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Dustin Jeffrey Exacts Revenge on Comets

by Mark Caswell, Jr.

Nov 13, 2015

The Utica Comets first trip to the MassMutual Center did not go well, as the hometown Springfield Falcons beat the Comets 6-3 on Friday night. Hunter Shinkaruk scored his 10th goal of the season, which moved him into a tie with Frank Vatrano of the Providence Bruins for the league-lead in goals.

Nicklas Jensen (1-0-1), and Carter Bancks (1-0-1) also scored for Utica, while Richard Bachman made 28 saves in his first game as a member of the Comets. Linden Vey (0-2-2) enjoyed a two-point night with two assists.

Springfield Falcons’ leading goal-scorer, Dustin Jeffrey, opened the game’s scoring with a power-play goal 5:40 into the game.

Not even 30 seconds later the game was tied back up thanks to Nicklas Jensen. In his first game back from an upper-body injury, Jensen ripped a wrist shot over the shoulder of Falcons’ netminder, Louis Domingue, from the top of the circle, while on a two-on-two rush. Vey and Alex Biega recorded assists on the goal.

From there the game was all Springfield, as they scored the game’s next five goals. Keith Aulie and Greg Carey teamed up to kick off the Falcons scoring bonanza with a goal apiece in a 30 second span to give the Falcons a 3-1 lead with 5:29 left in the first. Eric Selleck capitalized on a Comets defensive zone turnover for the team’s fourth goal.

Jeffrey continued to punish his former team when he ended a three-on-two rush with a wrist shot that beat Bachman’s glove for his second goal of the game. The goal was the only goal scored in the second period.

Ross Mauermann extended the Falcons lead to 6-1, with a tally just two minutes into the final frame.

The Comets stopped the bleeding with a goal of their own when Bancks jammed home his first goal of the season 2:51 in the third period. The goal was unassisted.

Shinkaruk tapped home a back door feed for his league-leading 10th goal of the season 7:14 into the final period. The goal, a power-play goal, was assisted by Alexandre Grenier and Vey.

With the loss, the Comets record fell to 5-5-1-1 on the season, while the win evened the Falcons to 5-5-1-0 this season. Both teams converted on one of their five power-play opportunities.

The Comets and Syracuse Crunch square off for the second time this season tomorrow night at the War Memorial Arena in downtown Syracuse, NY. The Comets hold a 1-0-0-0 series edge with a 4-0 win over the Crunch back on Oct. 24. Puck drop for the Galaxy Cup match-up is scheduled for 7pm.

MassMutual Center, 7 pm
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Tonight’s Game: The Utica Comets head east to take on the Springfield Falcons for the first time in franchise history. Puck drop is scheduled for 7pm.

The Comets currently sit in fifth place in the North Division, eight points behind the first place Toronto Marlies, who have played two more games than Utica. In the Atlantic Division, the Springfield Falcons also sit in fifth place, nine points behind the league-leading Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

Scouting the Falcons: After winning four straight games from Oct. 28 to Nov. 6, the Falcons lost their last game 4-0 to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers this past Saturday. Leading the way in points for the Falcons is former Comet, Dustin Jeffrey (5-7-12). After a brief call-up to the NHL with the Arizona Coyotes, Jeffrey was reassigned to Springfield on Wednesday. Lucas Lessio (3-4-7), and Alex Grant (2-5-7) follow-up the team-leader in points. Lucas Domingue has emerged as the go-to guy in net for the Falcons. In six games the Mont St-Hilaire, QC native owns a 3-2-1-0 record, a 2.34 goals against average, and a .920 save percentage.

Keep Rollin’: The Comets head into tonight’s contest with a four-game point streak, and a point in five out of their last six games.

Gooble Gobble, One of Us: The last time Richard Bachman appeared in an American Hockey League game was Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals of the Calder Cup Playoffs at The AUD. Bachman, a member of the then-enemy, Oklahoma City Barons, dazzled and frustrated Comets fans and almost single-handedly eliminated the Comets from the post-season. Since then, the goaltender signed with the Canucks’ organization as a free agent. He recorded a win in his lone appearance for the Canucks this season, stopping 28 of the Arizona Coyotes’ 31 shots on goal on Oct. 15. The 2015 American Hockey League All-Star played the majority of last season with the Barons where he finished with a 2.38 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage in 23 games. He also played in seven games for the Edmonton Oilers, posting a 2.84 goals-against average and .911 save percentage. (Bonus points if you get the paragraph title reference.)

Hunter-iffic: Hunter Shinkaruk recorded his second hat trick of the season on Saturday. His nine goals is the most by an active American Hockey League player this season. Providence Bruins’ Frank Vatrano leads the league with 10 goals, but is currently on recall with Providence’s parent team, the Boston Bruins. The Vancouver Canucks’ 24th overall draft pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Level Draft enjoyed a 31-point rookie season last year with 16 goals in 74 games.

We’re Going Streaking!: Comets forward Brendan Gaunce is riding a three-game goal-scoring streak that dates back to Oct. 24 vs the Syracuse Crunch. In that span Gaunce has collected five points (3-2-5) in the AHL, and a goal in the NHL. Gaunce, 21, enjoyed a 29-point (11-18-29) during his rooking campaign last season. He also added nine points (4-5-9) in 21 playoff games, including a two-goal performance in an elimination Game 5 game against the Chicago Wolves.

The Power of J: Goaltender Clay Witt started last Saturday’s game vs the Albany Devils. It is just third time in the franchise’s history (186 games) that the Comets net was occupied by a goaltender who’s first name did not start with the letter “J” (Joacim Eriksson, Joe Cannata, Jacob Markstrom). In such games the Comets are 0-3 all-time. Mathieu Corbeil, Pat Nagle, and Clay Will each suffered a defeat in their lone starts.

Next Game: The Comets and Syracuse Crunch square off for the second time this season tomorrow night at the War Memorial Arena in downtown Syracuse, NY. The Comets hold a 1-0-0-0 series edge with a 4-0 win over the Crunch back on Oct. 24. Puck drop for the Galaxy Cup match-up is scheduled for 7pm.

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