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The Ottawa Senators Rookie Tournament started on the right foot as the Sens defeated the New Jersey Devils 5-2 in game 1. While these games should be taken with a grain of salt, it was exciting to see standout performances from some of the Sens’s top prospects. Game two of the tournament is scheduled for Saturday at 12:00 P.M. against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Sens will look to improve to 2-0.
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First Period Scoring Breakdown
The Sens were guilty of some sloppy play to start the first period of this game. There were far too many high-danger chances on Leevi Merilainen, who held the fort early for the team. He made several outstanding saves, including a pair of 2 on 1 stops and a breakaway stop. Of course, you don’t want to see this many high-danger chances against in a period. Still, given it’s the first game of the year and many of these players have never played with each other, I am not very concerned.
The first period would end 1-0 for the Devils, who felt like they were outplaying the Senators up to that point. However, some good individual chances were created by the Senators, including a breakaway from Jorian Donovan that was stopped with just over 5 minutes remaining.
Second Period Scoring Breakdown
The second period was where the Senators players seemed to find their stride. The team had clearly made some adjustments and was able to find holes in the New Jersey defense. The scoring started early, with camp invitee Tarun Fizer scoring a power play goal. Fizer received the puck on the half wall before walking it into the circle and ripping a howitzer short side high. The assist came from Tomas Hamara (3rd Round 2022 Pick), who made an excellent play at the point to create some space for Fizer.
The scoring would continue in short order for the Sens, with Ridly Greig getting on the board just 2 minutes later. Greig could redirect a shot in tight to beat the Devils goaltender, making it a 2-1 game. Roby Jarventie (2nd Round 2020 Pick) made an excellent play on the half wall to find Jorian Donovan with space along the blue line. Jorian Donovan (5th Round 2022 Pick) made a quick, crisp pass to Tarun Fizer, who directed a shot on the net. Ridly, Greig slightly redirected the shot, finishing an excellent play by the Sens rookies.
Ridly, Greig wasn’t finished with just one goal in the period, however, as he would find the net during a 5 on 3 power play for the Sens. The play began with Tyler Kleven (2nd Round 2020 Pick) moving the puck over to Roby Jarventie along the blue line. Jarventie then moved the puck to Greig, who was in the center of the right-side circle. Greig took a touch on the puck before sending a sneaky low snap shot towards the net. The puck bounced around in the crease before ultimately crossing the line.
With the second period ending, the Senators could bury one more goal off the stick of Tarun Fizer for his second. The line of Jarventie, Greig, and Fizer clicked all game long as the trio connected again on the goal. The play began behind the net with Greig moving the puck along the boards to Jarventie, who already had eyes for Fizer. Jarventie fired a one-touch pass between two Devils defenders to find Fizer in the slot. He made no mistake firing the puck high-glove side, giving the Senators a 4-1 lead going into the third.
Third Period Scoring Breakdown
The third period was much less eventful than the second, with the Sens cruising their way to a win. The lone goal came with about 7 and a half minutes remaining off the stick of Roby Jarventie. The breakaway chance began after an excellent block from the point by Cole Burbidge, another undrafted camp invitee. The puck bounced to James Stefan, who made a slick pass to send Roby in all alone. Jarventie made no mistake burying the puck 5-hole, extending the lead to 5-1.
The Devils would add a goal late, making the final score 5-2 Ottawa, who began the tournament 1-0.
3 Stars Of The Ottawa Senators Rookie Tournament Game One
While the whole team played quite an impressive game, a handful of players stood out for me.
1st Star Tarun Fizer 2G, 1A
The most surprising player of the game, in my eyes, had to be Tarun Fizer. Fizer was put onto a line with the two most experienced pro forwards for the Sens in this tournament, and he did not look out of place. Instantly, you notice that he had 2G and an assist, which, 99% of the time, a player performed very well. But even more impressive was that he made several excellent plays that didn’t end up in the back of the net.
Fizer could have easily had a 4 or 5-point night if a few more bounces went the Sens’s way. He is my choice for the game’s first star, and he made an incredible first impression on the Senators management.
2nd Star Ridly Greig 2G, 1A
To nobody’s surprise, Ridly Greig proved that he is on a different level than the competition in this tournament. Greig looked like a man playing against boys in this game. He showed his skill several times and had no trouble finding his way to the scoresheet. The one thing that slightly concerned me was that he was still pushed around from time to time by some of the more prominent Devils players. The NHL will be much more physical than this tournament. Hopefully, Greig can hold his own against more prominent, stronger players.
3rd Star Roby Jarventie 1G, 2A
Completing the first-line trio is Roby Jarventie, who showed that he clearly has pro-level skill. Some fans were concerned with Jarventie’s work ethic in the game, saying he seemed disengaged at moments. While this concern may be valid, he still showed up in a big way for the team. He showed his vision this game, especially on his wicked pass for Fizer’s second goal, which was not something we usually see from Jarventie. Overall, I was happy with Roby’s performance. I look forward to seeing what he can do in the upcoming games.
Goaltender Leevi Merilainen played a great first game. He made numerous high-danger saves and kept the Senators in the game early.
Defenceman Tomas Hamara showed off his excellent skating ability. He had many good zone entries this game and moved the puck well.
Centre Zack Ostapchuk created some high-danger chances for the Sens in this game. Unfortunately, he couldn’t find the stats sheet, but showed some high-level skill that could have easily led to points. Ostapchuk’s skating was impressive in this game, with high-end speed and a smooth stride.
Defenceman Tyler Kleven was a rock on the blue line for the Senators. He was not too involved offensively but played a very steady, physical, shut-down game for the Sens. He still transitioned pucks effectively.
Defenceman Jorian Donovan showed some skill and bite this game for the Sens. He made several good plays to set up scoring opportunities. He was not afraid to mix it up.
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