The Belleville Senators and Utica Comets (Vancouver Canucks) met for the second time within a week Friday, as Belleville returned home from a four game road trip and came from behind to earn a 4-2 win.
It was the fourth meeting of the season between the North Division rivals with Belleville evening the season series 2-2 and staying perfect against the Comets on home ice.
It was also the first AHL start of the season for B-Sens goaltender Marcus Högberg who had 25 saves in the win in his return from an early-season injury, after making a rehab start with ECHL Brampton earlier in the week.
Högberg was named the game’s first star and says he felt comfortable in his B-Sens appearance of the season.
The game also featured the return of former Belleville Bulls captain Brendan Gaunce, who was in the Utica Comets line up for the first time in the Friendly City this season, after spending some time up with Vancouver to start the campaign.
The Senators came out with a flurry to open the game, firing four shots at Thatcher Demko within the first 5:00, but couldn’t open the scoring.
Högberg had to make a couple of sprawling saves himself early on as well.
Belleville would draw first blood just past the 10:00 mark during a period of four-on-four play.
Erik Burgdoerfer threw the puck on net and it deflected off of Chase Balisy, up to Adam Tambellini, who batted it out of mid-air at the side of the net for his 8th of the season.
That stood as the only scoring in the opening period, with the Senators outshooting the Comets 17-7.
Högberg had to make another big save less than 3:00 into the second, sticking out the right pad to stop Michael Carcone streaking in on a breakaway and would have to make a handful more throughout the period, but finally got beat at 15:20, when Tanner Kero jumped on a rebound from a tough angle to tie it 1-1.
It was Kero’s 4th goal and 6th point against Belleville in four games.
Tony Cameronesi would make it 2-1 with is 1st of the season a couple minutes later, after Carcone came spinning into the zone and got a shot off in close, with Cameronesi capitalizing on another rebound.
Högberg had to make yet another breakaway stop early in the third after a Burgdoerfer shot got blocked at the Utica blue line and Reid Boucher came busting in alone.
Belleville got even again at 6:08 after Ben Sexton rushed the puck up ice and chipped it ahead to Balisy, who slipped it into the slot to Logan Brown and he beat Demko up high for his 3rd of the season.
The Senators re-took the lead just shy of the midway point of the period after some nice work down low by Logan Brown, using his long reach to protect the puck along the boards.
He fed a pass up to Burgdoerfer at the point, the captain zipped a pass across to Jordan Murray and he wired his 4th over Demko’s shoulder to make it 3-2.
Belleville would carry that momentum through the rest of the period, with Filip Chlapik adding an empty netter, en route to the 4-2 win
Belleville snapped a three-game losing streak in the process and Head Coach Troy Mann says his team did a good job at controlling momentum swings through the game.
He also praised Högberg’s performance and says the big Swedish netminder kept the B-Sens in the game.
Mann wouldn’t commit to naming a starting goaltender for Saturday as the B-Sens welcome the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Philadelphia Flyers) to CAA Arena for a 7:05 puck drop, but says if Högberg is feeling well physically and mentally, he could get a back-to-back start.
You can hear it on 800 AM CJBQ, for Eastern Overhead Doors and Deerhaven Farm and Garden, starting at 6:50 p.m.
Click here for the game sheet from Friday night and check out the highlights below.