Zalewski Shines Again!
by Mark Caswell, Jr.Jan 31, 2016
Down 2-0 early at the Utica Memorial Auditorium, Michael Zalewski and the Utica Comets stormed back for a 4-2 win vs the Rochester Americans on Saturday night. For the second consecutive night Zalewski netted two goals, including the game-winning goal.
Hunter Shinkaruk (1-0-1), Mike Zalewski (2-1-3) and Jon Landry (1-2-3) scored goals for the Comets and Joe Cannata stopped 20 saves en route to the win.
Back at The AUD for the first time in two weeks, the Comets had their work cut out for them as the Amerks jumped out to a two goals within the first five minutes of the contest.
With the first period coming to an end, Shinkaruk scored his 17th goal of the season with 4:09 remaining in the period. After he received a pass from Jon Landry, Shinkaruk wristed a shot through traffic and into the net. The goal was also assisted by Zalewski.
In the second period Zalewski scored his first goal of the night when he forced a turnover and scored a short-handed breakaway tally on Ullmark.
Just five minutes into the third period, Zalewski struck again for his 12th of the season. Brendan Gaunce collected a rebound and slipped a pass across the crease to Zalewski who quickly fired a shot into the gaping net for the game-winning goal.
Jon Landry added an insurance goal when he scored on an empty-net from his own zone.
With the win the Comets record improves to 19-17-3-3.
The Comets are back on the road next week as they head to St. Johns, Newfoundland to face the IceCaps, next Saturday, February 5th at the Mile One Centre Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 6:00pm.
Tonight’s Game: The Comets finally return to the comfy confines that is the Utica Memorial Auditorium for a tilt against the Rochester Americans. Puck drop at The AUD is scheduled for 7p.m. tonight.
The Comets have won their last four games against the Amerks, and possess a 4-1-0-0 record against their North Division rival this season. The Comets lone loss to the Cal O’Reilly-led Amerks was the season opener, a 2-1 defeat in Rochester.
Last Game: Propelled by Michael Zalewski’s two-goal performance in his first game back in the line-up, the Utica Comets defeated the Albany Devils 4-3 in overtime at the Times Union Center on Friday night. Zalewski, fresh off of his first call-up to the Vancouver Canucks, scored the Comets first goal and then the game-winning overtime goal, just 46 seconds into the extra frame. Jordan Subban and Andrey Pedan also tallied goals in the win.
Scouting the Amerks: Rochester is sitting in sixth place in the American Hockey League’s North Division with 45 points, just one spot behind the Comets. The Amerks have won three of their last four games, losing their last game by the score of 5-2, at the hands of the Binghamton Senators. Former Comets captain, Cal O’Reilly, is the leading point getter for the Amerks with 26 points (5-21-26), followed closely by Jason Akeson’s 25 points (7-18-25). Phil Varone leads the team with 12 goals, tallying 24 total points, good for third on the team. Nathan Lieuwen and Andrey Makarov have been the main goaltenders for the Amerks this season. Lieuwen has a 2.76 GAA and has a .915 save percentage, to go along with an 11-8-1-0 record, which includes one shutout. Makarov has tallied a 3.09 GAA and a .907 save percentage.
Welcome Back: A little over a week ago Michael Zalewski inked a very rare in-season NHL two-way contract with the Vancouver Canucks. Immediately the New Hartford, NY native was recalled to the NHL. After two games and an assist for the Canucks, Zalewski returned to the Comets line-up last night in dramatic fashion. The forward improved on his impressive campaign by scoring twice, including the unassisted game-winning goal just 46 seconds into overtime. In just 36 games this season Zalewski has 19 points (10-9-19), and has already bested his totals from last season’s 55 game campaign that saw him score 3 times and add nine assists.
Return of the Arch: Darren Archibald will be back in action tonight after not playing in last night’s game against the Albany Devils. Archibald was serving a one game suspension for a boarding penalty in Sunday’s game against Toronto.
First Blow is Vital: Last night’s win against the Devils marked the first time in 2016 that the Comets won after allowing the first goal. Since the turn of the New Year, the Comets are 2-0-0-0 when they strike first. Conversely, when allowing the first goal, the team entered last night’s contest 0-6-0-1 when allowing the first goal. The Comets find a lot of success when scoring first. The Comets have scored the game’s first goal 16 times this season; in 14 of those games the team has collected at least a point with an 11-2-1-2 records.
Lucky Number 3: Scoring three goals is a big deal for this year’s Comets. When the Comets fail to reach the three-goal mark in a game, the team is 1-14-3-2 this season. When they successfully strike three times, the team is 18-3-0-1.
Hey Now, You’re an All-Star: Shinkaruk’s 16 goals this season not only paces the team, it also puts him just six goals shy of breaking Pascal Pelletier’s single-season record of 22 set during the 2013-14 season. Shinkaruk, 21, in just his second season as a professional, leads the Utica Comets in goals (16), power-play goals (9), and points (31) in 36 games played. The 24th overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Level Draft made his National Hockey League debut for the Canucks against the Montreal Canadiens on Nov. 16. In 2014-15, his first professional season, Shinkaruk recorded 31 points (16-15-31) and 28 penalty minutes over 74 games played. The Calgary, Alberta native also scored six points (4-2-6) in 23 postseason games with Utica through the 2015 Calder Cup Finals. The 2016 Toyota AHL All-Star Classic will take place January 31 and February 1 in Syracuse, N.Y.
Next Game: The Comets will be on the road for their next game, as they will take on the St. John’s IceCaps on Feb. 5 and Feb. 6, both on the IceCaps home ice.