Comets Blanked by Hartford
by Mark Caswell, Jr.Oct 17, 2015
The Utica Comets are still in search of their first win after dropping their second game of the season by the score of 3-0 to the Hartford Wolf Pack at the XL Center on Saturday night. Wolf Pack goaltender Magnus Hellberg pitched a 30-save shutout en route to his second win of the season.
The home team kicked off the game’s scoring 8:20 into the first frame when Richard Nejezchleb potted his first goal of the season. Off of a three-on-two rush, Cannata turned aside Chad Nehring’s shot from the short side before Calle Andersson chipped the rebound to the slot for the eventual tally.
The Pack doubled up their lead 7:35 into the third period. Adam Tambellini, on a breakaway, slipped a shot through the legs of Cannata for his second goal of the season. Brian Gibbons picked up an assist on the play.
Nehring added an empty-net goal from center ice with 2:44 to play to put the game away.
The Comets penalty-killing unit went a perfect three-for-three, running their season total to seven-for-seven. Joe Cannata made 25 saves in the loss.
The Comets finally get a taste of home cooking with a three-game homestand that begins on Wednesday vs. the Rochester Americans. Puck drop is scheduled for 7pm at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. The Comets will follow up Wednesday’s game with a Friday tilt against the Hershey Bears, and a Saturday game against the Syracuse Crunch. Both starting at 7pm.
Tonight’s Game: For the first time Mar. 23, 1993, an American Hockey League match-up between a Utica based franchise and the New York Rangers top affiliate will be played. That game, which ended in a 6-6 tie, between the Utica Devils and the Binghamton Rangers featured rosters that boasted several future National Hockey League players such as Martin Brodeur, Bill Guerin, Sergei Zubov, Mike Richter and Corey Hirsch.
Tonight’s game at the XL Center against the Hartford Wolf Pack will be the first of four games between the team’s this season.
So Close, but Yet…so Far: Don’t bring up the Manchester Monarchs to either club. During the 2015 Calder Cup playoffs, neither team could solve the since dissolved team. The Comets lost to the Monarchs in five games during the Finals, and the Wolf Pack were swept by the eventual champions in the semi-finals.
A Whale of an Arena: The Comets will add another historic venue to the list of arenas they have played in. The XL Center, formerly known as the Hartford Civic Center, opened in 1975 and was the home the National Hockey League’s Hartford Whalers from 1980-1997. The 15,000+ seat arena (for hockey) holds a little special meaning to Comets assistant coach Nolan Baumgartner. The 1994 NHL Entry Draft, where Baumgartner was selected 10th overall by the Washington Capitals, was held at the Civic Center.
Jensen Train: Nicklas Jensen scored the Comets lone goal of the season with a perfectly-placed wrist shot in the third period of last Saturday’s game in Rochester. The tally was his 36th of his AHL career, and his third in five games, including the playoffs. The Canucks’ first round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Level Draft (29th overall) is entering his fourth season of professional hockey, all with the Canucks organization.
Pack Attack: The 2015 Eastern Conference runner-ups are off to a 1-1 start, with their win coming in overtime vs. the Providence Bruins. Jayson Megna is the only Wolf Pack player with multiple points, both assists. Looking for familiar names on Hartford’s roster? How about Ryan Bourque, son of Hall of Fame defenseman Ray Bourque. Ryan, has posted back-to-back 30 points seasons as a forward for the Pack. NHL veteran Raphael Diaz will be playing in just his third American Hockey League game after amassing 201 games with the Montreal Canadiens, Vancouver Canucks, New York Rangers, and the Calgary Flames.
Bench Boss: Travis Green enters his third year of being the Comets Head Coach. In that time he has compiled an 82-52-18 record (.599 winning percentage). Including playoffs the Castlegar, B.C. native has led the Comets to 105 total wins, and just three wins shy of winning the Calder Cup last season.
A Hat Trick of Medicine: Three of the top five point-scorers for the 2010-11 Medicine Hat Tigers are on the Comets roster. Linden Vey (116 points), Hunter Shinkaruk (42), and Wacey Hamilton (73) paced the Tigers to a third round exit in the WHL. Curtis Valk also played in 56 games for the Tigers, and recorded 17 points.
Rookie Show: The Comets roster of 27-players currently consists of eight players who have yet to play a full season in the AHL.
Complete Coverage: Can’t listen to Brendan Burke or watch the game on AHL Live? No problem! Just follow us on @UticaComets or @CometsInGame on Twitter and we’ve got you covered with live up to the minute updates and instant videos of all the Comets goals.
Next Game: After playing the first two games of the season on the road, the Comets finally return to the comfy confines of the Utica Memorial Auditorium for the Home Opener at 7:00pm. Get in your seats early, a special pre-game ceremony, complete with a banner raising celebration, will be taking place.