After a rough conclusion to 2022 which saw Belleville lose seven of their final eight games, the BSens kicked off the New Year in style with not one, not two but three wins in a row.
This week started with a date with the Rochester Americans and the game started out relatively promising for the BSens, outshooting the Amerks and having two powerplay opportunities in the opening frame. It wasn’t until the second, however, that the party got started with Ridly Greig and Egor Sokolov (x2) getting themselves on the board for a 3-0 lead.
While Rochester clapped back just a minute after Sokolov’s second tally, Belleville buried another two in the third period for the 5-1 win. Sokolov completed the hat trick with an empty net goal, his 11th goal of the season.
On Friday, Belleville drove from Rochester to Syracuse for another North Division battle. Going from Rochester to Syracuse, given how the Amerks are near the top of the division and the Crunch are with Belleville near the bottom, you’d think the game against the Crunch would be the easier matchup. After a 5-1 blowout, it took a shootout to get a decision in this one.
Angus Crookshank opened the scoring on the powerplay in the first period, thanks to some great work around the perimeter by Belleville’s special teams unit.
In the second, Philippe Myers tied things up with a special teams marker of his own, but this time on the penalty kill. Luckily for Belleville, the red hot Scott Sabourin (yes, you read that correctly) scored his ninth of the year to open the third period.
If you knew nothing about Sabourin, you’d see this highlight and think he was one of Ottawa’s top offensive prospects with how smooth this fake-out was.
As mentioned, this one took a shootout to get a result, so of course the Crunch buried another goal to even things up later in the third. With overtime doing nothing for either team, we got a chance to see both Egor Sokolov (game winner) and Viktor Lodin bury some excellent goals in the shootout.
On Saturday, Belleville kicked off a six game home stand by welcoming the Manitoba Moose to CAA Arena. The Moose, like Belleville, are a middling team in their division with some strong players but an inconsistent performance thus far. Saturday was no difference as Belleville put six pucks behind Moose goaltender Arvid Holm.
Halfway through the first, Viktor Lodin scored his fifth of the season - a tally which saw Ridly Greig find himself once again on the scoresheet as the primary helper.
This game remained close for the opening forty minutes, with the two teams each adding a goal for a 2-1 score. The third period, however, Belleville put their foot on the gas and didn’t look back. Jacob Larsson, Greig and Sabourin (x2) all found the back of the net in the final frame, for a 6-1 victory to close out a successful week.
- Ridly Greig is the talk of the town in Belleville this week as he has maintained his momentum from 2022 and continued to drive play for the BSens this week. Greig contributed two goals and three assists in three games this week to bring his point streak to five games (6G, 3A).
- A surprising name on the list of red hot BSens is Scott Sabourin. The veteran AHLer, mostly known for his rough and tumble style of play, certainly led by example this week. Sabby put up three goals and an assist for the team - while adding 11 PIMs, of course.
- Viktor Lodin, like Greig, has been heating up lately. He had a goal and three assists, as well as a beauty shootout goal this week.
- Mads Søgaard and Kevin Mandolese split Belleville’s games this week. The Great Dane was rock solid, posting a 0.945 SV% after stopping 53 pucks in his two starts. Mandolese was spectacular as well in his start against Manitoba on Saturday, stopping 31 of the 32 shots he faced for a neat and tidy 0.969 SV%.
- After being reassigned to Belleville, Jacob Bernard-Docker suited up for all three games this week, contributing an assist but, more importantly, solidifying the backend with his strong positional play on the right side.
- While the team is getting healthier, there are still a few impactful players sitting on the sidelines for Belleville. Lassi Thomson and Roby Järventie are still listed as week-to-week while Jayce Hawryluk, who has already missed a good chunk of the season, is day-to-day.
- In my final recap of 2022, I talked about just how close the North Division was and how the basement dwelling BSens were just a few wins from being right in the mix. After their three wins to start 2023, Belleville now sits fourth, having leap frogged all of Syracuse, Laval and Cleveland./
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