15_1107 Shinkaruk.jpg

Shinkaruk and Markstrom Tag-Team the Bruins

by Mark Caswell, Jr.

Nov 7, 2015

The Utica Comets successfully captured five out of a possible six points this week with a convincing 5-1 win over the Providence Bruins at the Utica Memorial Auditorium on Saturday night. Hunter Shinkaruk led the way with his second hat trick of the season.

Shinkaruk (3-0-3), Brendan Gaunce (1-2-3), and Michael Zalewski (1-0-1) all found goals for the home team, while Jacob Markstrom completed his two-game conditioning assignment with a 20-save win.

The Bruins jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead 1:49 into the first period when Colton Hargrove slipped a wrist shot past Jacob Markstrom from the slot. Assisting on the goal were Ben Youds and Rob Bordson.

The Comets tied the score 1-1 at the 11:30 mark of the first period when Shinkaruk scored his first of the game on the power play to tie the score at 1. Shinkaruk was perfectly set up when Gaunce put a pass right in front of the net for Shinkaruk to finish off. Linden Vey was also credited with an assist on the goal.

Shinkaruk scored again just 2:42 later when he fired a shot to the right of the goalkeeper, to give the Comets a 2-1 lead.

At the 15:37 mark of the first period, Gaunce forced a turnover before he skillfully weaved through a couple of Bruins defenders and wristed a shot past the goalkeeper to put the Comets ahead 3-1.

It was looking like it would be a scoreless second period until the Comets struck again 17:53 into the second. Gaunce circled around the back of the net, sent a pass in front of the net, and Zalewski finished it off for his second goal of the season to give the Comets a 4-1 lead.

Shinkaruk finished off the hat trick when a shot deflected off the goalkeeper to Alexandre Grenier, who then sent a pass across across the crease to Shinkaruk in front of the net, who finished it off for his third goal of the game and ninth of the season. Vey picked up his second assist of the night on the goal.

The Comets finished with 23 shots on goal, while Providence finished with 21 shots. The Comets power play converted on two of its three opportunities, and the penalty-killing unit killed off their lone penalty late in the third.

With the win, the Comets improve to 5-4-1-1 on the season, while the loss drops the Bruins to 3-5-3-0 this season.

The Comets next game will be on the road, as they travel to Springfield, MA on Friday for a match-up with the Phoenix Coyotes AHL affiliate, Springfield Falcons. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Utica Memorial Auditorium, 7 pm
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Tonight’s Game: The Utica Comets will be back at the Utica Memorial Auditorium on Saturday night, as they will take on the Boston Bruins AHL affiliate, the Providence Bruins. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.

The Comets currently sit in sixth place in the North Division with 10 points, eight behind the first place Toronto Marlies. The Providence Bruins have collected 9 points in ten games, good for sixth in the Atlantic Division.

Last Game: The Comets last game was a back and forth, tough 5-4 shootout loss to the Toronto Marlies. Wacey Hamilton and Mike Zalewski netted their first goals of the season, while Brendan Gaunce and Travis Ehrhardt each scored their second goal of the season for the Comets. Jacob Markstrom had 30 saves in the loss.

First Time, Long Time:. The last time the Providence Bruins played in The AUD was February 28, 1993, a 9-4 win over the Utica Devils. Current Nashville Predators Head Coach, Peter Laviolette, was a defenseman for the Bruins during that game.

Welcome Home: Comets fans got a treat on Friday, when they got to see forward Brendan Gaunce, defenseman Alex Biega, and goaltender Jacob Markstrom back in a Comets uniform, as they were assigned to Utica in time for the game. Darren Archibald also returned to the Comets on Wednesday. Archibald and Markstrom haven’t been with Utica since last season. Gaunce recorded a goal in his first game back. Archibald also got a goal in his first game back on Wednesday. His goal came on his first shot back with the Comets.

Scouting the Bruins: Featuring two of the league’s top five point-getters, the Providence Bruins are off to a 3-4-3 start. 2011 second round draft pick, Alexander Khokhlachev (4-9-13) entered the week tied with Bridgeport’s Joe Whitney for the league-lead in points, with 13. Undrafted rookie Frank Vatrano (10-2-12) leads the league in goals with 10 of them, in just 10 games. Fortunately for the Comets, Vatrano was recalled to the NHL club prior to tonight’s contest. In net, rooke Zane McIntyre has been the go-to guy this season. In seven games he has posted a 2-2-3-0 record, a 3.12 goals against average, and a .887 save percentage.

Brotherly Love: Goaltender Malcolm Subban, brother of Comets rookie defenseman Jordan Subban, has appeared in net twice for the Bruins, and has recorded a 1-1-0-0 record, a 4.02 goals against average, and a .871 save percentage.

On the Mark: Goaltender Jacob Markstrom started his first game of the season for the Comets on Friday, as he is on a conditioning assignment. In the game against the Marlies, Markstrom saved 30 shots. Markstrom is expected to start again on Saturday as well. The Galve, Sweden native appeared in 32 games for the Comets in the 2014-15 season, posting a record of 22-7-2, a save percentage of .934, and five shutouts.

Not How Coach Drew That Up: Wednesday evening the Comets gave up nine power-play opportunities to the Portland Pirates and won the game. The power-play attempts allowed tied a franchise high mark. The Comets also won the two previous times they allowed nine power-plays (Feb. 18 vs Toronto W 3-2, and March 8 at Binghamton W 6-5). In games where the Comets have allowed seven or more power-attempts, the team is 11-3.

Team Effort: The Comets have 20 different players to get points so far this season, led by Hunter Shinkaruk with nine points (six goals, three assists). Linden Vey and Blair Jones have also been key assets to the Comets thus far. Vey has been a great setup man, dishing out a team leading five assists. Jones is second on the team with four goals. He also has one assist on the season.

Next Game: The Comets hit the road on Friday Nov. 14, as they travel to Springfield, MA for a matchup with the Arizona Coyotes AHL affiliate, Springfield Falcons. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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