Comets Score Late to Scare Off the Phantoms

FINAL: Comets 2 @ Phantoms 1

by Mark Caswell, Jr.

Feb 27, 2016

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. 

After a scoreless first period the Comets wasted little time in the second period to get on the board. Just 2:28 into the middle frame Ronalds Kenins received a pass as he stepped out of the penalty box, which sprung the boys in blue on a three-on-one odd man rush. After gaining the zone, the former Latvian Olympian slipped a pass through the defender and over to Grenier who one-timed a shot past Stolarz for his ninth goal of the season. With the assist, Kenins now has a point in four straight games, and 10 points (1-9-10) in the team's last eight games.

For 40 minutes and 33 seconds the Comets kept the Phantoms off the scoreboard entirely. That changed about halfway through the third period when Phil DeSimone one-timed a shot over the glove of Cannata to knot the game at 1-1.

The Comets restored the lead a little over eight minutes later when Jordan Subban came up clutch with a rocket of a slap shot from the point to beat Stolarz. The goal was his ninth of the season, and was assisted by Brandon Prust and Andrey Pedan.

The Comets improve to 27-18-5-3 on the season, and 69-0-4-0 all-time when leading after two periods.

The Comets wrap up their three-in-three weekend in Chocolatetown, USA against the Hershey Bears tomorrow evening. Puck drop is scheduled for 5pm from the GIANT Center in Hershey, PA.

LEHIGH VALLEY PHANTOMS (25-25-2-3) vs UTICA COMETS (26-18-5-3)
PPL Center, 7:05pm
Watch Live: AHL Live | Listen Live: Radio: 94.9 K-ROCK, Desktop or Mobile

Tonight’s Game: After a big divisional game win last night, the Comets are right back at it tonight with a game against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Puck drop in Allentown, PA is scheduled for 7:05pm

The Comets, with 60 points, currently sit in third place in the North Division, five points ahead of fourth place Rochester, and two points ahead of the fifth place IceCaps. The Phantoms find themselves in seventh place in the Atlantic Division, with a .500 record, and 55 points.

Last Game:The Utica Comets scored in every period Friday night, including two goals in the second period, to defeat the St. John’s IceCaps 4-1 at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.

Carter Bancks (1-1-2), and Brandon Prust (0-2-2) had multi-point nights for the Comets, while Chris Higgins (1-0-1), Mike Zalewski (1-0-1) each tallied a goal in the Utica win. Richard Bachman made 28 saves in net for the Comets for his 11th win of the season.

Scouting the IceCaps: Since we last saw the Phantoms, two weeks ago back on Feb. 13, the Philadelphia Flyers American Hockey League affiliate has captured a point in all four of the game they have played with a 2-0-0-2 record. With a seven game point-streak, and a point in 15 out of his last 16 games, Chris Conner (12-27-39) leads the team in points with 39. Left winger Taylor Leier (17-21-38) has collected 10 points in his last six games to place him second on the team in points. The Phantoms are led by all-star goaltender Anthony Stolarz who has played in 34 games. Stolarz’s 2.52 goals against average is the 18th best mark in the league. Two weeks ago the Comets chased the netminder with three goals en route to a 5-2 victory.

Getting Down to Business:The Comets have played 52 games heading into tonight - the fewest of any team in the American Hockey League that will play 76 games this year. Last 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 13 out of 14 games, and a record of 11-1-1-1, 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 wrap up their three-in-three weekend in Chocolatetown, USA tomorrow evening. Puck drop is scheduled for 5pm from the GIANT Center in Hershey, PA.

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