Utica Comets Fall to Charlotte in Overtime and Rochester Game Preview

Checkers come from behind for the overtime win, and the Utica Comets head to Rochester for a game against the Americans on Saturday night.

The Utica Comets began a three games in three nights stretch on Friday night, but it wasn’t the start they were hoping for when they dropped a 4-3 overtime decision against the Charlotte Checkers.

The Comets got off to a great start as they scored on their first shot of the game one minute and seventeen seconds after the opening faceoff. Alexander Holtz carried the puck across the Charlotte blue line and slid a pass to Chase DeLeo, who fired a five-hole wrist shot through goaltender Antoine Bibeau to make the score 1-0. The Checkers answered back seven and a half minutes later when Cole Schwindt scooped up a loose puck in front of the Utica net and put a backhand shot into the net past Comets goaltender Nico Daws, who had lost track of the puck. Chase DeLeo scored his second goal of the game with fifty seconds left in the period after AJ Greer forced a turnover to set him up and give the Comets a 2-1 lead heading into the first period.

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At just over two minutes into the second period, former Comet Kole Lind came back to haunt his former team when he put a rebound off of a Scott Wilson shot past Daws to tie the game at two. Schwindt gave the Checkers the lead 13:26 with his second goal of the game when the Comets left another rebound in front of their net that Schwindt was able to capitalize on. Aarne Talvitie got off the slide with just under six minutes left in the period when he took a Sam Laberge centering pass and put it past Bibeau to tie the game at three. It was Talvitie’s first goal since November 19th, which was coincidentally also against the Checkers.

Utica College Pioneers and Central New York College Hockey Recap

Utica Comets vs Charlotte Checkers
Nolan Foote of the Utica Comets sets a screen against the Charlotte Checkers during their game on Friday night. Photo Credit: Scott Kinville.

A scoreless third period led to overtime which certainly didn’t lack excitement. The Comets had opportunities to win the game, but Charlotte controlled the play for the most part. After Holtz and DeLeo could not convert on a two on one, the Checkers came right back with a three on one of their own. Another former Comet, Zac Dalpe, finished it with a laser of a shot past Daws and just under the crossbar to give Charlotte the victory.

Notes: Charlotte outshot Utica 32 -27…Charlotte was 1 for 2 on the powerplay, Utica was 0 for 3…Nate Schnarr missed his second consecutive game for the Comets, and Nick Rivera hasn’t played since being injured on January 21st against Syracuse…The Comets are also without Tyler Wotherspoon for the foreseeable future as he is now with the Canadian Olympic Team…Alexander Holtz has at least one point in the last eight games he has played in for Utica (the streak actually extends over ten games, but he missed two games in that stretch)…Chase DeLeo has a four-game point streak going and has had multiple points in each of his last three games…Fabian Zetterlund, Nolan Foote, Ryan Schmelzer, and Reilly Walsh all had their point streaks snapped…Charlotte plays again Saturday night at Syracuse, Utica plays again on Saturday night as well at Rochester.

Utica Comets at Rochester Americans Game Preview 01-29-2022

The Comets will have no time to dwell on the loss to Charlotte, as they head out to the road to play Rochester on Saturday night then continue on to Cleveland to play the Monsters on Sunday.

The Americans are in second place in the North Division behind the Comets with a record of 21-12-2-1 and a winning percentage of .625. Despite the loss Friday night to Charlotte, they still have the best winning percentage in the AHL at .773 with a record of 23-5-5-0. The teams have played six times this season already, the Comets won the first three and the Americans have won the last three.

Neither the Americans nor Comets have a problem putting the puck in the net, as they are second and fourth overall in the AHL in goals scored with 134 and 124 respectively. The Comets are led on offense by Chase DeLeo. He is now tenth in the league in scoring with ten goals and twenty-five assists for thirty-five points (he is fourth overall in assists). Fabian Zetterlund is the team’s leading goal scorer with thirteen, but he is followed closely by Nate Schnarr (twelve), Alexander Holtz (eleven), and DeLeo (ten). Schnarr has missed the last two games for undisclosed reasons.

Rochester captain Michael Mersch leads the team in points with thirty-seven and is tied for the team lead in goals scored with eighteen. Mersch is also currently seventh in the AHL scoring race. Rochester is currently without their co-leader in goals scored, Jack Quinn, as he is on injured reserve with the Buffalo Sabres. The Americans are also missing another key part of their offense in Peyton Krebs, who is also currently with the Sabres. They still have JJ Peterka, however, who has eight goals and twenty-two assists.

Despite giving up four goals last night, the Comets are still third overall in the American Hockey League in team defense and have given up only eighty-five goals so far this season. Nico Daws (10-2-2, 2.43 GAA, .918 save percentage) played last night in goal for Utica and with the team playing three games in three nights, he most likely will be in net Sunday as well. This means it’s highly likely Mareks Mitens will get the start in the Comets crease against the Americans. In eight games played for Utica this season, Mitens has a record of 4-3-1 with a 3.84 GAA, a save percentage of .867.

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The Rochester Americans are an offensive dynamo, but they have struggled mightily on defense this season. They are thirtieth overall in the AHL in team defense, having given up a total of 131 goals. Recalls and injuries have caused a revolving door of sorts among Rochester goaltenders. The team currently has Mat Robson (who has two of three Rochester wins versus Utica this season) and Charles Williams as their tandem. Robson has an AHL record of 5-1-2 with a 3.84 GAA and .878 save percentage this season. Williams has a record of 0-1-1 with a 5.62 GAA and a .817 save percentage.

With their strong offensive capabilities, the Americans and Comets also have strong powerplay units as well, as they are second and third in the league respectively. The Americans have converted 35 of 130 powerplay opportunities for a percentage of 26.9%. The Comets have scored 23 goals on 99 powerplay chances for a success rate of 23.2%. The Comets ninety-nine powerplay chances are the fewest of any team in the American Hockey League.

The Saturday night game between Utica and Rochester begins at 6:05 pm EST. Radio coverage begins with the pregame show on 94.9 K-Rock (WKLL) and the television broadcast begins at 6:05 on AHLTV.

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