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Photo Credit: Owen Skye | @designedbyowen

CanucksArmy Utica Comets Pre-Game: Game #64, Springfield Thunderbirds At Utica Comets

Utica Comets Pre-Game

Game #64

Vs Springfield Thunderbirds

Friday, March 15th, 2019

7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific

Pre-Game

The Atlantic Division’s seventh-ranked Springfield Thunderbirds, (Florida affiliate) will roll into Utica today to take on the North Division’s fifth-ranked Comets for game number 64 of the season. The TBirds are showing a record of 26-25-7-5, giving them 64 points on the season. The Comets, for their part, have gone 30-26-5-2 this year, giving them 67 points for their efforts.

The Springfield special teams are at opposite ends of the spectrum as they lead the league on the man advantage, sitting first overall after scoring 74 goals while up a man 295 times for a success rate of 25.1%. Their penalty kill, however, sits 25th after giving up 57 goals while shorthanded 275 times for a 79.3% success rate.

The Comets special teams just keep dropping as their power play is now sitting 15th in the league after scoring 52 goals on 276 man-up opportunities, giving them a success rate of 18.8%. Their penalty kill is sitting 24th overall after giving up 51 goals while down a man 254 times for a success rate of 79.9%.

Paul Thompson leads all TBirds scorers with 25 goals and 25 helpers to give himself 50 points in 63 games this year. Harry Zolnierczyk sits second with 13 goals and 34 assists, giving him 47 points in 61 games. Anthony Greco rounds out their top three with 22 goals and 22 assists to give himself 44 points in 62 games.

Vincent Praplan is the rookie leader in Springfield with five goals and 15 assists, giving him 20 points in 34 games, while Lukas Jasek is the big cheese amongst Comets rookies with eight goals and 13 assists to give himself 21 points in 50 games.

The injured Reid Boucher leads all Comets scorers with 27 goals and 28 helpers, giving him 55 points in 48 games. Tanner Kero sits second with 21 goals and 28 assists to give himself 49 points in 57 games. Zack MacEwen rounds out the Comets top three with 20 goals and 27 assists, giving him 47 points in 56 games this season.

The TBirds have gone 5-3-1-1 over their previous 10 games, while the Comets are showing a record of 2-7-1-0 over that same span…yikes!

Both clubs are coming off of losses as the Comes last played to a 3-0 shutout at the hands of Rochester, while Springfield was most recently defeated 5-3 by Hershey.

The Comets have a home record of 17-12-2-0 this year, while the TBirds show a road record of 10-15-2-3. Both teams have been outscored by their competition this year, but Springfield has had a better grip on their goal differential as they have given up 205 goals while scoring 204. The Comets, however, have scored just 192 times this season, while giving up 216 markers.

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. Evan McEneny: LD. Out for the season, lower-body injury.
  4. Reid Boucher: W. Week-to-week, hand injury.
  5. Wacey Hamilton: F. Week-to-week, neck injury.
  6. Tom Pyatt: W. Week-to-week, concussion.
  7. Dylan Blujus: RD. Week-to-week, hand injury.
  8. Colton Saucerman: RD. Healthy scratch.

Season Series

The two clubs have faced off in three games so far this season with the Comets winning all three and outscoring Springfield by an 11-6 margin in the process.

Special Teams

The Comets special teams have been the better of the two clubs in this series as well. Utica has gone 5/17 with the man advantage to give themselves a success rate of 29.4%, while their penalty kill allowed three goals while down a man 16 times over the first three games, giving them a success rate of 81.3%. Springfield’s power play has clicked along at 18.8% in the season series, while their penalty kill shows a 70.6% success rate.

Head-to-Head

Tanner Kero and Brendan Gaunce have each put up four points in the series, while Sebastian Repo and former Comets forward Jonathan Dahlen each grabbed three. Jesse Graham, Evan McEneny, Luke Schenn, and former Comets forward Darren Archibald have each picked up two points in the three games, as has Jayce Haweryluk.

Goaltenders

Both clubs have used three netminders in the series. Chris Driedger, (0-1, 1.09 goals-against average, 0.958% save percentage) Michael Hutchinson, (0-1, 2.03 GAA, 0.931% save percentage) and Samuel Montembeault, (0-1, 7.59 GAA, 0.771% save percentage) have all suited up for Springfield.

Richard Bachman, (1-0, 0.00 goals-against average, 1.00% save percentage) Thatcher Demko, (1-0, 2.59 GAA, 0.917% save percentage) and Michael Leighton, (1-0, 3.00 GAA, 0.930% save percentage) have all played for the Comets.

Roster News

The parent Canucks did the right thing and papered Ashton Sautner to Utica at the trade deadline in order to make sure that he would be eligible to play for the Comets down the stretch and into the playoffs if they get there. Unfortunately for the Comets, Sautner played in his 10th game of the season this week, ensuring that he would now need to clear waivers to get back to Utica.

My guess is that we have seen the last of Sautner in Utica for this season, and possibly for good as the young defender has shown well enough that it’s possible for him to earn a job out of camp with the Canucks next season.

The news didn’t stop there from the big club as they also announced the signing of college free agent defenceman Josh Teves.

The left-shooting defender could very well find himself suiting up for the Comets next season, but he will spend the remainder of this one with the Canucks. Teves was at the Canucks development camp as an invitee this past offseason and it appears that he made a positive impression with the team.

In the Comets last game against Rochester, Jonah Gadjovich was crushed into the boards with a hit to the numbers and ended up leaving the game. Gadjovich will not be available for this weekend, so the Comets went PTO, (professional tryout offer) shopping.

The team has signed winger/pivot Dyson Stevenson to a PTO. The 25-year-old product of Shaunavon Saskatchewan, (same home town as Kole Lind) was with the Comets on a PTO during training camp this year. He stands six-feet tall and tips the scales at 185lbs according to Elite Prospects. Stevenson is currently in his fifth pro season, having spent the bulk of those games in the ECHL split between the Gwinnett Gladiators, Allen Americans, and most recently the Wichita Thunder.

In the ECHL, he has picked up 52 goals and 78 helpers to give himself 130 points over 279 games. He has 11 goals and 18 assists to give himself 29 points in 39 games for Wichita this season. He has also picked up 102 minutes spent in the box this season, so I’m guessing he will be a feisty one. Stevenson has played in six AHL games split between Portland and Bridgeport, going pointless for his efforts. Stevenson has been wearing the “C” in Wichita since last season as well.

The team wasn’t done there as just this morning, they announced the signing of forward Seamus Malone to an ATO, (amateur tryout offer). Malone is fresh off of a 143 game NCAA career with the University of Wisconsin where he put up 33 goals and 71 helpers to give himself 104 points. This season, the five-foot-10 inch, 181lbs pivot has picked up eight goals and 18 assists, giving him 26 points in 37 games to go along with his 58 minutes spent in the box.

Malone has worn an “A” on his jersey for the last two seasons with the Badgers, so leadership would be one of the qualities that he can bring to the table. This signing can be looked upon in a similar way to Tanner MacMaster’s last season with the club. The team can get a “free look” at him for the rest of the way this year and if they like what they see, they might bring him back next year on an AHL deal.

I wanted to know a little bit more info on Malone, so I reached out to Cam Robinson, @Hockey_Robinson to ask if he had any viewings of him while watching NCAA action and I was told that Malone played in the top-six for Wisconsin and handled duty on both special teams as well. Robinson wasn’t sure about the NHL upside of Malone but did say that he was usually doing good things for the team when he was watching.

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