Utica Comets Have a Bear of a Time Against Hershey

The Utica Comets were shutout for the first this season on Friday night by the Hershey Bears behind a strong effort from goaltender Zach Fucale.

It was “one of those nights” for the Utica Comets on Friday night when they took on the Hershey Bears for the first time this season. Despite getting thirty-three shots on goal, they had a difficult time maintaining offensive pressure as the Bears kept the best team in the Eastern Conference off balance all night with a heavy forecheck and by consistently clogging shooting lanes. The shots from the Comets that did get through were all turned aside by veteran goaltender Zach Fucale, who picked up his first shutout of the season.

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The Bears controlled play through the first half of the first period, as the Comets looked very much like a team that had not played in five days. Hershey got on the scoreboard by taking advantage of the game’s first power play. Long-time NHL defenseman Cody Franson slid a pass from the point to Aliaksei Protas who stepped in from the right circle and ripped a shot past Comets starting goaltender Akira Schmid to give the Bears an early 1-0 lead.

The Comets turned things their way during their second power play of the period by getting several scoring chances that Fucale was up to the task of stopping. Despite keeping the pressure on for the rest of the period after that power play, the Comets came up empty-handed and the teams went to the locker room for the first intermission with the score of 1-0 in favor of Hershey.

“The Voice of the Comets” Jason Shaya joins the crew at Marty’s Illegal Stick Hockey Podcast to discuss the keys to success for the Utica Comets this season, unsung heroes, preparations to call a game, his broadcasting influences, arena music, and more! for the entire episode, clips, and videos, visit (and subscribe) the Marty’s Illegal Stick Hockey Podcast YouTube channel!

The Bears added to their lead early in the second period when Lucas Johansen sprung Mike Vecchione on a breakaway with a pass through the neutral zone, as Vecchione finished the play with a shot of the inside of the post and into the net to make the score 2-0. The Bears did a very effective job of slowing the game down in the second period by disrupting the Comet’s attack and keeping them out of rhythm. Hershey then made the score 3-0 with just over five minutes left in the period when Lucas Johansen notched his second assist of the game by sending a cross-ice pass to Brian Pinho, who snapped a rolling puck past Schmid of the post and in.

In the third period, the Comets turned the pressure on but Fuclae was able to stymie them on every chance, including three extraordinary saves. Coach Dineen pulled Schmid for an extra skater with about six minutes in an attempt to get his team on the scoreboard, but instead, Pinho scored his second goal of the game to give the Bears a 4-0 that would hold for the rest of the game. The teams will meet again this Sunday, February 27th at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Notes: Utica outshot Hershey 34 to 25…Utica was 0 for 4 on the power play, Hershey was 1 for 2…Brian Pinho (2 goals) and Lucas Johansen (2 assists) led all Hershey scorers with two points each…Although no Comets registered a point in this game, Fabian Zetterlund led the team in shots on goal with five…Utica plays again on Saturday night at Syracuse, Hershey plays again on Sunday at home against Utica.

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