Presented by Carpenters Union Local 397
It’s an historic night for the Belleville Senators as they play the franchise’s first ever Calder Cup Playoff game, opening the best-of-three North Division First Round in Rochester, against the Americans. The Sens come into the playoffs playing some of their best hockey of the season, finishing the last three months of the campaign with a 25-11-4-0 record, following a difficult start that at times, saw the team struggle to even get above the .500 mark. Belleville also dealt with an astonishing 207 roster transactions over the course of the season, adding one more challenge to overcome, on the way to the playoffs. And while the postseason is brand new for the Belleville Sens, the same certainly can’t be said for Rochester, who are making their 47th trip to the Calder Cup Playoffs. Oddly enough, Rochester wouldn’t have even qualified this year if it wasn’t for Belleville eliminating the Toronto Marlies from contention last weekend. The Amerks, though they just squeaked in, boast a lineup full of skilled prospects, experienced veterans and solid goaltending, with one of the league’s most potent power plays.
The Belleville Sens had an up-and-down season series Rochester this season, posting a 5-2-1-0 record and 3-1-0-0 at Blue Cross Arena. Despite the advantage in the win column, the Sens only outscored the Amerks 32-30 over the course of their eight-game season series. One of the big differences between the two clubs over the course of their season series was on the power play, where Belleville was just 5/27 (18.5%), while the Amerks were 12/46 (26.1%), but did allow the Sens to score three shorthanded goals. While this is their first ever meeting in the Calder Cup Playoffs, Belleville has a lifetime record of 14-9-3-0 vs Rochester and 9-4-0-0 on the road.
Unlike the last few weeks of the season, when the Senators had a consistent lineup, a few roster moves have been made recently and there will be some changes tonight. Among the key subtractions are Viktor Lodin, who is back in Belleville with the flu and Mads Sogaard, who still isn’t ready to return from injury. The good news is that Rourke Chartier will get back in the lineup, in Lodin’s place, after missing six weeks with a broken hand and Kevin Mandolese is back from a lengthy injury layoff, to back up Filip Gustavsson. Along with Lodin and Sogaard, Belleville’s scratched list includes Jack Dougherty, Chris Wilkie, Cedric Pare, Xavier Bernard and Mitch Hoelscher (both returned from ECHL Atlanta), Ridly Greig (who has joined the Sens from the WHL Brandon Wheat Kings), Tyler Boucher (who returns to Belleville following an OHL playoff exit with Ottawa), and Carson Latimer (who also finished his WHL season with the Prince Albert Raiders). The Senators full alignment will be available around 6:30 p.m., once warm-up begins in Rochester.
Who to Watch:
Belleville Captain Logan Shaw has been one of the Senators’ hottest players of late, notching seven points (four goals, three assists) through the final six games of the season. He’ll need to continue to lead by example for the Senators to find success in the series. With the playoffs upon us, naturally there will eyes on the crease as well, where Filip Gustavsson looks to continue his strong play, as he rode a personal four-game winning streak through the end of the season. Gustavsson is 2-1-1 with a 3.75 GAA and .849 SV% against Rochester this season.
Rochester rookies Jack Quinn and JJ Peterka will, naturally, take a lot of the attention tonight. The pair were both in the running for the AHL’s rookie of the year award, which was won by Quinn, who also has 12 points (eight goals, four assists) in eight games against the Senators this season. In the Amerks crease, Aaron Dell had a perfect 3-0-0 record against Belleville in 2021-22, with a 2.27 GAA and .926 SV%. He’ll have to continue that steady play, with fellow netminder Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen currently out due to injury.
Follow the action:
Tonight’s game starts at 7:00 p.m. ET and can be heard on the Belleville Sens Official Broadcast Partner 800 AM CJBQ and TSN 1200 in Ottawa, with David Foot (Broadcast time is 6:50 p.m.). The game can also be streamed live on AHL TV.
Don’t forget to download the Belleville Senators app before game time and follow the Sens social media (@BellevilleSens) for updates.
CAA Arena is back to 100% capacity, with no vaccine mandate in place. Masks may be worn at fans discretion, as well as by some members of the Senators and CAA Arena staff, but are not currently required. Other local and provincial COVID-19 guidelines must still be followed.
Tickets for Belleville Sens playoff home games this season can be bought at the box office, or via Ticketmaster. Season Ticket Membership renewals and Flex Packs are also available with more information available at bellevillesens.com.
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