Another Akira Schmid shutout sparks Utica Comets victory over Belleville

The Utica Comets improve to 16-1-0-0 with the victory on Wednesday night.

Goaltender Akira Schmid of the Utica Comets has been conserving a lot of electricity lately because the red light has not been turned on behind him in almost two weeks.

With the Comets 2-0 victory at home over the Belleville Senators on Wednesday night, Schmid recorded his second straight shutout as the last game he played on November 27th he blanked the Charlotte Checkers 1-0. “Shutout” Schmid has not given up a goal since the 4:18 mark of the third period against the Rochester Americans on November 20th.

The Comets got on the scoreboard one minute and fifty-five seconds after the game started. Graeme Clarke dug the puck out of the left corner and flipped it back to Jeremy Groleau who was waiting at the blueline. Groleau then passed it over to fellow defenseman Reilly Walsh, who beat Senators goaltender Mads Sogaard for the early 1-0 lead.

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Two-time Stanley Cup champion Matt Murray, who joined Belleville for his first game with the club after clearing waivers, backed up Sogaard in this game.

After the Walsh goal, the offensive opportunities slowed down as only four shots on goal were taken overall by halfway through the period. The Comets would go on the power play with less than six minutes left in the first, and with just one second left on the man advantage, Utica cashed in. Robbie Russo sent a pass to Brian Flynn who fired a laser of a shot from the right side to give the Comets a two-goal lead heading into the first intermission.

Akira Schmid of the Utica Comets makes one of his twenty-three saves to record his second straight shutout on Wednesday night. Photo credit: Scott Kinville.

A physical tone was set for the second period right from the opening faceoff, as Utica’s Samuel Laberge and Belleville’s Scott Sabourin were jostling before the puck was even dropped. Twelve seconds later, they dropped the gloves and when order was restored, it was Laberge who was assessed an extra ten-minute misconduct for instigating – much to the home crowd’s dismay. The Senators dialed up the physical play throughout the period attempting to take the Comets out of their offensive rhythm, and while Utica got fourteen shots on goal, they could not beat Sogaard again and the score remained 2-0 after forty minutes.

Alexander Holtz of the Utica Comets fires a shot on goal against the Belleville Senators on Wednesday night. Photo credit: Scott Kinville.

The third period was by far the Senator’s best period of the night as they maintained the physical play and got twelve shots on goal. They nearly scored when they had a five on three power-play opportunity, but the puck rang off the crossbar and out. Schmid took care of the rest to earn the shutout and his eighth win of the season while remaining undefeated.

Utica Comets vs Belleville Senators preview, DeLeo returns

Originally, the Comets were supposed to play in Hartford on Saturday, December 4th against the Wolfpack and the next day in Providence, but these games have been postponed due to Covid outbreaks on both of those teams. A make-up date for the Hartford game has not been announced yet, but the Comets will play in Providence on January 10th instead of December 5th. Utica will still play a game on December 4th, but instead of playing Hartford, they will instead travel to Bridgeport to take on the Islanders. That game was supposed to be played on March 19th but was moved to this Saturday to accommodate the schedule changes.

Notes: Utica outshot Belleville by a margin of 26 to 23…Utica was 1 for 4 on the power play, Belleville was 0 for 5…Schmid is tied for second in wins in the AHL, and first in GAA and save percentage…Utica and Belleville will play again on Tuesday, December 21st in Belleville.

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