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Photo Credit: cory hergott

CanucksArmy Utica Comets Pre-Game: Game #47, Utica Comets at Cleveland Monsters

Utica Comets Pre-Game

Game #47

Utica Comets at Cleveland Monsters

Friday, January 31st, 2020

7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific

The 25-17-2-2 Utica Comets hit the road for a pair of games in Cleveland this weekend against the 20-20-2-2 Monsters, (Columbus affiliate) for their 47th and 48th contests of the year. The Comets have lost three big offensive weapons to injury and call-up, but we will get to that in a minute. They will also be trying to put an end to a losing skid that has seen them drop their last four consecutive games.

The Comets are showing a record of 5-5-0-0 over their previous 10 games, which has seen them drop to third in the North Division. The Monsters, for their part, show a record of 4-5-1-0 over their last 10 games and sit eighth in the North.

These games can tend to be trap games for the Comets where they play down to the level of the team they are facing. Let’s hope that isn’t the case today.

As mentioned above, the Comets have lost four straight games, but the Monsters have picked up points in three straight, going 2-0-1-0. The Comets last played to a 4-2 loss to Belleville, while the Monsters are coming off of a 5-4 overtime win over the Marlies.

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Utica shows a record of 12-7-0-1 on the road this season, while Cleveland has gone 11-9-1-0 on home ice this year.

Goal differential has been an area where the Comets have been reasonably good all season and they currently show a plus-16 on that side of things, while the Monsters are sitting at minus-7 for their efforts.

The special teams battle will be one to watch today as the Comets power play isn’t as strong as it once was, but still has a better record than Cleveland’s, whereas the Monsters have the better penalty kill so far this year.

Utica has gone 40/189 on the power play this year, giving them a success rate of 21.2% with the extra man, while their penalty kill has allowed 37 goals while down a man 204 times for an 81.9% success rate.

The Monsters, for their part, have gone 26/186 on the power play for a success rate of 14.0% while up a man. Their penalty kill has allowed 30 goals while down a man 191 times for an 84.3% success rate.

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Adam Clendening leads all Cleveland scorers with six goals and 24 assists, giving him 30 points in 37 games this season. Nathan Gerbe would be sitting second, but he isn’t available today, so Stefan Matteau slots into that spot with 10 goals and 13 assists, giving him 23 points in 41 games, while Ryan MacInnis rounds out their top three with his six goals and 16 assists to give himself 22 points in 34 games this year.

Andrew Peeke tops the rookie crew in Cleveland with five goals and 11 helpers to give himself 16 points in 27 games this season. Brogan Rafferty leads the Comets rookie group with six goals and 32 assists, giving him 38 points in 42 games this year. That puts Rafferty just two points shy of tying Bobby Sanguinetti for the Comets single-season high for points in a season… which is a Comets record.

Reid Boucher leads the league with 50 points in 41 games this year, but he will not be available due to an injury. That makes Nikolay Goldobin the Comets current points leader with 15 goals and 26 assists to give himself 41 points in 40 games this season. Justin Bailey would be next with his 40 points in 45 games if he hadn’t just been summoned to join the big club, so that puts Kole Lind into that spot with his 12 goals and 26 assists, giving him 38 points in 46 games. That would put Rafferty and his 38 points in the third spot for today.

Season Series

The two clubs have squared off once already this season with the Comets coming away with a 6-2 win on home ice. Both clubs scored a power-play goal in that game as the Comets went 1/2 with the man advantage, while Cleveland went 1/4.

Nikolay Goldobin leads the series as he made a meal of the Monsters last time out, picking up a goal and three helpers for his efforts, while Reid Boucher grabbed a goal and two assists for three points of his own. Carter Camper and Kole Lind each picked up a pair of points for the Comets, while Lukas Jasek, Seamus Malone, Justin Bailey, and Olli Juolevi all picked up a point. Ryan MacInnis, Calvin Thurkauf, Derek Barach, Trey Fix-Wolansky, Markus Hannikainen, and Andrew Peeke each earned a point for Cleveland.

Mikey DiPietro picked up the win for the Comets while posting a goals-against-average of 2.00 along with a 0.923% save percentage. Veini Vehvilainen started that game for Cleveland but was chased after allowing five goals in two periods and finished with the loss after posting a 7.50 GAA and 0.792% save percentage. Brad Thiessen took over for the final frame and allowed one goal while posting a GAA of 3.00 and a 0.833% save percentage.

Scratched Last Game For Utica

  1. Wacey Hamilton: C – Lower-body injury, (broken foot) 6-8 weeks. AHL deal.
  2. Dyson Stevenson: W/C – Lower-body injury, (ankle) day-to-day. AHL deal.
  3. Vincent Arseneau: LW/RW – Lower-body injury, (hip) week-to-week. AHL deal.
  4. Dylan Blujus: RD – Upper-body injury, (chest) day-to-day. AHL deal.
  5. Guillaume Brisebois: LD – Upper-body injury, (broken fingertip) day-to-day. NHL deal.
  6. Richard Bachman: G – Healthy scratch. NHL deal.
  7. David Pope: LW/RW – Healthy scratch. NHL deal.
  8. Seamus Malone: W/C – Healthy scratch. AHL deal.
  9. Mitch Eliot: RD – Healthy scratch. NHL deal.
  10. Stefan LeBlanc: LD – Healthy scratch. AHL deal.
  11. Joe Roberts: PxP – Healthy scratch, new dad.

Roster News

As mentioned above, the parent Canucks summoned Justin Bailey to join them on the road for their game against the New York Islanders tomorrow… well, they called up Zack MacEwen at the same time, so the Comets will be without the services of TheBigFella & TheGentleman for the foreseeable future… along with that injury to Reid Boucher, that takes a big bite out of Utica’s offence.

With the Comets not exactly being flush with healthy bodies, they had to reach down to Kalamazoo of the ECHL for reinforcements as Tanner Sorenson and David Pope have been brought back to join the team on the road in Cleveland.

Dylan Sadowy was signed to an AHL pact in the offseason to add depth to the Comets roster, but he didn’t see any regular-season action with the club to this point in the season. When ECHL Transactions showed him being summoned to the Comets on Monday, I speculated that maybe he had just become the future considerations in the trade that brought John Stevens over from Bridgeport recently… turns out that I was right.

The two clubs will get after it today at 7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific in Cleveland. As always, CanucksArmy will have your post-game report following today’s action.