While the Christmas break is coming to a close, the Utica Comets have not been super active, but they still have been playing games this week. We are back with the Comets Militia report where we look back at all the activity for the AHL affiiliate of the Vancouver Canucks.
Continue past the jump to see how the Comets have performed.
The Utica Comets continue to stand at the top of the league with four points this week, helping the Comets extend their lead. Currently, the Utica Comets are sitting first in the Western Conference with 43 points in 29 games with a record of 19-5-5-0. Utica is three points ahead of Oklahoma City Barons who have played the same amount of games. The Comets maintain a foothold on first in the league at one point ahead of the Manchester Monarchs who have also played one more game than them.
The wins have helped the Comets improve their offensive statistics. Utica has now outscored their opponents 81 to 62 (+19) while out-shooting them 851 to 748 (+103). Their Estimated Fenwick Close still has the Comets sitting at the top of the league with 57.21%.
Their PDO has increased this week thanks to a high shooting percentage and high save percentages in their two games. The Comets are shooting at 9.52%, which is over the league average, while their goalies are stopping pucks at a rate of .917, which is well over league average as well.
The special teams continue to be the biggest area of interest. The powerplay, which ranks 18th in the AHL on the season at 16.1%, went 1 for 10 this week, dropping the Comets four places. This is an area that needs addressing, but thankfully the Comets have a strong penalty kill to make up for it. This week the PK went 10 for 10 and the Comets improved back to 2nd with an 87.5% efficiency.
Friday’s 3-2 OT Win vs. Texas
This week started off with a game that was the complete opposite of last weeks games for the Comets. Utica was facing the Texas Stars (affiliate of the Dallas Stars) and were dominated in the first and were trailing by two. It was not until three minutes into the second period when the Comets finally got on the board. Frank Corrado and Brandon DeFazio were passing the puck back and forth on the right side of the offensive zone when DeFazio saw Dustin Jeffrey open on the left side. He passed the puck cross-ice to Jeffrey who quickly put the puck in the net to bring the Comets within one goal.
Six minutes into the 3rd period, Andrey Pedan entered the offensive zone with Brendan Gaunce and Wacey Hamilton. The three sent back-to-back passes to each other before sending the puck to Gaunce who sent a quick wrister past the Stars’ goaltender Jussi Rynnas to tie the game up at 2-2.
The game stayed tied and went to overtime, where it was quickly won by the Comets. Kane Lafranchise sent the puck up the right wing to Bobby Sanguinetti who sent a seemingly harmless wrister right past Rynnas to win the game. The Comets won the game 3-2 in OT while outshooting the Stars 31-25.
The assists were credited to: Kane Lafranchise, Brandon DeFazio, Frank Corrado, Wacey Hamilton, and Andrey Pedan (his first point as a Comet). Joacim Eriksson was in net making 23 of 25 saves good for .920 on the night. The penalty kill went 5 for 5 while the powerplay went 0 for 2. Sanguinetti, Jeffrey and Eriksson earned the 1st, 2nd and 3rd stars.
Saturday’s 4-1 Win @ Adirondack
The Utica Comets did not even have 24 hours off as they headed off to Adirondack the next day to play the Flames (affiliate of the Calgary Flames). The Comets must have read this column last week as they did not play Eriksson in back-to-back games. Instead, the Comets put Jacob Markstrom back in net for his first game in almost a month. This game was much better than the night before as the entire game was a Canucks’ prospects night.
The Comets got on the board within 2 minutes when Brendan Gaunce broke the puck up at the blue line, carried it down the ice single-handedly and then sent the puck past Joni Ortio to put the Comets up by one. 18 seconds later, the Comets scored again when Henrik Tommernes sent a stretch pass from blue line to blue line where Hunter Shinkaruk carried the puck in the zone. Shinkaruk fired the puck on net and it was stopped by Ortio but Wacey Hamilton was there to put the rebound in the goal.
At the end of the second period, the Flames were able to score their only goal of the game and bring the score to within one. That only lasted 14 minutes however, as Frank Corrado was able to score on the powerplay in the third period after Cal O’Reilly and Nicklas Jensen were passing the puck around the offensive zone. A fourth goal was scored by the Comets when the Flames pulled their goaltender for an extra attacker and Kane Lafranchise helped Alex Friesen break up the Flames offensive attack at the blue line, where Friesen then carried the puck down the left wing and scored in the empty net.
The final score was 4-1 while the Comets outshot the Flames 25-20 as well. Assists were officially credited to: Kane Lafranchise, Henrik Tommernes, Hunter Shinkaruk, Cal O’Reilly (who is now 10th in AHL scoring), and Nicklas Jensen. Frank Corrado lead the team with 4 shots on goal while Jacob Markstrom in net made 19 of 20 saves, good for .950 on the night. The Comets went 1 for 8 on the powerplay while going 5 for 5 on the penalty kill. Carter Bancks and Brendan Gaunce earned the first and second stars on the night.
Note: last night’s (Friday, December 26th) game will be included in next week’s Utica Comets report as it returns to it’s regularly scheduled Friday spot.
With the roster freeze in effect in the NHL there has been no transactions this week.
There are three games on the schedule this week for the Utica Comets. Starting
tonightlast night, the Comets will face the Adirondack Flames (Calgary affiliate) in their 4th matchup of the year in which the Comets have won all 4 matches. Saturday night, Utica will face Lake Erie Monsters (Colorado affiliate) in which the Comets have won the only game between these two clubs this year. The Comets then have five days off until Thursday when they will face the San Antonio Rampage (affiliate of Florida) in which the Comets have dominated that series this year to the tune of 3-0-0-0.
- Coach Travis Green is a mere 2 points away from coaching in the AHL All-Star Game.