Utica Comets vs Syracuse Crunch Game Preview 04-01-2022

The Utica Comets and Syracuse Crunch meet for the thirteenth time this season on Friday night at the Adirondack Bank Center in Utica.

The Utica Comets (38-15-6-1, 83 points, 0.692 points percentage) lead the Eastern Conference and are gearing up for the AHL playoffs. The Syracuse Crunch (30-23-6-2, 68 points, 0.557 points percentage), are in fourth place in the North Division and in the midst of a very tight playoff race that they are battling to stay in. Utica leads the season series between the two teams with a 9-1-2 mark against their arch-rivals.

After being plagued by injuries and call-ups to the New Jersey Devils, the Comets roster is getting reinforcements. AJ Greer and Kevin Bahl were reassigned to Utica on Monday, and it’s already paying off for the Comets, as Greer has four goals and three assists in the two games since he has been back. On Thursday, the Devils announced they had reassigned forward Tyce Thompson to Utica. Thompson started the season with the Comets before being called up to New Jersey in November. In seven games played for Utica this season he has four goals and three assists.

To make room on the roster, the Comets reassigned Patrick Grasso to Adirondack of the ECHL and released Luke Stevens from his PTO.

The New Jersey Devils also made a splash in the college free-agent market when they signed forward Brian Halonen to a two-year ELC contract on Sunday. That contract does not start until next season, but in the meantime, Halonen signed an ATO contract with the Comets and could make his debut on Friday night. For more information about Halonen, please click here: Utica Comets Bring in Brian Halonen.

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The Comets have the second-best overall offense in the AHL having scored 211 goals. At home, they have scored 105 goals, which ranks seventh in the league. Alexander Holtz has missed the last two games due to an injury, but according to Ben Birnell of the Daily Sentinel, he is probable to play in tonight’s game (give Ben a follow on Twitter at BB_URSentinel for up to the date Comets information), which will boost an already powerful offense. With Holtz back in the lineup, the top five scorers for Utica look like this:

  • Fabian Zetterlund: 24 goals and 27 assists = 51 points. (10th in the AHL in goals, 19th in points)
  • AJ Greer: 22 goals and 25 assists = 47 points.
  • Chase DeLeo: 14 goals and 31 assists = 45 points. (18th in the AHL in assists)
  • Alexander Holtz: 22 goals and 21 assists = 43 points.
  • Reilly Walsh: 7 goals and 29 assists = 36 points. (Ranks among AHL defensemen: 7th in points, 9th in assists, 19th in goals)

Fabian Zetterlund leads the team in shots with 171 and game-winning goals with seven. He is also ninth in the AHL in shots and fourth in the league in game-winning goals. Zetterlund and Frederik Gauthier each have four-game point-scoring streaks going as well.

The Crunch ranks fourteenth in the American Hockey League in overall goals scored with 185. On the road they have scored 87 goals, which ranks sixteenth in the league. The top five scorers for the Crunch are as follows:

  • Gabriel Dumont: 24 goals and 25 assists = 49 points. (12th in the AHL in goals)
  • Alex Barre-Boulet: 12 goals and 31 assists = 43 points. (19th in the AHL in assists)
  • Charles Hudon: 23 goals and 19 assists = 42 points. (18th in the AHL in goals)
  • Sean Day: 6 goals and 30 assists = 36 points. (Ranks among AHL defensemen: 8th in points and 7th in assists)
  • Cole Koepke: 18 goals and 17 assists = 35 points.

Koepke leads the Crunch in shots with 165 and is followed closely by Barre- Boulet with 160 (they are fifteenth and seventeenth in the AHL in shots). Charles Hudon leads Syracuse in game-winning goals with five, which is also the eighteenth most in the league.

Utica has allowed 163 overall goals this season, which ranks fifth in the AHL. At home, they are sixth, where they have yielded 78 tallies. Akira Schmid and Mareks Mitens comprise the Comets goaltending tandem. Schmid has a record of 19-7-3 with a GAA of 2.46 and 0.915 save percentage to go with two shutouts. Schmid is eighth in the AHL in wins, eleventh in GAA, and thirteenth in save percentage. Mitens has a record of 7-5-2 to go with a 3.15 GAA and 0.896 save percentage. He has won two of the last three games he has started and defeated the Crunch the last time the teams met.

The Crunch is twenty-second overall in team defense and has allowed 192 goals. On the road, they have yielded 102 goals which rank twenty-third in the league. Syracuse is carrying four goaltenders on their roster, and are as follows:

  • Max Legace has a record of 14-8-1 with a GAA of 2.68, a save percentage of 0.892, and two shutouts.
  • Amir Miftakhov has a record of 6-8-3 with a GAA of 2.92, a save percentage of 0.895, and one shutout.
  • Hugo Alnefelt has a record of 9-5-4 witha GAA of 3.00, a save percentage of 0.884, and no shutouts. Alnefelt hasn’t dressed for a game since March 12th.
  • Ty Taylor is on the roster but has not seen any game action for the Crunch.

Legace is sixteenth in the AHL in GAA and twentieth in wins.

The Comets rank fifth overall in the AHL on the power play, scoring 42 goals in 190 opportunities for a success rate of 22.1%. At home, they have scored 19 power-play goals in 98 opportunities for a success rate of 19.4%, which is eighteenth in the league. Fabian Zetterlund continues to lead the team in power-play goals with eight followed by Alexander Holtz who has six. Chase DeLeo leads the Comets in power-play assists with thirteen, followed closely by Reilly Walsh and Robbie Russo who have twelve each.

The Crunch come into tonight’s game ranked nineteenth overall on the power play, scoring 39 goals in 206 opportunities for a success rate of 18.9%. On the road, they have scored 16 power-play goals in 100 chances for a success rate of 16.0%, which ranks twenty-sixth in the AHL. Charles Hudon leads the team in power-play goals with ten, which also ranks twelfth in the league (Gabriel Dumont is second on the team with seven power-play goals). Alex Barre-Boulet leads the Crunch in power-play assists with fourteen, followed by Sean Day who has twelve. Barre-Boulet is twentieth in the American Hockey League in power-play assists.

On the penalty kill, the Comets rank thirteenth overall, yielding 35 goals in 188 times shorthanded for a success rate of 81.4%. At home they have allowed 12 goals in the 93 times they have been shorthanded for a success rate of 87.1%, which is the second-best in the American Hockey League. The Comets have scored ten shorthanded goals which are the fourth-most in the league. AJ Greer has been a force on the penalty kill, leading the team with four shorthanded goals which also rank him third in the AHL and one off the league lead.

The Crunch is twenty-fifth in the league overall on the penalty kill, allowing 44 goals on 201 times shorthanded for a success rate of 78.1%. They are better on the road, where they rank thirteenth in the AHL yielding 20 power-play goals in 112 times shorthanded for a success rate of 82.1%. Overall, they ranked twenty-ninth in shorthanded goals scored, having scored three shorthanded goals this season that has been scored by three separate players.

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

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