Kelly, Labate, Bringing Different Dimension to Sens Lineup
The partnership of Parker Kelly and Joseph LaBate has become a well-oiled machine for the Belleville Senators.
The two forwards can be seen paired together night in, night out, on the Sens' fourth line and the chemistry between the veteran and rookie is fully flowing.
"It's a lot of fun," LaBate said of playing with Kelly. "He's come a long way. He's a great player and does the right things. The important thing for a rookie is wanting to learn and I think he's like a sponge.
"He's always trying to get better and always trying to learn and we've developed some pretty good chemistry together."
LaBate has already surpassed his points total from last season, despite missing 14 games through injury. He has six goals and 15 points while Kelly also has six goals to go along with four assists in 37 games. Five of those points came during a five-game point streak that was snapped Tuesday night Milwaukee.
"I like to look at him as someone who took me under his wing and kind of showed me the way," Kelly said. "I think he does things the right way so I've tried to follow him as much as I can and soak up all the information he's giving me."
Kelly's role has changed in Belleville. After helping lead Prince Albert to the Memorial Cup last year as a point-per-gamer, he's had to settle in as more of a fourth line grinder for the Sens.
And that's a role he's more than happy to fill.
"I know I have a different role here than I had in junior," Kelly said. "It's not my job to score all the goals and be out there 24/7. Whatever my role is here, I'm going to do it and have fun doing it while I am."
For Sens head coach Troy Mann, the impact Kelly and LaBate have had on the success of the team can't be understated. Yes, the pair of have combined for 25 points, and more recently have been playing without a natural center since the departure of Cole Cassels, but it's the different style they bring to the lineup that is making the biggest difference in Mann's mind.
"You always want to have a fourth line that has some identity to it," Mann said. "Now it's just a matter of finding another player for them. They read off each other very well. They're good on the forecheck and give our lineup a bit of a different dimension from the Brown or the Norris line where that's a little more of a skill line.
"I think you need that variation in your lineup and I think those two guys provide that."
And if the pair continue to lean on each another, then the success is going to continue to happen.
"Playing with him all year has been good for him and good for me too," LaBate said.
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