The Belleville Senators christened the CAA Arena with a 5-2 win over the Binghamton Devils (New Jersey Devils) in their home opener on Wednesday.
The line of Drake Batherson, Nick Paul and Rudolfs Balcers combined for nine points, Mike McKenna made 38 saves and the senators scored at least five goals for the second straight game.
Head Coach Troy Mann says the team built off the momentum gained in their previous win and executed their game plan well.
Coming off a 6-2 win in Manitoba last weekend the Senators looked to set the tone early and they did that, getting a quick chance on goal.
Newcomer Joseph LaBate got in on a two-on-one and couldn’t beat Cam Johnson, within the first minute and a half.
Belleville got on the board moments later when Francois Beauchemin, recently called up from ECHL Brampton, wrapped around the Devils’ net and slipped the puck past Johnson to open the scoring.
Drake Batherson and Pat Sieloff earned assists, with Batherson stretching an early-season point streak to three games.
Binghamton would answer with a quick flurry a few minutes later, but Mike McKenna made a handful of stops along the ice, to keep it scoreless in his Belleville home debut.
At 13:17 of the first, Nick Paul got hooked on a partial break but deked the puck around Johnson to the goal line, with Christian Wolanin following up for the tap-in to make it 2-0.
Wolanin and Devils’ goaltender Johnson went to college together at the University of North Dakota and Wolanin tells Quinte News his first AHL goal was a little sweeter after scoring it on his good friend.
Sieloff took an interference penalty shortly after, but Belleville was able to kill it off.
The Senators would get their first home power play of the season at 12:08 of the first, when John Ramage went off for slashing and Belleville would make it count on a pretty tic-tac-toe passing play.
Batherson flung a pass from the right point diagonally through the zone to Paul, who zipped it into the slot for Rudolfs Balcers and the Latvian banged it between Johnson’s legs for his fourth goal of the season.
The 3-0 scoreline would stand after 20 minutes, but Binghamton held a slim 11-10 shot lead.
Former Belleville Bulls captain Eric Tangradi had the best early chance for Binghamton in the second, walking into the slot uncovered, but fired a wrist shot well-wide of the Senators net.
Belleville would make the lead 4-0 on another power play goal at about the 7:00 mark.
With Tangradi in the box for boarding Paul wired a wrist shot past Johnson from the right circle, Batherson earned his third assist of the game and Balcers had another point, earning an assist on the play as well.
Balcers says it’s been an easy adjustment paying with Batherson and whoever else they get teamed up with.
The Senators took a pair of penalties near the midway point of the period sending Binghamton to a two-man advantage, but Belleville would kill it off, thanks to some solid stops by McKenna.
Shots after the second were 21-18 Binghamton.
Early action in the third included a scrap between Pat Sieloff for Belleville and John Ramage which started after the a big hit by the Devil’s forward at the Sens blue line.
Sieloff was given a five minute major for fighting, two minutes for instigating and a 10 minute misconduct.
Jack Rodewald would make it 5-0 at 7:17 of the third, snapping his first of the season past Johnson on a two-on-one, following a nice saucer pass from newcomer Joseph LaBate.
Binghamton finally got one back just past the 10:00 mark of the period, when Joey Anderson beat McKenna on a power play goalmouth scramble to make it 5-1 Senators.
They’d get another a couple minutes later as McKenna got drawn out of the net to the far side and Yegor Yakovlev wired a pass across to Yegor Sharangovich who fired it past the sprawling Sens netminder.
The Sens would get a few more chances, but couldn’t beat Johnson again.
Final shots on goal were 40-25 Binghamton, with Nick Paul, Mike McKenna and Drake Batherson named the game’s three stars.
McKenna says the quick start offensively made his job a lot easier on the back end.
Belleville went 2/5 on the power play and Binghamton was 1/8 on the man advantage.
Belleville continues the six game home stand by welcoming the Hartford Wolf Pack (New York Rangers) on Friday night and the Rochester Americans (Buffalo Sabres) on Saturday.
Both games have 6:50 p.m. broadcast times on 800 CJBQ.