Tonight’s Game: The Utica Comets take on the Cleveland Monsters for the first time since the 2014-15 season. Puck drop at the Adirondack Bank Center is at 7 p.m.
Last Game: Utica surrendered three power play goals in the first period and was unable to climb out of the hole as they fell 6-1 to the Rochester Americans on Wednesday night at the Adirondack Bank Center. The sold-out game was the 120th consecutive regular season sell-out for the Comets tying the AHL record. Rookie defenseman Olli Juolevi scored his first AHL goal in the loss. Richard Bachman finished with 24 saves and his record fell to 1-3-0.
Head-to-Head: This is the first meeting between the Comets and Monsters for the first time in four seasons. The last time the two teams met, the Comets came away with a 6-3 win on December 27, 2014. Utica is 7-2-0-1 all-time against Cleveland. The Comets first ever win over the Monsters came in a 4-1 win on November 7, 2014.
Scouting the Monsters: Cleveland comes into tonight’s contest with a 3-2-0-0 record and is a three-way tie for second place. Zac Dalpe leads the offense with six points, followed by Eric Robinson with five points. Jean-Francois Berube is the leading netminder with a 2-2-0 record, a 2.54 goals-against average, and a .927 save percentage.
Chasing History: Darren Archibald is closing in on a Comets record. Archibald needs one more goal to tie the team record for all-time goals with Utica. Alexandre Grenier currently holds the record with 67 goals.
Starting Strong: Ivan Kulbakov’s career with the Comets is off to a great start. Kulbakov won his first two AHL games last weekend with a pair of wins over Toronto, finishing with a .907 save percentage. The second-year netminder is the first Comet goaltender to start and win consecutive starts since Jacob Markstrom won his first four starts as a Comet at the beginning of the 2014-15 season.
Holy Moly, Olli: Olli Juolevi netted his first AHL goal Wednesday night, blasting a one-timer past Amerks goalie Scott Wedgewood on the power play. Juolevi leads all Comets’ defensemen with three points (1-2-3) through six games this year. The rookie blue-liner collected 19 points (7-12-19) in 38 games with TPS Turku in Finland’s SM-Liiga last season.
Welcome Back, Bulldog: Alex Biega is back in Utica for the first time in two seasons. The veteran defenseman appeared 77 games with the Comets from 2014-17 including the inaugural season and the 2015 Calder Cup Finals run. Biega was named as team’s captain in the 2015-16 season.
Next Game: The Comets are back in action tomorrow night when the hit the road to battle the Syracuse Crunch in Game One of the Galaxy Cup series. Puck drop at the Onondaga County War Memorial Arena is at 7 p.m. The game can be heard on 94.9 KROCK and viewed on AHLTV.