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Troy Mann


Troy Talks: November 9, 2021

November 9, 2021

The Belleville Senators picked up four of a possible six points last week, with a loss in Rochester and then a pair of wins in Cleveland, despite the fact that a number of regular players got called to Ottawa part-way through the trip, due to the NHL club placing players in COVID-19 protocols.

In this week’s Troy Talks, Head Coach Troy Mann discusses that unique situation, his team’s effort and how preparations are going for three games in less than four nights, starting on Wednesday.

How do you feel about the team’s performance last weekend? Giving up the late goal in a loss to Rochester, before battling through some tough circumstances to win two games in Cleveland?

“Anytime you get four of six points in a three game week is a pretty good accomplishment. Rochester played a real good game and except for the first 10 minutes I thought we were really good. But unfortunately, we gave up a late goal and blew the 3-2 lead in the third, but I really liked our road game. When we moved onto Cleveland I was happy with how our guys responded to the late loss and picked up the win on Friday and then Saturday was just a gutsy effort after losing five guys in a transaction. The AHL season is long and there are always some wins that are special than others, Saturday was one of those.”

How unique was that situation, to see five players pulled away by the NHL club all at once?

“This is my twelfth season in the American Hockey League, and I’ve never seen anything quite as drastic as that. When you get into coaching and the AHL level, you have to anticipate transactions, but not like that. But we are living in a different world right now with the pandemic being part of our lives the last year and a half. It was unfortunate, because you always pay the price at the AHL level when the NHL club needs players, but that’s just reality and we got through it. We’re still battling with that outbreak in Ottawa and it weakens our roster, but it means there’s opportunity for players that have been with us all season and some new guys as well. We’re scrounging the ECHL and looking for as much talent as we can to get through this.”

The Ottawa situation is leading to an NHL debut for Egor Sokolov on Wednesday. Is it a matter of timing for him, or is he ready?

“He’s made progress, but to say that he’s fully ready for the NHL, until you get a player in that scenario it’s hard to say if he’s ready or not. It’s going to be a special moment for him, but I think as an organization we feel like he needs more seasoning. Compare him to a guy like Drake Batherson who spent two-or-three times going up with extended looks, before he became a full-time NHLer. It’s a great opportunity for Egor, we’re really happy for him and time will tell in terms of how ready he’ll be, or how close he is.

The immense number of call-ups has also led Belleville to find some potential diamonds in the rough in the ECHL. Can you tell us about what you like in the newest call-ups Hugo Roy (Atlanta) and Spencer Watson (Indy)?

“Roy and Nogard both came in on the weekend on basically a day trip Saturday and I thought he competed hard. I liked his skating, and it seems like he can keep up with the pace of the American Hockey League, so I was impressed with that. We also needed a centre because of all the transactions, so we thought we’d give him a longer look. In terms of Watson, we’ve been looking to add a bit more skill to our top nine forwards. Dave Bell coached him briefly in Ontario (California) and he’s a former Ontario Hockey League player, who had some great success in Kingston and the ECHL. We’re looking to add a bit more of a dynamic skill set to the lineup and we’ll have to see how it works out, but we’ll give him a look and he’ll likely play all three games this week.”

Jake Lucchini is leading the Belleville Sens in scoring and has exploded onto the scene since being traded from Laval, what’s been leading to his success?

 “Any player has to deal with confidence, it’s always a factor in a player’s success. I liked Lucchini last year as part of that Laval team and Ben Sexton had a chance to be with him in Wilkes-Barre when he just came out of college and he went to bat for him in terms of his compete, his work ethic and character, and that’s what we’re looking to add. From an offensive perspective he’s exceeded what we anticipated, in a short period of time and he’s also flourished in the middle. He was a centre in college, and I told him when he arrived that he would play on the wing, but I liked his versatility and he could play up the middle if needed. In my experience in Belleville, we tend to end up short up the middle due to call-ups and injuries. He looks great in that spot, he’s very responsible defensively and he’s been fantastic overall.”

You’ve got three different opponents this week and three games in less than four days, how do you prepare for that?

“This feels like even more of a quick turnaround since we got back from Cleveland very early in the morning on Monday. We are still battling to get to that .500 mark, finishing a 10 game segment 4 and 6, but now we start a new segment and go into Laval looking to get that first two points of the week out of the way. We’ll give the guys Thursday off for some rest and then go back at it for the home games on Saturday and Sunday.

Lassi Thomson got back into the lineup on the weekend, but what’s the update on the injury list?

“Jonathan Aspirot and Mitch Hoelscher are still eight weeks out. Colby Williams was projected at four weeks out, but he went on the ice in a tracksuit this morning and is progressing. Tyrell Goulbourne has been skating with the IR guys this week and is still listed as week-to-week. Rourke Chartier is progressing and is going to make the road trip, take the morning skates, come to the meetings and get back in the routine of being with the team, so he’s getting closer, which is fantastic. Philippe Daoust is making progress with his elbow injury too and is day-to-day. He could play on the weekend, but if not, he’ll play next week.