Comets Tales: Andrey Pedan

by Don Laible

Feb 26, 2015

The Utica Comets won their 31st game of the season, and defenseman Andrey Pedan had a bloody lip.

It was 15 minutes after the Comets chalked up a 5-2 win downing North Division rival Toronto Marlies at The AUD. The celebratory music was blaring from Utica’s dressing room. Members of the media just interviewed coach Travis Green and defenseman Jeremie Blain. Next, Mark Caswell Jr., Comets’ Director of Communications, emerged from the room with Andrey Pedan.

By the numbers
2010-2011Guelph Storm (OHL)51210
2011-2012Guelph Storm (OHL)631030
2012-2013Guelph Storm (OHL)601430
2012-2013Bridgeport Sound Tigers802
2013-2014Bridgeport Sound Tigers2855
2013-2014Stockton Thunder (ECHL)500

Appearing relaxed, and anything but fatigued after skating in three periods, Pedan constantly battled to stop his upper lip from bleeding during the appearance. All in a night’s work for a 21-year-old defenseman looking to be recognized by the coaching staff and the hierarchy in Vancouver. Throwing the body and dropping the gloves when necessary has become Pedan’s playing pattern.

On this Friday night, the 6-foot-5 215-pound former third round draft pick of the New York Islanders in 2011 received the first penalty of the game. At 19:54 in the first period, Pedan was escorted to the penalty box for tripping. This was his only visit to box on the evening, and the Comets killed the penalty.

Having whistles blown in his direction isn’t nothing new to Pedan, now in his third pro season. However, it is with the power and the dominating accuracy of his right hook to challengers that have Comets fans (and players around the AHL) taking notice. But, if you ask Pedan about his toughness, in his soft, unassuming, thick Russian accent, you’d be hard-pressed to anoint him as a player who handles himself well against all comers.

“I put no special effort into fighting,” said Pedan who is tops amongst all defenseman this season in having major penalties (11). “My technique comes natural. I never train to fight.”

Perhaps being a natural at commanding his opponents, when situations call for it, has quickly made Pedan a well-known figure in and around the league this season. More than 300,000 views on YouTube of Pedan and Hamilton Bulldogs’ Jarred Tinordi’s exchange of blows on Jan. 9 this season was the message.

At Hamilton’s Copps Coliseum, in the second period, Pedan and Tinordi (6-feet-6, 230 pounds) went at it. Pedan delivered a devastating blow, connecting to his challenger and dropping him to the ice. Organizations and players who may not have known his name now knew who Pedan was.

Pedan, who was born in Lithuania, moved with his family to Russia when he was two years old (Pedan doesn’t speak Lituanian). He did not know where Utica is, after being traded this past November by the Islanders.

“No, no, I never heard of Utica,” Pedan said while using his blue Comets T-shirt to wipe away a steady stream of blood coming from his lip. “I didn’t know where I was going. I got a map, and saw it was four hours from Bridgeport.”

New York and Vancouver, when they made the transaction, knew exactly who they were dealing. The numbers told an accurate story of Pedan’s presence on ice. Three seasons of juniors with the Guelph Storm in the OHL, Pedan racked up just shy of 400 penalty minutes.  Two-and-a-half seasons in the Islanders organization, Pedan recorded another 100 minutes in the box. Thus far, since making his Comets debut on Nov. 26, Pedan has added in another 56 minutes.

To be young and a great distance from home, Andrey has settled in the Utica area with ease. He has his pre-game meals at Aqua Vino’s Restaurant and favors going to Delmonico’s Steakhouse often. Then, when at The AUD for work, there is a new-found comfort zone.

“The fans are unbelievable,” Pedan said. “I saw this after the first game I was here. They get so excited.”

Scoring his first goal as a Comet came on Jan. 31, an overtime winner in Toronto, was meaningful in the standings and personally rewarding for Pedan. However, one week later, on Feb. 8, a Sunday matinee at The AUD with the Binghamton Senators, Pedan drew more personal attention. With 4:08 left in the final period, Andrey’s slapshot directly off a faceoff found the back of the net. His goal gave the Comets a 4-3 lead (Comets went on to win 7-4).

With his former Comets’ teammates Bobby Sanguinetti, Alex Biega, and Frank Corrado called up to the Canucks, Pedan is doing all he can to take advantage of additional ice time. During the game against Toronto, Pedan was paired with Kent Huskins on defense, starting the game. During the first seven minutes of the game, the twosome had four shifts.

Pedan’s play to impress mode is running on all cylinders. Three pro seasons, two organizations, three teams (Bridgeport, Stockton, Utica), Pedan has one goal – to be skating in the NHL. With his younger brother and defenseman Ruslan Pedan playing in his second season of Division 1 hockey at Bemidji State (Minnesota), Andrey’s race is on to be the first in his family to realize a hockey dream.

No. 37 on the Comets’ roster is quickly becoming No. 1 in Comets fans heart. Pedan’s blue-collar, take-no-prisoner approach is popular with a fan base that could identify with his work ethic. Pedan is Russian but continues to prove to have what makes up a Utican.

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