Comets Blank Crunch in Green Sweaters Debut
by Mark Caswell, Jr.Oct 24, 2015
The Utica Comets rebounded from a tough loss last game, and came out strong behind another great crowd at the Utica Memorial Auditorium on Saturday, when they defeated their arch-rival, the Syracuse Crunch 4-0. Joe Cannata had 30 saves two get his first career AHL shutout for the Comets.
Brendan Gaunce (1-0-1), Blair Jones (1-0-1), Linden Vey (1-0-1), and Hunter Shinkaruk (1-0-1) all scored for the men in green. Jordan Subban (0-2-2) chipped in a pair of assists for his first career multi-point game in the professional ranks.
Gaunce started the game’s scoring when he put a wrist shot over the shoulder of Crunch goalkeeper, Allen York, to put the Comets ahead 1-0 just 4:12 into the game. Subban and Nicklas Jensen assisted on the goal. The Comets scored again just seven minutes later on a power play, when Subban fired a shot that deflected off the goalkeeper, and Jones finished it off for his first goal of the season to put the Comets ahead 2-0. Subban and Alex Friesen picked up assists on the goals.
It looked like both teams would go scoreless in the second period until the Comets capitalized on a power play when Vey snuck a wrist shot past the far side of York. Comets captain Alex Biega assisted on the goal.
Just 1:35 into the third period, Wacey Hamilton slipped a backhand pass through the legs of a Crunch defender to Hunter Shinkaruk, who finished it off for his fourth goal of the season.
Syracuse outshot the Comets 30 to 26, but couldn’t get the puck past the great goaltending of Cannata. With the shutout, Cannata raised his season save percentage to .940, and lowered his goals against average to 1.42. Cannata now has 110 saves in just five games this season. Allen York had 22 saves for the Crunch.
The Comets power play converted twice on seven opportunities, and the penalty-killing unit was a perfect six-for-six on the night.
With the win, the Comets improved to 2-3-0-0 on the season. The loss dropped the Crunch to a 2-3-0-0 record.
The Comets will hit the road on Friday for their next game, as they travel to Binghamton, NY to take on the Ottawa Senators AHL affiliate, Binghamton Senators at Floyd L. Maines Veteran Memorial Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
Tonight’s Game: The Utica Comets will host the Tampa Bay Lightning’s top AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, tonight at the Utica Memorial Auditorium, to finish off their three game home stand. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Fan Fest: Arrive early! The Utica Comets Fan Fest will take place in the area around the Utica Memorial Auditorium, between Charles St. and Broadway starting at 3 p.m. on Oct. 24. Fan Fest events will also include a Utica Comets player autograph booth, a family fun zone with bounce houses and mini-hockey play area, and new this year, a Hometown Hockey Hero Booth, where local professional hockey players will meet with fans and sign autographs.
The Debut of the U: The Comets will don their new alternate green jersey for the first time tonight. The jersey features a new alternate U-logo, inspired by the famous “U-TI-CA” chant heard at The AUD. The third jersey will be paired with the Comets blue helmet, gloves, and hockey pants, and with matching green, with blue and white stripes, hockey socks.
Last Game: The Comets had a defensive battle with the Hershey Bears last game, with the score being tied 0-0 with just over a minute to go in the game. With 1:11 left in the contest, Garret Mitchell put a goal in for the Bears after a scrum in front of the net. Joe Cannata had 23 saves for the Comets, while Justin Peters saved all 19 of the Comets shots for the Bears to complete the shutout.
Scouting the Crunch: Syracuse is off to a 2-2-0-0 start this season, with Jonathan Marchessault leading the way with three goals. The Crunch have 16 players that have recorded at least one point on the season so far, led by Dylan Blujus, who has four points on one goal and three assists. The Crunch’s top goaltender, Kristers Gudlevskis, was recalled by the parent club last night.
Protecting the Pipes: Joe Cannata had another stellar game in net last game for the Comets, saving 23 shots on 24 attempts. He now has 80 saves this season in just four games to go along with a .920 save percentage. His goals against average has dropped to 1.77 on the season, good for ninth best in the American Hockey League.
Killin’ It: The Comets penalty-killing unit has successfully killed off all but one of the team’s 16 penalties this season. The unit’s 93.8% success rate is fourth best in the league so far.
Shink-Attack: After not scoring in the first two games of the season, Hunter Shinkaruk exploded for a hat trick in Wednesday’s game against the Amerks. The Calgary, AB native leads the Comets with three goals. He also has one assist on the season. Shinkaruk has racked up 23 goals in his 77-game AHL career, all with the Comets.
Team Effort: The Comets have 11 different players to get points so far this season, led by Shinkaruk with four points (three goals, one assist). Nicklas Jensen and Alexandre Grenier have also been keys in the Comets offense. Jensen has two points on one goal and one assist in three games, and Grenier got his first point of the season with a goal in the win on Wednesday.
Past Matchups Against the Crunch: The Comets have gone 5-2-2-1 against the Crunch since the 2013 season, and are 3-0-1-1 at home against Syracuse in that time. Utica went 3-2-1-0 against the Crunch last season. The two teams compete for the the Galaxy Cup, which is awarded to the team that has accumulated the most points over the teams’ season series. The Comets have taken home the Galaxy Cup in both of it’s years of existence.
Next Game: The Comets will travel to Binghamton, NY for their next game to play the Ottawa Senators AHL affiliate, Binghamton Senators. The game will take place at the Floyd L. Maines Veteran Memorial Arena on Friday, October 30th. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.