Utica Comets vs Laval Rocket Series Preview 02-02-2022

The Utica Comets and Laval Rocket will meet for the fourth time and fifth times this season on Wednesday and Friday night.

The Utica Comets return home to the Adirondack Bank Center on Wednesday night to face the Laval Rocket after a weekend road trip that saw them pick up wins in Rochester on Saturday night, and then again in Cleveland on Sunday. Wednesday is also Groundhog Day and the Comets hope that it is not a repeat of the last time they played the Rocket, as the Montreal Canadiens AHL affiliate defeated them 4-3 the last time they played on January 19th in Laval.

Things are a bit different for the Comets since the last time they played the Rocket. Going into the January 19th contest, Utica had lost four of its previous six games. Since that loss to the Rocket, the Comets have won five of their last six games and are back to playing the strong defensive game they have become known for – they have allowed more than three goals just once in that span. Utica still has the best record in the AHL at 25-5-5-0 and a .786 winning percentage.

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The Rocket will be playing their first games since returning from the Lone Star State of Texas, where they split a pair of games with the Texas Stars. They have won three of their last five games, and are 7-3 over their last ten games. Laval is currently in fourth place in the North Division with a record of 16-12-2-0 and a winning percentage of .567.

The Utica Comets continue to be a force to be reckoned with on offense. They are fourth in the American Hockey League in goals scored with 131. Chase DeLeo continues to lead the team in points and is eleventh overall in the AHL with thirty-five. Fabian Zetterlund leads the team in goals scored with sixteen (he is also second on the team in points with thirty-one). Zetterlund is followed by Nate Schnarr, who has missed the last four games, with twelve. Alexander Holtz, who was just named the AHL Rookie of the Month for January, is third on the team in goals scored with eleven.

Jesse Ylonen was recently returned to the Rocket from the Montreal Canadiens, and he leads the team in points with eighteen in only twenty games played. With Laurent Dauphin still in Montreal, Jean-Sebastien Dea leads the team in goals with eleven. As a team, the Rocket is twenty-second in the league in goals scored with ninety-nine.

Utica Comets Notch a Victory Over the Cleveland Monsters

The defense has been a strong suit for both the Comets and Rocket. Utica has given up the second-fewest goals in the league with eighty-nine. The strong goaltending they have has been a key factor in their success. Nico Daws has been sensational this season ranking eighth in the AHL in GAA with 2.40, eighth in save percentage at .919, and eleventh in wins with eleven. With Akira Schmid in New Jersey with the Devils, Mareks Mitens has performed admirably as the second half of the Utica goaltending tandem. He has a record of 5-3-1 with a 3.64 GAA and .879 save percentage. The Comets are also getting some reinforcements on the blue line, as defenseman Colton White has been reassigned to Utica from the New Jersey Devils.

The Rocket is eleventh in the AHL in goals allowed with 104. They have experienced tremendous roster turmoil with callups to Montreal, especially among their goaltenders. Their current tandem is Kevin Poulin and Louis-Philip Guindon, both of whom spent time in the ECHL this season. Poulin has an AHL record of 3-3-0 with a GAA of 3.26 and a .900 save percentage. Guindon’s record with the Rocket is 1-0-0 with a 1.63 GAA and .946 save percentage.

On the powerplay, the Comets are third in the AHL with a success rate of 23.9%, while the Rocket is twentieth at 18.4%. It should be noted the Comets have had the least amount of powerplay opportunities in the league and the Rocket have had the second least.

On the penalty kill, Laval is thirteenth overall in the AHL, killing off 82.1% of the powerplay chances they give up. The Comets rank eighteenth, successfully killing 81.2% of the powerplay chances they hand out.

Both the Wednesday night and Friday night matchups start at 7:00 pm EST. Radio coverage begins with the pregame show on 94.9 K-Rock (WKLL), and the television broadcast begins at 7:00 on WPNY and AHLTV.

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