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Comets Snap Skid with Dominating Effort

by Mark Caswell, Jr.

Jan 15, 2016

Led by Joe Cannata’s 26-save performance, the Utica Comets beat the Syracuse Crunch 3-1 Friday night at the Onondaga County War Memorial at the OnCenter. With the win, the Comets snapped a seven game losing streak and take home a commanding lead in the quest for the Galaxy Cup, with a record of 4-1-0-0 against Syracuse.

Alex Friesen (0-2-2), and Brendan Gaunce (1-1-2) recorded multi-point nights, while Brandon Marino (1-0-1) scored his first career American Hockey League goal.

Just two minutes into the game the Comets scored the first goal of the game for the first time in 10 contests. Brendan Gaunce gloved down an Alex Friesen pass below the goal line, and slid the puck to Brandon Marino who was all alone in the slot. Marino quickly gathered the pass and flipped a shot over the glove of Gudlevskis for the 1-0 lead.

The Comets spent the next eight minutes all over the Crunch and outshot their opponent 14-2. It would not be until the Comets 15th shot that they would solve the Crunch’s goaltender again.

With sustained pressure, Carter Bancks swooped behind the net before he set up Michael Zalewski with a pass that the New Hartford, NY native hammered into the net with a one-time slapshot. Hunter Shinkaruk picked up the secondary assist.

The score remained 2-0 until three minutes into the third period.

A turnover in front of Joe Cannata sprung Brendan Gaunce on a length-of-the-ice breakaway that would end with a wrist shot zipping through the legs of Gudlevskis for the 3-0 lead.

With the goaltender pulled, Mike Blunden banked a meaningless goal in off the post to break up the shutout bid with 1:06 left.

With the win the Comets leapfrog the Crunch in the standings with 40 points and a record of 17-15-3-3 on the season.

The Comets return to The AUD for some home cooking against the Albany Devils on Saturday night. Puck drop is scheduled for 7pm.



UTICA COMETS (16-15-3-3) vs SYRACUSE CRUNCH (16-14-6-1)
War Memorial at the OnCenter, 7pm
Watch Live: AHL Live | Listen Live: Radio: 94.9 K-ROCK, Desktop or Mobile

Tonight’s Game: Mired in a seven game slump, the Utica Comets head into enemy territory tonight to take on the Syracuse Crunch in the fifth installment of the 2015-16 Galaxy Cup series. The Comets, a perfect 2-for-2 in the history of the Galaxy Cup, are off to a 3-1-0-0 start this season. The game will be televised live on Time Warner Cable Sports.

The Comets are currently sitting in fifth place in the Eastern Conference’s North Division with 38 points, just one point back of the Crunch, who occupy the fourth spot.

Last Game: The Comets returned home after a three-game road trip and claimed their first point in seven tries in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Toronto Marlies at the Utica Memorial Auditorium on Wednesday night. Despite outshooting the Marlies 37-22, the Comets suffered their seventh consecutive loss.

Jon Landry (1-0-1) and Darren Archibald (1-0-1) provided the goals for the Comets while Richard Bachman was in net with a successful 25 saves. Hunter Shinkaruk (0-2-2) tied Jordan Subban for the team lead in assists with a two assist night. The special teams played well, as the power play unit scored and the penalty-killing unit enjoyed a perfect 5-for-5 night.

Last Game in Orange Town: The Comets were trailing 2-0 late, but a furious four-goal third period rally propelled the Comets to a 4-2 win. (HIGHLIGHTS).

Scouting the Crunch: Since the Comets last saw the Crunch on Dec. 27, the Crunch, with a record of 4-2-2-0, have collected a point in six of their last eight games. With a goal in three straight games, Jeff Tambellini (16-10-36) is the Crunch’s leading point-getter thus far. However, the enemy player that will have the most eyes on him will be a player that has just two goals in four games. That is, #27 Jonathan Drouin. The third overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft (the same one Shinkaruk was taken 24th overall), was recently reassigned to the Crunch by the Tampa Bay Lightning. In his first game with the Crunch the left winger scored twice in the first period and has been kept off the scoresheet since. In net, the Kristers Gudlevskis, the AHL All-Star, is expected to start tonight with a record of 7-6-2-0, a goals against average of 2.55, and a save percentage of .919.

Just What the Doctor Ordered? The Comets have been stuck in a seven game losing streak as of late. Their last win? Came back on Dec. 27 against – you guessed it – the Syracuse Crunch.

Up When Down: The Comets 12th ranked penalty-killing unit has scored seven times when short-handed, which is the second most in the league. Only the Milwaukee Admirals (8) have more. Travis Ehrhardt (6) and Carter Bancks (4) have been the dynamic short-handed duo, and pace the entire league in short-handed points.

Hey Now, You’re an All-Star: The American Hockey League announced on Thursday that Hunter Shinkaruk has been named to the Eastern Conference All-Star Classic Roster. Shinkaruk, 21, in just his second season as a professional, leads the Utica Comets in goals (15), assists (14), power-play goals (8), and points (29) in 31 games played. The 24th overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Level Draft made his National Hockey League debut for the Canucks against the Montreal Canadiens on Nov. 16. In 2014-15, his first professional season, Shinkaruk recorded 31 points (16-15-31) and 28 penalty minutes over 74 games played. The Calgary, Alberta native also scored six points (4-2-6) in 23 postseason games with Utica through the 2015 Calder Cup Finals. The 2016 Toyota AHL All-Star Classic, will take place January 31 and February 1 in Syracuse, N.Y.

Unpack, Stay Awhile: Defenseman Jon Landry signed a standard player’s contract with the Comets today.

Injury Report: According to Travis Green in post-practice interviews yesterday, Ronalds Kenins, Alexandre Grenier and Blair Jones are not expected to suit up tonight.

Milestone Alerts: Head Coach Travis Green is two regular season wins away from 100 career wins.

Lucky Number 3: When the Comets fail to reach the three-goal mark in a game, the team is 0-12-3-2 this season. When they successfully strike three times, the team is 16-3-0-1.

Next Game: The Comets return home to host the Albany Devils on Saturday at 7pm at The AUD.

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