Utica Comets Pre-Game
At Hartford Wolf Pack
Saturday, April 6th, 2019
7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific
Well, folks…the Utica Comets will not be seeing any post-season action this year after last night’s loss to the Toronto Marlies, so the final five games will be more about making an impression for next season for some of the players on the squad.
The North Division’s sixth-ranked Comets will be in Hartford this afternoon for a 4:00 pm Pacific start to take on the Atlantic Division’s eighth-place Wolf Pack, (New York Rangers affiliate) for game number 72 of the season. The Comets are showing a record of 31-32-6-2, giving them 70 points on the season. The Wolf Pack, for their part, have gone 28-33-7-3 this season to give themselves 66 points.
Neither team has especially good special teams at the moment. The Comets power play currently sits 19th in the league after scoring 55 goals while up a man 312 times for a success rate of 17.6%. Their penalty kill is even worse, sitting 24th after giving up 59 goals while down a man 290 times for a 79.7% success rate.
Hartford’s power play is a little better than Utica’s, sitting 15th overall after scoring 52 goals on 284 man-up opportunities, giving them a success rate of 18.3%, while their penalty kill sits 17th after giving up 53 goals while down a man 277 times for an 80.9% success rate.
Reid Boucher is still the Comets points leader with 28 goals and 29 helpers to give himself 57 points in 55 games this year. Tanner Kero sits second with his 24 goals and 30 assists, giving him 54 points in 64 games. Zack MacEwen rounds out their top three with 20 goals and 28 assists, giving him 48 points in 64 games.
Lukas Jasek is the Comets leader amongst rookie scorers with eight goals and 15 helpers, giving him 23 points in 58 games. Tim Gettinger wears the rookie crown in Hartford with his 14 goals and 12 assists, giving him 26 points in 61 games.
John Gilmour leads all Hartford scorers with 20 goals and 33 assists, giving him 53 points in 66 games, while Peter Holland sits second with his 20 goals and 29 helpers to give himself 49 points in 52 games. Steven Fogarty rounds out their top three with 19 goals and 29 assists, giving him 48 points in 61 games this season.
The Comets have had a rough go for the last month and a bit…yeah, it’s been bad. They have gone 1-8-1-0 over their previous 10 games, while Hartford shows a record of 3-6-1-0 over that same span. Utica last played to a 2-1 loss to the Marlies yesterday, while the Wolf Pack are coming off of a 5-2 loss to Springfield.
The Comets will bring their road record of 13-17-3-2 into Hartford today, while the Pack have gone 16-13-5-1 at home this season. Both clubs have been handily outscored by their competition, with the Comets giving up 246 goals while scoring 206 times and Hartford being outscored by a count of 248-197.
Scratched Last Game For Utica
- Richard Bachman: G. Out for the season, Achilles’ injury.
- Olli Juolevi: LD. Out for the season, knee surgery.
- Evan McEneny: Out for the season, lower-body injury.
- Seamus Malone: F. Out for the season, arm injury.
- Jalen Chatfield: RD. Week-to-week, upper-body injury.
- Tanner Kero: C. Week-to-week, concussion protocol.
- Kole Lind: RW. Week-to-week, lower-body injury.
- Jett Woo: RD. Day-to-day, lower-body injury.
- Vincent Arseneau: LW/RW. Healthy scratch.
- Kyle Thomas: LW/RW. Healthy scratch.
- Colton Saucerman: RD. Healthy scratch.
- Mitch Eliot: RD. Healthy scratch.
- Brandon Anselmini: LD. Healthy scratch.
- Dyson Stevenson: LW/RW. Healthy scratch.
The two clubs have faced off in three games already this season with the Wolf Pack holding a two-games-to-one advantage while outscoring the Comets by a margin of 14-12.
Hartford has the better special teams in the league standings, but the Comets have had the better luck in this series, going 2/10 on the power play for a success rate of 20.0% against Hartford this season. They have also given up three goals to Hartford while down a man 16 times for an 81.3% success rate on the kill.
The Wolf Pack show a success rate of 18.8% on the power play against the Comets this year, while their penalty kill success rate against Utica is 80.0% for the season.
Ville Meskanen has been the top dog in this series, picking up six points to lead all scorers. Tim Gettinger, Ryan Gropp, Boo Nieves, Peter Holland, Lukas Jasek, and former Comets forward Jonathan Dahlen have all picked up three points.
Reid Boucher, Jesse Graham, Ashton Sautner, Cam Darcy, Olli Juolevi, Cole Schneider, Matt Beleskey, Sean Day, Steven Fogarty, and Libor Hajek have each collected two points over the first three games of the series.
The Comets have used four goaltenders over the three games as Ivan Kulbakov, (1-0, 2.77 goals-against average, 0.919% save percentage) Michael Leighton, (0-1, 3.36 GAA, 0.883% save percentage) Connor LaCouvee, (0-1, 5.02 GAA, 0.821% save percentage) and Marek Mazanec in relief, (23.35 minutes played, three goals allowed, 7.63 GAA, 0.625% save percentage) have all seen minutes against the Wolf Pack this year.
Hartford has used Adam Huska, (1-0, 3.00 goals-against average, 0.893% save percentage) and…checks notes, Marek Mazanec, (1-0-1, 2.88 GAA, 0.905% save percentage).
Comets Roster News
We saw Michael Leighton leave yesterday’s game with what looked like a tweak of some sort and as a result, the Comets have summoned Ivan Kulbakov from Kalamazoo. Kulbakov has gone 10-8-2 for the Comets this season while posting a goals-against average of 3.56 and a 0.892% save percentage. In Kalamazoo, the young netminder has a record of 8-5-1 while putting up a GAA of 2.89 and a 0.919% save percentage.
The team also announced that defender Jett Woo has been released from his ATO, (amateur tryout) with the team. This comes after Woo apparently reaggravated a lower-body injury that he sustained during his junior season. It would have been nice to see Woo get some action at the pro level, but it will be better for his recovery if he doesn’t push things in these final games of the season.
Forward Seamus Malone has also been released from his ATO with the Comets. Malone got into six games with the team and potted three goals in regulation and another in the shootout. His season ended after sustaining an arm injury last weekend. It was a small sample size for Malone in Utica, but I would like to see him back next year on an AHL deal with the team. He showed that he has some offensive creativity and the fact that he can play the middle helps his case as well. We don’t yet know who will be back with the Comets next season, but at the moment, the only pivot that they have under contract for next year is Wacey Hamilton. Bringing Malone back makes a fair bit of sense, in my opinion.
The two clubs will get underway in Hartford today at 7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific. As always, stay tuned for the CanucksArmy post-game report following today’s action.