In their third-last home game of their inaugural season the Belleville Senators peppered the Springfield Thunderbirds net, but ran into a hot goaltender in a 2-1 loss.
Belleville outshot Springfield 34-26, but Harri Sateri made the difference and was named the game’s first star.
Head Coach Kurt Kleinendorst felt his team deserved a better result, based on the chances they created.
Young players were front and centre for Belleville with goaltender Philip Gustavsson making his third start for the B-Sens, while Penn State grad Andrew Sturtz and London Knights standout Alex Formenton made their AHL debuts.
In addressing the performance of the debutants, Kleinendorst says Formenton’s speed was evident from the get go.
And says Sturtz didn’t look out of place either, creating some chances to score.
Belleville got out of the gate quickly with four shots in the first three minutes and Formenton was immediately noticeable, using his speed to draw a penalty on a partial break away about 4:30 in.
But it was Springfield who opened the scoring just before the 8:00 mark on a power play of their own.
Curtis Valk fired a low wrist shot over the pad and under the glove hand of Gustavsson to make it 1-0.
The Senators had a few good chances as well with both Sturtz and Formenton registering shots, Max Reinhart getting stopped on a wraparound and a handful of other fast break opportunities, but were still down by one at the end of the period.
Belleville found itself in penalty trouble early in the second period, taking two minor penalties less than 5:00 in, but killing them off.
During that same stretch, Nick Paul left for the dressing room and returned, Formenton almost had a shorthanded breakaway but over-skated the puck and Jack Rodewald took a deflected shot to the face, but was ok.
The teams would trade chances through the rest of the period and Greg Chase would hit a post for the T-Brids, but it stayed 1-0 Springfield after 40 minutes.
Paul opened the third period by hitting the post and Belleville kept up the pressure through the first five minutes, but there was still no more scoring to the first TV time out with 13:25 left.
Sturtz would get one of the best chances of the third, walking off the far wall and rifling a wrist shot on, but Sateri continued his stellar play and made a glove save in the splits.
Springfield potted another on a late power play with Gustavsson getting a piece of a low wrister from Tim Erixon and the puck squirting through.
Belleville would get on the board 10 seconds later when Gabriel Gagne finished off is 19th, but it was too little, too late.
Post game, both Formenton and Sturtz spoke to gathered media, with Formenton saying his debut lived up to his expectations.
While Formenton will either have to stay in London next season, or go straight up to Ottawa, Sturtz, who will be on an entry level contract, says he’s happy with how he fit in and is looking forward to what’s to come in the Friendly City.
Belleville’s next action is Friday in Rochester against the Americans, before they return home to host the Laval Rocket on Saturday.
800 CJBQ’s coverage for Eastern Overhead Doors and Deerhaven Farm and Garden begins at 6:55 p.m. on Friday and 6:50 p.m. on Saturday.
You can click here to read the full game sheet from Wednesday night and see highlights below.