Comets Stumble in Binghamton
by Mark Caswell, Jr.Jan 8, 2016
The Utica Comets lost by the score of 6-3 to the Binghamton Senators on Friday night at the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena to run their losing streak to four games. The road loss was their first such loss in regulation since Nov. 14, a span of nine games.
Travis Ehrhardt (1-0-1), Wacey Hamilton (1-0-1), and John Kurtz (1-0-1) found the back of the net for the boys in blue, while the power play unit stumbled to an 0-for-5 night. Joe Cannata recorded his sixth loss of the season, after making 15 saves in relief of Richard Bachman.
A Comets turnover on the power play just 6:22 into the game proved to be a costly mistake. On the attack, the Comets turned over the puck just inside the blue line. Cole Schneider, the Senators’ leading scorer, quickly scooped up the loose puck and took off on a two-on-one break from his own blue line. He elected to forego the pass and beat Bachman short side with a wrist shot.
Three minutes later the Senators doubled their lead with Zack Stortini collected a loose puck in front and slipped it into the empty net.
Fomer Comets defenseman Guillaume Lepine ended Richard Bachman’s night with a flukey goal to run the score to 3-0. Lepine fired a shot on net from along the boards, just above the goal line. The puck found its way through Bachman’s leg pads and just barely crossed the goal line.
Joe Cannata came in to relieve Bachman after the third goal.
The Comets were able to get on the board just before the first period ended thanks to a fortunate bounce. Travis Ehrhardt banked a shot off of a Senators defenseman and into the net when he tried to connect with a cross slot pass. Carter Bancks and Darren Archibald were credited with assists.
The Comets further cut into the Senators lead when Wacey Hamilton stepped into a wrist shot that rifled over the shoulder of Driedger.
Before the second period ended the Senators ballooned their lead back up to three with goals from Ryan Penny and Kyle Flanagan.
Just three minutes into the third, the Senators All-Star representative Michael Kostka scored on the power play to extend their lead to 6-2.
Halfway through the third period John Kurtz banked in an off-angle shot off of the Senators’ goaltender, off of a defenseman, and in, to cut the lead to 6-3.
With the loss the Comets record falls to 16-13-3-2. The Binghamton Senators improved their record to 12-18-3-0 with the win.
The Comets three games in three days weekend continues tomorrow evening in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Puck drop between the Penguins and Comets is scheduled for 7pm at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
Tonight’s Game: The Utica Comets kick off their three-in-three weekend when they travel south to take on their new North Division rival, the Binghamton Senators, at the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05 pm tonight.
The Comets currently sit in fourth place in the Eastern Conference’s North Division, with a total of 37 points. Binghamton is cemented in last place with just 25 points, have been hot as of late and have recorded a point in six of their last seven games.
Plenty of Action Expected: It doesn’t need to be a Thursday to throwback to the last time these two teams played. The Comets escaped Binghamton with a 7-5 win in a game that saw three lead changes, and the game tied at four different scores, back on Oct. 30. The unforgettable game before that? Well you have to go back to April 15, a game in which the Comets dropped a 6-5 shootout decision. That game saw the rare goaltender fight between Jacob Markstrom and Peter Mannino (WATCH: CometsTV). During these teams’ last seven games, the teams have combined for 354 penalty minutes (51:50 per game) and 53 goals (just under eight per game), including their marathon of a game on Feb. 8 that saw the teams collect 138 combined penalty minutes, 11 goals, and two penalty shots.
Scouting the Senators: The Senators are led offensively by the Cole Schneider (11-15-26) and Ryan Dzingel (8-17-25) duo. Former Comets defenseman, Patrick Mullen (1-14-15), leads all Senators defenseman with 15 points. With Matt O’Connor currently injured, Chris Driedger has seen the lion’s share of playing time with 16 games. He has posted a record of 8-7-1-0, a 3.05 goals against average, and a .904 save percentage.
Hey Now, You’re an All-Star: The American Hockey League announced yesterday 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 (13), power-play goals (7), and points (25) in 27 games played. His 12 assists are the second-most on the team. 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.
A Sight for Sore Eyes: As the Canucks get healthier (and the Comets for that matter), Comets faithful will begin to see familiar faces return to the line-up. That process started on Tuesday when Ronalds Kenins and Alexandre Grenier were reassigned to Utica, and continued on Thursday when Joe Cannata followed suit. On top of that, according to Travis Green following Saturday’s game, Comets plus/minus leader, Taylor Fedun, is expected to return to the line-up this weekend. Kenins, Grenier, and Fedun have combined for 31 points (10-21-31) as Comets this season.
Soaring Soobs: With an assist in Saturday’s game, Jordan Subban ran his team-leading point streak to five games. In that span, the defenseman has four points (1-4-5), and has passed Travis Ehrhardt for the team lead in points by a defenseman. On the season the rookie defenseman currently sits in fourth place team’s points leader list with 17 points (5-12-17). Subban was featured in an article titled “Mashing the Monster” yesterday on canucks.com.
Take it to the Bank: This season when the Comets enter the third period with a lead, the team is a perfect 12-0-0-0. As a franchise, the Comets have never lost in regulation, and is 63-0-4-0 all-time in such scenarios.
Lucky Number 3: When the Comets fail to reach the three-goal mark in a game, the team is 0-11-2-2 this season. When they successfully strike three times, the team is 14-1-0-1.
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.
Next Game: The Comets three games in three days weekend continues tomorrow evening in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Puck drop between the Penguins and Comets is scheduled for 7pm at the Mohegan Sun Arena.