Utica Comets vs Rochester Americans preview

The Utica Comets and Rochester Americans meet for the third time this season on Saturday night.

It is a really good time to be a Utica Comets fan.

The Comets have yet to lose this season, and on Friday night they established a new AHL record for consecutive wins to start a season when they won their twelfth game in a row – this time defeating the Charlotte Checkers. Up next is the Rochester Americans, the team they defeated on Wednesday night to tie the record they broke on Friday night.

The Americans have been tied in with the Comet’s record-breaking streak right from the start of the season. It was the Amerks (as the Americans are sometimes known as), that the Comets defeated on opening night to start the streak, and it was the 1984-85 Rochester Americans that held the record that the Comets just broke.

The Americans nearly ended the Comets streak on November 17th at the Blue Cross Arena. Utica won the game by a score of 3-2 but was outshot by Rochester at a more than two to one clip. Akira Schmid, who with Nico Daws form the most formidable goaltending duo in the AHL, won the game for the Comets with a spectacular performance.

Brian Flynn of the Utica Comets breaks in on Rochester goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen during the October 17th game at the Adirondack Bank Center. Photo credit: Kristy Kinville.

Daws played last night against Charlotte, so the Americans can once again expect to see Schmid in this game. Schmid enters the game with a 5-0 record to go with a sparkling 1.38 GAA and .951 save percentage. He has allowed only seven goals for the entire season, and both his GAA (Goals Against Average) and save percentage rank number one in the American Hockey League.

Rochester is coming off of a 5-4 shootout win on Friday night in which Michael Houser manned the net, meaning the Comets should once again face Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen. He has been in goal for Rochester in the previous two games against Utica and has given up a combined nine goals in those games. Luukkonen enters this game with an overall record of four wins and five losses with a goals-against-average of 3.33 and .884 save percentage. Luukkonen also has one shutout this season.

The Americans have the number two ranked offense in the American Hockey League with fifty-one goals scored. Rochester has three players among the top twenty scorers in the AHL, led by Jack Quinn, who is tied for third overall with nine goals and eight assists. JJ Peterka is tied for eleventh with fourteen points, and team captain Michael Mersch is tied for fifteenth with seven goals and six assists.

Things get heated between the Utica Comets and Rochester Americans during the season opening game on October 17th. Photo credit: Kristy Kinville.

The Utica Comets have no one in the top twenty scorers in the AHL but have found success with the “scoring by committee” approach. Leading scorer Chase DeLeo has missed the last five games but has twelve points in seven games played. While they are hoping to get DeLeo back soon, the Comets did get an offensive boost when Brian Flynn returned to the lineup on Friday night. With DeLeo sidelined, Nate Schnarr leads the team in overall scoring with ten points, and Joe Gambardella leads the team in goals scored with six.

Both teams enter the game in the middle of the pack overall on the power play. Rochester is ranked thirteenth in the AHL with a 20% conversion rate, while Utica is seventeenth at 18.8%. Utica is tied with the Rockford Icehogs for the least amount of power-play opportunities this season.

The Comets hold the edge over the Americans on the penalty as they are fifth in the AHL at 87.2%, while the Americans are eighteenth at 79.6%. The Comets have given up the least amount of power-play opportunities to their opponents this season, yielding only thirty-nine overall.

Tonight’s game will be played at the Adirondack Bank Center with a start time of 7:00 pm. Radio coverage begins at 6:30 with the pregame show on 94.9 K-Rock (WKLL). The television broadcast will be on WPNY and AHLTV, with Jason Shaya on the call.

Notes: The Comets are in first place in the AHL North Division with a 12-0-0-0 record, the Americans are fourth in the same division with an 8-5-0-0 mark…This will be the third of twelve meetings between these teams this season…Utica’s Robbie Russo enters the game with a four-game point-scoring streak, Reilly Walsh has a three-game point-scoring streak.

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