UTICA COMETS (29-24-9) vs. BRIDGEPORT SOUND TIGERS (37-22-2)
Webster Bank Arena, 7:30 p.m.
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Tonight’s Game: The Utica Comets take on the Bridgeport Sound Tigers for the fourth and final time this season. Puck drops at 7:30 p.m.
Last Game: The Comets defeated the Syracuse Crunch 4-3 at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. Borna Rendulic opened the scoring with his 12th of the year with assists from Pascal Pelletier and Colby Robak. With five minutes to go in the middle frame, Pelletier notched his ninth of the year from Michael Carcone and Rendulic to make it 2-0 Comets. Henri Ikonen cut into the Comets’ lead with his third of the year. Four minutes into the final period, Darren Archibald restored the two-goal lead with a power play strike from Evan McEneny and Cody Kunyk. Mike Halmo and Tye McGinn scored 31 seconds apart to tie the game at three. Mike Zalewski scored the go-ahead goal halfway through the third period, tipping a shot from Jordan Subban for his fourth of the year. Carter Bancks also notched an assist on the goal. Thatcher Demko stopped 34 shots en route to his eighth straight win and his record improves to 17-11-4 on the year
Head-to-Head: The Comets have won all three meetings against the Sound Tigers this season, most recently winning 2-1 last Friday. The Comets are 4-2-1 against Bridgeport all-time. Curtis Valk leads the Comets with one goal and two assists in the season series. Devon Toews leads the Sound Tigers with three assists against Utica.
Scouting the Sound Tigers: Bridgeport enters the game with a .637 point percentage, good for fifth place in the Atlantic Division. Bracken Kearns leads the Sound Tigers offensively with 43 points, followed by Devon Toews with 38 points. Jaroslav Halak leads the goaltending tandem with a 16-6-3 record, a 2.20 GAA, and a .924 save percentage.
Croatian Sensation: After a slow start to the season, Borna Rendulic has become a key factor in the Comets’ offense. Rendulic has tallied 13 points (eight goals, five assists) in his last 15 games. The forward has a total of 21 points (12-9-21) in 59 games this season. In his first 44 games, he totaled eight points.
Spreading It Around: The Comets offense has been coming from all over the roster as of late. Evan McEneny, Mike Zalewski, Pascal Pelletier, Darren Archibald, Colby Robak, Michael Carcone, and Borna Rendulic all have points in two consecutive games. The Comets also boast ten players have at least 20 points on the season.
Power Back: After going four straight games without a power play goal, the Comets have now scored at least one goal on the man advantage in back-to-back games. The power play ranks 21st in the AHL with a 16% conversion rate.
On Fire: Thatcher Demko is seemingly unbeatable. The rookie netminder has won eight consecutive starts and has given up more than 2 goals only once in that time span, occurring last night. Demko stopped 35 shots in route to the win against Syracuse.
Next Game: The Comets return to action tomorrow afternoon as they battle the Providence Bruins. Puck drop from the Dunkin Donuts Center is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. The game can be heard on 94.9 KROCK and viewed on AHL Live.