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Game Day Build-Up: Senators begin week with visit to struggling Rocket in Laval

December 6, 2023

Belleville Sens Game Day Build-Up
Dec.6/23 @ Laval Rocket (NHL Affiliate: Montreal Canadiens)                    

The Set-Up:

A quarter of the American Hockey League season has already gone by and as the march to the holiday break begins, the Belleville Senators (8-8-1-2) find themselves in the fight for position in the always tightly contested North Division. With points in four of five games and coming off a win over their division rivals from Rochester on Wednesday, the Sens enter tonight’s contest in Laval against the Rocket (5-11-3-1) sitting in 5th place in the North, one point back of Toronto and eight back of Cleveland at the top. And with their opponents, tonight riding a seven-game losing streak and returning home from a six-game road trip, Belleville will look to continue to wear down the Rocket as they continue to solidify their identity and their place in the standings.

Previous History:

Tonight’s meeting is the third of 12 between Belleville and Laval this season. The Sens are 1-1-0-0 against the Rocket this season and looking to get some payback from their last meeting, when Laval came back from a four-goal Belleville lead, to win 6-4 on November 15, 2023. That result evened the Sens’ lifetime record in Laval to 17-17-1-0, with their overall record against the Rocket sitting at 39-28-1-2.

Roster Notes:

Matthew Highmore is the marquee addition to return from the National Hockey League, as the Ottawa Senators reassigned him back to Belleville this week. The 27-year-old slots back into the lineup after playing six NHL games, including both in Europe as part of the NHL Global Series, registering one assist. Before his recall, Highmore had collected seven points (two goals, five assists) in nine games with Belleville. There’s some good news on the injury front as well, as Tarun Fizer returns from an 11-game absence and Cole Reinhardt is back after five games off. Due to those additions, and the return of Highmore, the Senators released forward Orrin Centazzo from his professional tryout this week. Defenceman Donovan Sebrango was recently removed from the injured list and reassigned by the Senators to the Allen Americans (ECHL).

Who to Watch:

Sens forward Garrett Pilon has been making a consistent impact on the offence over the past three games, registering four points (two goals, two assists) over that span. Pilon had an assist in Belleville’s last game on the weekend against Rochester. Roby Jarventie continues to impress since returning from the NHL, notching a point in all three games since his return (two goals, two assists) and riding a five-game point streak (three goals, three assists) that stretches back to before his NHL recall. Matthew Highmore will likely draw some attention tonight, as he returns from the Ottawa Senators as well.

Hulking power forward Arber Xhekaj is set to make his American Hockey League debut for the Rocket tonight. The 22-year-old from Hamilton, Ontario made headlines last season after signing with Montreal as an undrafted free agent and playing in 51 games, while adding 13 points (five goals, three assists) in his rookie NHL season. Xhekaj has played all this season so far in Montreal as well, putting up three points (one goal, two assists) in 17 games.

Follow the action:

Tonight’s game starts at 7:00 p.m. (ET) and can be seen on AHL TV and heard on the Belleville Sens Entertainment Network. Pregame coverage from Place Bell, in Laval, Quebec, begins at 6:50 p.m. (ET) with David.

Ticket info:

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

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

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