COMETS RETURN HOME TO FACE THUNDERBIRDSJan 24, 2017
UTICA COMETS (18-16-6) vs. SPRINGFIELD THUNDERBIRDS (15-17-8)
Utica Memorial Auditorium, 7:00 p.m.
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Tonight’s Game: The Utica Comets take on the Springfield Thunderbirds for the second time this year. Puck drops at 7 p.m.
Last Game: The Comets defeated the Syracuse Crunch by a score of 4-0 on Saturday. The first two periods went scoreless in what was a defensive battle. Halfway through the final period, the Comets broke the deadlock with two goals in 16 seconds off the sticks of Cody Kunyk and Jake Virtanen. Cole Cassels gave the Comets insurance, burying a rebound to make it 3-0 with under five minutes to go. Darren Archibald sealed the win with a late empty net goal. Richard Bachman made 20 saves to earn his first shutout of the year along with his fifth consecutive win.
Head-to-Head: The Comets have won the only meeting between the two teams this year, a 5-4 overtime victory on November 18. Alexandre Grenier, Curtis Valk, and Joseph LaBate all registered a goal and an assist each in the comeback victory. The Comets overcame a 3-0 deficit in the second period to eventually win the contest.
Scouting the Thunderbirds: The Thunderbirds come into tonight’s matchup with 38 points, sitting in sixth place in the Atlantic Division. The Thunderbirds are winless in their last five games, recently falling by a 2-1 score to the Toronto Marlies this past Sunday. The Thunderbirds offensive attack is led by forward Chase Balisy with 23 points and defenseman MacKenzie Weegar with 17 points. In the absence of Reto Berra (recalled to Florida), goaltender Mike McKenna has received the workload holding a 6-9-6 record with a 3.09 GAA and a .898 save percentage.
No Place Like Home: The Comets finally return to the AUD after a five-game road trip and open up a three-game homestand with tonight’s contest. The Comets have earned points in their last four games on home ice and hold an 8-8-3 record at the AUD this year.
Great Wall of Bachman: Richard Bachman has been nearly unbeatable as of late. Since losing 4-1 to Lehigh Valley on January 8, the goaltender is 5-0-0 in five starts and holds a 1.00 GAA, .967% save percentage and one shutout over that timespan. Bachman was named CCM/AHL Player of the Week on Monday.
Career Year: Darren Archibald is experiencing his most productive year offensively. Through 40 games, Archibald has racked up 15 assists and 27 points, the most in his six-year AHL career. The forward needs two more goals to tie his career-high in goals amassed as a Comet in 2014-15.
Catching Fire: Cody Kunyk is emerging as an offensive force over the last few games. Kunyk currently holds a three-game point streak and since breaking his three-game pointless streak on January 13, the forward has racked up seven points in his last five games with four goals and three assists.
Next Game: The Comets will be back in action Friday night as they host the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins at 7 p.m. for the first meeting this season.