Utica Comets at Laval Rocket Game Preview 04-09-2022

The Utica Comets will see an old friend when they visit Place Bell in Laval, Quebec to face the Rocket on Saturday afternoon?

The Utica Comets (39-17-7-1, 86 points, 0.672 points percentage, 1st place in the Eastern Conference) need one point to clinch a playoff spot and eight points to take the regular-season North Division crown. The Laval Rocket (33-23-3-2, 71 points, 0.582 points percentage, 2nd place in the North Division) need to keep winning to close in on a playoff spot of their own and maintain any kind of hope of catching the Comets. The two teams will meet for the sixth and final time on Saturday afternoon with the Comets holding a three to two series lead thus far this season.

Utica Comets at Belleville Senators 04-08-2022 Three Observations

The Utica Comets and their fans will see a familiar face wearing the bleu, blanc, et rouge of the Laval Rocket as Nate Schnarr will face his former team for the first time. Schnarr was traded to the Montreal Canadiens by the New Jersey Devils on March 28th for goaltender Andrew Hammond. With friends becoming foes for a couple of hours, here is the tale of the tape for the Comets vs Rocket matchup that has playoff implications.

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Offense.

The Utica Comets are third in the AHL in overall goals scored with 222. On the rank, they rank fifth in the league where they have scored 109. With Fabian Zetterlund and AJ Greer currently in the NHL, here are the leading scorers for the Comets:

  • Chase DeLeo: 16 goals and 33 assists = 49 points. (he is 17th in the AHL in assists)
  • Alexander Holtz: 23 goals and 22 assists = 45 points.
  • Reilly Walsh: 7 goals and 30 assists = 37 points.
  • Frederik Gauthier: 8 goals and 24 assists = 32 points.
  • Robbie Russo: 3 goals and 28 assists = 31 points.

Alexander Holtz leads the current Utica team in shots with 146, and Graeme Clarke leads in game-winning goals with three.

The Rocket is tenth in the American Hockey League in overall goals scored with 206. At home, they have scored 124 goals which rank them third in the league. With Jesse Ylonen currently with the Montreal Canadiens, here are the Rocket leading scorers:

  • Rafael Harvey-Pinard: 18 goals and 27 assists = 45 points.
  • Jean-Sebastien Dea: 20 goals and 19 assists = 39 points.
  • Xavier Ouellet: 6 goals and 25 assists = 31 points.
  • Kevin Roy: 11 goals and 18 assists = 29 points.
  • Nate Schnarr: 14 goals and 14 assists = 28 points.

Danick Martel leads Laval in shots with 150, and Dea leads the team in game-winning goals with six.

Post-game brawl between the Laval Rocket and Utica Comets 02-04-2022.

Defense/Goaltending.

Utica is sixth in the AHL in overall goals allowed, yielding 177 so far this season. On the road, they have given up 92 goals, which is ninth in the league. The Comets goaltending tandem is made up of:

  • Akira Schmid has a record of 20-7-4 with a GAA of 2.48, 0.915 save percentage, and two shutouts. He ranks 7th in the AHL in wins, 12th in GAA, and 14th in both save percentage and shutouts.
  • Mareks Mitens has a record of 7-7-2 with a GAA of 3.33, and a 0.890 save percentage.

Laval is eighteenth in the AHL in overall goals allowed, yielding 197. At home, they have given up 87 goals, which ranks twelfth in the league. The Rocket goaltending tandem is made up of:

  • Cayden Primeau has a record of 14-10-3 with a GAA of 2.86, a 0.912 save percentage, and two shutouts. He ranks 11th in the AHL in shutouts and 17th in save percentage.
  • Kevin Poulin has a record of 14-7-1 with a GAA of 2.32, a 0.923 save percentage, and one shutout. He ranks 5th in the AHL in both GAA and save percentage and 18th in shutouts.

Special Teams/Power Play.

The Comets are fourth in the league overall on the power play, scoring 47 goals in 204 opportunities for a success rate of 23.0%. They are also fourth in the AHL on the road on the power play, scoring 25 goals in 99 opportunities for a success rate of 25.3%. With Zetterlund unavailable, Alexander Holtz leads the team in power-play goals with six. Chase DeLeo, Reilly Walsh, and Robbie Russo all lead in power-play assists with thirteen, while DeLeo leads in overall power-play points with eighteen.

The Rocket has 38 power-play goals in 217 overall opportunities for a success rate of 17.5% – which ranks twenty-sixth in the AHL. They are better on the power play at home, where they have scored 25 goals in 111 chances for a success rate of 22.5%, ranking them eighth in the league. Rafael Harvey-Pinard leads the team in power-play goals with five, Xavier Ouellet leads in power-play assists with eleven, while both Ouellet and Jean-Sebastien Dea lead in overall power-play points with fourteen each.

Special Teams/Penalty Kill.

The Comets are fifteenth in the AHL on the overall penalty kill, allowing 38 goals in the 200 times they have been shorthanded for a success rate of 81.0%. On the road, they are twenty-seventh in the league, allowing 25 goals in the 100 times they have been shorthanded for a success rate of 75.0%. They have scored eleven shorthanded goals this season, which is the fourth most in the American Hockey League. With AJ Greer in New Jersey, Aarne Talvitie and Frederik Gauthier lead the team in shorthanded goals with two each.

The Rocket is sixteenth in the league on the overall penalty kill, allowing 41 goals in the 211 times they have been shorthanded for a success rate of 80.6%. At home, they have 17 goals in the 108 times they have been shorthanded which ranks seventh in the AHL. Laval has scored twelve shorthanded goals so far this season which is the third-most in the league. They are led by Brandon Gignac, Rafael Harvey-Pinard, and Gabriel Bourque who have three each.

Saturday afternoons game is scheduled to start at 4:00 pm EDT. Radio coverage begins with the pregame show on 94.9 K-Rock (WKLL), and the television broadcast begins at 4:00 pm on AHLTV.

In this episode of Marty’s Illegal Stick Hockey Podcast, Joe Patarino of the Making It Reign Podcast joins the show to talk central NY and AHL hockey! Joe discusses his days playing college hockey for the Morrisville State Mustangs, the Utica Pioneers star he once coached, and how he became an LA Kings fan living in Rochester, NY!

Then we take a look at the AHL Western Conference, specifically the Pacific Division! We discuss the Ontario Reign, Stockton Heat, a team that Comets fans are familiar with – the Abbotsford Canucks, who are the potential powerhouses from the West that could make the Calder Cup Final, why AHL fans in the East should pay attention to the Western Conference, we compare the Eastern and Western Conference, and much more!

We end the show discussing the week that was for the Utica Comets, the week ahead, their magic number, who are the next Comets that could get a look in New Jersey, and finally a quick update on the SPHL! Subscribe to both Marty’s Illegal Stick Hockey Podcast and Making It Reign (under the Hockey Royalty banner) on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms! Be sure to check https://martysillegalstick.com for new daily Mohawk Valley hockey content!

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