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Game Day Build-Up: Senators look to spoil Bears banner raising in 2023-24 season opener

October 14, 2023

Belleville Sens Game Day Build-Up
Oct.14/23 @ Hershey Bears (NHL Affiliate: Washington Capitals)

The Set-Up:

After a long offseason that saw plenty of change, both on the ice and off, the Belleville Senators are finally set to begin the 2023-24 American Hockey League season tonight. They visit the defending Calder Cup Champion Bears, at Giant Center, in Hershey, Pennsylvania. While opening night always carries plenty of pomp and circumstance, the ceremony will be even greater tonight, as the Bears raise their 12th championship banner to the rafters and present their returning players with their championship rings. The Senators will no doubt be looking to spoil the party for the 10,000+ fans in attendance and get the new campaign off and running with a victory.

Previous History:

Tonight’s matchup is the first of two meetings between the Sens and Bears this season, and the 11th in Belleville’s franchise history. Belleville has a pretty good track record in Hershey, skating to a 3-1-0-1 record, with a 4-5-0-1 mark overall. This is the first of two meetings between the

Roster Notes:

Belleville’s roster features 14 returning players from 2022-23, along with 12 newcomers, including veteran forward Garrett Pilon, who will receive his championship ring tonight, after spending five seasons in the Washington/Hershey pipeline. Other new faces include forwards Matthew Highmore, Josh Currie, Boko Imama and Jiri Smejkal, along with blueliners Donovan Sebrango, Ryan MacKinnon, and Nikolas Matinpalo. The Sens roster also boasts a handful of prospects, like 2021 1st round draft pick (10th overall) Tyler Boucher, 2020 2nd round draft pick Tyler Kleven and 2021 2nd rounder Zack Ostapchuk, among others. However, Currie, Boucher, Sebrango and MacKinnon will not be in the lineup tonight. Neither will Philippe Daoust, or Graham McPhee. Mads Sogaard is expected to start in goal and be backed up by Kevin Mandolese.

Who to Watch:

Fans will definitely be watching to see how forward Zack Ostapchuk and defenceman Tyler Kleven fare in their American Hockey League debuts. Ostapchuk 67 points in 55 WHL games last season, while Kleven finished off his collegiate career at the University of North Dakota last season, while also skating in eight NHL games with Ottawa. Additionally, Egor Sokolov and Cole Reinhardt will become the Belleville Sens all-time leaders in games played, skating in their 170th games tonight. They’re currently tied atop the list with former B-Sens defenceman Jordan Murray. Tonight also marks defencemen Jacob Bernard-Docker’s 100th AHL game, all of which have been played with Belleville.

Follow the action:

Today’s game can be watched free on AHL TV heard on the Belleville Sens Entertainment Network. Extended pregame coverage from Giant Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania, begins at 6:45 p.m. (ET) with David Foot.

Ticket info:

Tickets for all Belleville Sens home games through January 20, 2024, are now on sale online via the Belleville Sens Ticket Hub, or by emailing Tickets for the second half of the season will be available for purchase beginning at 10:00 a.m. on Monday November 20, 2023, with information on hours for the Belleville Sens Box Office at the Quinte Sports and Wellness Centre, to be released later.

Fans looking to buy second half tickets can secure those seats now, by purchasing season seat membershipsflex packsgroup experiences or Business Elite memberships. Further information on the Belleville Sens promotional schedule, special events and more, are set to be released in the coming weeks. The full 2023-24 Belleville Senators regular season schedule can be found by clicking here.

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