What the Devil!
by Mark Caswell, Jr.Oct 31, 2015
The Utica Comets fell to 0-7 all-time as a franchise vs. the Albany Devils when they lost by the score of 6-1 Saturday night at the Times Union Center.
Defenseman Taylor Fedun (1-0-1) scored the lone Comets goal, his second goal in as many games. Forward Hunter Shinkaruk (0-1-1) extended his point streak to three games with an assist in the contest. Goaltender Clay Witt, in his first start for the Comets, made 18 saves in the loss.
The game was locked in a scoreless tie until Devils’ forward Ben Thomson wristed a shot past Comets’ goaltender Clay Witt with just 48 seconds left in the first period. Joseph Blandisi and Matt Lorito recorded assists on the game’s first goal.
Less than three minutes later the Devils doubled their lead when Blandisi forced a Comets turnover in their own zone and quickly fed Mike Sislo a pass in the slot. Sislo took two steps before he fired a shot past Witt for his team-leading fourth goal of the year.
The Devils made it 3-0 when they took full advantage of a 5-on-3 power-opportunity. After the team worked the puck around the zone, Lorito let loose a one-time shot from down low that rocketed past Witt’s glove for the team’s third goal of the game. Marc-Andre Gragnani and Sislo tacked on assists on the goal.
The Comets finally got on the board When Fedun’s slapshot on the power play rifled past Yann Danis for his second goal in as many games. Linden Vey and Shinkaruk recorded assists on the goal.
The Devils added to their lead once again with 8:08 left in the third. Off of a 3-on-1 odd-man rush, Thomson put a shot on net that Witt had an answer for. The rebound bounced to Ryan Kujawinski who tapped it into the net before Witt could get back into position.
Sislo added his second goal of the game when he pitchforked a backhanded shot over a sprawled out Witt, on a partial breakaway to extend the Devils’ lead to 5-1.
The scoring for the Devils mercifully ended when Blake Coleman chipped in a goal on a breakaway with 2:15 left in the game.
The Comets power play converted once on three opportunities, and the penalty-killing unit killed four of the Devils’ five power-play chances.
With the loss, the Comets dropped to 3-4-0-0 on the season. The win improved the Devils record to a 4-3-1-0.
The Comets will cap off their three-in-three weekend tomorrow as they travel to Bridgeport, C.T. to take on the New York Islanders’ AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at the Webster Bank Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 5 p.m.
Tonight’s Game: In a match-up fitting for Halloween, the Utica Comets go dancing with the devil tonight when they take on the Albany Devils at the Times Union Center in Albany, N.Y. at 5 p.m. tonight.
The Comets currently sit in fifth place in the North Division, eight points behind the first place St. John’s IceCaps, who have played four more games than Utica.
Tonight’s Foe: Off to a 3-3-1 start, good for seven points, the New Jersey Devils’ American Hockey League affiliate currently sits in third place. The Comets vs. Devils game will be the fourth game of the Devils’ season-high five game home stand. With a -8 plus/minus rating, defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani (0-6-6) is Albany’s top point-getter right now with six assists in seven games. Leading the way in goals is left winger Blake Pietilla (3-1-4), and Mike Sislo (3-2-5) with three each. Yann Danis has started five out of the team’s seven games and possess a 3-1-1-0 record to go along with a 2.17 goals against average, and a .923 save percentage.
Lucky Devil: The Comets are still in search of their first franchise win over Utica’s former AHL affiliate, the Albany Devils. All-time the Comets are 0-6 vs. Albany, with two losses coming during the 2013-14 season, and four during the 2014-15 campaign.
M-Azing: Hunter Shinkaruk is off to an amazing start to the 2015-16 campaign with six goals in six games. In the team’s Home Opener the Calgary, AB native recorded his first professional hat trick. Last night in Binghamton, N.Y. he added two more goals to his total. The Vancouver Canucks’ 24th overall draft pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Level Draft enjoyed a 31-point rookie season with 16 goals in 74 games.
Mr. Goodbar: Despite letting in five goals last night, the Joe Cannata sports a 2.02 goals against average, good for sixth best amongst AHL goalies who have played in at least three games. The Wakefield, MA native has started all six games for the Comets this season, and has posted a 3-3 record, with a .919 save percentage. The 25-year old goaltender posted his first career American Hockey League shutout last Saturday night when he turned aside all 30 of the Syracuse Crunch’s shots.
Fast Break: When the Comets score the game’s first goal of the game the team is 3-0 on the season. Conversely, when the team allows the game’s first goal, they are 0-2.
PEDZ: Comets defenseman Andrey Pedan enjoyed a “Gordie Howe Hat Trick” last night when he recorded a goal, an assist, and a fight. The 6’5″ defenseman has four points (1-3-4) on the season, to go along with 11 penalty minutes, and a +1 rating.
Nerds: A note tailor made for the stat nerds: When the Comets escape a period, any period, with the game’s lead, they are 3-0. The team is 1-0 when leading after one period, and 3-0 when leading after two. As a franchise the team is 54-0-4 all-time when leading after two periods of play. Conversely, when they exit a period losing, the Comets have failed to win a game. The team is 0-1 when trailing after the first period, and 0-2 when trailing after two.
3 Musketeers: Cole Cassels, Joseph LaBate, and Ashton Sautner all recorded their first points of their professional careers last night. Each rookie posted an assist in the win.
Twix: The Comets matched two franchise highs in last night’s 7-5 victory. Their seven goals scored matched their franchise record set on Feb. 8, 2015 against the same Binghamton Senators. The team also scored twice on the power play for the 19th time as a franchise.
From the Comets, Have a safe and Happy Halloween!