0
Photo Credit: Owen Skye | @designedbyowen

CanucksArmy Utica Comets Pre-Game: Game #55, Rochester Americans At Utica Comets

Utica Comets Pre-Game

Game #55

Vs Rochester Americans

Friday, February 22nd, 2019

7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific

It will be yet another battle of the North today in Utica today as the division’s first-ranked Rochester Americans, (Buffalo affiliate) roll into town to take on the third-ranked Comets for game number 55 of the season.

The Amerks are showing a record of 32-16-3-2 coming into today’s action, giving them 69 points on the season. The Comets, for their part, have accumulated 64 points on the back of a 29-19-4-2 record this year.

The Comets power play is the AHL’s ninth-ranked unit after scoring 49 goals on 240 man-up opportunities to give themselves a 20.4% success rate. Their penalty kill sits 12th in the AHL after giving up 39 goals while down a man 214 times for an 81.8% success rate.

The Amerks power play sits sixth overall in the AHL after scoring 42 times on 201 opportunities, giving them a 20.9% success rate. Their penalty kill is the league’s ninth-best after giving up 38 goals while shorthanded 219 times for a success rate of 82.6%.

Victor Olafsson leads all Rochester scorers with 19 goals and 25 assists, giving him 44 points in 50 games. Zach Redmond sits second amongst active players with 20 goals and 21 helpers to give himself 41 points in 42 games this year. Danny O’Regan rounds out their top three with 18 goals and 16 assists, good enough for 34 points in 53 games.

Rasmus Asplund is the Amerks rookie leader with three goals and 15 helpers to give himself 18 points in 53 games. Jonathan Dahlen wears the rookie crown in Utica with 14 goals and 15 assists to give himself 29 points in 50 games.

Reid Boucher is still the big cheese in Utica with 24 goals and 29 helpers, giving him 49 points in 42 games. Tanner Kero sits second with 20 goals and 27 assists to give himself 47 points in 52 games this season. Brendan Gaunce rounds out the top three with Zack MacEwen still up with the Canucks. Gaunce has been great for the Comets this season, putting up 16 goals and 17 assists to give himself 33 points in 38 games.

Both clubs last played against the Cleveland Monsters and both clubs came away with a win. The Amerks took them down by a 4-2 count, while the Comets needed overtime to come away with their 5-4 victory.

The Amerks have gone 6-3-0-1 over their previous 10 contests, while the Comets show a record of 6-2-1-1 over that same span. Rochester has gone 15-6-3-1 on the road this year, while the Comets have a home record of 16-10-1-0.

The Amerks have outscored their competition by a 174-151 margin this season, while the Comets have scored 177 goals and have given up 183.

Comets Roster News

This has been a busy few days in terms of Comets roster news. First, we heard that Guillaume Brisebois was being re-assigned to Utica. The young defender made his NHL debut and got into an additional game as well. I feel like Brisebois showed well in his two games with the big club. He kept his game simple, showed a bit of a physical edge, and skated well. The Comets will be happy to have him back and Brisebois gained valuable experience as far as what he will need to continue to work on to get his game to the next level.

The Canucks also announced this week that they have signed veteran goaltender Michael Leighton to a two-way deal for the remainder of the season. This move gives the team an added safety net if one of Jacob Markstrom, Thatcher Demko, or Marek Mazanec happen to go down with another injury. It probably also means that the Comets will be rolling with a more veteran tandem of Leighton and Mazanec for their upcoming playoff drive. This would allow Ivan Kulbakov to gain some seasoning in the ECHL with the Kalamazoo Wings in a less pressure-packed environment.

In that same release, the team announced that defenceman Ashton Sautner has been summoned to the big club. Sautner missed two months with facial fractures and recently returned to the Comets lineup. The physical defender has played in six games since his return, picking up two points in the process while making life miserable for anyone who dares to challenge his side in the Comets end of the ice. Sautner made his season debut with the Cancuks last night and he played a steady game and brought the physicality that he is becoming known for in Utica.

On the heels of those moves, and with some sort of bug taking down a handful of Comets forwards this week, the Comets announced that forward, Kyle Thomas has been recalled from the Kalamazoo Wings.

Thomas signed an AHL deal with the Comets in the offseason for this very reason. The team was decimated by injuries last year and they were better prepared for such circumstances this year. Fellow KZOO forward Reid Gardiner is already up with the Comets for the same reason. Thomas has been having a good season for the Wings, picking up 15 goals and 23 helpers to give himself 38 points in 41 games.

The Comets weren’t done there, however, as they also announced the signing of forward, Mike Szmatula to a PTO, (professional tryout offer). Szmatula has been plying his trade with the Adirondack Thunder of the ECHL, picking up 24 goals and 15 assists, giving him 39 points in 48 games. The five-foot-nine-inch, 183lbs winger has also suited up in two AHL games for the Stockton heat and was held pointless.

Scratched Last Game For Utica

  1. Richard Bachman: G, out for the season, Achilles’ injury.
  2. Olli Juolevi: LD, Out for the season, knee surgery.
  3. Dylan Blujus: RD, week-to-week, hand injury.
  4. Carter Bancks: F, day-to-day, upper body injury.
  5. Jonah Gadjovich: W, day-to-day, upper body injury.
  6. Jesse Graham: RD, healthy scratch.

Season Series

The two clubs have squared off in seven contests this season with the Amerks holding a four-games-to-three advantage and outscoring the Comets 27-19 in the process.

Rochester’s special teams have also bested the Comets over those seven games. The Amerks power play has gone 9/28, giving them a 32.1% success rate against the Comets this year. Their penalty kill has gone 6/32, giving them an 81.3% success rate against Utica. The Comets power play has operated at 18.8% in the series, while their penalty kill has clicked along at 67.9% against the Amerks this year.

Head-To-Head

Victor Olafsson leads all players with nine points in the series, while Reid Boucher is close behind with eight. Zack MacEwen and CJ Smith, both called up to their parent clubs, have each put up seven points, while Danny O’Regan and Wayne Simpson have each grabbed six.

Rochester has used three netminders in the series, while the Comets have used four.

Scott Wedgewood shows a record of 2-0 with a goals-against average of 0.50 and a save percentage of 0.978%. Jonas Johansson has gone 2-0, posting a 1.93 goals-against average and a 0.938% save percentage, while Adam Wilcox has lost all three games he’s played, putting up a 4.09 goals-against and a 0.868% save percentage along the way.

The Comets have used Ivan Kulbakov, who lost his one game in the shootout, putting up a 1.85 goals-against average and 0.960% save percentage along the way. They have also used Thatcher Demko and Richard Bachman, who went 1-1 and 1-2 respectively. Michael Leighton has also made an appearance, going 1-0 with a 2.01 goals-against average and 0.926% save percentage for his efforts.

The two clubs will get underway in Utica today at 7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific. Stay tuned for the CanucksArmy post-game report following today’s action.