Comets Militia: Down on the Farm – December 12th, 2014

cometsrampage 

Courtesy the Utica Comets Fan Club

Another week gone by for the Utica Comets as the schedule has started to calm down a bit.  With the Christmas break coming up games are not coming quite as frequently as they were.  Having gone from 4 games in a week, the Comets only played two games this week and managed to come up with all 4 points, despite not dominating either of their opponents.

Read past the jump to see how the week went!

The Utica
Comets are back in first place in the league and are clearly ahead of their
second place competition.  The Comets
currently have a record of 15-5-3-0, good for 37 points in 25 games.  They are currently tied in points with second
place Rockford IceHogs (affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks) but because the Comets have played one less game, they have the tiebreaker.  First place in the Eastern Conference, the
Springfield Falcons (affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets) has one less point
than the Comets in one more game played.

Through
these 25 games, the Comets have both a positive goal and shot differential.  The Comets have outscored the competition 70
to 53 (+17) and outshot them 777 to 718 (+59). 
Their estimated fenwick close has the Comets at 56.29%, which is still the best mark in the AHL.

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 10.39.28 PM

The Comets
PDO is still above 101% thanks in part to their strong goaltending they have
been receiving.  With a normal shot
percentage of 9.01% (about league average) and a save percentage of .926, which should be expected to fall slightly.  Given what we know about PDO it would not be
a surprise to see the Comets sustain a higher PDO as Markstrom is considered
elite AHL talent and has held high save percentages for a long time.   

Special
teams are in the normal range for the Comets. 
This week the powerplay went 2 for 7 that saw the Comets jump 6 places
in the efficiency standings up to 14th at 16.67%.  Leading the league in powerplay is Bridgeport
at 27% efficiency.  On the penalty kill
the Comets dropped a ranking to 9th place after having gone 1 for 6
this week, good for 85.42%.

Friday’s
5-4 OT Win @ San Antonio

Friday’s
game to start the week was a wild one with possession meaning nothing,
shooting percentages all over the place and the lead being traded back and
forth.  Ultimately, Utica was lucky to
walk away with two points over the San Antonio Rampage (affiliate of Florida
Panthers) after they were outshot heavily,  gave up a 2 goal lead,
coughed up 2 shorthanded goals, and barely squeaked into OT.

The first
goal of the Comets came from Alex Grenier on the powerplay after a Shane O’Brien
cross-checking penalty.  Cal O’Reilly was
battling for the puck along the boards and was able to get it free to Dustin
Jeffrey who quickly passed to Grenier who was able to bury it past Dan
Ellis. 

The second
period was an onslaught of goals starting with the Comets after Alex Biega took a
slapshot from the point and Ronalds Kenins was able to jam home the rebound.  One minute later, while on the
powerplay, Brett Olsen broke up a Comets pass in the offensive zone and took it
down the ice to score shorthanded bringing the score back to a one goal deficit
at 2-1.  Five minutes
later, Bobby Sanguinetti scored on the powerplay on a slapshot from
the right point.

Then the
dam broke as the Comets saw their 3-1 lead evaporate. Thanks to three quick goals from the Rampage, the Comets were
trailing 3-4 by 8 minutes into the third. 
San Antonio had scored a second short-handed goal, a powerplay goal, and
an even strength goal.  Despite that, Joacim Eriksson stayed in net all night.  With
only three minutes left in the game, the Comets managed to tie it up when Alex
Friesen passed the puck cross-crease to Dustin Jeffrey who put it top shelf for
the equalizer.

In overtime
with the Comets managing to win the possession battle Alex Biega sent the
winning puck past Ellis to give Comets the 5-4 overtime win and the lead in the
AHL once again.  It was not a game they should have
won, but sports don’t always follow the numbers.

Official
assists were credited to Alex Biega, Kane Lafranchise, Alex Friesen, Cal
O’Reilly (3x – top 5 in AHL Scoring), Dustin Jeffrey (3x), and Brandon DeFazio.  Ronalds Kenins and Alex Biega lead the team
with 5 shots each.  Joacim Eriksson made
33 of 37 saves, good for a .891 save percentage on the night.  The powerplay went 2 for 4 while the penalty
kill went 1 for 4.  Dustin Jeffrey and
Alex Biega were named the 1st and 2nd stars respectively.  Ex-Canuck Mark Mancari was in the lineup for
the San Antonio Rampage.

W2JLJ3a

Wednesday’s
3-1 Win vs. Rochester


After a few
days off between games, the Utica Comets returned home to face the Rochester Americans
(affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres).  After
controlling the first period, the Comets were first to get on board when Bobby
Sanguinetti sent a quick wrister past goaltender Andrei Markarov.

No goals
were scored in the second, with the Comets continuing to control
possession.  It was not until two and a
half minutes into the third when Rochester scored their only goal of the game.  Matt Ellis, assisted by ex-Canuck Zac Dalpe,
put a backhander past Joacim Eriksson blocker side to tie up the game.

Less than a
minute later, the Comets regained the lead when Kane Lafranchise scored his
first ever AHL goal when he one-timed a puck that was sent to the slot, from
the corner, after a turn over by forced by Nicklas Jensen.  Four minutes later, the Comets scored again
when Alex Friesen poked the puck to Bobby Sanguinetti, standing mid-ice, who
took a slapshot to secure the last goal of the game.

The final
score was 3-1 for the Comets with shots in Rochester’s favour 27-26.  Assists were officially credited to Kane
Lafranchise, Alex Friesen, Cal O’Reilly, Nicklas Jensen, and Dustin
Jeffrey.  Bobby Sanguinetti lead the team
with 4 shots on goal while Top Sixtito was a +1 with 2 shots.  Joacim Eriksson made 26 for 27 saves and
currently sits at a .923 save percentage on the year. The powerplay went 0 for
3 and the penalty kill went 3 for 3.  The
three stars all went to Utica, and were awarded to Bobby Sanguinetti, Joacim Eriksson and
Kane Lafranchise.

Player
Statistics

Name Pos GP G A PTS +/- PIM PPG SOG SoG/G Sh%
16 Cal O’Reilly C 25 3 21 24 1 6 0.96 35 1.40 8.57%
21 Dustin Jeffrey C 18 6 13 19 5 8 1.06 35 1.94 17.14%
24 Brandon DeFazio RW 24 8 6 14 2 21 0.58 66 2.75 12.12%
6 Bobby Sanguinetti D 22 6 8 14 12 2 0.64 38 1.73 15.79%
28 Alexandre Grenier RW 22 7 6 13 5 37 0.59 53 2.41 13.21%
17 Nicklas Jensen RW 16 6 6 12 2 8 0.75 46 2.88 13.04%
3 Alex Biega D 25 2 8 10 7 12 0.40 52 2.08 3.85%
9 Hunter Shinkaruk LW 25 4 5 9 2 14 0.36 52 2.08 7.69%
15 Ronalds Kenins LW 23 5 4 9 9 19 0.39 37 1.61 13.51%
7 Henrik Tommernes D 18 2 6 8 -4 6 0.44 36 2.00 5.56%
25 Darren Archibald LW 21 3 5 8 2 55 0.38 37 1.76 8.11%
10 Brendan Gaunce LW 25 1 7 8 2 5 0.32 42 1.68 2.38%
41 Will Acton C 13 3 4 7 -2 2 0.54 35 2.69 8.57%
8 Alex Friesen C 11 3 4 7 5 6 0.64 22 2.00 13.64%
36 Wacey Hamilton C 22 2 5 7 2 25 0.32 33 1.50 6.06%
4 Kane Lafranchise D 10 1 4 5 1 0 0.50 11 1.10 9.09%
34 Carter Bancks RW 21 3 1 4 1 16 0.19 30 1.43 10.00%
40 Peter Andersson D 19 2 2 4 8 12 0.21 21 1.11 9.52%
26 Frank Corrado D 12 2 1 3 3 13 0.25 21 1.75 9.52%
37 Andrey Pedan D 13 0 3 3 5 64 0.23 16 1.23 0.00%
2 Travis Ehrhardt D 11 1 2 3 4 10 0.27 10 0.91 10.00%
14 Mike Zalewski LW 14 1 1 2 0 2 0.14 16 1.14 6.25%
27 Tom Sestito LW 1 0 0 0 1 0 0.00 2 2.00 0.00%
11 John Negrin D 10 0 0 0 -2 0 0.00 7 0.70 0.00%
29 Kent Huskins D 8 0 0 0 1 2 0.00 4 0.50 0.00%

Goaltenders

Name GP Min GA SO GAA W L OT SA SVS SAV%
1 Jacob Markstrom 9 543:30:00 16 4 2 7 1 1 254 238 0.937
2 Joe Cannata 1 59:00:00 2 0 2 0 1 0 24 22 0.917
3 Joacim Eriksson 15 914:28:00 34 0 2.23 10 3 2 439 405 0.923

Transactions

  • Patrick
    Kennedy has been returned to Evansville (ECHL)
  • Tom
    Sestito has returned home, to Rome, NY, on a conditioning stint with the Utica
    Comets
  • Nicklas
    Jensen has been re-assigned after playing 8 minutes in the NHL over two weeks
    of being called up.
  • Frank
    Corrado has been returned to the Utica Comets, which will help strengthen their
    defence corps again.  Corrado did not
    play in his nearly 3 weeks with the Vancouver Canucks.
  • Jeremie
    Blain has been returned to Kalamazoo.

Schedule

Utica has
returned home from their long road trip and has two games this week. Toronto
visits Utica on Friday to renew a series which Toronto is currently leading with a record
of 2-0-1-0.  Saturday night on a back to
back, Syracuse travels to town to continue the Galaxy Cup quest.  Utica is winning that series 1-1-0-0 and has
3 points to Syracuse’s 2. 
Hopefully, Utica doesn’t play the same goaltenders in back-to-backs this
weekend.

Other News

  • The Bo
    Horvat / WJC
    decision
    is going to be made soon.
  • If it
    were up to Bo
    Horvat
    he would be staying in the NHL.
  • SSB1963

    While I’m not in a panic about it, I must say I am disappointed by Shinkaruk’s (and to a lesser degree Gaunce’s) complete disappearance from the Comet’s offence. They are young pros an and have lot’s of time to find success at the AHL level, but it would be nice to see a bit more pop in their game.

    • SSB1963

      The safest thing to do with Gillis draft picks is to assume they are likely to bust with the occasional bottom of the roster NHLer mixed in for good measure.

      If by some miracle one of these guys becomes a core player, you’ll feel that much better having lowered your expectations…

  • Jamie, don’t forgot Shinkaruk hardly played at all last year and is still adjusting to the pro game.

    I’ve said this before but I’ll repeat myself: I’d really like to see how Alex Grenier performs in a bottom-six role in the NHL and it would be nice to see him called up next time a forward goes down with an injury.

  • O’Rielly is ripping it up. I wonder how likely he would be to get a call up if there were a top 6 injury, or if he’s just a career minor leaguer with a role to bring up the young guys…

    • O’Rielly doesn’t have an NHL contract, I don’t think – pretty sure he’s just signed with the Utica Comets.

      [edit] Scratch that I was mistaken – mixing him up with Curtis Valk I think. He does have an NHL contract and has certainly earned a call-up with his play this year.

  • I’ve really been impressed with Lafranchise’s play. He’s taking full advantage of the opportunity he’s been given, both Green and Benning said they like how he’s been playing, I think he’s earned some more minutes.
    His points per game is only behind Sanguinetti on the backend, I’d like to see what he can do with more PP time.