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Game Day Build-Up: B-Sens closing in on playoff berth with division-leading Crunch in town

April 17, 2024

Belleville Sens Game Day Build-Up
Apr.17/24 vs Syracuse Crunch (NHL Affiliate: Tampa Bay Lightning)           

The Set-Up/Playoff Picture:

As the Belleville Senators enter game 70 of 72, their sights are locked on a second-ever berth in the Calder Cup Playoffs, though there’s work to do. The B-Sens welcome the division-leading Syracuse Crunch to CAA Arena tonight, looking to extend their two-point lead on that final playoff position over the Laval Rocket, with a chance to clinch on Friday when Laval comes to town. Belleville has won five of their last six games, with a 4-1-0-0 record in April, and are returning from a three-game road trip top Rochester and Toronto, where they earned four-of-six points. The Crunch, meanwhile, are leading the division by just one point on Rochester, two points on Laval, and three points on Cleveland, and have a “magic number” of five to nail down the North Division title. The full playoff picture can be found via the American Hockey League’s Playoff Primer.

Previous History:

Belleville has controlled the season series with the Crunch, skating to a record of 6-1-0-0. In their last meeting, back on April 6, the B-Sens picked up a 5-2 win, to improve their record against Syracuse at CAA Arena this season to 3-0-0-0. Lifetime against the Crunch, Belleville is 19-16-2-2, and 12-6-0-0 on home ice.

Roster Notes:

With the Ottawa Senators National Hockey League season over, there have been some additions to the Belleville lineup. Forward Matt Highmore was returned to the AHL last weekend and is expected to play for Belleville tonight for the first time since March 2 against Rochester. Forwards Zack Ostapchuk and Jiri Smejkal could be back from Ottawa in time for puck drop tonight as well after both played for the NHL Sens in Boston last night. Ottawa also reassigned defenseman Tomas Hamara to Belleville from the Ontario Hockey League’s Brantford Bulldogs. The 20-year-old from Prague, Czechia was selected by Ottawa in the third round (87th overall) of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, but likely won’t dress against Syracuse tonight. Captain Dillon Heatherington and fellow defender Max Guenette remain on the injured list from the weekend, while defenseman Jacob Larsson will be a game-time decision, after missing last Saturday’s game in Rochester. Forwards Tyler Boucher, Philippe Daoust and Roby Jarventie round out Belleville’s injuries. Full lineup details, including tonight’s alignment, will be available before puck drop via the B-Sens social media channels (@BellevilleSens).

Who to Watch:

Forward Matt Highmore is expected to return to the Belleville lineup for the first time since March 2, 2024. The 28-year-old from Halifax, Nova Scotia was on a three-game point streak for the B-Sens (one goal, three assists) before being called up to the National Hockey League, where he got injured playing for Ottawa. In 40 games for Belleville this season, Highmore has picked up 29 points (nine goals, 20 assists), while recording two assists over seven NHL games this season. Fans will also likely be keeping an eye on rookie forward Stephen Halliday, who has assists in five straight games, since joining the club from Ohio State University.

Crunch forward Cole Koepke has been a constant threat this season, especially against Belleville. The 25-year-old from Hermantown, Minnesota, who was selected by Tampa Bay in the sixth round of the National Hockey League Entry Draft in 2018, has registered six points (four goals, two assists) in six games against the B-Sens this season. He’s collected 39 points (20 goals, 19 assists) in 53 games for the Crunch this season, while also picking up two assists over nine games with the Crunch’s NHL parent club, the Tampa Bay Lightning.

At the rink:

Tonight is the final Winning Wednesday of the season at CAA Arena. Gates will open at 6:00 p.m. with fans being able to take advantage of Happy Hour food and drink specials, including $2 hot dogs and $5 tall boys. Our “Fan of the Game” will also win a pair of tickets to see Stars on Ice at the Canadian Tire Centre, in Kanata, ON, on April 28. The Locker Room Store is also offering a 25% discount on all Belleville Sens T-shirts tonight and during Friday’s game against Laval.

Ticket info:

Tickets for tonight’s game and all Belleville Sens home games for the remainder of the 2023-24 season are now on sale online, via Ticketmaster, by visiting the Belleville Sens Box Office at the Quinte Sports & Wellness Centre, or by emailing Box Office hours are available by clicking here.

Fans can also click the following links for more information on season seat membershipsflex packsgroup experiences or Business Elite memberships, or send an email to

Follow the action:

Tonight’s game starts at 7:00 p.m. (ET) and can be seen on AHL TV, or heard free on the Belleville Sens Entertainment Network, with pregame coverage on both platforms beginning with David Foot and Brock Ormond, at 6:50 p.m. (ET), from the CAA Arena in Belleville, Ontario.

The full 2023-24 Belleville Senators regular season schedule can be found by clicking here.

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