The Comets Are Calder Cup Finals Bound!
by Mark Caswell, Jr.Jun 2, 2015
History was made Tuesday night as the Utica Comets advanced to the Calder Cup Finals after they silenced the Grand Rapids Griffins 2-0 in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. In just their second year as a franchise, the Utica Comets have been awarded the Robert W. Clark trophy for being the 2015 Western Conference Champions.
Cory Conacher’s (1-0-1) game-winning second period goal ended up being all the Comets would need. From there the Griffins intensity couldn’t match up to the play that Jacob Markstrom provided in the crease with 21 saves as he recorded his second shutout of the postseason.
It took one whole period and a few minutes into the second period, but the Comets were fortunate to find their first of the night after a Cal O’Reilly pass met Conacher at the right circle. With a quick snap of the wrist, Conacher sniped the puck past McCollum on the short side to give the Comets the 1-0 lead at 3:16. Peter Andersson was credited with the secondary assist.
The Calder Cup Finals were all but a reality after the Griffins pulled their goaltender for the extra man with just a little less than two minutes left in the game. After multiple attempts to get the puck in the empty-net, Alexandre Grenier was finally able to put it away from center ice at 18:46 to give the Comets a two-goal lead with a little less than a minute left in regulation.
After taking a total of four penalties through the first two periods, the Comets withheld from taking any in the third..
The Calder Cup Finals begins this Saturday in Manchester, New Hampshire at 6 p.m. at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
Three Stars: 1. UTI – Jacob Markstrom (21 Saves, Win) 2. UTI – Cory Conacher (1 Goal) 3. UTI – Alexandre Grenier (1 Empty-Net Goal)
On the Cusp: Arguably the most important game in the history of the Utica Comets happens tonight at 7 p.m. at The Utica Memorial Auditorium. After winning two out of three games at Van Andel Arena, the home of the Grand Rapids Griffins, the Comets have a chance to close out the series and advance to the Calder Cup Finals with a win tonight.
With the Manchester Monarchs awaiting their opponent in the final round, the Utica Comets have two chances to put an end to the Griffins’ season and meet the Monarchs in Manchester this Saturday for Game 1.
NO GOAL FOR YOU!: On Sunday night Jacob Markstrom made a handful of impressive stops as he finished the game with a total of 32 saves. On his way to his 10th victory of the postseason, Markstrom denied a wide open chance by the Griffins by reaching out with his stick hand and preventing the puck from going in with nothing but his right hand and his lumber.
Markstrom’s save was seen on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays and was slotted as the number one play. You can watch it online on the Comets YouTube channel. here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgblLPNFFiI
Helping Hand: Cal O’Reilly’s 14 assists leads all players in the 2015 Calder Cup playoffs. He finished the season with 51 assists in 76 games, and trailed only Brian O’Neill of the Manchester Monarchs who had 58 assists.
Bird Watching: Dylan Larkin (3-2-5) has been on fire for the Griffins since making his debut against the Comets in Game 1. The rookie found back-to-back goals en route to their 4-2 Game 2 win, the first of which was his first professional goal. Most recently, Larkin found the Griffins second goal in Game 5 but the Griffins couldn’t match up with Markstrom’s remarkable performance as the Comets went on to win the game 3-2.
Double Digits: With his first period, and eventual game-winning goal, Bobby Sanguinetti (10) became the 5th Comets player, and first defenseman with double digit points in the 2015 Calder Cup playoffs. He joined Alex Friesen (10), Cal O’Reilly (14), Alexander Grenier (11), and Sven Baertschi (14).
WHITEout Effect: The Comets asked that fans WHITEout The AUD for all playoff games, and boy are they off to a hot start. The WHITEout serves as a rallying cry, and shows support to the players wearing WHITE on the ice. Add the WHITEout intimidation factor in with the ear-splitting noise the Comets faithful brings to the game, and you have a decided edge in favor of the home team. The atmosphere created by the “5th Line” is a unique element, and Utica fans will once again need to make their presence known throughout the playoffs just like they have all season. During sellouts at The AUD the Comets won 18 out of 29 games (62%) with the help of their fans.
Teem-WHO?: Teemu Pulkkinen (14-4-18) entered the Western Conference Finals as the most feared offensive player in the American Hockey League with 13 goals in just 10 games, and a 1.5 point per game pace. However, the Comets have kept Pulkkinen in check so far, limiting him to just three points in five games.
May the Odds be Ever in Your Favor: In American Hockey League history the winner of Game 5 in a 2-2 series has ultimately won the series 81.7 percent of the time. However, the Griffins have proven that they are capable of big comebacks. They became the 11th AHL team to rally from down 0-2 in a best-of-five series in the first round against the Toronto Marlies. Grand Rapids is bidding to become just the ninth team in AHL history to win Games 6 and 7 of a playoff series on the road.
Complete Coverage: Can’t listen to Brendan Burke or watch the game on AHL Live? No problem! Just follow us on @UticaComets or @CometsInGame on Twitter and we’ve got you covered with live up to the minute updates and instant videos of all the Comets goals.
#BuiltForThisMoment: It’s your turn to show us how you celebrate during a Comets game, whether it’s at The AUD, on your couch or at the bar. Submit your videos by posting them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and including the hashtag #BuiltForThisMoment for a chance to have your video after the game concludes.
Mystery Game: What we know for sure is that the Comets will have another game at The AUD. Whether that game is tomorrow for Game 7, or Game 3 of the Calder Cup Finals is the one thing we won’t know until after the completion of Game 6 tonight.
If the Comets take a loss tonight, The AUD will see it’s second Game 7 of the postseason tomorrow night at 7 p.m.