Utica Comets Pre-Game
At Lehigh Valley Phantoms
Saturday, March 2nd, 2019
7:05 pm Eastern/4:05 pm Pacific
The Comets are right back at it today after coming away with a 3-2 overtime win last night over the Hershey Bears. The North Division’s fourth-ranked team will take their record of 30-21-5-2 into Lehigh Valley today to take on the Atlantic Division’s sixth-ranked Phantoms, (Philadelphia affiliate) for game number 59 of the season. The Phantoms’ record of 27-23-3-3 gives them 60 points on the season, while the Comets have 67.
The Comets special teams sit exactly where they were to start yesterday’s game. Their power play is the league’s 10th ranked unit after scoring 51 goals on 254 man-up opportunities, giving them a success rate of 20.1%. Their penalty kill sits 20th overall after giving up 46 goals while shorthanded 233 times for a success rate of 80.3%.
The Phantoms power play sits 13th in the AHL after scoring 42 goals on 215 man-up opportunities, giving them a 19.5% success rate. Their penalty kill is the league’s best. They’ve given up just 28 goals while shorthanded 206 times for an impressive 86.4% success rate.
Reid Boucher picked up another two points yesterday and now has 26 goals and 27 helpers to give himself 53 points in 46 games. Those 26 goals are a new Comets single-season record. Tanner Kero sits second with 21 goals and 27 assists, giving him 48 points in 53 games. Zack MacEwen rounds out their top three with 18 goals and 27 assists, giving him 45 points in 51 games.
Lukas Jasek is the Comets rookie points leader with eight goals and 12 helpers to give himself 20 points in 45 games. Connor Bunnaman wears the rookie scoring crown for the Phantoms with 14 goals and nine assists to give himself 23 points in 42 games.
Greg Carrey is the top dog in Lehigh Valley with 23 goals and 26 assists to give himself 49 points in 54 games. Chris Conner sits second with 12 goals and 25 assists, giving him 37 points in 52 games, while TJ Brennan rounds out their top three with eight goals and 29 assists, giving him 37 points in 47 games.
Utica has a record of 6-2-2-0 over their last 10 games, while the Phantoms have gone 2-7-0-1 over that same span. The Comets last played to a 3-2 overtime win over Hershey, while the Phantoms are coming off of a 4-0 loss to Syracuse. Lehigh Valley shows a home record of 15-11-0-1, while the Comets have gone 134-10-3-2 on the road this season.
The Comets are still on the wrong side of their goal differential as they have given up 196 goals while scoring 185 times. The Phantoms, for their part, have kept things tighter having outscored their competition by a 178-176 margin.
Zack MacEwen has picked up nine points over his last four games with the Comets. That seems pretty good.
Scratched Last Game For The Comets
- Richard Bachman: G, Achilles’ injury, out for the season.
- Olli Juolevi: LD, knee surgery, out for the season.
- Dylan Blujus: RD, hand injury, week-to-week.
- Tanner Kero: C, lower-body injury, day-to-day.
- Wacey Hamilton: F, injured, day-to-day.
- Colton Saucerman: RD, healthy scratch.
- Brandon Anselmini: LD, healthy scratch.
- Kyle Thomas: F, healthy scratch.
- Reid Gardiner: F, healthy scratch
Comets Roster Moves
Forward, Mike Szmatula has been released from his PTO, (professional tryout offer) with the club. Szmatula played two games with the team and was held pointless. His release likely means that one or both of Tanner Kero and Wacey Hamilton could be ready to go today.
The two clubs have squared off once this season with the Comets coming away with a 5-2 victory in Utica.
Series Special Teams
We didn’t see a whole lot of special teams work the last time these two teams played each other. In fact, we only saw four power plays in the game between the two clubs. The Comets went 0/1 with the man advantage while killing all three penalties that they took.
Tom Pyatt, Tanner Kero, Zack MacEwen, and Brendan Woods have each put up two points in the one-game series for the Comets, while Justin Bailey, Philippe Myers, Connor Bunnaman, and Chris Conner have each grabbed one point for the Phantoms.
The last time these two clubs faced off, we saw a battle of the two oldest netminders in the league as Michael Leighton wore the big pads for Utica and Mike McKenna suited up for the Phantoms. Leighton finished the game with a 2.00 goals-against average and a save percentage of 0.926%. McKenna, for his part, finished with a 5.00 goals-against and a 0.848% save percentage.
The action will get underway today in Allentown at 7:05 pm Eastern/4:05 pm Pacific. Stay tuned for the CanucksArmy post-game report following today’s contest.