Comets Handled by the Devils
by Mark Caswell, Jr.Mar 19, 2016
The Utica Comets fell behind early and could not mount a comeback in a 5-1 loss to the Albany Devils on Saturday night at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. It was the Comets first regulation loss at home in 11 games, dating back to Jan. 13.
Alex Friesen (1-0-1) scored halfway into the second period to stop his scoreless drought at 21 games, while Richard Bachman turned aside 27 of the Devils 32 shots on goal in the loss.
The Devils capitalized on two first period Comets miscues to jump out to a 2-0 lead after the first 20 minutes of play. Matt Lorito and Jim O’Brien provided the first period goals for the visiting team at 7:58 and 16:12 respectively.
With under seven minutes to play in the middle frame, Alex Friesen cleaned up a rebound and batted the puck past Wedgewood for his ninth goal of the season. Ronalds Kenins and Jordan Subban assisted on the goal.
Four minutes later Nick Lappin re-established the Devils two-goal lead with a power-play goal.
O’Brien and Blake Pietila of the Devils accounted for all the third period goals for Albany’s 5-1 win.
With the loss the Comets fell to 31-22-6-3.
The Comets wrap up their fourth straight three-in-three weekend when the Binghamton Senators come to town. Puck drop is scheduled for 3pm at The AUD. Be sure to stick around after the game to meet your favorite Comets player at the post-game autograph session on the ice.
Tonight’s Game: The Comets season-high five-game home stand continues when the Albany Devils make their final regular season trip to The AUD tonight. Puck drop for the North Division showdown is scheduled for 7pm.
The Comets are currently sitting in third place in the Eastern Conference’s North Division with 71 points, while the Devils are 12 points behind the Marlies for the division lead with 83 points. The Comets magic number to clinch a playoff spot resides at 25 points with 15 games to go.
Last Game: The Utica Comets set a new franchise high for consecutive home games with a point in a 2-1 overtime loss to the St. John’s IceCaps on Friday night, at The AUD. The Comets have collected a 7-0-3-1 record during their streak of 11 consecutive home games with a point that dates back to Jan. 13.
Carter Bancks (1-0-1) scored the Comets’ lone goal, while Mike Pereira (0-1-1) and Taylor Fedun (0-1-1) each recorded a point with assists. Joe Cannata made 19 saves en route to his 10th loss of the season. The Comets’ league-best home penalty-kill unit was a perfect 3-for-3 and have successfully killed off 50 of their last 52 opportunities at home (96.2%).
Scouting the Devils: With a 4-0-1-0 record, the Albany Devils have collected a point in five straight games despite a plethora of call-ups that saw three of their top for point-scorers, and last year’s American Hockey League MVP, exit their line-up. With Mike Sislo (27-25-52), Reid Boucher (17-12-29), and Corey Tropp (11-17-28) all in New Jersey, Jim O’Brien (13-14-27) and Paul Thompson (11-16-27) are the Devils’ de facto point-leaders. Tonight’s expected starter, Scott Wedgewood, is just a week into returning from an upper body injury that had sidelined him since January. In 15 games he has collected an 8-2-3 record, a sparkling 1.73 goals against average, and a .927 save percentage.
Cold-Blooded Killers: The Comets penalty-killing unit is the best in the league at home with a success rate of 92.2%. The unit has killed 50 of their last 52 penalties at home (96.2%), including 31 of their last 34. Overall, the Comets penalty-kill is seventh in the league with an 85.7% conversion rate and have killed off 44 of their opponent’s last 46 power-play opportunities.
Lain’s Back Kellan Lain, a fan-favorite who was traded during the beginning of the 2014-15 season returned yesterday when he signed a PTO with the Comets. With the Comets during the inaugural season and 10 games during the 2014-15 season, he recorded 20 points (7-13-20) with Utica before being traded to Oklahoma City in exchange for Will Acton. Lain appeared in two games for the Barons before he suffered a season-ending injury. He appeared in 14 games this season with the Iowa Wild and collected two goals and an assist along with 17 penalty minutes.
Home Cooking: The Comets, currently riding a franchise-high 11 game point streak at home, will make the final push to the playoffs playing 10 of their final 15 games at home, the most home games left for any AHL team. Since Jan. 13 vs Toronto, the Comets have collected a 7-0-3-1 record.
Shuffling the Deck: The Comets have signed forward Evan Rankin and defenseman William Wrenn to professional tryout contracts (PTO). In addition, Conacher announced that the Comets have signed center Milos Bubela to an amateur tryout contract (ATO).
Next Game: The Comets wrap up their fourth straight three-in-three weekend when the Binghamton Senators come to town. Puck drop is scheduled for 3pm at The AUD. Be sure to stick around after the game to meet your favorite Comets player at the post-game autograph session on the ice.