Wolf Pack Send Comets to Third Straight Loss

by Mark Caswell, Jr.

Nov 20, 2015

The Utica Comets losing streak was extended to three games, as the Hartford Wolf Pack snapped a seven-game losing streak, with 3-2 victory over the Comets at The AUD on Friday night.

Brendan Gaunce (2-0-2) scored both Comets goals, his fifth and sixth of the season. Richard Bachman in his first home start as a member of the Comets, made 21 saves in defeat.

The scoring started quick as Wolf Pack’s forward Matt Bodie scored a power-play goal just 4:51 into the first period. The tally was assisted by Luke Adam and Tanner Glass. Luke Adam added a goal of his own when seconds after assisting on the power-play goal he found the back the net. Adam’s goal staked the Wolf Pack to a 2-0 first period lead.

Gaunce was able to cut the Wolf Pack’s lead in half when he scored 13:38 into the first period. Jordan Subban connected with Gaunce on a pass, behind the Wolf Pack’s defense. Gaunce, on a breakway, ripped a wrist shot past Hellberg for the Comets first goal of the game.

The Wolf Pack regained their two-goal lead in the second period when Travis Oleksuk recorded a goal 6:10 into the second period. Ryan Bourque and Tommy Hughes assisted on the play.

With just 1:03 to play in the third, Gaunce gave the Comets hope with his second goal of the night. With a 5-on-4 advantage due to an empty-net, Gaunce chipped home a rebound over Skapski. Alexandre Grenier unleashed the original shot that was denied, after he received a pass in the slot from Hunter Shinkaruk.

With the loss the Comets record falls to 5-7-1-1, while the Wolf Pack’s win advances their record to 7-7-2-0.

The Comets play at home again tomorrow when they take on the Bridgeport Sound Tigers for the second time this season. The Comets will look to redeem themselves after the 3-2 overtime loss to the Sound Tigers back on Nov 1. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 pm.

Utica Memorial Auditorium, 7pm
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Tonight’s Game: The Comets take on the Hartford Wolf Pack for the second time this season. It will be the Wolf Pack’s first time playing at The AUD. The Comets fell to the Wolf Pack back on October 17 in Hartford, when Magnus Hellberg and Wolf Pack shut out the Comets 3-0. Puck drops at 7pm where both teams will look to put an end their losing streaks.

The Comets currently sit in fifth place in the North Division, thirteen points behind the first place Toronto Marlies, who have played three more games than Utica. In the Atlantic Division, the Wolf Pack sits in sixth place, ten points behind the first place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

Last Game: The Comets took a tough loss to the Syracuse Crunch on Saturday, despite the Comets outshooting the Crunch 48-28. Some of the highlights of the game included Michael Zalewski scoring his third goal in four games and Joe Cannata making 26 saves against the Crunch.

Scouting the Wolf Pack: The Wolf Pack are in the midst of a seven-game losing streak after blowing a 5-1 lead to the red-hot Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Sunday afternoon. Since the Pack’s last win, a 2-1 overtime win over the Providence Bruins back on Oct. 31, the team has been outscored 29-12 by opponents, and were shutout in three consecutive games by Toronto, Albany, and Bridgeport. Center Chad Nehring (4-7-11) leads the way in assists, points, plus/minus (+5), and penalty minutes (23) for Hartford. 2014-15 AHL All-Star, Magnus Hellberg has seen action in 13 of the Pack’s 16 games and has posted a record of 5-6-2, a 2.77 goals against average, and a .901 save percentage. The Uppsala, Sweden native shutout the Comets 3-0 earlier this season.

Z-man: Riding a two-game home-scoring streak, sophomore forward Michael Zalewski, is already racking up career numbers. His three goals scored in his last four games already matches the goal total he collected last season. The New Hartford, NY native posted 12 points (3-9-12) in 55 games last season with the Comets, and also chipped in three points (1-2-3) in 23 Calder Cup Playoff games. Five out of Zalewski’s seven career goals have either been game-winning goals (3), or game-tying goals (2), including his lone playoff goal which served as the game-winning goal in Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Oklahoma City Barons.

Making Debuts: In the past week there has been several roster changes as the Vancouver Canucks have recalled players from the Comets. Hunter Shinkaruk was called up to make his NHL debut against the Montreal Canadiens this past Monday. Alexandre Grenier also made his NHL debut on Wednesday when he faced the Winnipeg Jets. Both Shinkaruk and Grenier have been reassigned to the Comets roster.

The Graduates: When Shinkaruk and Grenier took the ice tonight for the Canucks, they became the 11th and 12th players to make their National Hockey League debut for the parent club after starting as a Comet. Shinkaruk and Grenier join Brandon DeFazio, Darren Archibald, Alex Biega, Kellan Lain, Joacim Eriksson, Brendan Gaunce, Ben Hutton, Jake Virtanen, Bo Horvat, and Ronalds Kenins in the exclusive club.

Heading Home: Comets come home after facing two rough losses on the road last week. They return home for the first two games before hitting the road again. The Comets look to add some wins to their 4-1-0-1 home record. Both games are sold out.

Enter Sandman: When the Comets escape a period, any period, with the game’s lead, they are a 5-0. The team is 3-0 when leading after one period, and 5-0 when leading after two. As a franchise the team is 56-0-4-0 all-time when leading after two periods of play. The team is 39-3-2-4 when they escape the first period with a lead.

That’s J-ust Weird: Goaltender Richard Bachman started Friday night’s game vs the Springfield Falcons. It is just fourth time in the franchise’s history that the Comets net was occupied by a goaltender who’s first name did not start with the letter “J” (Joacim Eriksson, Joe Cannata, Jacob Markstrom). In such games the Comets are 0-5 all-time. Richard Bachman, Pat Nagle, and Clay Will each suffered a defeat in their lone starts, while Mathieu Corbeil recorded two losses.

Next Game: The Comets will continue their run at home when the Bridgeport Sound Tigers come to The AUD for the first time this season. The Comets dropped a 3-2 overtime loss to the Sound Tigers back on Nov. 1 at the Webster Bank Arena. The Comets are 1-1-1-0 all-time vs Bridgeport. Puck drop is scheduled at 7pm for this sold out game.

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