Comets Nab Third Straight Win
by Mark Caswell, Jr.Nov 27, 2015
For the first time this season the Utica Comets have strung together three straight wins with a 4-1 win over the Portland Pirates at the Cross Insurance Arena, on Friday night.
Richard Bachman made 29-saves in his second victory as a member of the Comets, while Carter Bancks (2-0-2), Taylor Fedun (1-0-1), and Blair Jones (1-1-2) provided the goals for the visiting team.
A Pirates turnover in their defensive zone led to Bancks’ third goal of the season. Defenseman Ashton Sautner collected the loose puck just inside the blue line, and flicked a shot on net. Bancks, from just below the hashmarks, deflected the puck past Mike McKenna to open the game’s scoring.
After a scoreless second period, Fedun gave the Comets some breathing room with a power-play goal late in the third period. With less than seven minutes left in the game, Fedun lasered a one-time slap shot through traffic and past McKenna. Hunter Shinkaruk and Linden Vey recorded assists on the goal.
The 2-1 game received an inflated score when the teams combined for three goals in the game’s final two minutes. In between empty-net goals for Bancks and Jones, the Pirates managed to break-up Bachman’s shutout bid with just 1:10 remaining when Chase Balisy redirected a shot up-and-over the Comets’ goaltender.
With the win the Comets’ record improved to 8-8-1-1 on the season, while the win dropped the Pirates’ record to 7-9-0-0 this season. The Comets power play converted on one of their three power-play attempts, while the penalty-killing unit successfully killed all five of the Pirates power plays.
The Comets and Pirates get right back at it tomorrow night in Portland for the final game of a two-game series. Puck drop from Cross Insurance Arena, in Portland, ME, is scheduled for 7pm. The Comets return home on Wednesday for a rematch with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Puck drop is scheduled for 7pm, and a limited amount of tickets are available for purchase.
Tonight’s Game: The Comets are in beautiful Portland, Maine for a two-game road trip vs. the Portland Pirates. This is the Comets first trip to the Cross Insurance Arena to take on the Florida Panthers’ American Hockey League affiliate. Back on Nov. 4, the Comets defeated to the Pirates 3-2. Puck drop is scheduled for 7p.m. tonight.
Last Game: The Comets won back-to-back games for the second time this season when the team exploded for seven goals against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Wednesday night at The AUD. The 7-1 score marked the largest victory margin the Comets franchise has seen to date.
About the Pirates: Since the Comets last saw the Pirates, the Florida Panthers’ AHL-affiliate has posted a 4-3-0-0 record, including losses in their last two games to the Hershey Bears. Leading the way in goals and points for the Pirates is central, NY native Rob Schremp (7-5-12). Cameron Gaunce, brother of Comets forward Brendan Gaunce, is second on the team in points, and paces the Pirates in assists (10), and plus/minus +6. In net, Mike McKenna has backstopped the club to a 6-5-0-0 record in 12 games. He has posted a 2.83 goals against average along with a .890 save percentage.
Milestones: Wednesday’s contest served as Travis Ehrhardt’s 200th AHL game. Tonight’s game will be Carter Bancks’ 300th professional hockey game (298 in the AHL, 2 in the NHL).
Among the Best: Hunter Shinkaruk’s breakout campaign has seen the forward tally 11 goals thus far, which is tied for the third in the American Hockey League, just one goal behind the league’s co-leaders, Petr Straka and Devin Shore. Six of Shinkaruk’s goals have come while on the power play, which again, is second-most in the league, just one behind Mike Sislo of the Albany Devils. The Vancouver Canucks’ 24th overall draft pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Level Draft enjoyed a 31-point rookie season last year with 16 goals in 74 games.
Lucky Number 3: When the Comets fail to reach the three goal mark in a game, the team is 0-7-1-0 this season. When they successfully strike three times, the team is 7-1-0-1.
Internet Superstar: You can add internet sensation to Comets forward Joseph LaBate’s resume, after he had an eventful game on Wednesday. His first pro hockey fight did not go well, and produced an image for the ages. He re-entered the game after getting some medical work in the locker room, and scored his first professional goal. His story, and images, took the internet by storm when CBS, Sports Illustrated, and BarDown (amongst others), ran with the story.
Blair Jones Project: A plethora of Comets recorded two-point games on Wednesday, but Blair Jones was the only player to score twice. It was the second time this season the forward has collected two goals in a game, with both games occurring at The AUD.
Green with Envy: Although the Comets will be donning their traditional road blues tonight, it is worth nothing that the team is 3-0-0-0, and have outscored teams 16-2 when wearing the new green alternate jerseys this season.