Despite a solid first 40 minutes by the Belleville Senators, a four-goal Manitoba third period made the difference, as the Moose picked up a 7-3 victory at Yardmen Arena on Friday night.
Gabriel Gagne opened the scoring with his 11th of the season less than a minute in.
A crowd had formed in front of the Manitoba bench after a hit, Chris DiDomenico pulled the puck out and snapped a pass across to Gagne, who put it over the short-side shoulder of Eric Comrie to make it 1-0 Belleville.
The Moose looked to answer back around the 8:00 mark when former (Binghamton) Senator Buddy Robinson pinged a shot off the post, after a breakaway from his own blue line.
Robinson would get a slight bit of revenge 30 seconds after that, feeding a pass to former Barrie Colt Brendan Lemieux, who redirected the puck past Andrew Hammond to tie the game 1-1.
Robinson factored into the scoring again at 14:30 of the period, deflecting a wrist shot from the point and giving Manitoba a 2-1 lead, which stood through to the first intermission.
At the intermission B-Sens fans littered the ice with hundreds of stuffed toys and teddy bears, as part of the team’s first ever toy drive, in support of the Belleville Professional Firefighters Association.
Total donation numbers will be announced soon.
— Belleville Senators (@BellevilleSens) December 16, 2017
Manitoba used a deflection to open the scoring in the second as well, when Mason Appleton got a piece of a shot, which changed direction and beat Hammond to make it 3-1.
But the B-Sens pushed back late in the period, scoring back-to-back goals nine seconds apart.
First, Filip Chlapik went top corner with his 6th of the season on the power play, then off the next faceoff, Jim O’Brien (playing in his 400th AHL game) pushed into the Manitoba zone and slid a pass across to Max McCormick, who crashed the net and put home his 4th of the season and 50th of his AHL career .
It was tied 3-3 after 40 minutes, but things fell apart in the third for Belleville.
Patrice Cormier scored his first goal of the period on a scramble in front of the B-Sens net, about 3:00 into the period, then defenceman Sami Niku hustled in from the point to knock in a rebound on the power play a couple of minutes later to make it 5-3.
Cormier scored his second at 7:06 on another deflection, from a low point shot and Cameron Schilling rounded out the scoring to make it 7-3, beating Hammond on a two-on-one midway through the final frame.
B-Sens coach Kurt Kleinendorst says some poor decisions in the third period cost his team.
The Senators hopped on the bus immediately after the game to head to Binghamton, where they’ll play the Devils on Saturday night, a rematch of a physical Wednesday night affair.
Kleinendorst says he’s expecting another tough battle.
It’s also the return of Kleinendorst and a handful of B-Sens players and staff, to a city where they spent many years, before moving to Belleville.
The coach, who won a Calder Cup with Binghamton in 2011, says the top priority is focusing on the task at hand and coming up with a win.
Gametime Saturday is 7:05 p.m., with 800 AM CJBQ’s coverage beginning at 6:50 p.m.
You can click here to see the full box score from Friday night.