Sanguinetti's OT Heroics Save Comets
by Mark Caswell, Jr.Apr 22, 2015
It’s been 22 years since the Mohawk Valley has witnessed professional playoff hockey and on Wednesday night that drought ended as the Utica Comets (1-0) defeated the Chicago Wolves (0-1) 2-1 in double overtime of Game 1 in the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs at the Allstate Arena.
Hunter Shinkaruk (1-1-2), Nicklas Jensen (1-0-1), and Bobby Sanguinetti (1-0-1) all scored goals for the Comets, while Jacob Markstrom made 30 saves through the four-plus periods of hockey. Alexandre Grenier (0-2-2) also enjoyed a multi-point night in the victory.
“It’s always important to win the first game of a series,” said Comets Head Coach Travis Green. “It’s even more so in a shorter series like this.”
Starting the playoffs on the road isn’t an easy task, but that didn’t stop Shinkaruk from finding the first goal of the game on the first shot of the game. Alexandre Grenier and Cal O’Reilly set the play up in front as Shinkaruk came rolling in towards the slot. With the puck on his backhand, Shinkaruk lifted it up past the glove hand of goaltender Jordan Binnington for the Comets first goal of the play-offs to make it 1-0.
The Comets found another way to get through Binnington on just their third shot of the game at 10:28. Kent Huskins and Darren Archibald helped out as a give and go pushed Jensen up the ice and into the offensive zone on the left wing. As Jensen reached the left circle, he sniped it in to the far side which gave the Comets the 2-0 lead.
After the second period saw a combined total of 22 saves, the third period brought more than the Comets expected as the Wolves finally answered back with their first goal of the night just past the one-minute mark. The goal resulted from a shot on net from Brendan Bell, which then rebounded into the possession of Pat Cannone. With Magnus Paajarvi on the left side and a wide open net at his disposal, Cannone fed it across the slot and Paajarvi banged it home to get the Wolves within one.
And just as the Comets thought they had wrapped up game one, Murphy’s Law decided to kick in as the Wolves netted the equalizer from another Paajarvi snapshot with one second left in the third period. After tying it up 2-2, the Comets and the Wolves were the first to enter overtime in the 2015 Calder Cup Playoffs.
It took one-full overtime period and just about three minutes into the second overtime, but the Comets finally got the job done after Sanguinetti fired home a shot past Binnington after the puck squirted to the slot from behind the net. Grenier and Shinkaruk both tallied their second points of the night on the Comets overtime winner.
“I saw a lot of open ice (in the slot) and Grenier battling with their defenseman,” recalled Sanguinetti. “So I slid down and the puck popped out to me. It worked out well for us. After letting one in late, that was a real nice win to get. A big win.”
With the second best penalty-killing percentages (87.1%) on the road during the regular-season, the Comets continued their special-teams success by killing off all five of the penalties they took during Game 1 of the series.
The Comets will return to the Allstate Arena this Friday April 24th for game two of the best-of-five series against the Chicago Wolves before returning home to the long-awaited return of playoff hockey to The AUD.
Three Stars: 1. UTI – Bobby Sanguinetti (1 Goal) 2. CHI – Magnus Paajarvi (2 Goals) 3. UTI – Jacob Markstrom (30 Saves, Win)
Playoffs Commence: Even with one of the best records in the American Hockey League, the regular season is in the past as the Utica Comets and the rest of the AHL begin the Calder Cup Playoffs this evening with a clean slate.
Tonight’s match-up features the start of the round one in a best-of-five series between the Utica Comets (#1 seed) and the Chicago Wolves (#8 Seed) both of whom worked hard all season long to maintain credibility within the Western Conference. Game one is slated for an 8 p.m. ET time puck-drop at the Allstate Arena.
Head to Head: The Wolves may have finished the regular season in eighth place but their record against the Comets speaks for itself. The two teams had split the season-series, each with two wins, and two losses. The only difference is that the Comets gained one-extra point in the series (5) due to an OT loss compare to the four points the Wolves walked away with after a total of four match-ups with the Comets this season.
In the Crease: Both of the games the Utica Comets have won against the Wolves, Jacob Markstrom could be found in the crease. Just by his track record alone against Chicago, Markstrom may be the clear-cut choice to start the series. All-time, Markstrom is 8-1-0-0 vs the Wolves.
Matt Climie played in three of the games against the Comets this season with 2-1 record against the Utica hockey club but his record (15-14-3-2 in 37 games) doesn’t match-up to that of his counterpart Jordan Binnington who has gone 25-15-4-3 through 45 games this season. Binnington’s goal-against-average (2.35) is just slightly better than Climie’s 2.46.
Statistical Advantage: Historically, getting out of Game 1 on the right foot favors the victors. The winner of Game 1, in a five game playoff series since it was introduced in the 2011 Calder Cup playoffs, have gone on to win the series 19 out of 24 times (79.2%).
Round 1 – Game Two: Both teams will have one day of rest before they get back to it this coming Friday for another 8 p.m. ET puck-drop at the Wolves arena. After game two, the Comets will return to The Utica Memorial Auditorium for game three next Wednesday April 29th, as well as four and five (if necessary).