Utica Comets vs Syracuse Crunch Game Preview 03-25-2022

A reeling Utica Comets team looks to get back on track at home against their bitter rival on Friday night.

It isn’t often that the Utica Comets (35-14-6-1, 77 points, 0.688 points percentage) find themselves needing to get off the slide, but here we are.

They are still in first place in both the North Division and Eastern Conference, but for the first time all season, the Comets have lost three games in a row and four of their last five. To put an end to this losing streak, Utica will have to beat their biggest rival the Syracuse Crunch (29-22-6-2, 66 points, 0.559 points percentage) at the Adirondack Bank Center on Friday night. Syracuse enters the game in fifth place in the North Division needing every point they can get to remain in a playoff spot.

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The Comets and Crunch are certainly familiar with each other as they have already played eleven of their scheduled fourteen regular-season games against each other. So far, Utica holds an 8-1-2 over their rivals from about an hour west on the New York State Thruway.

The Comets rank fifth in the AHL in overall team offense, having scored 194 goals so far on the season. At home, they are sixth in the league with 102 total goals scored. Individually they are led by:

  • Fabian Zetterlund: 21 goals and 24 assists = 45 points
  • Alexander Holtz: 21 goals and 21 assists = 42 points
  • Chase DeLeo: 12 goals and 29 assists = 41 points
  • Reilly Walsh: 7 goals and 28 assists = 35 points (8th among AHL defensemen in scoring)
  • Nolan Foote: 11 goals and 16 assists = 27 points. Robbie Russo: 3 goals and 24 assists = 27 points

Fabian Zetterlund leads the team in shots with 158 and game-winning goals with five.

The Utica Comets Are in a Rare Slump

The Crunch have scored a total of 179 goals this season which ranks twelfth in the American Hockey League. On the road, they are fifteenth in the league with 86 goals scored. They are led on offense by:

  • Gabriel Dumont: 24 goals and 25 assists = 49 points (ranks 18th in the AHL in scoring)
  • Alex Barre-Boulet: 12 goals and 30 assists = 42 points
  • Charles Hudon: 21 goals and 19 assists = 40 points
  • Sean Day: 6 goals and 30 assists = 36 points (6th among AHL defensemen in scoring)
  • Cole Koepke: 18 goals and 17 assists = 35 points

Cole Koepke leads the Crunch in shots with 160. Darren Raddysh, Charles Hudon, and Gabriel Dumont lead the team in game-winning goals with four each.

The Utica Comets have allowed the fourth least amount of goals in the AHL with 154. At home, they rank ninth – allowing 77 goals. The Comets goaltending tandem consists of:

  • Akira Schmid: Has a record of 18-6-3 with a 2.38 GAA, 0.918 save percentage, and two sutouts. Schmid ranks eighth in the league in GAA and wins, and tenth in save percentage.
  • Mareks Mitens: Has a record of 5-5-2, to go with a GAA of 3.51 and a save percentage of 0.882.

In comparison, the Crunch rank twenty-fifth in the AHL in goals allowed – surrendering a total of 188. On the road, they have given up 99 which ranks twenty-fourth in the league. Syracuse currently has four goaltenders on their roster and they are:

  • Max Legace: Has a record of 13-7-1, and has a GAA of 2.79, save percentage of 0.887, and two shutouts
  • Amir Miftakhov: Has a record of 6-8-3 and has a GAA of 2.92, save percentage of 0.895 and one shutout
  • Hugo Alnefelt: Has a record of 9-5-4 with a GAA of 3.00 and a save percentage of 0.884. He has not played since March 12th
  • Ty Taylor: Has no AHL record

The Comets power play ranks tenth overall in the AHL, as they have scored 36 goals on 174 opportunities for a success rate of 20.7%. At home, they rank twelfth, where they have scored 19 goals on 93 opportunities for a success rate of 20.4%. Fabian Zetterlund leads the team in power-play goals with eight followed by Alexander Holtz with five. Chase DeLeo, Reilly Walsh, and Robbie Russo lead the club in power-play assists with eleven.

The Crunch power play has scored 38 goals on 201 overall opportunities for a success rate of 18.9%, which ranks seventeenth in the league. On the road, they have scored 16 goals on 98 power-play opportunities for a rate of 16.3%, ranking them twenty-fifth. Charles Hudon leads the team in power-play goals with ten, followed by Gabriel Dumont with seven. Alex Barre-Boulet leads the way in power-play assists for the Crunch with fourteen, followed by Sean Day with twelve.

On the penalty kill, the Comets have allowed 33 goals in 178 times shorthanded for a success rate of 81.5% which ranks twelfth in the league. At home, they have allowed 12 goals on the 91 times they have been shorthanded for a success rate of 86.8% – which is second-best in the AHL. The Comets have scored nine shorthanded goals this season, with AJ Greer in New Jersey, Aarne Talvitie leads the team with two shorthanded goals.

The Crunch have allowed 44 goals in the 194 times they have been shorthanded for a success rate of 77.3%, ranking them twenty-fifth in the AHL. On the road they have a success rate of 81.3%, allowing 20 goals in the 107 times they have been shorthanded, which ranks nineteenth in the league. The Crunch have scored three shorthanded goals this season.

Friday night’s game starts at 7:00 pm EDT. Radio coverage begins with the pregame show on 94.9 K-Rock (WKLL). The television broadcast begins at 7:00 pm on WPNY and AHLTV.

HE’S BACK!!!!! The always entertaining Neil Villapiano joins us for a return appearance to Marty’s Illegal Stick Hockey Podcast! We’ve got a lot to talk about between the NHL Trade Deadline, the future of the NJ Devils, the Utica Comets, his latest shows for The Hockey Podcast Network, and much more!

Subscribe to Marty’s Illegal Stick Hockey Podcast, the Devils State of Mind Podcast, and The Hockey Podcast Network on YouTube, Apple, Spotify, and wherever you get your podcasts!

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