The Utica Comets play their first game in almost a week when they host the Syracuse Crunch on Friday night at the Adirondack Bank Center.
Despite not picking a win in their past four games, the Utica Comets (39-18-7-1, 86 points, 0.662 points percentage – 1st place in the North Division) have clinched a spot in the 2022 AHL Playoffs. They have now had a stretch of five nights without a game, giving them a chance to reset and refocus on their next goal, which is the North Division title for which their magic number is seven. Their opponent on Friday night is the Syracuse Crunch (35-24-7-2, 79 points, 0.581 points percentage – third place in the North Division), who chasing a magic number themselves. They need twelve points to secure a spot in the 2022 AHL Playoffs. The Comets lead the season series by a 10-1-2 margin.
The Comets have been playing without some key players for the past nine days. Forwards Fabian Zetterlund and AJ Greer, along with defenseman Kevin Bahl were recalled to the New Jersey Devils to help fill holes in their lineup created but injuries. The Devils are currently on a western road trip, so the trio will not be back in the near future.
Utica is hoping to get Frederik Gauthier for their weekend slate of games. The hulking center has missed the last five games due to injury, and without him, Zetterlund, Greer, and Bahl in the lineup the Comet’s play have suffered – their last win was on April 1st against the Crunch. To help fill their own holes in the lineup, the Comets have signed forward Garrett Van Wyhe from the University of Michigan. Van Wyhe had six goals and six assists to go with forty-two PIM in his senior year for the Wolverines and is hoping to make his AHL debut against the Crunch.
The Utica Comets and Syracuse Crunch meet for the fourteenth and final time in the regular season, here’s the “tale of the tape” between the two bitter rivals.
The Comets are sixth in the AHL in overall goals scored with 225. At home, they rank eighth, where they have scored 113. With Zetterlund and Greer out of the lineup, here are their leading scorers:
- Chase DeLeo: 16 goals and 34 assists = 50 points (he is ranked 18th in the AHL in assists).
- Alexander Holtz: 24 goals and 23 assists = 47 points.
- Reilly Walsh: 7 goals and 31 assists = 38 points (he is 9th among AHL defensemen in both points and assists).
- Frederik Gauthier: 8 goals and 24 assists = 32 points.
- Robbie Russo: 3 goals and 29 assists = 32 points (he is 11th among AHL defensemen in assists).
If Gauthier is still unable to play, Nolan Foote (13 goals and 17 assists would join this list. Alexander Holtz currently leads the team in shots with 149 and Graeme Clarke sets the pace in game-winning goals with three.
The Crunch is ranked eleventh in the American Hockey League in overall goals scored with 213. On the road, they scored 109, which is eighth in the league. Their leading scorers are as follows:
- Gabriel Dumont: 27 goals and 29 assists = 56 points (he is 11th in the AHL in goals and 18th in points).
- Alex Barre-Boulet: 16 goals and 39 assists = 55 points (he in 8th in the AHL in assists and 10th in shots).
- Charles Hudon: 24 goals and 25 assists = 49 points.
- Cole Koepke: 20 goals and 19 assists = 39 points (he is 14th in the AHL in shots).
- Sean Day: 8 goals and 31 assists = 39 points (he is 7th aming AHL defensemen in points and 8th in assists).
Barre-Boulet leads Syracuse in shots with 186, while Hudon and Dumont lead the team in game-winning goals with five.
Defense and Goaltending.
Utica is ranked fifth in the AHL in total goals allowed – yielding 182 so far for the season. At home, they have given up 85 goals, which ranks sixth in the league. The Comets goaltending corps is comprised of:
- Akira Schmid has a record of 20-8-4, with a GAA of 2.53, a save percentage of 0.914, and two shutouts. He is ranked 7th in the AHL in wins, 13th in GAA, 15th in shutouts, and 17th in save percentage.
- Mareks Mitens has a record of 7-7-2 with a GAA of 3.33, and a 0.890 save percentage.
Syracuse is ranked twenty-first in the American Hockey League in overall goals allowed, as they have yielded 212 this season. On the road, they have allowed 119, which is the twenty-sixth in the league. The Crunch have three goaltenders on their roster, and they are:
- Max Legace has a record of 18-9-2, with a GAA of 2.58, a 0.900 save percentage, and three shutouts. He is 8th in the AHL in shutouts, 11th in wins, and 14th in GAA.
- Hugo Alnefelt has a record of 9-5-4, with a GAA of 3.00, and a 0.884 save percentage.
- Ty Taylor is on the roster, but has no record.
Special Teams – Power-Play.
The Comets are ranked fifth in the AHL on the power-play overall, as they have scored 48 goals in 208 opportunities for a success rate of 23.1%. At home, they have scored 22 power-play goals in 105 chances for a success rate of 21.0% – which ranks thirteenth in the league. The leaders in the power play for Utica are:
- Points: Chase DeLeo leads with eighteen.
- Goals: Alexander Holtz leads with six.
- Assists: Reilly Walsh leads with fourteen.
The Crunch is ranked twenty-sixth in the American Hockey League on the overall power-play, scoring 40 goals in 227 opportunities. On the road, they are twenty-ninth, where they have scored 16 goals in 114 power-play opportunities. The leaders in the power-play for Syracuse are:
- Points: Alex Barre-Boulet and Charles Hudon lead with eighteen.
- Goals: Hudon leads with ten. He is also eighteenth in the AHL in power-play goals.
- Assists: Barre-Boulet leads with fifteen.
Special Teams – Penalty Kill.
The Comets are ranked eleventh in the AHL on the overall penalty kill, allowing 38 goals in the 204 times they have been shorthanded for a success rate of 81.4%. At home, they have the second-best penalty-killing unit in the league, where they have yielded only 13 goals in the 100 times they have been shorthanded for a success rate of 87.0%. They have the fifth most shorthanded goals in the league eleven, and with Greer in New Jersey, Frederik Gauthier and Aarne Talvitie lead the team with two “shorties” each.
The Crunch is ranked twenty-sixth in the American Hockey League on the overall penalty kill, as they have allowed 49 goals in the 224 overall times they have been shorthanded for a success rate of 78.1%. On the road, they are sixteenth in the league, as they have allowed 23 goals in the 128 times they have been shorthanded for a success rate of 82.0%. Syracuse is twenty-seventh in the AHL in shorthanded goals scored with four and Anthony Richard has scored two of them to lead the team.
Friday night’s game between the Utica Comets and Syracuse Crunch is scheduled to begin 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.