In a year where Sens prospects Josh Norris, Drake Batherson, Rudolfs Balcers and Logan Brown are all averaging more than a point/game in Belleville, it'd be easy for first year pro Alex Formenton to get lost in the shuffle.
It should be noted that Formenton's final season in London before joining the BSens was interrupted by a knee injury at Team Canada's World Junior Camp in 2018 but he was able to return to the Knights prior to the playoffs. Since joining Belleville this year, there were some questions about how his game would translate at the next level but he has amassed a truly impressive rookie season in the American Hockey League and currently sits third in team scoring with 53 points (27G, 26A) in 61 games.
"They've been helping me a lot off the ice with things like video sessions and are trying to help me expand my game. The skills coaches have done a great job with us on the ice too," Formenton said of working with Troy Mann and his staff. "Overall, I think they've helped a lot of the young guys in our line-up develop and improve this season."
While Formenton waits for his shot in Ottawa, he continues to rely on the lessons he learned as an 18 and 19-year-old who skated in 10 games combined with the Senators where he made his NHL debut in 2017 and appeared in 9 games last season.
"Looking back, those were big games for me," he said. "I think having that experience and being able to learn from guys that have been in the league for a long time has definitely helped me out coming into this season."
Formenton's personal success has been fun to watch this year but he's equally proud of the season that Belleville was putting together before the hiatus with a team that relies on their younger players to fill out big roles. With so many first and second year players filling out the roster in Belleville, Formenton shared that it's made the transition even easier.
"It's a young group so it's pretty common for us to hang around each other away from the rink too," said Formenton. "I think that's helped us gel and develop chemistry and we've seen that translate on the ice."
One of those players is another first year pro in Josh Norris who has also taken the American Hockey League by storm in his rookie season in Belleville. The pair currently sit #1 and #2 at the top of rookie scoring in the AHL at the time of the league's postponement and have enjoyed coming up together.
"He's a hell of a player so it's been a lot of fun. There were a couple of games where we were paired together on the same line and I think we've shown that our style of play can really complement each other's," Formenton said or Norris. "It's pretty cool that we turned pro together at the same time but it'd be even better if we could play together in Ottawa someday."
In a bit of a weird twist, Formenton actually replaced Norris and represented Belleville at the 2020 AHL All-Star Game and unsurprisingly took home the fastest skater event at the annual skills competition.
With Belleville's season currently in limbo like most of the sports world, Formenton credits the team's high-end offence and even keel demeanor for their success in the regular season this year. Their squad was consistently able to rally from multiple goal deficits and seemed to have a knack for closing out games in overtime and the shootout.
"Our games have been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster," said Formenton. "But we've learned to keep our emotions in check and never get too high or low and it's become our mindset that we're never out of any game. We've shown that a few times this season and it's why we have so much confidence in our group."
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