Belleville Senators goaltender Filip Gustavsson made his much-anticipated North American debut against the Laval Rocket on Sunday afternoon and did not disappoint, making 37 saves in an 8-2 Belleville win.
Gustavsson told media post game he wasn’t pleased with his start, but got more comfortable as the game went on.
Ville Pokka had his first career hat trick as Belleville tallied a season high in goals.
Head Coach Kurt Kleinendorst called the win a complete team effort.
The 19 year-old Swedish netminder got a baptism by fire, having to deal with an early power play, but was able to keep the sixth ranked man advantage unit in the AHL silent.
Gustavsson would give up his first goal against less than 5:00 into the game though.
A Belleville turnover at their blue line ended up on the stick of Kerby Rychel who scored from the high slot.
The B-Sens would bounce back during the Rocket’s second PP, just past the 10:00 minute mark.
Jim O’Brien hit a streaking Colin White with a long rink-wide pass, sending him in on a breakaway, with White settling down a rolling puck, putting a deke on Charlie Lindgren and tucking the puck in on the backhand.
It was White’s third goal in as many games, tying the game 1-1.
Then, on their first power play of the game, Belleville took a 2-1 lead as Ville Pokka earned his first goal as a Senators.
He pinched in from the left point and slipped in a rebound that had come off the end boards and caught Lindgren going the wrong way.
Belleville held the 2-1 lead heading into the second period.
Pokka counted another power play goal less than 5:00 into the second, snapping home a long wrister from the far circle, to make it 3-1.
The B-Sens lead would slip to just one just shy of the 14:00 mark after a lost face off in the defensive zone.
Adam Cracknell tipped home a long shot from Matt Taormina just five seconds into a power play, making it 3-2.
But the two-goal lead would be re-instated by the end of the period, with Christian Jaros scoring his third of the season, one-timing a long low shot, off a pass from Max Reinhart.
Gustavsson was strong in the second as well, making a number of solid pad saves and facing a total of 28 shots by the end of the period.
Belleville tacked on four more in the third.
Dave Dziurzynski scored his first goal for Belleville at 8:04 of the frame, when a blocked shot fell at his feet and he put it in.
Another first came at 15:15 when Boston Leier scored his first career pro goal, finishing a two-on-one from Colin White.
Ryan Scarfo earned the second assist for his first pro point.
Leier says he’s starting to adjust to the AHL game and playing on a line with a player like Colin White helps.
Eric Selleck scored at 16:33 to make it 7-2, before being ejected after a scuffle with Yannick Veillieux and Pokka completed the hat trick when his long shot hit Lindgren and trickled over the line, with 1:00 left.
Pokka says the hat trick was a nice way to cap a solid weekend.
Belleville are now off until Friday when they’ll take on the Crunch in Syracuse, before visiting the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Saturday.
800 CJBQ has coverage of both games for Eastern Overhead Doors and Deerhaven Farm and Garden, with Friday’s game at 6:50 p.m. and Saturday’s at 6:55 p.m.
You can click here to see the game sheet from Sunday and watch highlights below.