be back in time for the playoffs - hopefully he’s at 100% by then, though.
- Roby Järventie had a goal and an assist this week, bringing his season totals to 9G, 18A in 49 games. This would be a 41 point pace over a full AHL season which is nothing to be upset about for a 19 year old rookie.
- Egor Sokolov has cooled off in his production. He did put up a pair of assists this week, but that brings him to three points in his last seven games. What once looked like a close-to point per game season has turned into something a little more average. His play is still strong, he’s still contributing outside of the scoresheet, so I’m sure he’ll get back on the scoring horse soon.
- Like Järventie, Mark Kastelic had a goal and an assist this week. A player who hasn’t been known for his offensive prowess has quietly put together a tidy performance in the offensive zone with three goals and two assists in his last five games played./