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Utica Comets Pre-Game

Game #23

Bridgeport Sound Tigers at Utica Comets

Friday, December 6th, 2019

7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific

The 13-8-1-0 Utica Comets welcome the 8-12-3-1 Bridgeport Sound Tigers, (New York Islanders affiliate) to town for game number 23 today at 7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific. The Sound Tigers are coming off of a 5-2 loss to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, while the Comets last played to a 5-3 loss to the Toronto Marlies.

Bridgeport has been outscored by a margin of 75-47 this season. The Comets, for their part, have scored 77 goals and have given up 61 this year. Coming into today’s game, both clubs have gone 5-4-1-0 over their previous 10 contests.

The Sound Tigers currently sport the AHL’s second-worst power play, scoring just nine goals while up a man 96 times for a paltry 9.4% success rate. Their penalty kill, however, has clicked along at the same rate as the Comets, giving up 14 goals while down a man 97 times for a success rate of 85.6%. The Comets power play has been improving of late and now sits fourth in the league after scoring 19 times on 86 man-up situations for a success rate of 22.1%.

Matt Lorito leads all Bridgeport scorers with six goals and six helpers, giving him 12 points in 23 games this year. Sebastian Aho, (the defenceman) sits second with two goals and 10 assists to give himself 12 points in 24 games, while Travis St. Denis rounds out their top three with his three goals and seven helpers to give himself 10 points in 22 games.

Arnaud Durandeau leads the Sound Tigers’ rookie crew with five goals and one assist to give himself six points in 13 games this season. Brogan Rafferty is the big cheese amongst the Comets rookies with two goals and 14 assists, giving him 16 points in 22 games. Rafferty leads all AHL rookie defenders in points and sits fifth overall in scoring amongst AHL defenceman.

I spoke with Brogan this week about the hot start to his season.

It should come as no surprise that Reid Boucher still wears the scoring crown in Utica with his 15 goals and nine assists, giving him 24 points in 17 games. Kole Lind sits second amongst active players in Utica with four goals and 12 assists, giving him 16 points in 22 games this year, while Francis Perron rounds out the top three with four goals and 11 assists, giving him 15 points in 20 games.

Season Series

This will be the first of four games between the two clubs this season, three of which will come over the next week.

Scratched Last Game For Utica

  1. Olli Juolevi: LD – Lower-body ailment, no timeframe. NHL deal.
  2. Wacey Hamilton: C/W – Upper-body injury, week-to-week. AHL deal.
  3. Richard Bachman: G – Healthy scratch. NHL deal.
  4. Jalen Chatfield: RD – Healthy scratch. NHL deal.
  5. Dylan Blujus: RD – Undisclosed injury, no timeframe. AHL deal.
  6. Vincent Arseneau: LW/RW – Upper-body injury, day-to-day. AHL deal.
  7. Justin Taylor: C/W – Healthy scratch. PTO.

Roster News

The reason why Jalen Chatfield was a healthy scratch for the Comets’ last game was that he was in the process of being called up to the big club along with forward Antoine Roussel. Mikey DiPietro was also summoned to join the parent club as Jacob Markstrom has taken a leave to attend his father’s service.

The team also announced this morning that Nikolay Goldobin was on his way back to Utica. Goldy won’t be an option for today’s game.

 

The Canucks/Comets also made a swap of depth forwards this week as Utica released center Justin Taylor from his PTO, (professional tryout offer) after he was held pointless in his seven games with the team. With Taylor heading back to Kalamazoo, the Comets still needed another body around so Vancouver loaned winger David Pope to Utica.

Pope was acquired in the trade that sent defenceman Alex Biega to the Detroit Red Wings organization and he’s been plying his trade with Kalamazoo this year. Pope has had some injury issues but has picked up one goal and one assist in his four games with KZOO.

The 25-year-old product of Edmonton Alberta has appeared in 28 AHL games with the Grand Rapid Griffins, picking up two goals and one assist to go along with 12 minutes spent in the box last season. Before turning pro, the Red Wings fourth-round pick from the 2013 draft put up 94 points in 133 NCAA games with the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

We also found out that defenceman Olli Juolevi has been cleared to play and that the team will be closely monitoring him going forward. Juolevi has missed the team’s last eight games with hip soreness that the team was looking into further.

There is just one more thing that I wanted to include in today’s pre-game and that is the fact that TheBigFella earned his first NHL goal against the Ottawa Senators on the night when the Canucks were celebrating Alex Burrows with a spot in the team’s Ring of Honour. Jaime Benn and Chris Tanev picked up the helpers when Zack beat former Canucks netminder Anders Nilsson to put his club up 4-0 in an eventual 5-2 win. Fun fact, the Sens were one of the teams courting Zack before he signed with Vancouver. Another fun fact… Mikey DiPietro was the goaltender of record for the Canucks on the night when Zack made his NHL debut and picked up his first NHL point, (an assist). Well, Mikey D was backing up when Zack scored his first NHL goal. Good luck charm? Maybe…

Big congrats to Zack for scoring his first NHL goal.

I started writing about the Comets in Zack’s rookie campaign in Utica and I’ve always felt a bit of a “rookie connection” with him as a result of that. To see him score his first NHL goal was special for me and it was a bit emotional as well.

After messaging Zack’s folks to congratulate them, my next thoughts went to Jason Botchford and Ian Cooper.

Botch played a sizeable role for me as a sounding board before he passed and he told me early on that “MacEwen is your guy.”

He talked about how he noticed how much I had been writing about Zack when other writers didn’t have the time of day for him and that one day Zack would score his first NHL goal and that I’d be able to sit back and bask in that glory. Well, Jason was right, I sat back and I basked in that glory with tear-filled eyes.

The other person that I wanted to instantly talk to about Zack’s first goal was Ian Cooper. Coop was a big fan of TheBigFella and really wanted to see him succeed. Most people won’t know this, but Zack reached out to Coop and wished him a happy birthday two days before he passed. I know how much that meant to Coop to have Zack do that.

The Comets and Sound Tigers will get after it in Utica today at 7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific. As always, stay tuned for your CanucksArmy post-game report following today’s action.