The Utica Comets and Toronto Marlies square off on Friday night at the Adirondack Bank Center in an AHL North Division battle.
The Utica Comets (33-11-6-0, 72 points, .720 points percentage #1 in the Eastern Conference), have a firm grip on first place in the North Division. The Toronto Marlies (25-19-3-1, 54 points, .563 points percentage) enter Friday night’s contest in third place in the North Division, and in the midst of a tight race for playoff spots and seeding. Both teams are coming off of losses in their last games, with Utica getting stunned by Syracuse 3-2 on Wednesday night with 0.6 seconds left in overtime, and on the same night, Toronto got shut out by Abbotsford 3-0 at home.
Both the Comets and Marlies feature top ten in the league offenses. The Comets rank fourth in the AHL with 181 goals scored. Chase DeLeo leads the team in points with forty-one points in thirty-seven games played. Alexander Holtz took the team lead in goals scored on Wednesday night with his twenty-first of the season surpassing Fabian Zetterlunds twenty. DeLeo leads the Comets in assists as well with twenty-nine followed closely by Reilly Walsh who has twenty-eight. Ryan Schmelzer has the longest active points streak on the team at four games.
Toronto is ninth in the league in overall offense with 165 goals scored. Center Brett Seney leads the Marlies in points with forty, followed by defenseman Joseph Duszak’s thirty-seven. Joey Anderson leads the team in goals scored with nineteen, followed closely by rookie Alex Steeves who has seventeen. Duszak and Seney are Toronto’s leaders in assists with thirty-two and twenty-six respectively.
The Comet’s goaltending revolves around Akira Schmid. Schmid has a record of 16-3-3 with a 2.27 GAA and .925 save percentage. Schmid leads the American Hockey League in save percentage and ranks fourth in GAA. Usual backup Mareks Mitens was reassigned to the Adirondack Thunder of the ECHL on Friday and in his place will be Brandon Kasel. Kasel’s record with Adirondack this season is 6-11-1 with a 3.59 GAA and .895 save percentage.
Erik Kallgren normally handles the goaltending duties for the Toronto Marlies, and he enters Friday night’s contest with a record of 15-8-1 to go with a GAA of 3.02 and a save percentage of .904. He is backed up by Joseph Woll whose record is 5-6-0 with a 3.53 GAA and has a save percentage of .903.
Correction: Kallgren was recalled to the Toronto Maple Leafs prior to this game. Michael Hutchinson will dress for the Marlies in his place. Hutchinson has a record of 4-4-3 for the Marlies this season with a GAA of 3.43 and a .896% save percentage.
The Comets are ranked sixth in the AHL on the power play with a success rate of 22.2%. Zetterlund leads the team in power-play goals with seven, followed by Holtz with five. Toronto is thirteenth in the league with the man advantage with a success rate of 19.8%. Steeves and Anderson lead the team in power-play goals scored with six each followed closely by Josh Ho-Sang who has five.
The Comets are ranked seventeenth overall in the AHL on the penalty kill with a success rate of 80.5% (32 goals allowed out of 164 times shorthanded). The Marlies are nineteenth with a success rate of 80.3% (37 goals allowed out of 188 times shorthanded).
Friday night’s game starts at 7:00 pm EST. Radio coverage begins with the pregame show on 94.9 K-Rock (WKLL), and the television broadcast starts at 7:00 on WPNY and AHLTV.