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Photo Credit: Owen Skye | @designedbyowen

CanucksArmy Utica Comets Pre-Game: Game #66, Utica Conmets At Belleville Senators

Utica Comets Pre-Game

Game #66

At Belleville Senators

Wednesday, March 20th, 2019

7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific

Pre-Game

Do you know the saying, this one is for all the marbles? Well, folks…this game isn’t for ALL of the marbles, but it is certainly for a good portion of them.

It will be another battle of the North as the division’s sixth-ranked Comets hit the road to Belleville to take on the division’s fourth-ranked Senators. The Comets are showing a record of 30-27-6-2 coming into today’s action, giving them 68 points on the season. The Sens, for their part, have gone 32-25-3-5 this year, giving them 72 points.

Only the top four teams in each division make the playoffs each season in the AHL and those playoff spots are decided by winning percentage, rather than points totals. This is because the teams in the East play more games than the teams in the west.

Belleville’s winning percentage currently sits at 0.554% after 65 games. Cleveland, who currently sit in fifth place in the North Division has a winning percentage of 0.531% after 64 games, and the Comets winning percentage is at 0.523% after 65 games. This is a big game for the Comets if they want to get back into the playoff race.

The Comets special teams are still a work in progress as they are not where the team would like them to be. The Utica power play is sitting 15th in the AHL after scoring 53 goals on 281 man-up opportunities, giving them a success rate of 18.9%. Their penalty kill sits 22nd after giving up 52 goals while down a man 265 times for an 80.4% success rate.

Belleville’s special teams are good-ish…and not so good. Their power play sits 12th in the league after scoring 53 goals while up a man 273 times for a 19.4% success rate. Their penalty kill sits dead last after giving up 66 goals while shorthanded 272 times for a 75.7% success rate.

With Reid Boucher still on the shelf with a hand injury, Tanner Kero leads all active players on the Comets scoring-leader board with 22 goals and 29 helpers, giving him 51 points in 59 games. Zack MacEwen sits second with his 20 goals and 28 assists to give himself 48 points in 58 games this year. Brendan Gaunce rounds out the Comets top three with 16 goals and 19 assists, giving him 35 points in 49 games.

Lukas Jasek wears the rookie crown in Utica with eight goals and 13 helpers, giving him 21 points in 52 games. Drake Batherson is the rookie leader in Belleville with 21 goals and 25 assists to give himself 56 points in 48 games.

Batherson’s point totals also lead all Sens scorers…that is some solid, solid production from the Sens rookie. Jack Rodewald sits second with 20 goals and 23 assists, giving him 43 points in 48 games, while Logan Brown rounds out their top three with 12 goals and 26 assists, giving him 38 points in 46 games this year.

The past 10 games have not been great for the Comets as they show a record of 1-8-1-0 over that span…yikes! The Sens, for their part, have gone 6-2-1-1 over their previous 10 contests.

The Comets are coming off of a 5-3 loss to Hartford, while the Sens last played to a 6-5 shootout win over Laval. Things don’t get any easier for the Comets when we look at the home/road records of these two clubs as the Comets have gone 13-14-3-2 on the road this year, while Belleville has a home record of 18-8-1-3.

The two clubs are also at opposite ends of the goal differential spectrum as the Comets have been outscored by a margin of 223-196, while Belleville has scored 208 goals and have given up 206.

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: LW/RW. Week-to-week, hand injury.
  5. Wacey Hamilton: F. Week-to-week, neck injury.
  6. Tom Pyatt: LW/RW. Week-to-week, concussion.
  7. Dylan Blujus: RD. Day-to-day, hand injury.
  8. Jonah Gadjovich: LW/RW. Day-to-day, upper-body injury.
  9. Seamus Malone: C. Day-to-day, upper-body injury.
  10. Colton Saucerman: RD. Healthy scratch.

Season Series

These two teams have faced off five times already this year with the Sens holding a three-games-to-two advantage while outscoring the Comets by a count of 17-15.

Special Teams

The Comets special teams have been the better out of the two clubs over this series with Utica going 8/24 with the man advantage, giving them a success rate of 33.3% on the power play, while their penalty kill has given up just two goals to 16 Sens power plays for a success rate of 87.5%. Belleville’s power play shows a success rate of just 12.5% in the series, while their penalty kill has a 66.7% success rate against the Comets this season.

Head-to-Head

Tanner Kero and Zack MacEwen are tied for the points lead in the season series with six apiece, while Reid Boucher, Evan McEneny, former Comets forward Michael Carcone, for Utica, and Filip Chlapik for the Sens, have all put up four points. Former Comet Jonathan Dahlen put up three points for the Comets in the series, as has Olli Juolevi, while Chase Balisy, Stuart Percey, and Ben Sexton have all hit that mark for the Sens.

Goaltenders

The Comets have used Richard Bachman, (1-0, 1.00 goals-against average, 0.969% save percentage) Thatcher Demko, (1-1, 2.52 GAA, 0.917% save percentage) Ivan Kulbakov, (overtime loss, 3.69 GAA, 0.871% save percentage) and Michael Leighton, (0-1, 4.01 GAA, 0.857% save percentage) in the series.

The Sens, for their part, have used Marcus Hogberg, (2-0, 2.01 goals-against average, 0.920% save percentage) Mike McKenna, (0-1, 2.06 GAA, 0.929% save percentage) and Filip Gustavsson, (1-1, 3.40 GAA, 0.875% save percentage) in their net for the series.

The two clubs will get underway in Belleville today at 7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacficic. As always, stay tuned for the CanucksArmy Post-Game Report following today’s action.