Comets Score First but Fall Late
By Mark Caswell Jr.Dec 19, 2015
The Utica Comets scored 4:31 into the game, and could not find the back of the net again in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Hartford Wolf Pack Saturday night at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.
Brendan Gaunce (1-0-1) scored for the third time in three games, and Richard Bachman turned in yet another stellar performance and stopped 33 of the Wolf Pack’s 34 saves including several high-quality chances late in the third period.
As previously stated, the Comets scored 4:31 into the first when David Shields slipped a pass across the front of the net for Gaunce who finished it off for his ninth goal of the season. Blair Jones picked up the secondary assist.
Hartford came back to tie it at one, 15:29 into the first with a goal from Adam Tambellini. Chad Nehring assisted on the goal.
The game remained scoreless through the duration of regulation, and overtime, forcing the Comets third shoot out of the season.
After Hunter Shinkaruk and Brian Gibbons both missed on their attempts.
In Round 2, Alexandre Grenier could not convert, while Tambellini found a way to slip one past Bachman for the 1-0 advantage.
In the third round, Nicklas Jensen connected on his now patented one-handed deke to tie the shootout. Luke Adam missed to extend the shootout to the sudden death round.
After Gaunce missed in the fourth round, Marek Hrivik scored to give the Wolf Pack the 2-1 win.
The Comets finished with 26 shots on goal, while the Wolf Pack had 32 shots on the night. Jeff Malcom made 25 saves for Hartford.
The loss drops the Comets to 14-10-2-2 on the season, and the Wolf Pack improve to 12-15-2-0 with the win.
The Comets will try to extend their road-winning streak to eight games, as they travel to Rochester to take on the Rochester Americans the day after Christmas. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
Tonight’s Game: The Utica Comets will look to extend their winning streak to four games tonight, and win their first back-to-back home games, as they welcome the Hartford Wolf Pack to the Utica Memorial Auditorium for their last game before the brief Christmas break.
The Comets currently sit in fourth place in the Western Conference’s North Division with 31 points, while the Hartford Wolf Pack have collected 24 points, good for eighth place in the Atlantic Division.
Last Game: The Comets rode six consecutive goals, three power-play goals, and Hunter Shinkaruk’s four-point night, to their seventh consecutive road victory when they defeated the Springfield Falcons 7-4 at the MassMutual Center Friday night. Shinkaruk (1-3-4), Travis Ehrhardt (0-3-3), Brendan Gaunce (2-0-2), Darren Archibald (1-1-2), and newly signed defenseman Danny Syvret (1-1-2) enjoyed multi-point nights, while goaltender Joe Cannata made 30 saves in the victory.
Scouting the Wolf Pack: Hartford is 11-15-2-0 this season, with their last game being a 7-1 loss to the Rochester Americans. Chad Nehring (8-9-17) is leading the team in goals and points, while Jayson Megna (6-10-16), Brian Gibbons (5-10-15), and Marek Hrivik (3-10-13) are each tied for the team lead in assists. Yesterday, the Wolf Pack saw their starting goaltender, Maguns Hellberg, get recalled by the New York Rangers. Mackenzie Skapski has played in 10 games this season, and has posted a 2-6-0-0 record, a 3.51 goals against average, and a .888 save percentage.
Slump Busting: The Comets 0-for-20 skid on the power play is now a distant memory as the team exploded for a franchise-high three power-play goals last night. On the night, the unit converted on three of their nine opportunities to raise their season power-play percentage to 16.1%, good for 17th in the league.
Attacking When Short: The Comets added yet another short-handed goal to their total Friday night when Brendan Gaunce scored a short-handed goal in the third period. That goal gave the Comets their league-leading seventh short-handed goal of the season. Gaunce now how two short-handed goals, which is tied with Travis Ehrhardt for the team lead in that category.
Milestone Alerts: Head Coach Travis Green is four regular season wins away from 100 career wins. Alexandre Grenier is closing in on his 100th career professional point, with 97.
Lucky Number 3: When the Comets fail to reach the three-goal mark in a game, the team is 0-9-2-0 this season. When they successfully strike three times, the team is 14-1-0-1.
Shink-Attack: Hunter Shinkaruk’s four points in last night’s win against the Falcons, boosted him into 16th place on the AHL points list with 23 points, and his goal brought his season total to 12, which is good for eighth among the AHL goals leaders.
Road Warriors: The win last night gave the Comets their seventh straight road win, three of them coming against North Division foes. Utica has scored at least three goals in each of those games, and at least four goals in each of the last six road games, including six against the Portland Pirates on Nov. 28, five against the Toronto Marlies on Dec. 13, and seven last night against the Springfield Falcons.
Next Game: The Comets will enjoy a rare full week of rest before they hit the ice again on Saturday night in Rochester. The Dec. 26th contest is scheduled for a 7:05pm puck drop at the Blue Cross Arena.