Comets on the Brink of Elimination
by Mark Caswell, Jr.Jun 12, 2015
The Utica Comets are just one game away from being eliminated from the Calder Cup Finals after Friday night’s 6-3 loss in Game 4 to the Manchester Monarchs at The Utica Memorial Auditorium. Despite having their home crowd behind them, the Comets found themselves in a three-goal deficit before the third period even began and now trail the series 3-1.
Sven Baertschi (1-0-1), Frank Corrado (1-0-1) and Will Acton (1-0-1) were the three to score for the Comets. Joacim Eriksson made his second appearance this postseason after he relieved Jacob Markstrom who made 27 saves before being pulled in the third period.
Manchester opened up the scoring for the third time in the series at 12:45 into the first period after Sean Backman retrieved a turnover and waited for the shot as he brought around the Markstrom’s left side. After Markstrom went down on his stomach to make the glove save, Backman released the shot and put over the glove for the 1-0 lead.
Just 32 seconds later Manchester forced another turnover just above the high slot as Alexandre Grenier fought to keep the puck in the Comets possession. The Monarchs forecheck paid off as Nic Dowd snapped off a quick shot into the mesh for the two-goal lead.
A quick reply was in order for the Comets as Corrado nailed the Comets first goal of the night in from the left point right past Patrik Bartosak’s stick-side to make it a 2-1 game at 14:09. Brandon DeFazio and Hunter Shinkaruk both got credit for the goal.
A handful of penalties at the end of the first period gave the Comets their chance on the power play and Baertschi netted the 2-2 equalizer after a solid pass across the slot from Cory Conacher. Bobby Sanguinetti recorded the secondary assist.
Manchester held no mercy in the second period after scoring three consecutive goals (two of which were power-play goals) to make it a 5-2 game. The first came from Colin Miller who popped one off from the right circle just past the three-minute mark. Nick Shore found the next one after a failed wrap around attempt by Brian O’Neill left a rebound in the crease for Shore at 7:51. Manchester’s fifth of the night ended up coming off of the blade of Nic Dowd’s stick after a 1-on-1 left him with a chance to snipe the puck to the top-shelf with only 11 seconds left in the second period.
The third period saw two more goals including Monarch’s Adrian Kempe’s blast from the left circle at 6:27 and the Comets third and final goal of the night after Will Acton popped the puck in from a slick feed from Peter Andersson.
The Comets took recorded a total of 43 penalty minutes and gave the Monarchs six power-play chances, two of which the Monarchs capitalized on.
The AUD will see it’s last game of the hockey season tomorrow night with Game 5 of the Calder Cup Finals beginning at 7 p.m.
Three Stars: 1. MCH – Nic Dowd (2 Goals) 2. MCH – Colin Miller (1 Goal, 1 Assist) 3. MCH – Nick Shore (1 Goal, 2 Assists)
The FINALS at The AUD: After having a day off of rest and visiting the Utica Zoo (check out the video here: https://youtu.be/8JGcAAS47Ys) the Utica Comets get right back into the thick of it as they continue in their quest for the Calder Cup against the Manchester Monarchs in Game 4 of Calder Cup Finals at The Utica Memorial Auditorium at 7 p.m. this evening.
Tonight’s game marks the 12th sell-out of the Comets postseason run after selling out of all three remaining home games in 124 minutes one week ago today.
If you weren’t one of the fans to secure a ticket to tonight’s Game 4, you can still catch every bit of action and every goal scored by streaming the live game for free on ahllive.com by creating an account and using the promo code CALDERCUP.
#WHITEoutTheAUD: The Comets asked that fans WHITEout The AUD for all playoff games, and boy are they off to a hot start. The WHITEout serves as a rallying cry, and shows support to the players wearing WHITE on the ice. Add the WHITEout intimidation factor in with the ear-splitting noise the Comets faithful brings to the game, and you have a decided edge in favor of the home team. The atmosphere created by the “5th Line” is a unique element, and Utica fans will once again need to make their presence known throughout the playoffs just like they have all season. During sellouts at The AUD the Comets won 18 out of 29 games (62%) with the help of their fans.
What is a “Utica”?: With some member of the Vancouver Canucks organization in Utica to witness the Calder Cup Finals, an impression has been made about the Comets and their fan base that has packed The AUD every game this postseason. Derek Jory, a Canucks beat reporter had the chance to define Utica from his perspective; please don’t blush.
Check it out here: http://tinyurl.com/nqqf3cl
CAL-der Cup: The Comets leading point-getter, and AHL assists leader in the playoffs is on fire as of late. With at least a point in seven of the Comets last nine games, Captain Cal O’Reilly has posted nine points (1-8-9) in that same span. He lit the lamp for the first time all playoffs to kick off Game 3’s scoring before assisting on Alexandre Grenier’s sixth goal of the playoffs.
Shoot First, Ask Questions Later: After Wednesday’s 3-2 win for Utica, the team that has left the game with more shots are 3-0 in the Calder Cup Finals. When the Comets outshoot their opponent they are 9-4-2 this postseason. During the course of the regular season, the Comets outshot their opponent in 49 games and recorded a record of 29-16-3-1 (.633 points percentage) in those games.
History Speaks for Itself: After dropping Game 2 of the Calder Cup Finals, it was the first time the band of Comets dropped two consecutive games in the postseason. The last time the Comets dropped two games consecutively (barring a shootout loss in April) was on March 11th against the Chicago Wolves in overtime. Following that two game losing streak, the Comets went on to win the next 10 games and carried their winning streak all the way through until April 10th.
Don’t Call it a Comeback: According to Jacob Markstrom, winning Game 3 has changed the tone of the series dramatically with two games left at home and a chance to get a step ahead of the opposition with the advantage of home-ice. Even with the Monarchs leading the series 2-1, the Comets are only one win behind the Manchester based hockey club on their journey to the Calder Cup.
Markstrom was able to get the Comets back on track this past Wednesday night after stopping 32 shots and silencing the Monarchs during their three power-play attempts. With the Comets first win of the Finals, Markstrom tallied his 12th of the postseason and was able to keep his goals-against average at a remarkable 1.92.
Return with a Jensenance: Nicklas Jensen has been running on all cylinders for his hockey club in his first two games back since the Grand Rapids series. The wake up call has gotten him two goals in just as many games including the game-winner in Game 3 in front of the circus we like to call The AUD. In the 16 games Jensen has played in this postseason he has tallied four goals and one assist for a total of five points.
Hello Stranger: After an injury to starting goaltender J.F. Berubel, Patrik Bartosak replaced Berube in net on Wednesday night and put on a spectacular performance to keep his team within one goal. After finishing his first game of the postseason, the goaltender now has a 2.36 goals-against-average and a .931 save percentage. Back-up goaltenders Jeff Lerg and Steve Mastalerz are also options for the Monarchs for Friday night’s match-up.
Draw First Blood: Scoring first has been vital for both clubs. Utica is 10-0-2 this postseason when they strike first, while the Monarchs are a perfect 13-0. When allowing the game’s first goal the Comets are 2-3-2, compared to the Monarchs 0-4 record.
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.
#BuiltForThisMoment: It’s your turn to show us how you celebrate during a Comets game, whether it’s at The AUD, on your couch or at the bar. Submit your videos by posting them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and including the hashtag #BuiltForThisMoment for a chance to have your video after the game concludes.
Last Game at The AUD: The Utica Memorial Auditorium will see it’s last game of hockey this Saturday due to the Monarchs right to home-ice advantage for the Calder Cup Finals. Unfortunately Game 5 has been sold out but you can still catch the action on ahllive.com with free access using the promo code CALDERCUP.