Comets Sweep Weekend in Dramatic Fashion
by Mark Caswell, Jr.Mar 6, 2016
Despite holding a 4-1 lead entering the third period, the Utica Comets needed Darren Archibald’s goal with 63 seconds left in the game to edge the league-leading Toronto Marlies by the score of 5-4 at the Ricoh Coliseum on Sunday afternoon. With the win the Comets ended their season series with a 3-3-0-2 record, and eight out of a possible 16 points, against the Marlies.
Travis Ehrhardt (1-1-2), Jordan Subban (1-1-2), Darren Archibald (1-1-2), Brandon Prust (0-2-2), and Alexandre Grenier (1-1-2) posted multi-point games, while Joe Cannata turned aside 32 of the Marlies 36 shots for his second win of the weekend.
For the third time in as many days the Comets scored the game's first goal, kind of. The goal-scorer was Josh Leivo, forward for the Toronto Marlies, but the goal went to the Comets. While short-handed, Andrey Pedan entered the Marlies zone and looked to connect on a cross-ice saucer pass with Carter Bancks. Leivo attempted to intercept the pass put ended up deflecting it over his own goaltender's blocker. Brandon Prust picked up an assist on the Pedan goal. The short-handed goal was the team's 12th of the season, good for second in the American Hockey League.
After the Comets killed off a penalty to start the second period, they got right to work extending their lead. Upon entering the Marlies zone, Alexandre Grenier sliced his way through two Marlies defenders before he slipped a pass to Jordan Subban. Subban spun his way off of a defender draped on his back and beat Bibeau with a wrist shot that screamed past the goaltender's leg pad. Carter Bancks picked up the secondary assist.
Just three-and-a-half minutes later that very same line struck again. Prust, form the half wall, found Grenier with a pass as the forward cut to the slot. Grenier quickly sidestepped a defender and rifled a wrist shot past Bibeau's blocker to stake the Comets to a 3-0 lead. Ehrhardt collected the secondary assist on the goal.
After 95 minutes and 28 seconds of keeping the Marlies off the board, Joe Cannata finally let a Marlies shot in. Seconds after forcing a turnover in the Comets zone, Sam Carrick walked in on Cannata before he wristed a shot that kissed off of the crossbar and into the net with 4:32 left in the second period.
As the second period wound down, the Comets got the goal back. With 9.5 seconds left on the clock, Travis Ehrhardt received a pass from Jordan Subban and then hammered home a slapshot from the point for a power-play goal.
With two goals in the first 6:11 of the third period, the Marlies mounted their comeback and cut the Comets lead to 4-3. Tobias Lindberg scored the first one on the power play, and Carrick scored his second of the night with a controversial goal of his own. The refs appeared to have whistled the play dead after Cannata covered the puck with his glove. The red light went on behind Cannata after Carrick jammed the puck through Cannata's legs and into the net. After a brief video review, the referees determined it was a good goal.
The Marlies comeback was complete when they tied the game at 4-4 with 4:13 left in the game. Colin Smith squeezed a rebound past Cannata after Viktor Loov's first two shots were turned aside.
Cue the dramatics.
With overtime appearing imminent, Darren Archibald cleaned up a rebound with 1:03 left in the game to win it. Cole Cassels assisted on the goal as he took the first shot on net that Bibeau turned aside.
With the win, the Comets record improves to 30-19-5-3.
The Comets four-game road trip continues as the boys in blue head to Rochester to take on the newly retooled Americans on Friday night. Puck drop from the Blue Cross Arena is scheduled for 7:05pm.
Matinee Match-Up: After starting of the three-in-three weekend with a perfect 2-0-0-0 start at The AUD, the Utica Comets hit the road for an afternoon contest against the league leading Toronto Marlies at the Ricoh Coliseum. Puck drop is scheduled for 3pm.
The Comets are currently sitting in third place in the Eastern Conference’s North Division with 66 points, while Toronto sits atop the North Division and the entire league with a mind-blowing 90 points. The Marlies magic number to clinch a playoff spot has been whittled down to just 8 points, and the Comets magic number rests at 32.
Last Game:The Utica Comets jumped out to a 2-0 lead and then held off the Springfield Falcons onslaught Saturday night to win 2-1 at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. The game came down to a matter of inches, as the Falcons had a goal waved off due to a high with 24 seconds remaining on the clock.
Taylor Fedun (0-2-2) and Alex Friesen (0-2-2) recorded multi-point nights for the Comets, while Chris Higgins (1-0-1) and Ronalds Kenins (1-0-1) handled all the scoring for Utica. Richard Bachman made 21 saves on 22 Falcons shots to secure the Comets victory.
Scouting the Marlies: The Marlies made a whopping 17 moves transactions at the Trade Deadline on Monday. It all boils down to this, four of their young guns (Nylander, Kapanen, Soshnikov, and Hyman) will finish out the year in the NHL with the Maple Leafs, and then will re-join the club for the Calder Cup Playoffs. While that may make the Marlies line-up appear friendlier to opponents, it still leaves the Comets to deal with two of the league’s top 12 point-getters in T.J. Brennan (22-33-55), and Mark Arcobello (21-25-46), third and 12th respectively. Newly-acquired forward Colin Smith (15-24-39), and AHL All-Star Josh Leivo (13-25-38) round out the Marlies top four scorers that will play tonight. The Marlies have seen seven different goaltenders play this season with the leader in the clubhouse being Antoine Bibeau. In 2 games he sports a record of 20-6-0, a goals against average of 2.83, and a save percentage of .904.
Ronnie on a Roll In his first 13 games, Ronalds Kenins only mustered up three assists through Feb. 5. Since then the Latvian Olympian has caught fire with 14 points in his last 10. Kenins, currently on a seven game point streak, enjoyed a run of four out of five nights with multi-point games from Feb. 12 to Feb. 20. The second-year forward has missed 19 games this season with two separate injuries.
Shuffling the Deck: The last two weeks have seen a lot of roster shuffling, so let’s catch-up. With Hunter Shinkaruk traded last week, and Brendan Gaunce called up to Vancouver, the Comets will be without their top two leading scorers this season. Insert Greger Hanson and Kellen Jones, who both signed PTOs this week. Hanson, 28, is coming off back-to-back championship seasons (CHL and ECHL) with the Allen Americans, while Jones (25), collected 15 points in 49 games last season in the AHL with the OK City Barons.
The Shields Effect: The Shields Effect is gathering a cult following amongst Comets fans. The Comets have collected a point in 16 out of 17 games, and a record of 14-1-1-1, in games that defenseman David Shields suits up in. Shields, 24, signed his second PTO with the team over the weekend to extend his stay in Utica by 25 more games. He originally 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.
Finishing Touches: When leading after two periods of play this season the Comets are a perfect 20-0-0-0. That doesn’t end there, all-time, the Comets franchise is 71-0-4-0 in such a scenario.
Next Game: The Comets four-game road trip continues as the boys in blue head to Rochester to take on the newly retooled Americans on Friday night. Puck drop from the Blue Cross Arena is scheduled for 7:05pm.