The Belleville Senators snapped a season-long four game losing streak and picked up their first win in the AHL’s “Battle of Ontario”, with a win over the Eastern Conference leading Toronto Marlies, on Boxing Day.
The B-Sens picked up the 2-1 victory in front of more than 12,000 fans at Air Canada Centre, thanks mainly in part to a sparkling performance from goaltender Andrew Hammond, who made 32 saves and was named the game’s first star.
Belleville had a number of returnees to the line up, including Ben Harpur who had been returned from Ottawa and Pat Sieloff, who missed five games due to injury and was back on the ice after being a game time decision following warm up.
Head Coach Kurt Kleinendorst told Quinte News post game, you could see the difference it made having those two guys patrolling the blue line together again.
The Marlies opened the scoring just over six minutes into the first period, when Andrew Nielson clapped home a one-timer from Kasperi Kapanen, counting his first marker of the year on the power play.
But Belleville would even things about six minutes later also on the power play against the top ranked penalty kill in the league.
Ethan Werek tipped home his 7th of the season, off a shot from Colin White and tied the game 1-1, with the score staying that way through to the third.
Francis Perron broke the deadlock with his 4th of the season, about 8:30 into the third, when the B-Sens turned some good board play in the offensive zone into a quality scoring chance.
Tyler Randell slid a backhand pass between the legs of a Marlies’ defender, right out front to Perron, who fired a shot past Calvin Pickard and put Belleville in front.
Andrew Hammond would make a series of saves late in the game to preserve the win and was far and away the best player on the ice for Belleville.
The coach says Hammond’s contribution didn’t go unnoticed, but he felt his team played well in front of their goaltender as well.
Most importantly, Kleinendorst says the win gets Belleville back into a positive mindset and gives them something to build off of as they move into the next phase of the season.
Up next for Belleville is a home date with the Laval Rocket on Thursday, followed by a visit from former Belleville Bulls Captain Matt Beleskey and the Providence Bruins on Saturday and another trip to Toronto on New Year’s Eve Sunday.
The B-Sens front office says there are only about 300 tickets remaining for Thursday night, with only about 500 seats left for Saturday.
All of the games can be heard on 800 AM CJBQ.
You can click here to read the full box score from Tuesday’s win in Toronto.