It’s first place vs first place as the Utica Comets begin a five games in seven days stretch on Sunday afternoon in Providence against the Bruins
The Eastern Conference-leading Utica Comets (36-14-6-1, 79 points, 0.693 points percentage) have experienced some turbulence lately. Their roster had been dramatically changed between injuries (Ryan Schmelzer, Nolan Foote, and Chase DeLeo), trades (Nate Schnarr), and NHL call ups (Kevin Bahl and AJ Greer). It resulted in the team falling into a rut where they lost four of five games that included three in a row.
They appeared to have snapped out of that rut on Friday night with a 3-1 win at home against their arch rival the Syracuse Crunch. Fabian Zetterlund led the way with two goals, and the team appeared to be firing on all cylinders. For more details from the game please click here Utica Comets Earn a Big Bounce Back Win on Friday Night.
Sunday afternoon’s opponent is the Atlantic Division-leading Providence Bruins (30-17-3-6, 69 points, 0.616 points percentage). The Bruins have won eight of their last ten games at home and hold the narrowest of leads over the second-place Springfield Thunderbirds (0.615 points percentage) for the lead in their Division. The Providence Bruins are of course the AHL affiliate of the Boston Bruins.
The Comets are currently fifth in the AHL in overall scoring with 197 goals scored. Away from the Adirondack Bank Center, they are seventh in the lead in goals scored with 92. The top five scorers for Utica are:
- Fabian Zetterlund: 23 goals and 24 assists = 47 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.
- Robbie Russo: 3 goals and 28 assists = 31 points.
Fabian Zetterlund still leads the team in shots in 161, although Alexander Holtz holds a slight edge in average shots per game (3.12 to 3.03). With his game-winning goal on Friday night, Zetterlund extended his team lead in that category to six.
The Bruins rank twenty-second in the AHL in overall goals scored with 169. At their home rink of the Dunkin Donuts Center, they have scored 80 goals, which ranks twenty-sixth in the league. The scorers for Providence are:
- Cameron Hughes: 14 goals and 30 assists = 44 points.
- Steven Fogarty: 10 goals and 26 assists = 36 points.
- Jesper Froden: 13 goals and 16 assists = 29 points.
- Samuel Asselin: 8 goals and 20 assists = 28 points.
- Oskar Steen: 14 goals and 13 assists = 27 points.
Jack Studnicka and Zach Senyshyn would be on this list, but Studnicka is currently with the Boston Bruins and Senyshyn was traded to the Ottawa Senators. Chris Wagner leads the team in shots with 135, With Senyshyn in Boston, Steen has sole possession of the team lead in game-winning goals with five.
Defensivley, the Comets rank fourth in the AHL, surrending 155 goals overall. On the road, they have given up 77 goals which is the third least in the league. The Utica goaltending tandem consists of Akira Schmid and Mareks Mitens, with Schmid getting the majority of the starts. He has a record of 18-6-3. with a 2.38 GAA, a 0.918 save percentage, and two shutouts. He ranks eighth in the league in wins, ninth in GAA, and tenth in save percentage. Mareks Mitens has a record of 6-5-2 with a GAA of 3.32 and a save percentage of 0.885.
The Bruins are a defensive juggernaut as well, ranking third in the AHL in overall goals allowed with 149. They are the best defensive team in the league at home, allowing only 61 goals. Troy Grosenick and Kyle Keyser man the goaltenders crease for the Bruins, with Grosenick being one of the best goalteners in the AHL. He has a record of 14-3-3 with a GAA of 1.98, a 0.930 save percentage, and three shutouts. He ranks first in the league in GAA and save percentage, third in shutouts, and seventeenth in wins.
The Comets rank twelfth in the American Hockey League overall on the power play, scoring 36 goals on 179 opportunities for a success rate of 20.1%. On the road they have scored seventeen power play goals in eighty-one chances for a success rate of 21.0%, ranking ninth in the AHL. Zetterlund continues to lead the team in power play goals with eight, with Holtz in second with five. Chase DeLeo, Robbie Russo, and Reilly Walsh all lead the team in power play assists with eleven.
The Bruins rank twenty-first in the AHL overall on the power play, converting 44 of 235 power play chances for a success rate of 18.7%. At home, they have scored 20 power play goals on 114 opportunities for a success rate of 17.5% – ranking twenty-third in the league. Jesper Froden leads the team in power play goals with seven followed by Steven Fogarty with five. Cameron Hughes leads the Bruins in power play assists by a wide margin with seventeen.
The Comets have allowed 33 goals on 180 overall times shorthanded for a success rate of 81.7%, ranking eleventh in the American Hockey League. On the road they have struggled a bit on the penalty kill as they have allowed 21 goals on 87 times shorthanded for a success rate of 75.9% – which ranks twenty-seventh in the league. The Comets have scored nine shorthanded goals this season, led by AJ Greer with three and Aarne Talvitie with two.
Overall, the Bruins have the second best penalty killing unit in the league – allowing 31 goals in the 207 times they have been shorthanded for a success rate of 85.0%. At home, they have allowed only 13 goals on 96 times shorthanded for a success rate of 86.5% – which ranks third in the AHL. Providence has scored seven shorthanded goals this season, with Cameron Hughes scoring four of them. Hughes ranks third in the league overall in shorthanded goals.
Sunday afternoon’s game is scheduled to start at 3:05 pm EDT. Radio coverage begins with the pregame show on 94.9 K-Rock (WKLL). The television broadcast begins at 3:05 on AHLTV.