UTICA COMETS (32-21-3-2) vs. CHARLOTTE CHECKERS (32-21-4-0)
Bojangles Coliseum, 7 p.m.
Watch Live: AHLTV | Listen Live: 94.9 K-ROCK
Follow and Interact Live: Twitter | Hashtag: #UTIvsCHA
Tonight’s Game: The Utica Comets fly south to battle the Charlotte Checkers. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.
Last Game: Michael DiPietro made 36 of a possible 37 saves and Sven Baertschi earned a late game winner as the Utica Comets skated past the Rochester Americans by a 3-1 score on Wednesday night at Blue Cross Arena. Stefan LeBlanc and Tyler Graovac were the other goal scorers for Utica.
Head-to-Head: This is only the second meeting between the two squads this season. Utica took the first meeting 8-2 way back on October 18. The Comets are 3-5-1-0 in the last five seasons against the Checkers.
Scouting the Checkers: Charlotte comes in with a record of 32-21-4-0 and sits in fourth place in the Atlantic Division. They most recently beat the Hershey Bears 6-3 this past Sunday. Jake Bean leads the way on offense with 46 points, followed by Morgan Geekie with 43 points. Keith Kinkaid is the top active netminder with a record of 4-7-3 with a 3.41 goals-against average and a .878 save percentage.
Special Teams Battle: Expect special teams to play a big role in the outcome of tonight’s game. Both teams boast power plays in the top five in the league, with Charlotte clocking in at 22.9% followed closely by the Comets are 22%. On the flip side, the Checkers’ penalty kill ranks second in the AHL at 87.3%, while the Comets come in at 23rd at 80.2%.
Red Hot: Sven Baertschi has been on fire lately. Baertschi has four points (2-2-4) in his last three games and 12 points (5-7-12) in his last 10 games, including two three-point nights last week. The veteran forward has 44 points (13-31-44) in 41 games this year.
Career Year: Justin Bailey is in the midst of a career season. Bailey has set new career highs in goals and points and sits six assists back of tying his career best for helpers. He is also one power play goal away from tying the Comets’ team record for power play markers in a single season, currently shared by Pascal Pelletier, Alexandre Grenier, and Tanner Kero with 11 apiece. Bailey has 46 points (27-19-46) in 50 games this season.
20/20: Mikey DiPietro continues to solidify himself in net for the Comets. DiPietro became the fifth goaltender in Comets history to win 20 games. He is also the first netminder to start 10 straight games for Utica. The rookie goalie is 20-10-2 with a 2.83 goals-against average, a .906 save percentage and one shutout this season.
Next Game: The Comets go right back at it tomorrow night in a rematch against the Checkers. Puck drop is at 6 p.m. The game can be heard on 94.9 KROCK and viewed on AHLTV.