Comets Get What is Needed in Overtime Loss
by Mark Caswell, Jr.Apr 9, 2016
Despite losing 3-2 in overtime to the St. John’s IceCaps, the Utica Comets and their fans are celebrating tonight. With the overtime point, the Comets clinched their second consecutive appearance in the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup Playoffs.
IceCaps’ goaltender Zachary Fucale was the story of the game as he turned aside 47 of the Comets 49 shots on goal, including 18 in the third period. Both Comets goals came courtesy of the special teams with Wacey Hamilton’s (1-0-1) tally coming while short-handed, and Taylor Fedun’s (1-0-1) coming on the power play.
After the team's combined for 25 shots in the scoreless first period, the IceCaps were the ones to break the scoreless tie 6:42 into the second period. The Comets clearing attempt was batted down by an IceCaps defender by what appeared to be a high stick, and kept in the Comets zone. From the boards, Jeremiah Addison wristed an off-angle shot that Cannata turned aside before Jason Gregoire stuffed the rebound into the net.
After turning aside the Comets first 30+ shots on goal, Zachary Fucale finally blinked 7:15 into the third period. With Taylor Fedun serving a four minute double-minor for high-sticking, Carter Bancks and Wacey Hamilton teamed up for a highlight-reel short-handed marker. On a 2-on-2 rush, Bancks entered the IceCaps zone and pulled up at the top of the circle. Hamilton raced to the slot and one-touched Bancks’ perfect pass past Fucale for the team’s league-leading 15th short-handed goal of the year.
The tied score did not last long as Jacob de la Rose sniped a shot over Cannata’s blocker to regain the lead.
With time winding down on regulation, the Comets got the one goal that would ultimately push them into the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs. From the point, Taylor Fedun one-timed T.J. Hensick’s pass through Joseph LaBate’s screen in front, and into the twine to force overtime.
In overtime, the Comets appeared to be headed for a 2-on-1 break but it was whistled down on a controversial embellishment penalty on Carter Bancks. Minutes later the Morgan Ellis netted the game-winning goal for the IceCaps.
With the overtime loss the Comets record dropped to 36-24-8-4.
The Comets wrap up their two-game road trip in St. John’s with a matinee game tomorrow afternoon. Puck drop is scheduled for 2:30pm.
Tonight’s Game: After receiving a little help from the Albany Devils last night, the Utica Comets sit on the doorstep of the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs and need just one point to punch their ticket to the annual post-season tournament. The Comets can nab that elusive final point tonight with a game against the St. John’s IceCaps at the Mile One Centre. Puck drop is scheduled for 6pm.
The Comets enter tonight’s game sitting in third place in the Eastern Conference’s North Division with 83 points, while the IceCaps sit in sixth place with 69 points. The IceCaps have already been eliminated from postseason contention.
Last Game: The Utica Comets fired 52 shots on goal, including a franchise-high 21 in the first period, on en route to a 4-2 win over the Binghamton Senators at the Utica Memorial Auditorium on Wednesday night. With the win, the Comets can clinch their second consecutive playoff berth with a Syracuse Crunch regulation loss to the Albany Devils on Friday night, or a regulation or overtime win verses the St. John’s IceCaps on Saturday night.
Brandon Marino (1-0-1), Kellen Jones (1-0-1), Alex Friesen (1-0-1), and Alexandre Grenier (1-0-1) recorded the Utica goals on the night, while Richard Bachman made 21 saves in net to secure his 16th win of the season. The Comets 21 first period shots on goal tied the all-time franchise mark for shots in a period. That previous mark was hit twice before, once in the third period on Mar. 21, 2014 vs. Adirondack, a 4-3 loss, and again in the third period on Jan. 30, 2015 vs. Toronto in a 3-2 loss.
Scouting the IceCaps: The IceCaps enter tonight’s contest winning just once in eight games since their Mar. 18 overtime victory at The AUD. The Montreal Canadiens’ American Hockey League affiliate has been shutout in two of their past three games, and scored just once in the other contest. The new-look IceCaps will be without NHL All-Star Game MVP, John Scott, who recently returned home to be with his family. They could also be sporting a new goaltender in net in the name of Ben Scrivens. Scrivens, who has spent a majority of the season in the NHL, made his first appearance as an IceCap last week and allowed four goals in a 4-0 loss to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
On the Cusp of Calder: It is as easy as this. For the remainder of the season, if the Comets gain one point, of the Crunch lose a point, the Comets are Calder Cup Playoffs-bound. The Comets remaining schedule consists of two games against St. John’s, two against Syracuse, and one against Binghamton. The Crunch play host to the AHL-leading Toronto Marlies tonight before playing a pair of games against the Comets, and a final game against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
Archibald’s Return, Part II: Comets forward Darren Archibald is expected to make his return to the line-up tonight after missing 11 games due to an upper body injury. The injury, suffered after falling awkwardly after a fight on Mar. 13 in Providence, snuffed out his run of five points (4-1-5) in six games. Prior to the injury, the Newmarket, Ontario native was on pace to set career-highs in goals, assists, and points, despite playing in less games than he had in the previous two years.
Next Game: The Comets wrap up their two-game road trip in St. John’s with a matinee game tomorrow afternoon. Puck drop is scheduled for 2:30pm.