Comets Stunned in Overtime...Again
by Mark Caswell, Jr.Jun 7, 2015
The Utica Comets dropped back-to-back playoff games for the first time this postseason after losing to the Manchester Monarchs 2-1 in overtime Sunday evening at the Verizon Wireless Arena. With the Comets Game 2 loss in the Calder Cup Finals, the Monarchs have now taken a 2-0 lead I n the series as the series shifts back to Utica.
After missing the last three games, Nicklas Jensen (1-0-1) scored the Comets lone goal. Jacob Markstrom put on another unbelievable performance by stopping 37 of the 39 shots the Monarchs put on net.
“This time of year, especially in overtime, a bounce here or bounce there decides it and they got the bounce tonight,” said Comets Head Coach Travis Green.
It looked like the two teams were ready to head into the second period with nothing on the board but the Monarchs capitalized on their second power-play of the night with just 54 seconds left in the period. A quick shot from Sean Backman from just above the right circle put the puck in the right spot for Zach O’Brien as he redirected the puck through Markstrom’s legs for his first power-play goal of the postseason and the 1-0 lead.
Jensen tied the game back-up after he forced a turnover just inside the blue line. With a few steps in to the offensive zone, Jensen fired a slapshot into the top right hand corner of the net to make it a 1-1 game 1:12 into the second period.
With the Comets unable to produce in the third period with only one shot on net, the game was pushed into the second overtime in just as many nights.
Nic Dowd was the answer for the Monarchs just 5:36 into the first overtime period. David Van der Gulik was the providing force as he wrapped the puck around on Markstrom’s right side. The wrap-around caused enough havoc in the blue paint, which gave Dowd enough time to collect the puck and bang it in the mesh for the game-winning goal.
Sunday night’s game marked the Comets eighth playoff game this postseason to have gone to extra time and now have a record of 4-6 in playoff overtime games after losing their last three.
Regardless of the outcome, a bitter sweet ending is in store for the best fans in the American Hockey League as the series will be heading to Utica for the Comets last home games of the season at The Utica Memorial Auditorium. Game 3 is slated for a 7 p.m. puck drop on Wednesday followed by Games 4, 5* on Friday and Saturday*.
Three Stars: 1. MCH– Nic Dowd (Game-Winning Goal, 1 Assist) 2. MCH – Jean-Francois Berube (24 Saves, Win) 3. UTI – Zach O’Brien (1 Goal)
Game 2 in Manch Vegas: A loss in Game 1 didn’t bring the Utica Comets down in the Semifinals and neither will a loss in first game of the Calder Cup Finals against the Manchester Monarchs. Tonight the Comets and Monarchs will face-off again for Game 2 at the Verizon Wireless Arena but this time the action starts at 5 p.m.
If you weren’t one of the fans that made the trip to Manchester you can catch all of the action from the Calder Cup Finals on ahllive.com by creating an account and using the promo code CALDERCUP.
You’re the Best Around: Manchester and Utica both won their respective conferences en route to #1 seed honors. This marks the first Calder Cup Finals that pits the two top-seeded teams against each other since the 2000 Finals where Hartford defeated the Rochester Americans in 6 games.
The Avenger: Even with a total of 34 saves in Saturday night’s 3-2 loss to the Monarchs, Jacob Markstrom wasn’t able to keep Manchester’s offense at bay during the first overtime period of the series and the Comets seventh overtime game of the postseason. The good news is that Markstrom has a perfect 7-0 bounce-back record after losing the previous game this postseason.
The Swedish netminder owns a sparkling 1.92 goals against average, and a .930 goals against average through the course of the playoffs.
The Dish Master: With a tally in Game 1 of the Finals, Cal O’Reilly’s 16 assists continues to lead all players in the 2015 Calder Cup playoffs. He finished the season with 51 assists in 76 games, and trailed only Brian O’Neill of the Manchester Monarchs who had 58 assists.
Silence Kills: Puck possession plays a huge role in the way these teams perform and it’s no secret that the Comets didn’t have the puck as much as they would have liked during Game 1 of the Finals. During the second period Saturday’s game, the Comets were outshot 12-3, which set them up for an overall deficit of 20 shots by the end of the game. If Utica can find more ways to keep the puck and get it to the front of the net, their chances bode well against a goaltender who has let in 2.35 goals per game during the postseason.
One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for the Utica: Something has to give and the Comets are looking to break the trend that the Monarchs have produced in the playoffs with owning a perfect 8-0 record at home. With a 5-4 record on the road for playoffs and Markstrom’s wave of success when fighting back after a loss, the Comets will be looking to put a dent in the Monarchs precious home record.
Hot Coco: Cory Conacher scored just once during the Comets first 14 playoff games. The lone goal came against the Chicago Wolves in Game 3 of the Conference Quarterfinals. “Coco” has heated up as of late, and has scored in four of the past five games, including the Comets third period equalizer that pushed Game 1 of the Finals to overtime.
The 25-year old former AHL Most Valuable Player of the year and Rookie of the Year winner, was acquired by the Vancouver Canucks at the Trade Deadline in exchange for Dustin Jeffrey. In the regular season he skated in 20 games for the Comets, and recorded 16 points (7-9-16).
Who to Watch – Monarchs: Michael Mersch (13-18-21) tallied an assist and scored two of the Monarchs goals on Saturday night, which included a power-play goal and the overtime game-winner. The left-winger also knows how to behave with only two penalty minutes recorded in 14 games with the Monarchs this postseason.
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.
#BuiltForThisMoment: It’s your turn to show us how you celebrate during a Comets game, whether it’s at The AUD, on your couch or at the bar. Submit your videos by posting them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and including the hashtag #BuiltForThisMoment for a chance to have your video after the game concludes.
Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals gave us our last #BuiltForThisMoment.
Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AREoIdUqA_4
Back to Ol’ Faithful: The Utica Memorial Auditorium will see it’s first ever Calder Cup Finals game this Wednesday when the series shifts to Utica for Games 3, 4, and 5*. All three remaining Comets home games have been sold out but you can still catch all of the action on ahllive.com