Comets Militia Postgame: The End of An Exhaustive Weekend

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Having played two games in the less than 48 hours (beating the Syracuse Crunch on Friday, and then the Binghamton Senators on Saturday), the Comets were in tough right from the jump when they took on the Albany Devils in their Sunday afternoon matinee. But three-game weekends are part of the deal in the AHL, and the Comets are no strangers to it by now.

Unfortunately the travel and exhaustion caught up to the Comets, and they lost to the Devils are by a close 2-1 margin.

Continue past the jump to learn how it all went down.

The Background

The Albany Devils (28-17-3-5) are the AHL Affiliate of the New Jersey Devils. They have no relation to the old Utica Devils which, through a series of moves to Saint John, Omaha and Quad City, ended up becoming the Abbotsford Heat. 

The Devils are currently ranked 5th in the AHL East and are 4th in terms of puck possession within the league. This is the fourth time these two teams have met with Albany winning the previous three matches.

While the Comets have been able to go home every night the team has traveled over 550 miles over the last three days. They visted their neighbours to the West (Syracuse), South (Binghamton) and now East (Albany). 

Grenier, Ferriero and Tommernes were once again out with injuries and no one seems to know how Grenier became injured, not even play by play man Brendan Burke. Cannata started in net and was sporting a 3-0 record with a .946 Sv% in the last three games. He has been playing much better as of late (but that could be more of a small sample size deal than anything else).

Similar to the other two games this weekend plenty of Comets fans were in the stands and cheers for Utica were often heard. Here’s a period-by-period breakdown of how the game went down:

The Rundown

Unlike the fans in the crowd, Sunday’s matinee game was very quiet on the Comets end and there wasn’t much to take away from it. They only managed 4 shots on goal in the entire first period (with the Devils getting 10 of their own), and relief upon Cannata to keep the game scoreless through 20.

Surprisingly the penalties were called fairly evenly in this match – and I say surprisingly, given the unfortunate run they’ve been on lately in that regard! – but it didn’t really wind up making a difference for the Comets. 

The second period continued much of the same as the first period, with the Devils throwing everything they had at Cannata while the Comets struggled to fight back. 3:44 into the second the Devils finally got on the scoreboard when Mike Sislo redirected a shot from Reece Scarlett.

A minute later Joe Cannata earned his first penalty of the year for “throwing the stick” when he tried to slide Corrado’s stick to him. During the ensuing man advantage Reid Boucher managed to put a second goal past him making the score 2-0. 

Jeremy Welsh managed to get the Comets on the board finally with a snipe past Scott Wedgewood, as he continues his nice little recent stretch of production. The score after 40 was 2-1 Devils, with a 19-12 shots on goal advantage in their favour as well.

Their lack of legs due to fatigue really showed in the 3rd period, as the Comets couldn’t even use the Score Effects bump to mount any sort of offense. Three shots on goal in 20 minutes when trailing is pretty unacceptable on most occasions, but given the circumstances, it’s understandable. 

The Conclusion

The final score was 2-1 with shots on goal 28 to 16 for Albany. The only goal for Utica was scored by Welsh and assisted by Corrado and Archibald. Welsh did earn the third star of the game for his goal. The PP went 0 for 6 while the PK went 4 for 5. Cannata made 26 of 28 saves for a .929 Sv% and another Quality Start. He kept the Comets in the game and was by far their best player. He is still sporting a .897 Sv% on the year but has seen his numbers steadily improve over the last couple of weeks.

The Comets still have 51 points which puts them in a three way tie for 12th. They’re still six points out of a playoff spot and right now every point becomes important with just 23 games left on the season. Despite the lacklustre outing v. the Devils in this one, I’d say that they should be pretty pleased with the 4 points they managed to accrue this weekend.

They next play Wednesday night vs San Antonio, which’ll be their first home game in almost two weeks. San Antonio is only three points ahead of them, and the Comets have a game in hand. 

Until next week!