Utica Comets Blank Providence in Battle of First-Place Teams

Nico Daws earns his first professional shutout in North America as the Utica Comets defeat the Providence Bruins 4-0.

The Utica Comets are back on track, and they proved it with a statement win over the Atlantic Division leading Providence Bruins. The Comets record is now 23-5-4-0 with a .781 save percentage – the best in the American Hockey League.

Tuesday night’s game was expected to be a defensive battle as going in the Comets and Bruins had each only given up eighty-one goals on the season, which is best in the American Hockey League. The first period lived up to that billing as through the first ten minutes the Comets had three shots on goal and the Bruins only had one. The tight-checking continued through the rest of the period with no goals being scored from either team.

Utica Comets vs Providence Bruins Game Preview

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The second period would open up a bit as the Bruins outshot the Comets by a two-to-one margin, but it was Utica who got the only goal of the frame. At the 9:15 mark, Alexander Holtz carried the puck into the Providence zone and flipped it over to Chase DeLeo on the right side. DeLeo in turn fired a wrist shot past Providence goaltender Jeremy Swayman to light the lamp. Seconds after the DeLeo goal, Daws made arguably the biggest of his twenty-eight saves of the night when he stopped Eduards Tralmaks who broke in alone but was denied.

Utica Comets Captain Ryan Schmelzer takes a shot on goal against Providence Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman during their game on Tuesday night at the Adirondack Bank Center. Photo credit: Scott Kinville.

If the first two periods were quiet offensively, the third was anything but – at least for the Comets. At only one minute in, Fabian Zetterlund sent an alley-oop pass through the neutral zone which Ryan Schmelzer scooped up and snapped a shot over Swayman’s shoulder to make it 2-0. Just over a minute later, the Comets struck again- this time on the powerplay. DeLeo found an open Schmelzer who wired a shot into the Providence net from the bottom of the right circle to extend the Utica lead to three.

After Fabian Zetterlund scored his team-leading thirteenth goal to make the score 4-0, the only question was whether or not Daws would get his shutout. The best chance the Bruins would get after the Zetterlund goal was a partial breakaway by Joona Koppanen which Daws turned aside. The Comets clamped down on defense from there and defeated the Bruins to earn the win and shutout. With the victory, Daws now has a record of 10-2-1 with a GAA of 2.32 and a .922 save percentage.

Notes: Providence outshot Utica 28-21…Providence was 0 for 2 on the powerplay, Utica was 1 for 4…Ryan Schmelzer led all Utica scorers with three points (two goals and one assist), Chase DeLeo and Fabian Zetterlund each had one goal and one assist as well…Several Comets have point streaks going: Alexander Holtz and Nolan Foote are at six games each, Fabian Zetterlund is at four games, Chase Deleo, Ryan Schmelzer, and Reilly Walsh are at three games each…With the victory, Nico Daws now has a record of 10-2-1 with a 2.32 GAA and .922 save percentage…Providence plays again on Friday at Hartford, Utica plays again on Friday night at home against Charlotte.

Live on Wednesday night at 7:30 pm EST on the Marty’s Illegal Stick Hockey Podcast YouTube channel and Facebook page, Episode #61 features the Vice-President of the Utica Comets Adam Pawlick! We’ll chat with Adam about this season’s record-setting Comets team, his own playing career, and much more!

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