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Troy Talks: November 30, 2021

November 30, 2021

The Belleville Senators are coming off their best week of the season, taking six of a possible six points in a pair of wins against Laval and one against Syracuse. The Sens will play three more games this week, starting on Wednesday in Utica, followed by two games at home against Manitoba. This week on Troy Talks, Head Coach Troy Mann discusses tlast week’s wins, the impact that roster additions like Logan Shaw and Parker Kelly will have to the lineup, the game plan for the week and the expectations for two-time Stanley Cup champion Matt Murray in the crease, after he was assigned to the AHL from Ottawa.

What were the keys to last week’s success, picking up wins against Syracuse and Laval?

“I do think it helped that we got a chunk of our lineup back. You add seven quality players, if you include Colby Williams who came back from injury, that just gives you a better chance to win. That doesn’t mean you can’t win with a weaker lineup, but it certainly gives you a little bit more swagger, especially on the road in places like Syracuse and Laval, which are tough buildings. We got the week off to a really good start, so the guys went into Laval feeling good and it kind of snowballed from there. I thought our best game of the week was the home game on Saturday night.”

You mentioned how tough it is to win in Syracuse and Laval, what kind of confidence boost does that give your young team?

“I do like the adjustment we made on Friday night after we played on our heels in the third period in Syracuse and could have lost the game. Mads Sogaard was outstanding in that third period, and we defended the whole period, just squeaking it out. Then we got into a similar game on Friday in Laval where they made their early push, we rebounded and played well through two periods and then we were able to play the third period more on our toes.”

What kind of impact are Logan Shaw and Parker Kelly going to have on this team?

“They’re both high character guys, they wear letters and play the game the right way. They’re great teammates and they’re great for our locker room and there’s nothing negative you can say about adding those types of players. We’ll see how long they’re here for, because obviously there is always movement, but at the same time they do add some pretty big pieces to our lineup. If you look back at September you’d think we would have started the season with both, but Shaw hasn’t played with us yet and Kelly has only played four games. So hopefully adding those guys going into December with a lot of games and travel, can help us move up the standings.”

There have been lots of questions about Matt Murray and his reassignment to Belleville, but what will having him in the lineup mean for this team and how do you keep that big story from being a distraction?

“Within our walls here between the coaches, players, and staff, it hasn’t been a distraction at all over the first two days. His demeanour and attitude have been very good, I think he knows what he needs to do to get his game back on track and I think his resume speaks for itself. I remember coaching against him a few games when I was with Hersey, because of our rivalry with Wilkes-Barre and he was an all-star and obviously moved on to get two Stanley Cups, so he’s been a pretty good goaltender over his career. If we can help him get to where he needs to be, he can help us win some hockey games and our staff can maybe guide him in the right direction back to Ottawa, then in the end it’s a win-win situation for everybody.”

You’ve dealt with some pretty unique situations in your career and the past couple of years specifically. Where does this one rank, in terms of an NHL starting goaltender getting sent down mid-season?

“It’s definitely unique and the American Hockey League has brought a lot of different things over the years. Probably the last time I saw something of this magnitude was in Hershey, when Sheldon Souray came in on loan from Edmonton and spent a good chunk of the season with us. There was also Scott Gomez (in 2015-16) who was looking for a place to play and ironically ended up going to Ottawa. He came into Hershey under a little bit different circumstances, but in terms of guys with that kind of NHL resume, it’s been a while since I’ve seen something like this.”

Utica has been the top team in the league so far this season and you don’t see Manitoba much at all, how do you prepare for the games ahead this week?

“We’re really looking forward to Wednesday’s game in Utica. We played them here at home (4-1 loss on November 14) I thought our team competed very, very hard, but we had to defend a lot that afternoon. Utica is the best team we’ve played this season, they play high tempo, and they have a good mix of skill and veteran players. I’m looking forward to that game in another tough North Division building, but going into game 18 we’ll have the best lineup that we’ve been able to put on paper this season. I’m looking forward to seeing how we stack up against them, how close we are to them and what we need to do to be on the same wavelength as them.”

What’s the latest on the injured reserve as the week begins?

“Rourke Chartier is going for more tests in Ottawa today, Pontus Aberg hurt his shoulder on Saturday night and will be out two-to-six weeks and Tyrell Goulbourne has gone home to tend to some family matters and will be away from the team for a little bit. The other three (Angus Crookshank, Jonathan Aspirot and Mitchell Hoelscher) are all still out long-term.