UTICA COMETS (20-22-8) vs. LEHIGH VALLEY PHANTOMS (33-16-2)
The Utica Memorial Auditorium, 3:00 p.m.
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Tonight’s Game: The Utica Comets take on the Lehigh Valley Phantoms for the third time this season. Puck drops at 3 o’clock.
Last Game: The Comets suffered a 5-2 loss to the Springfield Thunderbirds on Friday night. Mackenzie Weegar put the Thunderbirds up 1-0 five minutes into the opening frame. Borna Rendulic tied the game four minutes later with assists from Cody Kunyk and Evan McEneny. The Thunderbirds scored three unanswered goals from Chase Balisy, Shane Harper, and Juho Lammikko to take a 4-1 lead through 40 minutes. Chad Billins cut the lead to 4-2 just five minutes into the third period. Wacey Hamilton and Michael Carcone picked up the assists. Paul Thompson put the game out of reach with 48 seconds to go in regulation. Richard Bachman stopped 20 shots before being replaced by Thatcher Demko and his record falls to 11-11-2. Demko stopped 10 of 11 shots in relief.
Head-to-Head: Lehigh Valley has won both matchups against the Comets this year, The Phantoms victories were both 4-1 scores on November 11 and January 8. Goaltender Alex Lyon won both games for the Phantoms posting a .960 save percentage.
Scouting the Phantoms: The Phantoms enter the game with a .660 point percentage and sit in second place in the Atlantic Division. Chris Conner leads the active roster offensively with 39 points, followed by defenseman T.J. Brennan with 38 points. Alex Lyon leads the goaltenders with a 20-10-2 record, 2.64 goals against average, and a .910 save percentage.
Getting Things Started: Borna Rendulic has scored the first goal for the Comets in three consecutive games. Two of those three goals have come on the man advantage. Rendulic has totaled seven goals on the season thus far. Last season the Croatian native tallied 16 goals with the San Antonio Rampage.
Good Start: The month of February has been good to a handful of Comets’ players’ offensive production. Evan McEneny, Cody Kunyk, Carter Bancks, Curtis Valk and Borna Rendulic have tallied at least five points in seven games this month.
Atlantic Struggles: The Comets have struggled recently versus teams from the Atlantic Division. The Comets are 1-3-0 in their last four games against Atlantic teams, with their last win coming February 11 at Springfield. Overall, the Comets hold a 7-8-1 record against Atlantic foes.
Running with the Lead: The Comets rarely lose when leading after the first and second periods. Utica is 8-3-2 when leading after the first and 12-0-1 when leading after two periods.
Next Game: The Comets will be back in action tomorrow afternoon as they hit the road to take on the Albany Devils. Puck drop from the Times Union Center is scheduled for 1 p.m. The game can be heard on 94.9 KROCK and viewed on AHL Live.