UTICA COMETS (30-27-6-2) vs. BELLEVILLE SENATORS (32-25-3-5)
CAA Arena, 7 p.m.
Watch Live: AHLTV | Listen Live: 94.9 K-ROCK
Follow and Interact Live: Twitter | Hashtag: #UTIvsBEL
Today’s Game: The Utica Comets take on the Belleville Senators. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.
Last Game: The Comets jumped out to a 1-0 lead but surrendered five consecutive goals and ultimately fell 5-3 to the Hartford Wolf Pack Saturday night at the Adirondack Bank Center. Tanner Kero, Jesse Graham, and Carter Bancks scored for Utica. Marek Mazanec stopped five of eight shots before being pulled in favor of Michael Leighton.
Head-to-Head: This is the sixth and final meeting between the Comets and Senators this season. Belleville leads the season series 3-2-0-0 and won the most recent matchup 5-2 back on January 19. Utica is 1-3-0-1 on the road at Belleville all-time.
Scouting the Senators: Belleville comes in with a record of 32-25-3-5 and sits in fourth place in the North Division. They most recently beat the Laval Rocket 6-5 in a shootout this past Saturday. Drake Batherson leads the offense with 56 points, followed by Jack Rodewald with 43 points. Marcus Hogberg with the top netminder with a record of 16-6-6, a 2.46 goals-against average, and .913 save percentage.
Playoff Push: The playoff push is on. Belleville holds the fourth and final playoff spot, with the Comets just four points out. Tonight’s result could go a long way in determining the final spot. Cleveland is also in the mix as they are tied with the Comets with 68 points coming into tonight.
Tight Matchup: Don’t be surprised if this game goes down to the wire. All but one of the five contests this season and nine of the last 10 games overall between the North Division rivals have been determined by two goals or less. The Senators hold a slight scoring edge, outscoring Utica 16-15 through five games.
Taking Down The Senate: Zack MacEwen and Tanner Kero have lit up the Senators this season. MacEwen and Kero lead all scorers in the season series with six points apiece, with Kero registering four goals and two assists and MacEwen tallying two goals and four assists. Overall this season, Kero has 51 points (22-29-51) in 59 games and MacEwen has 48 points (20-28-48) in 58 games.
Special Teams Factor: Special teams will likely play a big role in the outcome of tonight’s contest. Despite struggling on the power play and penalty kill lately, Utica’s special teams have dominated the Senators. The Comets’ power play is operating at 33.3% against Belleville, while their penalty kill has killed off 14 or 16 penalties against the Sens. Overall, Utica’s man advantage ranks 15th in the league at 18.9% and their penalty kill is 22nd at 80.4%.
Next Game: The Comets return to the ice Friday night for a matchup against the Laval Rocket. Puck drop at the Adirondack Bank Center is at 7 p.m. Fans are encouraged to use the ticket exchange site, StubHub!. The game can be heard on 94.9 KROCK and viewed on AHL TV.