Utica Comets Pre-Game
At Springfield Thunderbirds
Saturday, February 2nd, 2019
7:05 pm Eastern/4:05 pm Pacific
The AHL’s fourth-ranked team in the North division will roll into Springfield this afternoon as the Utica Comets visit the Atlantic division’s fifth-ranked Thunderbirds, (Florida affiliate) for game number 48 of the season today at 7:05 pm Eastern. The Comets are showing a record of 23-19-3-2 this season, giving them 51 points. The Thunderbirds, for their part, have gone 21-16-6-4, giving them 52 points so far this year.
Springfield is led in scoring by Harry Zolnierczyk with nine goals and 29 helpers, giving him 38 points in 47 games. Paul Thompson sits second with 22 goals and 15 assists to give himself 37 points in 47 games. Dryden Hunt rounds out their top three with 18 goals and 16 assists, good enough for 34 points in 37 games. Sebastian Repo is the club’s leading scorer amongst active rookies with nine goals and six helpers, giving him 15 points in 36 games.
Jonathan Dahlen leads the Comets rookies with 11 goals and 11 assists, giving him 22 points in 43 games this season. Reid Boucher leads the rest of the lineup with 19 goals and 22 helpers to give himself 41 points in 39 games. Tanner Kero sits second with 16 goals and 23 assists, giving him 39 points in 45 games. Zack MacEwen rounds out the Comets top three with 16 goals and 20 helpers, giving him 36 points in 46 games.
The Comets power play could use a new look as they have been dropping in the standings, currently sitting 16th after scoring 40 goals on 214 man-up opportunities, giving them a success rate of 18.7%. Their penalty kill was a little better, but could still improve, sitting 11th in the AHL after giving up 34 goals while down a man 192 times for an 82.3% success rate.
Springfield’s special teams are at opposite ends of the spectrum as their power play sits first overall after scoring 60 goals while up a man 238 times for a 25.2% success rate. Their penalty kill, however, was near the bottom of the league, sitting 28th overall after giving up 47 goals while shorthanded 215 times for a 78.1% success rate. This might be a good game for the Comets power play to break out of their doldrums.
The Comets have gone 5-3-1-1 over their previous 10 games, while the Thunderbirds are showing a record of 4-4-1-1 over that same span. Utica is coming off of that 4-0 loss to Syracuse yesterday, while the T-Birds last played to a 5-2 win over Hartford.
Springfield has gone 7-10-2-2 at home this season, while the Comets road record shows as 11-9-2-2. Again, this might be a game for the Comets to break out of their three-game losing skid.
The Comets have been outscored by a 164-147 margin this season, while Springfield has outscored their competition by a count of 162-152.
Scratched Last Game For Utica
- Richard Bachman: G, out for the season, Achilles’ injury.
- Olli Juolevi: LD, out for the regular season, knee surgery.
- Ashton Sautner: LD, day-to-day, facial fractures.
- Jesse Graham: RD, week-to-week, upper body injury.
- Adam Gaudette: C, day-to-day, illness.
- Jaime Sifers: RD, veteran limit scratch.
- Tanner MacMaster: LW/RW, healthy scratch.
- Cam Darcy: C, healthy scratch.
- Jonah Gadjovich: LW/RW, healthy scratch.
- Colton Saucerman: RD, healthy scratch.
The two clubs have faced off twice this season, once in each team’s building. The Comets hold the advantage, winning both games and outscoring the T-Birds by a 7-3 margin in the process.
The Comets also hold the edge in the special teams work in the first two games. Their power play has gone 2/13, good for a 15.4% success rate, while their penalty kill has gone 10/11, giving them a 90.9% success rate in that category. Springfield, for their part, has a 9.1% success rate on the power play in the series and an 84.6% success rate while down a man to the Comets.
Brendan Gaunce has been the biggest point producer in the series with three points in two games, while Jonathan Dahlen, Darren Archibald, Tanner Kero, Jesse Graham, and Jayce Hawryluk have all put up two points.
Each team has used two goaltenders in the series as Richard Bachman, Thatcher Demko, Michael Hutchinson, and Samuel Montembeault have all seen duty. Bachman and Demko have each gone 1-0 in the series, while Hutchinson and Montembeault have gone 0-1.
All the signs point to this game being one that the Comets can win, let’s see if they can pull out a W and get back into the win column.
The two clubs will get underway at 7:05 pm Eastern/4:05 pm Pacific. Stay tuned for the CanucksArmy post-game report following the game.