UTICA COMETS (10-13-1-1) vs. SPRINGFIELD THUNDERBIRDS (12-6-1-2)
Adirondack Bank Center, 7 p.m.
Watch Live: AHLTV | Listen Live: 94.9 K-ROCK
Follow and Interact Live: Twitter | Hashtag: #SPRvsUTI
Tonight’s Game: The Utica Comets return home to take on the Springfield Thunderbirds. Puck drop at the Adirondack Bank Center at 7 p.m. The game can also be viewed for free on Facebook Watch.
Last Game: The Utica Comets generated a late surge in the third period, but they couldn’t overcome the Rochester Americans in a 5-2 loss on Wednesday at Blue Cross Arena. Reid Boucher and Jonathan Dahlen scored for the Comets. Thatcher Demko made 22 saves in the loss.
Head-to-Head: This is the first meeting between the Comets and Thunderbirds this year. The teams split last year’s season series, with each team winning two games. Utica is 4-3-1-0 all-time against the Thunderbirds.
Scouting the Thunderbirds: Springfield comes in with a record of 12-6-1-2 and sits in fourth place in the Atlantic Division. They most recently fell 5-4 in overtime to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers this past Sunday. Jayce Hawryluk leads the offense with 22 points, followed by Anthony Greco with 19 points. Samuel Montembeault is the top netminder with a record of 9-2-1, a 2.80 goals-against average, and a .912 save percentage.
Stepping Up: Evan McEneny is beginning to get in a groove offensively. McEneny has four points in his last two games and nine points in his last 10 games, including three multi-point nights. McEneny has 10 points (2-8-10) in 23 games this year.
Three-Headed Monster: The Comets offense has primarily ran through three players this season. Reid Boucher (11-8-19), Zack MacEwen (10-9-19), and Tanner Kero (8-11-19) are all tied for the team lead with 19 points. These three will have a tough test tonight as Springfield has given up only 68 goals this year, which ranks 10th in the league
Special Teams Battle: Special teams will play a huge factor in tonight’s outcome. This matchup features two of the league’s top five power play units, with Springfield coming in at 24.1% and the Comets operating at 23.9%. The difference could come on the penalty kill, where Utica holds the edge, killing off 82.8% of their penalties compared to the Thunderbirds’ 77.2%.
Atlantic Struggles: Despite only playing against two teams so far this year, the Comets have struggled against teams from the Atlantic Division this year. In four games, Utica is 1-3-0-0 against Atlantic teams, with their lone win coming on November 9 in a shootout against Hartford. The road doesn’t get easier for the Comets as five of their next seven games are against opponents from the Atlantic Division, including tonight’s contest.
Next Game: The Comets go right back at it tomorrow with a road game against the Binghamton Devils. Puck drop at the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena is at 7:05 p.m. The game can be heard on 94.9 KROCK and viewed on AHL TV.