It’s official. The Belleville Senators love to start slow. After winning just two of their first eight games of the season, the BSens have been on an absolute heater ever since, posting a 7-2-0 record over their last nine.
This week, Belleville had one game against the Syracuse Crunch before a back-to-back against the Laval Rocket. In their three matches, they went 3-0-0 and outscored their opponents 16-7.
On Wednesday, Belleville visited Syracuse for what would end up being the closest game of the week, putting a 3-2 win into the books. This game actually started out heavily in Belleville’s favour, as they scored the first three goals of the game and worked to maintain their lead to the final buzzer. Belleville’s scorers with Chris Wilkie, Cedric Pare and Jack Lucchini. The most impressive aspect of this game was between the pipes, where Mads Søgaard turned aside 38 of the 40 shots he faced for an impressive 0.950 SV%.
On the weekend, the schedule turned back to the season series against Laval. On Friday night, the Senators gave Laval a 6-2 beat down on the backs of Egor Sokolov and Dillon Heatherington. Sokolov put up a goal and an assist while Heatherington had a massive four assists.
The other goal scorers included Lucchini, Wilkie, Pare, Matthew Wedman and Cole Reinhardt. After an impressive showing on Wednesday, Søgaard got the start again for Belleville on Friday, stopping 32 of the 34 shots he faced (0.941 SV%).
On Saturday, Laval had the opportunity to show their true colours by exacting their revenge against Belleville for Friday’s beatdown. Fortunately for BSens fans, it was another high scoring affair For The B, as they downed the Rocket 7-3. Now, this score is a little inflated because two of Belleville’s seven tallies were buried into an empty net but the theme is similar - Belleville outplayed and outscored Laval heavily this weekend.
Sokolov once again found himself on the scoresheet - with a goal and an assist - while Lucchini continued his red hot week with a four point night (1G, 3A). Heatherington, another player who had a spectacular week, added two assists of his own. Having already played two games this week, Søgaard sat this one out and Kevin Mandolese picked up right where The Great Dane™ left off, shutting the door on 35 of Laval’s 38 shots for a 0.921 SV%.
Goaltending - Both Søgaard and Mandolese were rock solid for Belleville this week, combining for a 0.938 SV%.
Jake Lucchini - I don’t know what there is to say about Lucchini at this point. Prior to joining Belleville, he was a 0.33 pts/gp player. While wearing The B, he’s been a 1.05 pt/gp player. I don’t know if it’s a fluke or if he was just improperly deployed previously in his AHL clubs but he’s been an absolute revelation in Belleville. This week he had three goals and three assists in three games. Not bad.
Egor Sokolov - Everyone’s favourite Russian Teddy Bear has been on fire of late. Sokolov contributed a pair of goals and four assists, bringing his totals to four goals and nine assists over his last 9 games.
Dillon Heatherington - Heatherington isn’t a player necessarily known for his offensive production but my goodness was he effective with the puck this week. The veteran AHL defender has eight points on the season, six of which came during two games this week.
The Bad & Ugly
Forget it, this week was incredible and there’s nothing to be critical about. Not only did the BSens bring home three wins, they also only allowed one powerplay goal on 11 opportunities (91% success rate), their goaltenders were impeccable and they played the game the right way. The team was leading for much of this week and managed to maintain those leads, carrying them over the finish line.
Belleville has jumped from dead last in the North to fifth place in the division. Just a week ago, they were eight points out of second, now that gap is just three. If Belleville continues to play this way, it’s possible that the playoffs could be a reality - something I wouldn’t have said two weeks ago.