Belleville Senators season comes to a disappointing end – Montreal Gazette

Belleville Senators season comes to a disappointing end - Montreal Gazette
Toronto Marlies lose to Senators in playoff dress rehearsal
The Senators couldn’t book a playoff spot themselves Sunday afternoon and in what was the worst-case scenario, they had to count on their arch-rivals in the Battle of Ontario to get them a ticket to the American Hockey League’s big dance.

As a result, this morning, the Senators will be on the outside looking in after being eliminated from the playoffs on the final day of the season.

After dropping a 4-2 decision to the Rochester Amerks in the regular season finale at CAA Arena in Belleville, the Senators were forced to sit for more than two hours to find out if they’d be headed to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, but a 5-1 victory by the Cleveland Monsters over the Marlies eliminated Ottawa’s AHL affiliate.

Tied with the Monsters for the final spot in the North Division, the Senators could have locked up a trip with a victory, but they weren’t able to get the job done against an undermanned Rochester team. The only hope the Senators had was that Cleveland would loss in regulation to Toronto and the Monsters won handily.

With a playoff position set and a series against the Marlies in the playoffs already in the books, the Amerk didn’t dress a full lineup and gave the Senators every chance to dig deep. The club sat nine regulars, brought in some players from their ECHL affiliate in Cincinnati and started rookie goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen for this one.

Luukkonen was in the net for Sudbury Wolves Friday night when they were eliminated by the Ottawa 67’s in Round 2 of the playoffs in four straight games. The Senators tested the rookie in the third period, but couldn’t solve him.

The Senators stuck with goalie Marcus Hogberg in this game. He finished the year with a 21-11-record in 38 games with Belleville this season. While Taylor Leier scored twice for the Amerks, Tage Thompson and defenceman Casey Fitzgerald, who had his first AHL goal, also chipped in for the Amerks.

Only Jack Rodewald and Logan Brown replied for the Senators, who had eight busloads of Ottawa fans in the stands. Instead of having a day off and preparing for a playoff series to start later in the week, the Senators will gather Monday for exit meetings and some of the club’s top prospects will begin a long off-season.

“I didn’t think we were coming into this game with an easy win. There’s no easy wins in this league,” Senators’ coach Troy Mann told reporters in Belleville after game. “The players are too competitive and there’s just too much balance in the league and parity.

Fitzgerald’s goal gave the Amerks put it away for Rochester with 8:46 left in the third when he beat Hogberg with a blast on the 27th shot he faced. Only moments earlier, it appeared Brown had tied it up 3-3 at the 10-minute mark of the third when the light went on, but the puck hit the post and the play continued.

There wasn’t a stoppage until Fitzgerald scored and a look at the replay indicated Brown had indeed hit the post.

Through 40 minutes, the Senators were down by a goal as Rochester held a 3-2 advantage and the Amerks held a 20-14  lead on the shot clock as well which is difficult to believe in a game that meant so much to Belleville.

Discipline was a huge factor for the Senators as Rochester scored all three of its goals in the first two periods on the power play. With Chase Balisy, the hero in Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win over the Marlies in Toronto, in the box, Thompson’s sixth of the season gave the Amerks the lead at 14:25 of the second.

Rodewald tied it up 2-2 at 2:16 of the second with his 23rd of the season when he beat Luukkonen on the power play.

After 20 minutes, the Senators found themselves in a battle after they were outshot 9-4 by the Amerks and were down 2-1 on the scoreboard.

The Senators allowed the Amerks to score twice on the power play. Rochester took the lead at 13:46 when Leier scored his second of the game with the club holding a two-man advantage. Earlier, Leier tied it up 1-1 when he scored at 10:29 on the Amerks first power play of the game at 10:39.

Brown, the club’s top centre, opened the scoring with his 14th of the season at 6:44 on a pass from Drake Batherson.

The Senators were hopeful the likes of Christian Wolanin, Brown, Balcers and Batherson would be able to get experience in the post-season. Instead, they’ll have to look forward to next season and the battle for jobs in training camp.

Share Share Marlies lose to Senators in playoff dress rehearsal tweet share Reddit Pocket Flipboard Email Christian Bonin – TSGPhoto.com The Toronto Marlies have already clinched their playoff spot, and they know they will play the Rochester Americans in the best-of-five game first round, however the last place in the division is still to be determined, and both the Marlies final two opponents of the season are playing down to the wire to win that spot.

First up on Saturday were the Belleville Senators. Its the time of year where there may be no specific advantage to winning a game for the Marlies, but playing against a desperate team is excellent preparation for the playoffs. Chris Mueller described the game as a dress rehearsal to get ourselves ready for playoff hockey.

While it was unfortunate they didnt get the win, he felt it was good experience. Playing a desperate team back-to-back [the Senators and the Monsters,] its going to do us wonders.

The Marlies roster has been stretched out as usual at this time of the year with Leafs draft picks and others signed to try-out contracts as backup support for the team in the playoffs. There are now 31 skaters and three goaltenders, with a potential for a fourth if Michael Hutchinson returns.

Some of those players wont see any ice-time, but they participate in the practices and get lots of time with the development staff in between watching the games. Especially notable would of course be Eemeli Rasanen, the Leafs second round draft pick in 2017.

Im not going to write up a detailed recap of this game, as theres really not anything new to tell about anyone on the team. Everyone there played as expected for an end of season game, and weve covered what we expect out of everyone in the playoffs.

We know the potential of the players now, so its no surprise when Jeremy Bracco scores a power play goal like this.