McEneny Scores First AHL Goal in Comets Loss

by Mark Caswell, Jr.

Nov 30, 2016

The Utica Comets had their three-game home winning streak snapped Wednesday night and suffered a 2-1 setback at the hands of the Rochester Americans. It was the second consecutive defeat for the Comets, dropping their record to 7-11-1-0.

Evan McEneny (1-0-1) notched his first career American Hockey League goal, while Curtis Valk (0-1-1) and Jake Virtanen (0-1-1) also tallied one point apiece. Goaltender Thatcher Demko saw his personal four-game winning streak come to an end with a 19-save effort.

A scoreless first period saw a slew of penalties on both sides, but all six were successfully killed off. The Comets even managed to hold the Americans without a shot in 5:30 of power play time.

Four minutes into the second stanza, the Americans broke the scoreless tie. After the Comets turned the puck over at their own blue line, Cal O’Reilly connected with Cole Schneider in front who beat Demko with a high backhand shot.

The teams remained traded chances through most of the second period until O’Reilly broke through and extended the lead for the Americans with 27 seconds remaining on a spin-o-rama backhand shot that beat Demko. Schneider and Paul Geiger picked up the assists as the visitors took a 2-0 lead into the second intermission.

The Comets cut the lead in half just six minutes into the final period. With Geiger in the box for tripping, McEneny found the back of the net on a long shot from the point that trickled past Linus Ullmark. Valk and Virtanen picked up the assists.

After the goal, the Comets cranked up the intensity and continued to dominate the Americans throughout the third period. However, Ullmark and the Americans were able to ride out the Comets’ final push to walk out with the win.

The Comets power play went 1-for-7 on the night, while the penalty kill turned in a perfect effort and allowed no goals in four attempts.

The Comets return to action Friday night as they hit the road to take on the Albany Devils. Faceoff at the Times Union Center is scheduled for 7pm.

UTICA COMETS (7-10-1-0) vs. ROCHESTER AMERICANS (7-11-0-1)
Utica Memorial Auditorium, 7 p.m.
Watch Live: AHL Live | Listen Live: Radio: 94.9 K-ROCK, Desktop or Mobile
Follow and Interact Live: Twitter | Hashtag: #WePlayForU

Tonight’s Game: For the third time in 11 days, the Utica Comets and the Rochester Americans will lock horns in their intra-state rivalry. The Comets are off to a 2-0-0-0 start in the 2016-17 series.

The Comets enter tonight’s contest in fifth place in the North Division with 15 points in 18 games, while the Amerks have collected 15 points in 19 games, good for sixth place.

Last Game: The Utica Comets saw their season-high four-game win streak come to a halt Saturday afternoon with a 4-1 loss to the Toronto Marlies at the Air Canada Centre. The game was played at the home of the National Hockey League’s Toronto Maple Leafs as part of the Marlies’ Air Canada Series.

Rookie goaltender Michael Garteig made his American Hockey League debut with a 31-save performance in the loss. Cody Kunyk (1-0-1) recorded his second goal of the season and Jordan Subban (0-1-1) recorded an assist to extend his road point streak to six games.

Head-to-Head: The Comets are 19-11-0-0 all-time against the Amerks, including 11-4-0-0 at home. The Amerks have allowed the second-most goals against (68), while the Comets have scored the sixth-fewest goals (46) in the league.

Scouting the Amerks: Despite getting two up close looks in the last 11 days at tonight’s opponent, the Amerks line-up looks quite different tonight. Amerks’ captain, and former Comets captain, Cal O’Reilly, and left winger Cole Schneider have returned to the visitor’s line-up. O’Reilly (3-15-18) and Schneider (7-10-17) lead the Amerks in points, and are seventh and eighth amongst the league’s point leaders. The Buffalo Sabres top minor league affiliate enter tonight’s contest mired in a six-game slump (0-5-0-1). In net, Linus Ullmark has played in 14 games, including both games against the Comets, and has collected a 6-7-1 record, a 2.99 GAA and a .909 save percentage.

Batten Down the Thatch: Goaltender Thatcher Demko enters tonight contest a winner of his last four starts. The rookie goaltender has turned a corner as of late and has posted a 4-0-0-0 record, a 2.17 goals against average, and a .931 save percentage in his last four appearances, one in relief of Bachman. The San Diego, CA native started the season with a record of 0-3-1-0, a 3.74 goals against average, and a .861 save percentage.

King of the Cassels: Cassels’ two goals in 11 games have already matched his 67-game 2015-16 season total. His second goal of the season, a short-handed tally scored on Saturday against Rochester, served as the game-winning goal – the first such goal of his professional career. The six-foot, 180-pound center was drafted 85th overall by the Vancouver Canucks in the 2013 NHL Entry Level Draft. Cassels was a member of the 2015 Memorial Cup Champions with the Oshawa Generals. That season he finished second on the Generals with 81 points (30-51-81) and +34 rating.

Déjà Vu All Over Again: The Comets made a surprising addition to their roster last week when the club signed forward Pascal Pelletier to a professional tryout contract. Pelletier, a member of the inaugural season Comets, led the team in goals (22), assists (40), and points (62). His single-season totals of 22 goals, 11 power-play goals, and 62 points still serve as franchise records. His 62 total points with the Comets also stands as the eighth most points collected by a Comet. Pelletier is expected to make his return to The AUD’s ice tonight.

Next Game: The Comets hit the thruway for a Friday night game in Albany against the Devils before returning home for Pink the Rink Night on Saturday. Puck drop from the Times Union Center is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday.

Tonight's Giveaways:

-Galaxy's Communications newest radio station, Tony Radio, will be giving out 3,000 Comets magnets at the door.

-Dr. Lavelle and Yorkville Battery have teamed up to give the first 1,500 Comets fans through the door a battery-powered fan. The handheld fan has an LED "Let's Go Comets!" display when turned on.

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