Round 2 on the road

Belleville Se­na­tors con­tinue early-sea­son jour­ney this week­end

The Intelligencer (Belleville) - - SPORTS - PAUL SVOBODA THE IN­TEL­LI­GENCER

The Belleville Se­na­tors hit the high­way again this week­end, as their nine-game road trip con­tin­ues un­til the club’s in­au­gu­ral home opener Nov. 1 at Yard­men Arena.

B-Sens opened their 2017-18 AHL reg­u­lar-sea­son cam­paign last week­end with back-to-back losses to the Rocket at Laval: 3-0 and 6-2.

B-Sens head coach Kurt Kleinen­dorst said he saw enough good things last week­end to be­lieve he has the right group in Belleville. That said, he has al­ready lost three key de­fence­men — Thomas Chabot, Chris­tian Jaros and Ben Harpur (in­jured) — who were all re­called by the par­ent Ottawa Se­na­tors.

“Game 1 last week­end, I was re­ally pleased,” said Kleinen­dorst. “We played well. I thought we de­served bet­ter. I thought our goalie, Danny Taylor, played well but their goalie (Char­lie Lindgren) was out­stand­ing.

“Our power play was 0-for-8 but I liked it. We could’ve had eight power-play goals but just didn’t find a way to score.”

The next night, the Belleville power play clicked for both goals in a 6-2 loss that saw the B-Sens al­low six unan­swered Rocket mark­ers after tak­ing a brief 2-0 lead.

“I don’t think we were nearly as good as our first night,” said Kleinen­dorst. “But we have a very, very young team. I’m not mak­ing ex­cuses, but maybe it wasn’t fair to them to think we could’ve been that good two nights in a row.”

Kleinen­dorst said the B-Sens al­lowed a ques­tion­able call to in­ter­fere with their fo­cus.

“Danny Taylor kept us in but we didn’t han­dle ad­ver­sity well and we never re­cov­ered,” said the coach. “You can’t let a bad call af­fect the rest of your game. It’s a les­son to be learned and hope­fully next time we han­dle it bet­ter. But, we saw some re­ally good things — our goal­tend­ing is solid, our D is young but very solid, our for­wards are more than ca­pa­ble of help­ing us.

“We can’t over-re­act to a week­end. Sure, it would be nice to have a W un­der our belt. But Laval has a re­ally good hockey club and we aren’t the only team who’ll go in there this sea­son and lose two games.”

Speak­ing of Taylor, the B-Sens have a log­jam in net with four goal­tenders still on the ros­ter.

“That’s a lit­tle mis-lead­ing,” said Kleinen­dorst. “Chris Driedger is in­jured and hasn’t played. Mar­cus Hog­berg is a young guy with a phe­nom­e­nal fu­ture and we’ll try to get him some games at some point in the ECHL.

“Taylor and An­drew Ham­mond are both NHL-cal­i­bre goalies, so we’re in good hands.”

With his de­fence dinged by the re­cent call-ups, Kleinen­dorst said he’ll look down the bench this week­end in Syra­cuse and Her­shey.

“That’s the AHL,” he said. “At the end of the day, that’s how our world works. And, it’s an op­por­tu­nity for other guys. We’ll pre­pare the guys who are here for Fri­day night. Next man up. That’s our ap­proach.

“We have de­fence­men still here who are more than ca­pa­ble.”

The highly-touted Chabot, MVP at the 2017 World Ju­nior Cham­pi­onships, scored the first-ever B-Sens goal in Laval. Kleinen­dorst said “he’s fun to watch” with the best yet to come.

“I’ve spent a cou­ple of years with him at var­i­ous camps and he’s going to be a reg­u­lar in the NHL,” said Kleinen­dorst. “That he scored our first goal doesn’t sur­prise me. We have to de­velop his play with­out the puck, but you can see it — he’s a re­ally solid, fun player to watch.”

As for player devel­op­ment, the No. 1 job of any AHL coach, Kleinen­dorst ad­mits it’s more fun and more ef­fec­tive when you’re win­ning.

“Win­ning al­lows a team to de­velop far­ther,” he said. “Win­ning drives the bus. It’s much bet­ter and more en­joy­able for ev­ery­body to de­velop through win­ning. It’s a much health­ier ap­proach.”

ON DECK: Fri­day at Syra­cuse Crunch, 7 p.m.; Saturday at Her­shey Bears, 7 p.m. Live ra­dio play-by-play on CJBQ 800 AM.

I’m not mak­ing ex­cuses, but maybe it wasn’t fair to them to think we could’ve been that good two nights in a row.” Kurt Kleinen­dorst

OTTAWA SE­NA­TORS PHOTO

For­ward Ben Sex­ton and his Belleville Se­na­tors team­mates con­tinue their early-sea­son AHL road trip this week­end with games in Syra­cuse (Fri­day) and Her­shey (Saturday).

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