Utica Comets Pre-Game

Game #32

Hershey Bears at Utica Comets

Friday, December 27th, 2019

7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific

The Christmas break has come to an end for the 18-10-1-2 Utica Comets as they will welcome the 16-9-2-3 Hershey Bears, (Washington affiliate) to town today for game number 32 of the season.

This will be a good test for the Comets, who have gone 5-3-0-2 over their previous 10 games, having won three straight going into the break. The Bears, for their part, show a record of 8-1-0-1 over that same span and have won their last eight consecutive contests.

Hershey last played to a 3-2 win over Springfield, while the Comets are coming off of a 4-3 victory over Rochester.

The Bears have been better at home than they have been on the road this year as they’ve gone just 4-6-1-1 away from their home barn this season. The Comets, for their part, show a record of 8-6-1-1 at The Bank.

Goal differential is an interesting stat for these two clubs as the Bears have scored the same number of goals as they’ve allowed this season, showing 80 in both columns. The Comets have done a solid job of outscoring their competition with 112 goals scored and 94 allowed.

Those 112 goals are three more than any other team has scored this year in the AHL. On the flip side, only 11 teams have allowed more than the 94 goals that the Comets have given up.

One area where the Comets might be able to take advantage of today is on the power play. The Comets have gone 32/127, giving them a success rate of 25.2% with the extra man this season. Their penalty kill has allowed 24 goals while down a man 137 times for a success rate of 82.5%.

The Bears, meanwhile, have gone 13/102 on the power play for a 12.7% success rate with the extra man, while their penalty kill has been pretty good, allowing just 16 goals while down a man 115 times for an 86.1% success rate.

Mike Sgarbossa leads the Hershey attack with 10 goals and 16 helpers, giving him 26 points in 28 games this year. Matt Moulson sits second with his 11 goals and nine assists, good for 20 points in 30 games, while Christian Djoos rounds out their top three with three goals and 15 assists, giving him 18 points in 25 games.

Alex Alexeyev paces the Bears’ rookie class with one goal and 12 assists, giving him 13 points in 30 games, while Brogan Rafferty leads the Comets rookie crew with four goals and 25 assists, giving him 29 points in 31 games this year. Those 29 points have Rafferty sitting ninth overall in AHL scoring and tied for first amongst rookies.

Reid Boucher leads the Comets with 20 goals and 17 helpers, giving him 37 points in 26 games played this year, while Rafferty’s 29 points have him sitting second. Nikolay Goldobin rounds out the team’s top three with his 11 goals and 17 assists, giving him 28 points in 25 games this year.

Season Series

This will be the second of two games between these clubs this season. The Comets took the first game with a 2-1 shootout win.

The special teams were anything but special in the first game as the Comets went 0/1 on the power play, while Hershey could not score on any of their three man-advantage situations.

Three players from each team managed a point in regulation in the first game as Adam Gaudette picked up the loan Utica tally with help from Sven Baertschi and Guillaume Brisebois, while Phillippe Maillet grabbed the regulation goal for Hershey with Alex Alexeyev and Steve Whitney earning the helpers.

Reid Boucher played shootout hero with the game-winning goal.

Mikey DiPietro picked up the win for Utica, posting a goals-against-average of 0.92 along with a save percentage of 0.974%. Vitek Vanecek was the man in the pipes for Hershey. He took the loss while putting up a GAA of 0.92 along with a save percentage of 0.947%.

Scratched Last Game For Utica

  1. Wacey Hamilton: C/W – Upper-body injury. Week-to-week. AHL deal.
  2. Dyson Stevenson: W/C – Lower-body injury, no timeframe. AHL deal.
  3. Mitch Eliot: RD – Healthy scratch. NHL deal.
  4. Josh Teves: LD – Healthy scratch. NHL deal.
  5. David Pope: LW – Healthy scratch. NHL deal.

Roster Moves

The Comets have seen Jalen Chatfield and Mikey DiPietro return from their time with the parent Canucks and the team will have nearly a fully healthy and available roster for this weekend’s action.

Left Winger, David Pope has also been returned to Kalamazoo of the ECHL. He has yet to suit up in a game for the Comets since being acquired in a deal for Alex Biega.

Wacey Hamilton and Dyson Stevenson have both missed time with injuries recently, but both took part in practice this week without the use of a non-contact jersey. Zack MacEwen is still up with the Canucks,  as is the injured Tyler Graovac, but otherwise, the Comets should have everyone else at their disposal.

If Hamilton is indeed good-to-go for today, the Comets coaching staff will have to start playing musical veterans as the team now has seven players who fall under vet/vet exempt status in the AHL.

Boucher, Baertschi, Bancks, Hamilton, Camper, and Graovac, (injured) all carry veteran status in the AHL, while Goldobin and Bailey both carry veteran exempt status. Teams can only play up to six of those players in a given game, so one of them will be sitting today. My money is on Hamilton getting a bit of an extension to his Christmas break.

The two clubs will get underway today in Utica at 7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific. As always, CanucksArmy will have your post-game report following today’s action.