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Troy Talks: Belleville Sens in positive frame of mind ahead of road trip

January 25, 2023

Looking to put a gruelling stretch of results behind them, the Belleville Senators still have ample reason to be optimistic as they begin a crucial three-game road trip against the Laval Rocket (Wednesday) and Springfield Thunderbirds (Friday and Saturday)

We caught up with Head Coach Troy Mann to get a more in-depth look at where the team currently stands, an injury update, the excitement surrounding the return of key veterans, a top prospect poised to make his NHL debut and much more.

Alternate Captains Jake Lucchini and Rourke Charter are both back after stints in Ottawa. How much will their steady presences help to bolster the centre position? 

“I think certainly at centre ice. It’s been a constant battle in terms of keeping the depth up all year. Anytime you add Rourke Chartier, who’s still leading our team in goals. He’s able to play on both sides of the puck and is a big part of our special teams. We look forward to having him. We love Lucchini and his versatility, and I still think there is another level to his game. As long as Ridly Greig is up, we’ll keep him on in the middle of the ice. We feel that Cole Cassels is having a pretty solid year. Kyle Betts keeps improving. He’s been able to stabilize the fourth line and help on the penalty kill as well. I think Chartier can certainly add to our offensive game as well here as we get into the week.”

You mentioned that Ridly Greig was recalled to the NHL. How have you seen him continue to grow his game of late?

“Obviously, with the Josh Norris situation, it’s a great opportunity for him. He has arguably been our best player for the last month, another guy that’s contributed on both sides of the puck, and he’s hard to play against. Hopefully, he enjoys his moment on Wednesday night against the New York Islanders. We’ll see how long he’s up there, and we’ll certainly welcome him back. If he comes back.” 

Any updates on the injured list heading into this week? 

Lassi Thomson has been cleared. He passed his impact tests yesterday, so that’s great for him. Today was his first contact practice. So we’re hoping to get him in the lineup Friday. Roby Jarventie is now just day-to-day and has clearance in terms of contact. So we’re hoping to get him in Friday or Saturday in Springfield. Mads Sogaard remains day to day. So we’ll see where that takes us. Antoine Bibeau remains day-to-day as well and isn’t making the trip. Jayce Hawryluk will be out for 6-8 weeks after fracturing his foot. Matthew Wedman remains out long-term. On the back end, Kristians Rubins is day-to-day. He tweaked his knee on the weekend. But certainly, by the weekend, in terms of our defence, unless something happens in Ottawa, this will be the strongest our D-core has been all year. So hopefully, that comes to fruition by the time we get to Springfield.” 

Despite some tough results of recent, you have to be encouraged that your team is still in striking distance of a Calder Cup playoff spot in a tight North Division. 

“There’s so much divisional play that you can put a three or four-game win streak together, and you’re right back in the mix for fourth place. So, we just, unfortunately, the homestand was not what we expected, one for and one is not ideal. But, you know, we have multiple games left with Laval and Cleveland in the mix. I think Syracuse is still something that’s attainable with the number of divisional games, but you got to win games. Last Saturday was disappointing how we finished, but I thought for 45 minutes we were the better team against Hershey. Sometimes when you’re in a rut and not winning games, things can go in the other direction, and they did, but there were lots to build on. With Lucchini getting his feet wet again, Chartier coming back, our defence getting healthy. I think we’re encouraged right now.”

What was your message to the team as you began another crucial stretch of games? 

“All you can do is turn the page right, whether it’s individually or as a team. I thought yesterday’s practice was really good. I thought this morning was really good as well. All you can do is go into Wednesday in a positive frame of mind and try and put 60 solid minutes together and get a big road win. Then it can spiral. There’s a fine line between winning and losing. There’s a fine line between being in a bit of a rut and getting in a groove. Sometimes when you’re in a groove, you win some games you shouldn’t win. So I’ve seen it in both directions. So hopefully, we’re going to turn to the positive here.” 


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