Utica Comets vs Laval Rocket game preview

The Utica Comets face the Laval Rocket for the second time in one week on Saturday afternoon.

The Utica Comets will travel to Canada to open their first multi-game road trip of this season, when they face the Rocket on Saturday afternoon at Place Bell in Laval, Quebec. The teams previously squared off on November 7th at the Adirondack Bank Center, with the Comets skating away with a 4-2 victory.

The Comets enter the game with an undefeated record of 8-0-0-0 and sit atop the AHL North Division. The Rocket are currently in fifth place in the same division with a 6-5-1-0 record.

Leading Utica in scoring is Chase DeLeo with twelve points in seven games played. DeLeo missed the Comets last game on Thursday due to being in the Covid protocol according to head Coach Kevin Dineen. It is unknown if DeLeo will be able to play against Laval, but being in the Covid protocol makes it unlikely.

Action from the Rocket vs Comets game on November 7th at the Adirondack Bank Center. Photo credit: Kristy Kinville.

The backbone of the Comets undefeated start continues to be its goaltending. Nico Daws has won all five of his starts and possesses a 2.00 GAA with a .940 save percentage. Like Daws, Akira Schmid has won all of his starts with a 3-0 record to go with a sparkling 1.31 GAA and .953 save percentage. Schmid’s GAA and save percentage rank second in the AHL in both categories. Daws got the start in both the Comets last game and the first game against the Rocket.

Utica Comets win eighth straight game on Thursday

Laval is paced offensively by center Laurent Dauphin, who has twelve points (including eight goals) in twelve games. After Dauphin, defenseman Xavier Ouellet and right wing Jesse Ylonen each have nine points. Ouellet has played in all twelve of Laval’s games, whereas Ylonen has played in ten.

Cayden Primeau serves as the Rocket primary goaltender. His record so far this season is 4-3-0, with a 2.18 GAA and a .921 save percentage, along with two shutouts. Michael McNiven is the other Laval goaltender, and he has a record of 2-2-1 to go with a GAA of 3.47, a save percentage of .878, and one shutout. McNiven took the loss in the first game against Utica.

The Comets and Rocket battle for the puck during their November 7th game at the Adirondack Bank Center. Photo Credit: Kristy Kinville.

Special teams play has also been a strength for the Utica Comets thus far. They rank fifth in the AHL on the power play, with a 25% conversion rate. The Comets continue to have the most successful penalty killing unit in the American Hockey League. They lead the league with a percentage of 89.7.

The Rocket have struggled on the power play in the twelve games the team has played, as their 15.9% ranks them twenty-second in the AHL. Laval’s penalty killing has been the better half of their special teams, where they are seventh in the league with an 84.8% success rate.

Both teams are coming off of victories in their previous games. Utica defeated Syracuse on Thursday afternoon, while Laval won in overtime on Friday night against Bridgeport. The puck drops at 1:00pm on Saturday afternoon, radio coverage on 94.9 K-Rock begins at 12:30 with the pregame show. The television broadcast will be on AHLTV.

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