by Matt Tidcombe
The Belleville Senators were narrowly beaten 3-1 by the Toronto Marlies Friday night at the Yardmen Arena.
Marcus Hogberg made 33 saves for Belleville while Ben Sexton scored. Justin Holl, Josh Kestner and Ben Smith scored for the Marlies while Calvin Pickard made 28 saves in the Toronto goal.
After a scoreless first, Holl opened the scoring 5:23 into the second as he took advantage of a turnover by the Sens in their own zone to wire his seventh of the season past Hogberg.
The visitors doubled its lead with 2:24 left in the second through debutant Kestner, playing his first professional game, who scored on the power play with a wrister from the left faceoff circle with a fresh stick having snapped his first shot moments before on a shot attempt.
Belleville got on the board with 8:35 left in regulation through Sexton’s tenth of the year as he fired a wrister past a screened Pickard to cut the lead to 2-1.
However, Smith made it 3-1 Toronto with just 1:24 left in regulation as he wired a bouncing puck past Hogberg from the slot for his 24th goal of the season.
The teams combined for 24 first period shots but both Hogberg and Pickard stood tall to shut the door. The Senators generated the best opportunity as Colin White fed Ben Sexton in the slot for a one-timer but Pickard came up with a big save as he pushed out of his crease to shrink the window for Sexton.
Ryan Scarfo, signed earlier this week, made his Sens debut. Belleville defenceman Pat Sieloff played in his 200th career AHL game.
The Sens are back in action Saturday as they host the Utica Comets on Tribute to Wrestling Night featuring WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley.