The roadtrip continues for the Utica Comets on Monday night when they roll into the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut to take on the Wolfpack.
Utica Comets coach Kevin Dineen knows the city of Hartford, Connecticut as he was a fan favorite during his ten seasons with the Hartford Whalers. He also knows his Comets need to keep the pedal down as his Comets approach the homestretch of a regular season that has been more successful thus than a vast majority of people thought it would be. They currently lead the Eastern Conference with a record of 37-14-6-1 for 81 points and a 0.698 points percentage.
Their opponent on Monday night will be the AHL affiliate of the New York Rangers, the Hartford Wolfpack. With a record of 29-22-5-2, 65 points, and a 0.560 points percentage, they are in fourth place in the Atlantic Division. With six playoff spots up for grabs in the Atlantic and seven teams still very much in the running for those spots, the Wolfpack will be fighting for every point they can get.
On offense, the Comets are sixth in the AHL in overall goals scored with 201. On the road, they have scored 96 goals – which is the sixth-best in the league as well. The leading scorers on the team are:
- Fabian Zetterlund: 23 goals and 25 assists = 48 points (leads the team in overall goals).
- Alexander Holtz: 22 goals and 21 assists = 43 points.
- Chase DeLeo: 12 goals and 30 assists = 42 points (leads the team in overall assists).
- AJ Greer: 18 goals and 22 assists = 40 points.
- Reilly Walsh: 7 goals and 28 assists = 35 points.
Zetterlund is leading the team in shots with 163 and game-winning goals with six.
The Wolfpack are ranked twenty-first in the American Hockey League in overall goals scored with 173. At home, they are more prolific on offense scoring 103 goals which rank seventh in the AHL. Leading the Wolfpack in scoring are:
- Anthony Greco: 15 goals and 32 assists = 47 points (leads the team in overall assists).
- Jonny Brodzinski: 18 goals and 21 assists = 39 points (leads the team in overall goals).
- Nick Merkley: 12 goals and 25 assists = 37 points.
- Tanner Fritz: 11 goals and 23 assists = 34 points.
- Ty Ronning: 15 goals and 18 assists = 33 points.
Greco leads the team by a wide margin in shots with 198. Nils Lundkvist, Nick Merkley, and Justin Richards lead the Wolfpack in game-winning goals with three each.
The Utica Comets have yielded 156 goals overall, which ranks them fourth in the league. On the road, they are even stingier, allowing 78 goals – only the Abbotsford Canucks have given up fewer goals away from their home rink. Utica’s net is guarded by Akira Schmid and Mareks Mitens. Schmid has a record of 18-6-3 with a GAA of 2.38, a save percentage of 0.918 and two shutouts. He ranks eighth in the AHL in wins, ninth in save percentage, and tenth in GAA.
Although considered to be a backup goaltender, Mitens has started three of the last four games for Utica. He has a record of 7-5-2 to go with a GAA of 3.15 and a save percentage of 0.896.
The Wolfpack have been solid on team defense, allowing 173 goals overall to rank eleventh in the AHL. At home they rank sixteenth in the league, yielding 86 goals at the XL Center. Keith Kinkaid and Adam Huska are the goaltending tandem in Hartford. Kinkaid has a record of 20-7-2 with a 2.84 GAA, 0.907 save percentage and one shutout. He is sixth in the league in wins. Huska has a record of 7-10-4 to go with a 2.58 GAA and a save percentage of 0.912. He is thirteenth in the American Hockey League in GAA and seventeenth in save percentage.
Utica is ranked twelfth overall in the AHL on the power play, scoring 37 goals in 185 opportunities for a success rate of 20.0%. On the road, they have scored 18 power-play goals in 87 chances for a success rate of 20.7%, which ranks tenth in the league. Fabian Zetterlund continues to lead the team in power-play goals with eight followed by Alexander Holtz with six. Chase DeLeo, Reilly Walsh, and Robbie Russo all lead the Comets in power-play assists with eleven each.
Hartford has the seventh-best power play overall in the American Hockey League, scoring 42 goals in 196 opportunities for a success rate of 21.4%. At home, they are even better, as they rank fourth in the league – scoring 23 power-play goals on 99 opportunities for a success rate of 23.2%. Leading the Wolfpack in power-play goals are Anthony Greco with six as well as Jonny Brodzinski and Tim Gettinger with five each. Zac Jones and Nick Merkley each have thirteen power-play assists to pace the team in that category.
The Comets have allowed only two power-play goals to be scored against them in the month of March and rank ninth overall in the AHL on the penalty kill – allowing 33 goals in the 184 times they have been shorthanded this season. As a whole they have struggled on the road killing penalties this season, yielding 21 goals 91 times they have been shorthanded for a success rate of 76.9%, which ranks twenty-fifth in the league. The Comets have scored nine shorthanded goals this season, led by AJ Greer with three and Aarne Talvitie with two.
The Wolfpack rank eighteenth overall in the AHL on the penalty kill, allowing 39 goals in the 201 times they have been shorthanded for a success rate of 80.6%. At home, they are better, as they rank thirteenth – surrendering 19 goals in the 104 times they have been shorthanded. Hartford has scored eight shorthanded goals this season, led by Jonny Brodzinski with three of them.
Monday night’s game is scheduled to begin 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 AHLTV.