This past weekend saw the Belleville Senators play a rare triple header as they welcomed Laval and Providence to the CAA Arena before a quick jaunt down the 401 for a Sunday matinee with the Marlies. You can look a lot of places for who were the stars of the week but the best place to start is between the pipes - but we’ll talk more about that later.
Friday, December 7 - Belleville 7, Laval 2
In the first game of the triple header, the BSens forced the Rocket to play both goaltenders by filling the net with pucks. Marcus Hogberg got his second start of the season and newly acquired defenseman Stefan Elliott played his first game for his new team. The first goal of the game was scored by Laval as a hard pass from a bad angle found the stick of Jake Evans in front. Their lead didn’t last long, however. Roughly 40 seconds later, Rudolfs Balcers buried a powerplay goal on a cross ice feed from Logan Brown. That was it for the first period but the second? It was all Belleville, all the time.
Just over a minute in, the Elliot trade paid immediate dividends as he joined the rush wired a shot through traffic upstairs. A few minutes later, Filip Chlapik’s outlet pass found Jack Rodewald who sauced a pass to Paul Carey who batted it out of mid air for the 3-1 lead. Things quieted down for both teams for a few minutes before the next barrage of goals came from Belleville players. Halfway through the frame, Daniel Ciampini and Boston Leier connected on a 2-on-1 after a great takeaway by Ciampini at the Belleville blueline. Five minutes later, the BSens found themselves on the powerplay and Rodewald wasted no time as he deflected a Stuart Percy slap pass into the back of the net. Under two minutes later, it was Balcers again. He joined Adam Tambellini on a rush into the offensive zone and scored off a smooth cross ice feed. This made the score 6-1 and Belleville only registered ten shots on net through two periods. I guess when you’re scoring on 60% of your shots, you don’t need to shoot much.
Both teams exchanged goals in the third which brought us to a 7-2 final, in favour of the good guys.
Marcus Hogberg - He wasn’t superbly busy, as he only faced 20 shots, but he stopped 90% of them and made a few key saves when the game was close in the first period.
Rudolfs Balcers - Earlier in the season, we talked a lot about how Balcers, Chlapik and Batherson should never be separated. Balcers played with Brown at even strength and special teams in this one and put up two goals and two assists.
Logan Brown - With Balcers’ four point night came a Brown four point night. His one goal and three assists helped lead the charge on Friday night.
Here are the highlights.
Saturday, December 8 - Belleville 3, Providence 2
It was teddy bear toss night in Belleville and Filip Gustavsson got the start for Belleville. The lines remained mostly unchanged from Friday night’s tilt. A slower start to the game meant the first goal wasn’t scored until 15 minutes into the first period. This time, however, Belleville drew first blood. After a dump-in and some strong board play by Chase Balisy and Gabriel Gagne, Joseph LaBate’s wrister beat Dan Vladar on the far side to make it a 1-0 game. Bring on the teddy bears!
Halfway through the second period, a faceoff win by Rodewald made it’s way back to Carey who made a nifty little play to get it over to Balcers. With a wide open cage, Balcers made no mistake in putting his team up 2-0. A few minutes later Zach Senyshyn finished a beautiful saucer pass to cut the lead to one. To cap off the second, friend-of-the-blog (probably not) Filip Chlapik buried a rebound off the back boards. A single Bruins third period tally wasn’t enough to force extra time and the BSens walked away with another important two points.
Rudolfs Balcers - Balcers continued to shine on a line with Brown and Tambellini.
Paul Carey - Carey had two assists on Saturday and was all over the ice (in a good way) throughout the match. His line with Chlapik and Rodewald was strong throughout the game.
Filip Gustavsson - Gus was solid for Belleville, posting a 0.946 SV%.
Here are the highlights.
Sunday, December 9 - Toronto 1, Belleville 0 (OT)
Belleville returned to Hogberg for Sunday’s afternoon matchup with the Toronto Marlies. There isn’t a lot to write about for this one, as you can see it took over 60 minutes for someone to find the back of the net. What we can say is this game was all about the goaltending. Belleville came into the game having already played twice that weekend and Toronto needed extra time to take down Laval the night before as well.
There were multiple posts, multiple missed chances and a ton of fantastic saves in this one. The highlight pack shows a fantastic flash of speed from Francois Beauchemin near the beginning of the video and I remember following the game I was hoping for a chance to show that to you.
The unfortunate aspect of this game came when Chlapik blocked a shot and had to leave. He’s been seen since on Instagram wearing a boot on his leg. Here’s the highlight, courtesy of the wonderful @SensProspects:
Adam Brooks was the eventual hero in this game, as he beat Hogberg on the far side halfway through the extra frame.
Marcus Hogberg - The big Swede was the busiest of the two goaltenders and did everything he could to keep his team in the game. You can’t ask for much more from your goaltender than saving 35 of 36 shots and not letting one past you for over 60 minutes.
The penalty kill - They were only tested twice but were successful in both showings.
It’s tough to pick out anyone else in this effort. While they likely emptied the tank after a long weekend of hockey, the BSens went 0 for 2 on the powerplayer, the team only registered 10 shots on net through 62+ minutes, and obviously didn’t score. By the end of it, they looked tired.
With a few transactions occurring this week, you can read about the acquisition of Elliott and Tobias Lindberg here. With injuries to Matt Duchene, Bobby Ryan and a banged up blueline, Stefan Elliott and Nick Paul were recalled to the big club. As mentioned above, Chlapik will be out for likely 4-6 weeks with a fracture in his foot following a blocked shot in the first period of the Marlies game.
As for the good news? Well, Hogberg has a shiny 1.89 GAA and 0.940 SV% in three starts following his return from injury. With Brown’s four point night on Friday, he’s moved his scoring pace up to 0.75 PPG. Balcers now has 18 points across 26 contests, a point per game rate that’s slightly higher than his season last year.
In a tight division, the BSens are now sitting two points back of third and three points back of second in the North.
We have Laval again tonight followed by another back-to-back this weekend.