Cassel's Short-Handed Tally Lands Comets a Win

Cassel's Short-handed Tally Lands Comets a Win

by Mark Caswell, Jr.

Nov 19, 2016

The Utica Comets picked up their second consecutive win Saturday night at the Utica Memorial Auditorium as they bested the Rochester Americans 2-1. The win brings the Comets record to 5-9-1-0 on the season.

Curtis Valk (1-0-1) and Darren Archibald (0-1-1) continued to stay red hot and each tallied a point for the fourth consecutive game. Cole Cassels (1-0-1), Jake Virtanen (0-1-1), and Joseph LaBate (0-1-1) each chipped in with one point apiece as well. Goaltender Richard Bachman picked up the win and stopped 15 of the 16 shots he faced.

Valk got the Comets on the board five minutes into the game when he buried a pass from Virtanen on a two-on-one rush. The goal was Valk’s fourth goal, and ninth point, in his last four games. Archibald picked up the secondary assist on the goal.

The two teams went back-and-forth throughout the first half of the second period until the Amerks scored their lone goal of the game. With Marco Roy in the box for slashing, Rochester was able to convert on the man advantage. Alexander Nylander sprung Nick Baptiste on a breakaway who snapped a shot past Bachman.

The Comets retook the lead for good just three minutes later as Cassels deked out Ullmark on a shorthanded two-on-one rush. LaBate recorded an assist on the goal for his third point in two games.

The scoreless third period saw the Comets goaltender Richard Bachman leave with a lower body injury. Thatcher Demko came on in relief after Bachman’s injury with seven minutes remaining. Demko stopped all four shots he faced as the Comets withstood a late Rochester flurry to preserve the victory.

The Comets power play went 0-for-3 on the evening, while the penalty kill allowed one goal in three attempts.

The Comets finish their six game homestand Wednesday November 23rd at 7pm against the Syracuse Crunch at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.

Utica Memorial Auditorium, 7 p.m.
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Tonight’s Game: The Utica Comets go in search of the season’s first winning streak with a 7 p.m. contest against the Rochester Americans. Tonight’s game is the first of eight contests, including three in the next 11 days, between the New York State rivals.

The four-win Comets enter tonight’s contest in seventh place in the North Division with nine points in 14 games, while the Americans have collected 15 points in 15 games, good for fifth place in the North Division.

Help Us Out: All fans attending tonight's game are encouraged to bring a canned or non-perishable food item to the game. The Utica Food Pantry will be collecting donations to stock up for the holiday season and to help those in need.

Last Game: The Utica Comets wiped out an early 3-0 deficit to set up Darren Archibald’s second overtime game-winning goal in three games, as the Comets slipped by the Springfield Thunderbirds 5-4 Friday night at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.

Curtis Valk (1-2-3) led the Comets offensively and tallied three points while Joseph LaBate (1-1-2) and Alexandre Grenier (1-1-2) chipped in with two points apiece. Jordan Subban (0-1-1), Cole Cassels (1-0-1), Cody Kunyk (0-1-1), Darren Archibald (1-0-1), Wacey Hamilton (0-1-1), and Chad Billins (0-1-1) all collected a point in the win. Goaltender Thatcher Demko earned his seconnd career professional victory and stopped 27 of the 31 shots he faced in the process.

Scouting the Amerks: Although boasting a line-up that features the league’s top two point-getters in Cal O’Reilly (3-15-18) and Cole Schneider (7-10-17), the Buffalo Sabres top minor league affiliate has allowed more goals (51) than they have scored (48) is off to a .500 start so far. Defensively, the Amerks are paced by former Comets defenseman Taylor Fedun (2-10-12), however, he is currently on recall with the parent club. Goaltender Linus Ullmark has taken the lion’s share of game’s in net and has collected a 6-4-1-1 record, a 2.64 goals against average, and a .919 save percentage in 11 games played.

Surprise Addition: On Wednesday, Canucks General Manager, Jim Benning, surprised Comets fans with the assignment of former sixth overall draft pick, Jake Virtanen, to the Comets. Virtanen, 20, has appeared in 10 games with the Canucks this season registering an assist (0-1-1) along with two penalty minutes. In his debut NHL season in 2015-16, Virtanen appeared in 55 games for Vancouver where he collected 13 points (7-6-13) and ranked second on the team in hits with 128. He also appeared in two games for Utica on a conditioning stint and represented Canada at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Fantastic Duo: Curtis Valk and Darren Archibald have found quite the connection. They have had a hand in nine of the Comets las 10 goals the past three games. In that span, Valk has collected three multi-point games, including two three-point games, while Darren Archibald has collected two multi-point efforts and two game-winning overtime goals.

Injury Report: After an awkward collision into the net last week, Mike Zalewski is day-to-day. Forwards Marco Roy and Wacey Hamilton, and defenseman Tom Nilsson all returned to game action this week. Captain Carter Bancks is day-to-day with an upper body injury.

Next Game: The Comets six game homestand concludes Wednesday night at The AUD. The Comets welcome the Syracuse Crunch to The AUD for the first time this season. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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