The AHL’s 2023-24 season is almost upon us and there are many storylines to follow with our Belleville Senators! What will a full season with David Bell at the helm look like? Who will be in net for the team? Who will we see get the promotion of a lifetime and play for the Ottawa Senators? What impact will Michael Andlauer have on this team? So many things to follow, so let’s break it all down for you!
Behind the Bench
Let’s start behind the bench, shall we? David Bell, who has been with the Belleville Senators for four seasons, was promoted to interim head coach on February 3, 2023, and helped lead the team to a respectable 14-9-3-3 over the final 29 games. What kind of success could we see from him and the team now that he’s been given the reins for an entire season? Well, according to Belleville Senators’ GM Ryan Bowness, there is a ton of confidence in Bell being able to prepare the players for each game and to pay attention to the little details. What does that actually mean? Well, for starters, it means we should see a team ready to play hard each game and players more clearly understanding their role. Sounds good to me!
The Belleville Senators will be going into this season with a number of goaltenders, including Kevin Mandolese, who recently signed a one-year, two-way contract; Mark Sinclair; Mads Søgaard; and Leevi Merilainen. Now, I’m no math guy, but I’m fairly certain there’s still only one net available, so what should we expect to see here? My expectations are that we should see a tandem of Søgaard and Merilainen in Belleville, which would be a solid 1-2 punch! Many view Søgaard as the goaltender of the future for the Ottawa Senators, so it makes sense to give him the starters’ role. Merilainen, despite playing well since coming over from Europe, could use continued reps in net to continue refining his game before taking the next step. Barring injuries with either the Ottawa Senators or the Belleville Senators, don’t be surprised to see Mandolese as the starter with the Allen Americans of the ECHL. Continued time as the starter in that league will help him grow his game and prepare him to take the reins with the Belleville Senators in the next season or two.
Will this finally be the year we see Egor Sokolov play for the Ottawa Senators? I mean, you’d have to think so since he has become the Belleville Senators’ franchise record holder in a number of categories! I’d also expect to see the likes of Ridly Greig, Angus Crookshank, Jiri Smejkal and Tyler Kleven at least get some sniffs with the Ottawa Senators going into this next season.
Want your voice heard? Join the SenShot team!
Lastly, let’s discuss the impact that Michael Andlauer may have on the Belleville Senators once he’s officially announced as the new owner of the Ottawa Senators. Before he was announced as the winning bid, I was listening to Kenny Walls on TSN1200 describe how amazing he is to the kids on the Hamilton Bulldogs team, of which he also owns. Kenny Walls described how he’d ensure they had everything they needed in order to feel successful on and off the ice, so I’d expect that same mentality to be brought to the facilities in Belleville. This should make all Belleville Senators’ fans incredibly excited!