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Game Day Build-Up: Senators start the week by clashing with the Comets in Utica

January 17, 2024

Belleville Sens Game Day Build-Up
Jan.17/24 @ Utica Comets (NHL Affiliate: New Jersey Devils)

The Set-Up:

After another week that saw them pick up a pair of victories, stretching their run to eight wins in nine games, the Belleville Senators (18-12-2-2) begin a week full of divisional matchups with a trip to Utica tonight, to take on the Comets (13-13-4-3). The Senators’ most recent victory was a resounding 6-2 win over their provincial rivals from Toronto, which saw Jiri Smejkal score twice, with more offensive help from Egor Sokolov, Kyle Betts, Josh Currie and Jacob Larsson. Leevi Merilainen was excellent in his return from the ECHL, making 27 saves on 29 shots. Tonight, the third-place Sens take on a Comets team that has been dwelling around the basement of the North Division for most of the season but has earned points in seven straight games, putting them seven points back of Belleville in the standings.

Previous History:

This is the second of eight meetings this season between Belleville and Utica, and their only matchup of January, before they meet four times next month. In their last visit to Adirondack Bank Center, the Senators came-from-behind to earn a 6-3 win on November 29, 2023. That victory improved Belleville’s all-time record against the Comets to 16-12-3-0, with a 7-6-2-0 mark on the road in Utica.

Roster Notes:

The Senators have only made one transaction since their last game, with Tarun Fizer being recalled from his loan to the Allen Americans in the ECHL. Belleville will be without forwards Phil Daoust and Roby Jarventie, who are still out injured. Full lineup information, including tonight’s alignment, will be available before the puck drop.

Who to Watch:

Senators defenceman Lassi Thomson will become the Belleville Sens all-time leader in games played by a defenceman tonight, dressing in his 170th game for the Club and passing Jordan Murray for that milestone. The 23-year-old from Finland is also just two points back of Murray on Belleville’s all-time defensive points list. Meanwhile, forward Egor Sokolov had his most productive game of the season last weekend against Toronto, notching a goal and two assists. He has five goals in his last six games and 11 points in his last nine games.

Comets forwards Ryan Schmelzer (two goals, five assists) and Graeme Clarke (two goals four assists) has been their most consistent producers offensively of late, while Justin Dowling has been the hottest hand in terms of goal-scoring for Utica, with five goals and one assist, over a four-game point streak. Dowling has scored in four straight games for the Comets, with he and Clarke both finding the net against Belleville in their last meeting.

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.

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 and heard on the Belleville Sens Entertainment Network. Pregame coverage from Adirondack Bank Center in Utica, New York, begins at 6:50 p.m. (ET) with David Foot.

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

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