Belleville Loses Back-to-Back Games Against Syracuse

Coming into the games against the Crunch the BSens were .500 and seemed to be fixing some of their systemic issues (PK and goals against). Positive trends came to a screaming halt as Syracuse won both penalty filled games, getting Filip Gustavsson pulled in each of them (a feat that didn’t happen last year to any BSen goaltender–the closest was Marcus Hogberg being pulled in consecutive starts back in January). The 6-1 defeat is also the most lopsided of the season (apparently Troy Mann screaming at his players mid-game was not the solution).

Belleville 4, Syracuse 5
Shots: 32-16
PP: 2-9
PK: 4-7
Goaltenders: Gustavsson (8-13); Paterson (3-3)
Sturtz (LaBate, Leier)
Tambellini (Murray, Percy) (pp)
Tambellini (Carey, Murray) (pp)
Batherson (Balcers, Sieloff)

Belleville 1, Syracuse 6
Shots: 27-21
PP: 0-3
PK: 5-6
Goaltenders: Gustavsson (9-13); Paterson (6-8)
Englund (Balisy, Sturtz)

Context
The Crunch arrived with just a 2-5-0 record, sitting at the bottom of the North Division. Both goaltenders played (having split the season thus far). Former Sen Cory Conacher plays for the team and had four points in the second game.

Lines
Both Filip Chlapik and Andrew Sturtz returned from injury; the former took his usual place on the top line while the latter bumped Scarfo off the fourth. On defense Wolanin replaced the recalled Burgdoerfer on the top-pairing. In the second game alterations were more radical as Percy was out of the lineup (he took a crosscheck to the back of the head, but I don’t definitively know if that’s why) and inexplicably the team decided Jonathan Racine was worth a PTO (my thoughts on him here, but in brief he does not help them move or possess the puck). This meant the blueline looked like this:
Sieloff-Wolanin
Racine-Murray
Englund-Bergman

Mann gave TOI to an ECHL PTO over Julius Bergman. The arrangement in general is pretty bizarre. There was uncustomary tinkering with the forward group as well by Mann, with Beauchemin out (I’m assuming sickness/injury), LaBate moved up to center the third line and the rightwing of all lines save the first (I’ve highlighted the moving parts) were changed:
Balcers-Chlapik-Batherson
Carey-Balisy-Sturtz
Tambellini-LaBateSexton
Leier-ScarfoGagne

I don’t think the forward changes were the primary issue with the second game (you can blame that on the blueline and goaltending), but it’s a curious juggle given a loss by a single goal previously.

Special Teams
In the first game Mann took Murray off the top unit and replaced him with Balisy; otherwise nothing changed (besides the absence of the recalled Nick Paul, replaced by Chlapik). Both goals scored were about Tambellini’s shot rather than something his unit was doing. In the second game Balisy returned to the second unit and Sexton was moved to the first.

The PK in game one was pretty similar to the previous game, except that Sturtz was added to the mix. The Balisy-Sexton duo was on the ice for all three PP-goals against so they were split up in the following game. The other changes made in game two is that Balcers returned to the PK, playing the final part of kills, and on defense Racine essentially took Percy’s usual rotations.

Other Notes
-Gustavsson had back-to-back poor performances, showing a weakness of being beat high (a problem most BSens goaltenders had last season–something I feel is related at least tangentially to the coaching they are getting)
-Problems from the blueline continue–Sieloff had a turnover that directly lead to a goal in the first game; I lost track of Murray’s turnovers in the second game, etc
-Englund got what I expect will be his only goal for the year
-Sturtz has looked good in his return, not just because of the goal and the assist but his play overall (although I’d rather see him on the powerplay than the PK)
-Gagne has gone back to sleep–he only has one 5-on-5 point this season and has been largely been invisible
-For those who missed it I did a full review of the season through October for the BSens

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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