Demko and Virtanen Propel Comets to Victory
by Mark Caswell, Jr.Dec 2, 2016
Thatcher Demko’s 24-save effort, and Jake Virtanen’s first American Hockey League goal propelled the Utica Comets to a 2-1 victory over the Albany Devils at the Times Union Center on Friday evening. The victory over the Devils was the franchise’s first regulation win over Albany in 20 tries, including four playoff match-ups.
Andrey Pedan (1-0-1), and Virtanen (1-0-1) handled the scoring for the Comets. With several highlight reel-worthy saves, Demko improved his record to 5-4-1-0, and his goals against average to 2.66 on the season.
For just the sixth time this season the Comets were the ones to jump out to the game’s first lead. After he received a pass from Cody Kunyk, Pedan walked in to the face-off dot from the top of the circle, and wristed a shot past Ken Applby’s glove. Mike Carcone registered the secondary assist.
A minute later Virtanen doubled-down on the Comets lead. Demko kicked aside a point blank shot from the Devils. The puck kicked out to Virtanen who skated the length of the ice before be fired a shot into the back of net for his first goal as a member of the Comets.
Demko’s shutout bid ended with 2:22 left in the second period when Rod Pelley slipped the puck past the rookie goaltender after he received a pass from behind the net.
Both goaltenders shut down the scoring the rest of the way to give the Comets the 2-1 victory.
The Comets power play went 0-for-4 on the night, while the penalty kill turned in a perfect effort and allowed no goals in three attempts.
The Utica Comets return to The AUD tomorrow for Pink the Rink Night. All the details on the night, including how you can win a game-worn jersey for just $20, are online at uticacomets.com Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.
NOTES: Prior to the game, forward Allan MacPherson was released from his PTO. He did not appear in a game for the Comets.
UTICA COMETS (7-11-1-0) vs. ALBANY DEVILS (12-6-0-1)
Times Union Center, 7 p.m.
Watch Live: AHL Live | Listen Live: Radio: 94.9 K-ROCK, Desktop or Mobile
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Tonight’s Game: The Utica Comets head east tonight for a Thruway Throwdown with the Albany Devils. Puck drop from the Times Union Center is scheduled for 7 p.m.
With 15 points in 19 games, the Comets sit in sixth place in the North Division. Meanwhile, the Devils possess second place with 25 points in 19 games.
Last Game: The Utica Comets had their three-game home winning streak snapped Wednesday night and suffered a 2-1 setback at the hands of the Rochester Americans. It was the second consecutive defeat for the Comets, dropping their record to 7-11-1-0.
Evan McEneny (1-0-1) notched his first career American Hockey League goal, while Curtis Valk (0-1-1) and Jake Virtanen (0-1-1) also tallied one point apiece. Goaltender Thatcher Demko saw his personal four-game winning streak come to an end with a 19-save effort.
Head-to-Head: The Comets are 2-11-2-0 all-time against the Devils, including a 1-6-1-0 mark at the Times Union Center.
Scouting the Devils: After ending last season as the American Hockey League’s best team at home, the Devils are right back at it and currently own the league’s best home points percentage (.889) with an 8-1-0-0 record. The Devils, in the midst of a five-game home winning streak and a four-game overall winning streak, will be without ace goaltender Scott Wedgewood, who underwent season-ending shoulder surgery last week. In his place the Devils netminding duo consists of rookie Mackenzie Blackwood, and second year pro Ken Appleby. Offensively, Joe Blandisi (5-10-15) and Blake Pietila (6-6-12) pace the club in the points department.
Batten Down the Thatch: Goaltender Thatcher Demko goaltender has turned a corner as of late and has posted a 4-1-0-0 record, along with a 2.15 goals against average, and a .927 save percentage in his last five appearances, one in relief of Bachman. The San Diego, CA native started the season with a record of 0-3-1-0, a 3.74 goals against average, and a .861 save percentage.
Streakin’ Soobs: Defenseman Jordan Subban is currently riding a five-game road point streak. The sophomore also ranks amongst the league leaders in several key stats including points (5th), and power-play goals (1st).
King of the Cassels: Cassels’ two goals in 11 games have already matched his 67-game 2015-16 season total. His second goal of the season, a short-handed tally scored on Saturday against Rochester, served as the game-winning goal – the first such goal of his professional career. The six-foot, 180-pound center was drafted 85th overall by the Vancouver Canucks in the 2013 NHL Entry Level Draft. Cassels was a member of the 2015 Memorial Cup Champions with the Oshawa Generals. That season he finished second on the Generals with 81 points (30-51-81) and +34 rating.
Next Game: The Utica Comets return to The AUD tomorrow for Pink the Rink Night. All the details on the night, including how you can win a game-worn jersey for just $20, are online at uticacomets.com Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.