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SATURDAY'S PARTY: Before the Comets take on Rochester in game two of the North Division Semifinals, the Adirondack Bank Center Plaza is the place to be.
Game One Victory: The Comets took on the Rochester Americans in game one of the North Division semi-finals on Tuesday night inside the Adirondack Bank Center and despite going down 2-0 after the first period, the team marched back and skated away with a 6-3 victory and the game one win in a best of five series. The Amerks left the first period with a 2-0 lead but in the second period, the Comets got onto the board, and it started with an offensive zone faceoff win by Utica. As the puck went back to the blueline, Reilly Walsh wristed a shot that created a big rebound in front of Amerks netminder Aaron Dell. Tyce Thompson drove the goal and slid the puck into the back of the net at 4:31. It only took 59 seconds for the Comets to then tie the contest and it was a bomb of a one-timer from Robbie Russo as he was setup by Nikita Okhotiuk at 5:30. The crowd went crazy as the scored was suddenly 2-2. But it was another Rochester goal by Ruotsalainen who put a shot from the right wing off the bar and into the cage bringing the game to 3-2 for the Americans at 11:32. The Comets proved resilient, and it took a power-play goal by the captain to tie the game again. After an AJ Greer one-time shot was stopped by Dell, it left a rebound for the team captain Ryan Schmelzer to deposit home at 15:53 for his first post-season goal. After two periods of play, the capacity crowd serenaded their team as the Comets skated to the dressing rooms. The Comets finally took over and didn’t look back in the final period of regulation and it was Joe Gambardella who scored the eventual game winner. Fabian Zetterlund nearly scored on a breakaway but his rebound rested in the crease for Gambardella to deposit in the back of the net at 9:29. The Comets AJ Greer scored to give the Comets a 5-3 lead after a faceoff win by Aarne Talvitie resulted in a wrister by Greer who went blocker side and in on Dell and 14:04. Greer added a breakaway goal at 16:30 which sealed the deal and the Comets skated away with a 6-3 victory and a game one victory.
Comets Regular Season Leaders: The team’s leading scorers heading into the playoffs is Chase DeLeo, scoring 21 goals and 35 assists for 56 points in 55 games played. Right behind him is Fabian Zetterlund who totalled 24 goals and 28 assists for 52 points in 58 games played. The Leading rookie scorer for the team is Alexander Holtz who scored 26 goals and 25 assists for 51 points in 52 games. Reilly Walsh led the team in scoring from blueliners registering nine goals nad 34 assists for 43 points in 70 games. Tyler Wotherspoon led the team in plus/minus with a +26.
Special Teams Ranking: Heading into the post-season, the Comets had the 5th ranked power play operating at 21.6%. At home, their power play operates ranked 18th at 19.5. On the penalty kill, Utica ranked 9th in the league at 81.9% while at home they were 2nd at 88.2%
Roster Moves: The New Jersey Devils announced today that defenseman Shakir Mukhamadullin has been assigned to the Utica Comets. Mukhamadullin, 20, was drafted by the Devils 20th overall in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. He played 34 games this season for Ufa Salavat Yulayev totaling three goals and four assists for seven points. He also played in 11 playoff games for Ufa but did not register a point during the post-season.
The White Out Continues: The White out is a hockey tradition that dates to 1987 when hockey fans in Winnipeg were asked to wear white clothing to home playoff games in Winnipeg, creating a very intimidating effect and atmosphere. When the Jets moved the franchise to Arizona, a young goaltender Robert Esche, the current President of the Utica Comets, took the tradition to Utica where the fans continue to wear white during the post-season in support of the Comets.