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Comets Woes Continue in Loss to Penguins

by Mark Caswell, Jr.

Jan 9, 2016

The Utica Comets surrendered two power-play goals to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins en route to a 4-2 loss Saturday evening at the Mohegan Sun Arena. The loss sends the Comets to their fifth consecutive loss.

Defensemen Jon Landry (0-2-2) and Jordan Subban (0-2-2) enjoyed multi-point nights. Alex Friesen (1-0-1) and Hunter Shinkaruk (1-0-1) found the back of the net for the Comets, while Joe Cannata recorded his second loss in as many nights with a 24-save performance.

The Penguins got the scoring started early when Tom Kostopoulos tapped in an easy power-play goal after he received a highlight-reel pass from Conor Sheary.

The Comets appeared to be headed to the dressing room trailing 1-0 after Danny Syvret swept away a puck that found its way behind Joe Cannata. However, Will O’Neill quickly corralled the puck and fired a shot into the net with just five seconds left in the period.

As the second period wound down, the Comets capitalized on massive opportunity to get back into the game when the Penguins took back-to-back penalties. Wacey Hamilton cleanly won the offensive draw back to Jordan Subban. Subban stepped off the boards, and slipped a pass over to Jon Landry, who one-timed a slap shot on net that Shinkaruk redirected past Tristan Jarry for his 14th goal of the season.

The Penguins regained their two goal lead seven minutes into the final period when Scott Wilson fired a slap shot past Cannata on the power play.

The Comets made things interesting when Friesen roofed a shot over Jarry’s shoulder with the goaltender pulled.

However, the Penguins pushed their lead back to two with an empty-net goal with just 21 seconds left.

With the loss the Comets record falls to 16-14-3-2. The Penguins improved their record to 26-8-0-1 with the win.

The Comets three games in three days weekend concludes tomorrow evening in Hershey. Puck drop between the Bears and Comets is scheduled for 5pm at the Giant Center.

Mohegan Sun Arena, 7 pm
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Tonight’s Game: The Utica Comets head to Scranton, PA to face the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins for the first time this season. This is the second game in the Comets’ three-in-three weekend. The Penguins are currently in first place of the Atlantic Division with 49 points.

The Comets are currently in fourth place in the North Division, with a total of 37 points.

Last Game: The 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.

Scouting the Penguins: For the first time this season the Comets are facing the Penguins. During the Comets inaugural year, the teams squared off four times with the Comets taking home two memorable wins on home ice. The wins being the Irish Night, 2-1 shootout win, and the final home game of the season, when the Comets won 2-0. This season the Penguins are on fire, they currently sit in first place of the Atlantic Division with 49 points. The Penguins are led by center Dominik Simon (12-17-29), who sits in ninth place amongst all of the scorers in the American Hockey League. In net is Matt Murray who recently spent some time playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins, he leads the league in save percentage (.939), and shutouts (4), and is second in the league with a 1.81 goals against average.

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, made his return to the Comets line-up last night after missing 10 games. The defenseman recorded a team-high six shots on goal in the loss. Kenins, Grenier, and Fedun have combined for 31 points (10-21-31) as Comets this season.


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.

Hey Now, You’re an All-Star: The American Hockey League announced on Thursday 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.

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 14-2-0-1.

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 go into their final game of the three-in-three tomorrow. They head to Hershey to face the Bears, puck drop is scheduled for 5 p.m.

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