Last year the Belleville Senators' carried up to four goaltenders at one time. In total, five goalies suited up in the black, red and white.
The constant turnover meant that Belleville struggled to keep the puck out of their net. The club allowed 266 goals against, for an average of 3.5 goals against per game, which was second highest in the American Hockey League. Only 401 rival the Laval Rocket allowed more with 281 total and 3.70 per game.
This year, some relief may be on the way, as American Hockey League veteran goaltender Mike McKenna has found his way to Belleville. Many observers have praised McKenna and predicted he will gel extremely well with the Senators team.
''The addition of Mike McKenna in net should be a significant one for Belleville," said NHL.com AHL correspondent Patrick Williams, ''Along with his strong work in net, he will also allow their two young goaltending prospects the sort of breathing room that is necessary as they continue their development. McKenna is a proven mentor wherever he has been, and he will be a good listening board for the two youngsters.’’
Ottawa Senators' general manager Pierre Dorion spoke highly of McKenna's ability to mentor Belleville goaltenders, Gustavsson (20) and Hogberg (24). "Mike embraced this," he said, speaking of the mentoring role, shortly after the St.Louis Missouri native agreed to terms on July 1st signing a two-way pact, rejoining the Senators' organization for the second time in his career, having played for the Binghamton Senators in 2011-2012.
The 35-year-old, is no stranger to the American Hockey League and professional hockey. In 461 American Hockey League games, over 13-years, the netminder compiled a 2.70 GAA and 0.913 save percentage. McKenna has played for 10 American Hockey League organizations: Texas, Syracuse, Springfield, Portland, Peoria, Binghamton, Lowell/Albany, Norfolk, Milwaukee, and Omaha. He also backstopped 24 career NHL games for Tampa Bay, New Jersey, Columbus, Arizona, and Dallas.
A consummate pro, the veteran goaltender took home the 2017-18 President’s Award in the category of player excellence, which is awarded for overall excellence in individual or team play.
The winningest U.S.-born goaltender in American Hockey League history, McKenna ranks 10th all-time in wins (223) and is tied for ninth in shutouts (27). He is a proven winner, who led his two previous teams, Syracuse (2016) and Texas (2017) to the Calder Cup finals, Belleville hockey fans are hoping his winning ways will continue.