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Comets Win Wild One in Bingo

by Mark Caswell, Jr.

Oct 30, 2015

An offensive explosion ended 7-5 in the Utica Comets favor versus the Binghamton Senators Friday night at the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena. Hunter Shinkaruk’s two goals on the night gave him six goals in six games this season.

Shinkaruk (2-0-2), Blair Jones (2-0-2), Linden Vey (0-2-2), and Andrey Pedan (1-2-3) enjoyed multi-point nights for the Comets, while Ashton Sautner (0-1-1), Cole Cassels (0-1-1), and Joseph LaBate (0-1-1) all recorded their first points in the professional ranks. Jordan Subban (1-0-1) scored his first goal as a professional.

Just eight minutes into the game it would be rookie defenseman Subban who got the game’s first goal. After taking a pass from defensive linemate Pedan, Subban flicked a wrist shot on net. The puck seemingly had eyes as it navigated it’s way through several bodies in front and into the back of the net. LaBate also picked up an assist on the goal.

The early lead would not last, as the Senators tied the game back up just over two minutes later. A centered pass from Ryan Dzingel sprung Tobias Lindberg on a breakaway. Lindberg’s backhanded shot beat Comets’ goaltender Joe Cannata on the glove side.

The Senators took their first lead of the game when they capitalized on a Comets mistake deep in their own zone. Cannata, from behind his own net, coughed up a pass right to Dzingel, who quickly shot it into the vacated net.

With just 15 seconds left in the first period the Comets tied the game back up at two apiece. A four-on-one rush ended with a Jones wrist shot that beat Senators’ goaltender Matt O’Connor on the short side. Michael Zalewski, and John Negrin assisted on the tally.

Midway through the second period the Comets took advantage of a 5-on-3 power-play opportunity when Fedun walked into a slap shot from the high slot. Linden Vey and Alexandre Grenier picked up assists on the team’s third goal of the game.

The Comets doubled up their lead with three minutes remaining when Shinkaruk scored his fifth goal of the season. With the draw set-up to the left of the Senators’ net, Vey won it directly to Shinkaruk who quickly unleashed a shot that snuck past O’Connor. The assist marked Vey’s first multi-point game as a Comet.

It wouldn’t be long until Binghamton would cut the Comets lead in half. David Dziurzynski redirected a shot from Buddy Robinson past Cannata with just 1:12 remaining in the second frame.

Shinkaruk’s sixth goal in six games, and second of the night, came just 39 seconds into the third period. Pedan’s second assist of the game came when he found Shinkaruk all alone at the top of the crease. A shimmy, and a backhand later from Shinkaruk, and the Comets once again possessed a two-goal lead.

Dzingel struck again for the Senators, this time on the power play, to once again make it a one-goal game. After a pile-up in the Comets crease, the puck slipped out to the backside, right to Dzingel, who tapped it into the gaping net.

Just two minutes later the team’s once again found themselves tied. Lindberg took a breakaway pass from Dzingel and beat Cannata with a backhand from close range.

It would be Blair Jones with his second goal of the night that would put the Comets ahead for the third and final time in this game. From the half wall, Jones walked the puck in to the face-off dot to the right of O’Connor before he would unleash a wrist shot that beat the Senators’ goaltender to the short side. Ashton Sautner and Cole Cassels picked up their first professional points with assists on the goal.

Pedan added an empty-net goal to punctuate the game’s scoring.

Binghamton outshot the Comets 32-29, the third time this season the Comets were outshot by an opponent. The Comets power play converted twice on seven opportunities, and the penalty-killing unit allowed just one power-play goal on five kills.

With the win, the Comets improved to 3-3-0-0 on the season. The loss dropped the Senators to a 3-5-0-0 record.

The Comets three game road trip continues with a trip to Albany, NY on Saturday evening to take on the Albany Devils. Puck drop is scheduled for 5:00 p.m.

Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena, 7:05 pm
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Tonight’s Game: The Utica Comets kick off their first three-in-three series of the season 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 seventh place, eight points behind the first place St. John’s IceCaps, who have played four more games than Utica. Binghamton has collected six points in seven games, and sit in fifth place within the North Division.

Plenty of Action Expected: It doesn’t need to be a Thursday to throwback to the last time these two teams played. The Comets dropped a 6-5 shootout decision that saw the rare goaltender fight between Jacob Markstrom and Peter Mannino (WATCH: CometsTV). During their six-game series the teams combined for 309 penalty minutes (51:30 per game) and 40 goals (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.

Tonight’s Foe: The Binghamton Senators kicked off the first six games of their schedule by alternating wins and losses. The Ottawa Senators’ top minor league affiliate dropped their seventh game of the season 4-3 to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Wednesday, giving them back-to-back losses for the first time this season. Eric O’Dell (5-2-7) has registered a point in four out of his past five games after he picked up two helpers in Wednesday’s contest. Tied with O’Dell atop the B-Sens points list is Cole Schneider (5-2-7), who scored twice on Wednesday night. Former Comet defenseman Patrick Mullen is off to a fast start with five assists in seven games. In net, Chris Dreidger, and Matt O’Connor have split time with Dreidger appearing in four games, compared to O’Connor’s three. Dreidger was charged with his first loss of the season on Wednesday and now owns a 3-1 record, with a 2.50 goals against average, and a .916 save percentage. Conversely, O’Connor is 0-3, with a 3.04 GAA, and a .894 save percentage.

Hunter Shink-tastic: The sophomore forward for the Comets burst onto the 2015-16 season with four goals last week, including a Hat Trick in the team’s Home Opener on Wednesday night. The Vancouver Canucks’ 24th overall draft pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Level Draft enjoyed a 31-point rookie season with 16 goals in 74 games.

Killin’ It: The Comets penalty-killing unit has successfully killed off all but one of the team’s 22 penalties this season. The unit’s 95.5% success rate is third best in the league so far, trailing just Stockton (100%), and Ontario 96.2%).

A Man Up: The Comets power play unit currently sits in 14th place in the AHL with a 17.4% conversion rate. On Wednesday and Saturday the team scored two power play goals in the game, tying a franchise mark for power-play goals in a game.

Early Lead: When the Comets escape a period, any period, with the game’s lead, they are 2-0. The team is 1-0 when leading after one period, and 2-0 when leading after two. As a franchise the team is 53-0-4 all-time when leading after two periods of play. Conversely, when they exit a period losing, the Comets have failed to win a game. The team is 0-1 when trailing after the first period, and 0-2 when trailing after two.

Welcome to the Show: Alex Biega and Brendan Gaunce were called up to the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday. For Gaunce, it is his first career NHL call-up. The 26th overall draft pick in the 2012 NHL Draft made his debut in last night’s game vs the Dallas Stars.

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 Albany. Puck drop is scheduled for 5pm at the Times Union Center.

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