FINAL: Comets 1 @ Bears 5
by Mark Caswell, Jr.Feb 28, 2016
The Utica Comets could not complete the weekend three-in-three sweep and were dropped by the Hershey Bears 5-1 on at the GIANT Center Sunday night.
Alexandre Grenier (1-0-1) scored on the power-play, for the Comets only goal of the evening, while Richard Bachman made 29 saves in the loss. Ronalds Kenins collected an assist on the Comets goal to extend his point-scoring streak to five games, and has run his point total to 11 points in his last nine games.
It took almost 19 minutes, 18 combined shots, and several highlight-reel worthy saves from Richard Bachman before the game’s first goal to be scored. The Bears were the ones to strike first when Nathan Walker scored his 13th goal of the year after he emerged from the corner with the puck.
The Bears doubled down on their lead when Travis Boyd tapped in a back door, cross-crease pass, from Jakub Vrana just 52 seconds into the second period. Chris Bourque picked up a secondary assist to become the first player to 60 points this season.
A little over the halfway mark of the game Grenier found his 10th goal of the season, and second goal in as many nights. Kenins streaked across the top of circles and ripped a wrist shot on net after he received a pass from Taylor Fedun. Grenier, as he battled with two Bears defenders, redirected the shot under the arm of Dan Ellis for the power-play goal.
51 seconds later the Bears re-established their two goal lead thanks to Riley Barber. For the third time this evening, a Bears forward capitalized on a back door pass after Walker connected with Barber. The lead was stretched to 4-1 when the American Hockey League’s leading point-scorer slipped a shot past Bachman for his 24th goal of the season.
Zach Sill scored 10:45 into the third period for the Bears to cap off the game’s scoring.
With the loss the Comets record drops to 27-19-5-3 on the season, and 0-3-0-0 against the Hershey Bears.
The Comets are off until Friday night when the league-leading Toronto Marlies visit The AUD. Puck drop is scheduled for 7pm.
Tonight’s Game: The Utica Comets three-in-three weekend wraps up tonight in Chocolatetown, USA, with an early evening match-up against the Hershey Bears. Puck drop is scheduled for 5pm.
The Comets, with 62 points, currently sit in third place in the North Division after winning their last three games. The Bears find themselves in second place in the Atlantic Division with 72 points, just two thousandths (.002) percentage points behind the division-leading Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins..
Last Game:Backed by goals from Alexandre Grenier and Jordan Subban, the Utica Comets defeated the Lehigh Valley Phantoms for the third time this season with a 2-1 win at the PPL Center on Saturday night.
Joe Cannata made 20 saves in the win, while Alexandre Grenier (1-0-1), and Jordan Subban (1-0-1) accounted for all the scoring.
Scouting the Bears: The Hershey Bears are rolling as of late. They have won four of their last five games, but what is even more impressive, is their last wins have come against the top two teams in the American Hockey League, the Toronto Marlies and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. In those two wins they have outscored the league leaders 9-3. With his two-point game Friday night vs the Marlies, Chris Bourque (23-36-59) returned to the top of the AHL points lead. He now ranks second in assists (36) and tied for fourth in goals (23). In net it has been goaltender Dan Ellis leading the way with a 19-7-4 record, a .906 save percentage, and a goals against average of 2.46 that is the 12th best mark in the league.
Close the Book: Not only are the Comets a perfect 18-0-0-0 in games they lead after two periods this season, they have never lost a game in franchise history when leading after two. All-time the Comets are 69-0-4-0 with such a lead.
Getting Down to Business:The Comets have played 53 games heading into tonight - the fewest of any team in the American Hockey League that will play 76 games this year. Friday night kicked off a crucial stretch that features 16 games over the next 33 days. 10 at home, six on the road, and a whopping 11 vs. the North Division. Making things even tougher, the Comets will play three-in-three series five of the next six weekends.
Shields Up: The Comets have collected a point in 14 out of 15 games, and a record of 12-1-1-1, in games that defenseman David Shields suits up in. Shields, 24, signed his second PTO with the team over the weekend to extend his stay in Utica by 25 more games. He originally signed a PTO on Dec. 11 and joined the Comets with four seasons and over 200 games of AHL experience under his belt with the Peoria Rivermen and Chicago Wolves. Shields spent the past two seasons with the Chicago Wolves, where he collected 21 points (5-16-21) over 97 games played. Prior to joining the Comets this season, the Rochester, NY native has played in 15 games for the Adirondack Thunder, and has registered nine points (2-7-9) and 9 penalty minutes.
Next Game: The Comets are off until Friday night when the league-leading Toronto Marlies visit The AUD. Puck drop is scheduled for 7pm.