Big, big week up at the Lodge this week. The Ottawa Senators finally figured out that just because there aren't a ton of fans in the building cheering for them during road games, plenty are watching on TV, and would like them to play well. Things were busy in the prospect pool as well, with multiple standouts in the CHL and NCAA.
Another point-per-game week over at Shane Pinto's old stomping grounds, the Tri-City Storm, sees Beckner increase his totals to 10 goals and 16 assists in 33 games, good for second on the team. A 2023 7th-rounder, he joins a quickly-increasing list of late-round picks that enter the college program a year or two later than most in their class. Stephen Halliday and Theo Wallberg are two such names that have found early success. In Beckner's case, he's committed to Colorado College over at the NCHC next season.
Speaking of Halliday, despite maintaining a point-per-game pace and leading the Ohio State Buckeyes in scoring for the second straight year, his team continues to struggle. OSU is 9-11-4 this season, including a shocking 1-11-2 against fellow teams in the Big Ten conference. Unless the transfer portal is really nice to them in the offseason, the AHL could be the most suitable destination for the 4th-round gem. Oh, and maybe Wallberg as well, he was also a point-per-game last week.
The Edmonton born forward has had a pretty solid start to his professional career. At 20 years old, he's compiled 14 points in 37 games, which includes a pace of almost 20 goals on a full season. For a rookie fresh out of the WHL, this is solid. What's more important is where Ostapchuk has been making an impact outside of the scoresheet: everywhere. He's trusted in all zones, he's playing special teams and he even dropped the gloves in a pretty spirited tilt this past week.
The K-Train doesn't get talked about too much on these posts, and one of the main reason is that he's had a pretty quiet introduction to the AHL. It's not that he's not playing well, he's just not doing anything to leap off the page. One can argue, that's a good thing. Often rookie defencemen leap off the page in a bad way, but Kleven has quietly been responsible in his own end and playing even better hockey of late. The rugged rearguard is now on a four game point streak (1G, 3A).
Considered more of a physical defensive defenseman prior to his being drafted, Andonovski is putting together a pretty decent offensive season. A zero-goal scorer in 67 games in his draft year, Ottawa's 5th-round choice from the 2023 NHL Entry Draft scored his 5th and 6th of the season along with an assist in his last 3 games for 25 points in 45 games.
Extra Skater With the Goalie Pulled:
Ottawa's top pick of the 2023 draft has had a quiet start to his collegiate career, but the 4th-rounder and right-shot defenseman notched a pair of assists in two games with Cornell this past week. Stanley has 6 points in 17 games as a freshman, and his progress will be interesting to watch through what will likely be at least two more years in college.
The Belleville Senators have fallen back down to earn, having dropped three straight games against North Division rivals in Utica and Laval. The good news is that, despite the losses, the team has still been playing well. Two of the three losses were close fought games, where Belleville just couldn't quite make the comeback happen in the final minutes. There's no quit in this team and it's refreshing to see.
Up front, this week was led by Matthew Highmore and Angus Crookshank, who both put up multiple points in Belleville's back-to-back losses to the Rocket. Interesting, more of the offense this week came from the back end, with Lassi Thomson, Tyler Kleven and Jacob Larsson all registering goals. This might explain the lack of a comeback, as the well of goals up front may have dried up a bit, leaving the defenders to try to replenish things for the team.
In net, Leevi Meriläinen and Kevin Mandolese each saw a start, with the latter posting better overall numbers with a .906 SV% in the Senators 3-2 loss to Laval on Saturday night. While Meriläinen had a bit of a rough go the game before, he's stopped 64 of the 70 shots he's faced (.914) since he was recalled from the ECHL last week.
Belleville now sits tied for fourth in the North, just two points back of Rochester for third. They hit the road this week for three games, starting tonight in Milwaukee and then a back-to-back in Grand Rapids to face the Griffins.