FINAL: Comets 5 vs. Senators 2
by Mark Caswell, Jr.Feb 12, 2016
The Utica Comets struck twice on the power play and were a perfect 6-for-6 on the penalty kill as the defeated the Binghamton Senators 5-2 at the Utica Memorial Auditorium onFriday night. The Comets have now won five out of their last six games.
Brendan Gaunce (1-2-3), Ronalds Kenins (0-2-2), Hunter Shinkaruk (1-1-2), Taylor Fedun (1-1-2), and Alexandre Grenier (1-1-2) recorded multi-point nights for the Comets, while Darren Archibald (1-0-1), Jordan Subban (0-1-1), Joseph LaBate (0-1-1), and Andrey Pedan (0-1-1) had one point each. Joe Cannata made 31 saves to record his 13th win of the season.
The Comets got on the board first, 3:40 into the first period with a power play goal. Fedun sent a shot from the point, and Brendan Gaunce redirected the shot into the net for his 14th goal of the season.
The Senators struck back with 1:43 left in the first to tie it 1-1. Casey Bailey sent a pass to Cole Schneider in front of the net, and he punched it in from the crease.
Utica would take the lead back 1:02 into the second period, when Gaunce sent a backhand pass into the crease, and Shinkaruk finished the job, netting his 19th goal of the season.
Binghamton would tie it up again with 3:48 left in the second. Max McCormick got on a breakaway and sent a shot past Cannata to make it 2-2.
The Comets would take the lead for good on Taylor Fedun’s fifth goal of the season. Utica came down on a 3 on 2, Grenier sent a backhand pass across the crease to Fedun, who came barreling down the right side of the ice to finish it off, and give the Comets a 3-2 lead.
Darren Archibald extended the lead to 4-2 with 10:23 left in regulation. Archibald came down the left side of the ice, chasing down a pass from LaBate, and sending a shot past Matt O’Connor for his fifth goal of the year.
Grenier capped off the scoring for the night, sending a slap shot from the blue line, and into the back of the Senators empty net with 17 seconds remaining in the game.
Utica finished with 33 shots on goal, while Binghamton had 29 shots. O’Connor had 23 saves for Binghamton.
With the win, Utica improves to 23-17-4-3. The loss drops the Senators to 17-28-3-0.
The Comets will be back in action tomorrow night, as they will be on the road, taking on the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
Tonight’s Game: For the first time since Dec. 2-4, the Utica Comets officially have a home stand, albeit a short two-game one. Tonight, the Comets welcome their New York State rival, the Binghamton Senators, to The AUD for the first time this season. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.
The Comets, with 51 points, currently sit in third place by a percentage points over the fourth place St. John’s IceCaps. The Senators are entrenched in last place within the North Division with 37 points, 11 points behind the sixth place Crunch.
Last Game: The Utica Comets erased a second period 3-0 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton penguins lead before falling 4-3 in overtime Tuesday night at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. The Penguins struck twice in the first period and then again early in the second period before the Comets took the game over and mounted their comeback and scored three straight.
Carter Bancks (0-2-0) had a multi-point night, while Chris Higgins (1-0-0), Jordan Subban (1-0-0), and Brendan Gaunce (1-0-0) each recorded goals for the Comets. Richard Bachman made 21 saves in net for Utica.
Scouting the Senators: Since the Comets last saw the B-Sens back on Jan. 8, the Senators have limped to a 4-10-0-0 record. Including losses in their last four games that saw the team get outscored 23-5 by their opposition. On the season, the Ottawa Senators’ American Hockey League affiliate has allowed 166 goals, just one goal shy of the most in the league (Manitoba Moose). Cole Schneider (15-22-37) has led the way in points thus far for Binghamton, and ranks as 18th in the league with 37 points. The rookie goaltending duo of Matt O’Connor and Chris Driedger have split duties in between the pipes. O’Connor has posted a record of 3-12-2-0, with a 3.92 goals against average, and a .869 save percentage. Driedger has posted a record of 11-12-1-0, with a 3.24 GAA, and a .897 save percentage.
More of That Please: In the last four games (3-0-1-0) the Comets have collected 19 goals, just a tick under four per game. Prior to that the Comets scored 21 goals in 11 games (1.9 per game), while collecting a 2-7-1-1 record. Scoring three or more goals is important for this season’s Comets. When they fail to reach the three-goal mark in a game, the team is 1-14-3-2 this season. When they successfully strike three times, the team is 20-3-1-1.
Z for Zalewski: Michael Zalewski has appeared in five games since being reassigned to the Comets on Jan. 25, and all he has done in those five games is collect four goals, two game-winning goals, and three assists. The forward improved on his impressive sophomore campaign by increasing his season totals to 12 goals, and 12 assists in 39 games. Zalewski has already bested his totals from last season’s 55 game campaign that saw him score 3 times and add nine assists.
Shields Up: The Comets have collected a point in nine out of 10 games, and a record of 7-1-1-1, in gams that defenseman David Shields suits up in. (Hat tip to Comets superfan Greg Wrate for that stat). Shields, 24, 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.
Coming for That #1 Spot: Shinkaruk’s 18 goals this season not only paces the team, it also puts him just four goals shy of tying Pascal Pelletier’s single-season record of 22 set during the 2013-14 season. Shinkaruk, 21, in just his second season as a professional, leads the Utica Comets in goals (17), power-play goals (9), and points (32) in 39 games played. The 24th overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Level Draft made his National Hockey League debut for the Canucks against the Montreal Canadiens on Nov. 16. In 2014-15, his first professional season, Shinkaruk recorded 31 points (16-15-31) and 28 penalty minutes over 74 games played. The Calgary, Alberta native also scored six points (4-2-6) in 23 postseason games with Utica through the 2015 Calder Cup Finals.
Next Game: The Comets hit the road immediately following tonight’s contest for their first trip to Lehigh Valley. The game between the Comets and Phantoms is scheduled for 7pm tomorrow night.