Comets Limit IceCaps to 15 Shots; Fall 3-1
by Mark Caswell, Jr.Jan 2, 2016
The Utica Comets didn’t start the new year off like they had hoped. The Comets suffered their third consecutive loss when they fell to the St. John’s IceCaps 3-1 at the Utica Memorial Auditorium on Saturday night.
Joseph LaBate (1-0-1) was the only Comets player to successfully find the back of the net. Defenseman Jordan Subban (0-1-1) picked up a helper on the goal, running his point streak to five games.
The Comets applied heavy pressure early and fired the game’s first three shots on goal before an offensive zone turnover resulted in the IceCaps first goal just 90 seconds into the game. A mishandled puck at the blue line sprung Lucas Lessio on a breakaway. Lessio faked a shot which brought Bachman to the ice, and swooped around the goaltender’s extended pad for the unassisted tally.
Just a few minutes later it looked like the Comets had tied the game thanks to Carter Bancks. However, all the excitement was for naught, as the referee waved the goal off due to a high stick after a short meeting with his linesmen.
Just a few minutes later the IceCaps scored their second goal in just as many shots. Jeremy Gregoire received a cross crease pass from Markus Eisenschmid, and buried the eventual game-winning goal.
With nearly ten minutes gone by in the first period, the Comets were able to cut the IceCaps 2-0 lead in half. LaBate got behind the IceCaps defense, walked in all alone on Tokarski, and ripped a shot over the goaltender’s shoulder for his second goal of the season.
The game remained locked at 2-1 until four minutes into the third. Brandon McNally added an insurance goal when his shot from the blue line somehow slipped through the pads of Bachman and into the net.
With the loss the Comets record falls to 16-12-3-2. The Comets penalty unit came in strong once again, successfully killing all four of the penalties called on them, and running their penalty-killing streak to 12 straight.
The Comets will look to snap their three game losing streak when they hit the road next week for a three-in-three. The road trip starts off in Binghamton on Friday where the boys in blue will face the Senators. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Tonight’s Game: The St. John’s IceCaps return to The AUD for the second time this season tonight when the Comets look to return to their winning ways after Thursday’s loss to the Devils. The Comets only game against the Ice Caps this season was back on Dec. 4, which ended in a 2-1 overtime loss for the Comets.
The Ice Caps currently sit in third place in the North Division with 38, just one point above the fourth place Comets.
Last Game: The Comets were on the receiving end of a tough 4-1 New Year’s Eve loss to Albany. The loss was the first pointless game for the Comets after picking up at least a point in their previous seven games. Jon Landry provided the lone goal of night, his second of the season, for the Comets.
Scouting the IceCaps: The Comets are the IceCaps last stop on a five game road trip that has seen the Canadiens’ AHL affiliate win just once. On the trip, they are 1-3-0-1, with their most recent game being a 3-2 loss vs Binghamton on Thursday night. The IceCaps biggest offensive weapon, Budd Holloway (8-22-30),currently sits in fourth place amongst the league’s top scorers with 30 points. Their penalty killing unit is one of the best in the league and ranks as fifth best in the AHL with an 86.8% conversion rate. The Ice Caps are coming off of a shoot off loss and a regulation loss in their last two games. After playing almost a full month of no regulation losses from Nov. 6 to Dec. 5, the IceCaps have stumbled and have only won three of their nine games since. Rookie goaltender Zachary Fucale has a record of 8-5-1-1, a goals against average of 3.03 and a save percentage of .911 in 16 games this season.
Lucky Number 3: When the Comets fail to reach the three-goal mark in a game, the team is 0-10-2-2 this season. When they successfully strike three times, the team is 14-1-0-1.
Top Scorer: In two out of the last three games Hunter Shinkaruk has added to his team-leading points total by picking up a goal and an assist. Shinkaruk picked up the assist on Sunday, totaling twelve for the season. He also added to his team-leading goal total when he scored his 13th of the season against the Devils on Wednesday night. With 25 points, Shinkaruk currently sits in 12th place among the top scorers in the league.
Stone Cold Killers: The Comets penalty killing unit entered their two-game series with the Albany Devils with a tough task at hand: Find a way to shut down the top power play unit in the league. The 11th ranked penalty killing unit did just that, and killed off all eight of the Devils power plays in the series. The unit has killed off 85% of opponent’s power plays this season, and has scored the second most short-handed goals (7) this season.
Soaring Subban: With an assist in Thursday’s game, Jordan Subban ran his team-leading point streak to four games. In that span, the defenseman has four points (1-3-4), and has passed Travis Ehrhardt for the team lead in points by a defenseman. On the season the rookie defenseman has posted 16 points (5-11-16), and 12 penalty minutes in 25 games.
Looking Ahead: After this Comets’ home game, the Comets have a short break before they hit the road for a three game stretch. In three days the Comets will face the Binghamton Senators, the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins, and the Hershey Bears. The road games take off on January 8 in Binghamton, puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.