Goaltender's Duel Goes Marlies Way
By Mark Caswell Jr.Dec 11, 2015
The goaltenders shined Friday night at the Utica Memorial Auditorium and combined to turn aside 55 of the 56 shots the Utica Comets and the Toronto Marlies fired on net. In the end, it was the Marlies’ goaltender, Jonathan Bernier, who stood tall and turned aside all 27 of the Comets shots to earn Toronto the 2-0 victory.
Comets goaltender Richard Bachman pitched in an incredible 29-save performance, reminiscent of his Calder Cup Semifinals performance Comets fans saw last season.
It took two and a half periods for the game’s first goal to be scored. 10:43 into the third period the Marlies scored the go ahead goal when Richard Panik received a pass from Josh Leivo, from behind the net, and slipped it past Bachman.
Rich Clune chipped in an empty-net goal with 10 seconds left to cap off the 2-0 game.
Toronto outshot the Comets 30-27. Both teams failed to take advantage of seven power plays throughout the game.
The loss drops the Comets to 11-10-2-1, while the win improved the Marlies record to 19-5-1-0.
The Comets will look to get revenge, as their next game will be against the Toronto Marlies, this time at the Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto on Sunday. Puck drop is scheduled for 3 p.m.
Tonight’s Game: The Comets will return home tonight to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs American Hockey League affiliate, the Toronto Marlies at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m. The Comets will be looking for revenge against the Marlies, as the two teams faced off earlier this season, and the game resulted in a shootout loss for the Comets.
The Comets are currently sitting in fourth place in the Eastern Conference’s North Division with 25 points, while Toronto sits atop the North Division with 37 points.
Last Game: The Comets faced off against the Rochester Americans in a back-and-forth battle on Wednesday night. The Comets pulled out an incredible 4-3 shootout win. Utica displayed their penalty-killing prowess and killed off four straight minutes of five-on-three hockey late in the second period. The win marked their first shootout win of the season.
Scouting the Marlies: The Comets biggest test of the season comes this weekend in the form of a home-and-home with the American Hockey League’s best team, the Toronto Marlies. Have doubts about the Marlies being the best team so far? They lead the league in points (37), wins (18), and goals for (96). Oh, and they have the league’s top scorer this season in William Nylander (13-16-29), and have two other players in the Top 10. T.J. Brennan (8-13-21), and Josh Levio (7-14-21) are tied for eighth in the league with 21 points each. With the AHL’s third-ranked goaltender, Garrett Sparks, on recall with the Maple Leafs, the Marlies have not missed a step with Jonathan Bernier on the roster. In two games played, Bernier is a perfect 2-0-0-0, with two shutouts. The Marlies other option in net is Antoine Bibeau, who possesses a 6-3-0-0 record, a 3.64 GAA, and an .869 save percentage.
Lucky Greens: The Comets will be rocking their alternate green sweaters tonight against the AHL’s top team. With wins over the Syracuse Crunch, the Providence Bruins, and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, the Comets are 3-0-0-0, and have outscored teams 16-2, while in their green jerseys.
V for Virtanen: Remember, remember, the eighth of December. That is the day Jake Virtanen was reassigned to the Utica Comets on conditioning. The 19-year old forward has played 19 games, recording four points (1-3-4) and 15 penalty minutes in his rookie season with the Vancouver Canucks. During the 2014-15 season, Virtanen appeared in 50 games with the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL, where he scored 52 points (21-31-52) and logged 82 penalty minutes. He played 14 playoff games (5-8-13) for the Hitmen last season before joining the Comets for their Calder Cup Finals run and played in another 10 postseason games (0-1-1).
Milesone Alerts: Head Coach Travis Green is seven regular season wins away from 100 career wins. Blair Jones is one point away from his 300th career professional point. Alexandre Grenier is closing in on two milestones, as he is five points away from his 100th career professional point and one goal away from claiming sole possession of goals scored by a Comet. Wacey Hamilton is four games from his 200th AHL game and two games away from his 200th professional game.
Lucky Number 3: When the Comets fail to reach the three-goal mark in a game, the team is 0-8-2-0 this season. When they successfully strike three times, the team is 11-1-0-1.
Not Your Average Joe: Joe Cannata’s 2.28 goals against average is the 10th best mark in the American Hockey League. The Wakefield, MA native has recorded one shutout this season, and also has a .915 save percentage. Cannata has played in 14 games this season, which is halfway to his career high of 28 games played in the 2013-14 season.
Shots, shots, and more shots: On the season the Comets have outshot opponents by 95 shots (696 to 601). In the team’s last four games, the Comets have held opponents to 20 shots or less in three of the games, and the one game they didn’t hold their opponents under 20 shots was an overtime game against the Americans. The Comets have totaled a 133-88 advantage over those four games. The Comets average just over 30 shots per game (30.26), and have held their opponents to 26.04 shots per game.
Next Game: The Comets will enjoy Saturday evening off, their only Saturday off this season, before heading to Toronto for a 3pm tilt against the Markies on Sunday.