Utica Comets vs Bridgeport Islanders Game Preview 03-23-2022

The Utica Comets will be getting for some reinforcments for their lineup when they face the Islanders at home on Wednesday night.

The Utica Comets (35-13-6-1, 77 points, 0.700 points percentage) will be facing a team on Wednesday night that they don’t see that often when they square off against the Bridgeport Islanders (24-25-6-4, 58 points, 0.492 points percentage) at the Adirondack Bank Center. In fact, this is only the second (and last) regular-season meeting between the two teams – the Islanders won the first meeting by a score of 3-2 on December 4th in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The Islanders are currently in seventh place in the Atlantic Division.

The Comets are in first place in the Eastern Conference but have struggled as of late, losing three of their last four games. They have been dealing with holes in the roster, with Chase DeLeo and Nolan Foote missing time due to injuries (Ryan Schmelzer might miss Wednesday night’s game as well) and Nate Schnarr having been traded to the Montreal Canadiens on Monday. Then, the New Jersey Devils announced on Wednesday morning they have recalled defenseman Kevin Bahl and forward AJ Greer from Utica. To help fill the roster, Utica has made three recalls from the Adirondack Thunder of the ECHL. According to https://echl.com, the Comets have brought up forwards Tyler Irvine and Patrick Grasso, along with defenseman Tim Theocharidis.

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Irvine has already spent time with the Comets this season having played eleven games for the team. In those games, he posted with one goal and two assists along with eight PIM. Grasso was a part of Comets training camp and played one game for Utica this season and fifty-eight games with Adirondack. He is having a great year for the Thunder, as he has twenty-two goals and twenty-one assists. Theocharidis has just graduated from Arizona State University and has played four games for the Thunder.

Overall, the Comets are fifth in the AHL in team offense with 193 goals scored, and they are fourth in the league in goals scored at home with 101. With the Greer recall and DeLeo injury, the Utica Comets leader list on offense looks a little different. The top five scorers on the team are now as follows:

  • Fabian Zetterlund: 21 goals and 24 assists = 45 points (18th in the AHL in goals)
  • Alexander Holtz: 21 goals and 21 assists = 42 points (20th in the AHL in goals)
  • Reilly Walsh: 7 goals and 28 assists = 35 points
  • Robbie Russo: 3 goals and 24 assists = 27 points
  • Joe Gambardella: 10 goals and 14 assists = 24 points

With Greer in New Jersey, if DeLeo, Foote, and Schmelzer are back in the lineup on Wednesday night, they slot back into the third, fourth, and fifth spots on this list. Regardless, Fabian Zetterlund leads the team in shots with 152 and game-winning goals with five.

Utica Comets Comeback Falls Just Short on Monday Night

Bridgeport slots in at eighteenth in the American Hockey League in overall team offense with 168 goals scored, and they are twenty-fourth in the AHL in team offense on the road having scored 77 goals. Leading the Islanders offense are:

  • Chris Terry: 21 goals and 24 assists = 45 points (17th in the AHL in goals)
  • Otto Koivula: 10 goals and 29 assists = 39 points
  • Andy Andreoff: 15 goals and 22 assists = 37 points
  • Arnaud Durandeau: 13 goals and 19 assists = 32 points
  • Simon Holmstrom: 8 goals and 22 assists = 30 points

Terry leads the Islanders in shots with 154 and NHL veteran Richard Panik leads the team in game-winning goals with four.

The Comets rank fourth overall in the AHL in goals allowed with 150 and have given up 73 of those at home – which ranks seventh in the league. Akira Schmid is the clear number one goaltender for the team and has a record of 18-5-3 with a 2.31 GAA and a save percentage of 0.920. He is fourth in the league in GAA, sixth in save percentage and eighth in wins. Schmid is backed up by Mareks Mitens, who has a record of 5-5-2 to go with a GAA of 3.51 and a 0.882 save percentage. Mitens was in goal for the Comets on Monday night against the Cleveland Monsters.

The Islanders rank twenty-second in the AHL in overall team defense, allowing 180 goals, and are seventeenth on the road – surrendering 89 goals away from home. Their goaltending tandem is made up of Jakub Skarek and former New Jersey Devil Cory Schneider. Skarek has a record of 15-11-4 with a 3.01 GAA and 0.904 save percentage. His fifteen wins rank thirteenth in the league. Schneider is carrying a record of 8-10-3 with a GAA of 2.85 and a save percentage of 0.916. Schneider’s save percentage is the twelfth best in the AHL.

The Utica Comets are eighth overall on the power play, scoring 36 goals on 173 power-play opportunities for a success rate of 20.8%. At home, they are twelfth in the league – scoring 19 goals on 92 power-play opportunities for a success rate of 20.7%. Zetterlund leads the team in power-play goals with eight, followed by Holtz who has five. Reilly Walsh, Robbie Russo, and Chase DeLeo are tied for the team lead in power-play assists with eleven.

Overall, the Bridgeport Islanders have a success rate of 14.8% on the power play, scoring 28 goals in 189 opportunities – which ranks twenty-eighth in the league. On the road, they rank twenty-fourth, as they have scored 15 goals in 89 power-play opportunities for a success rate of 16.9%. Terry leads the team in power-play goals with six, followed by Austin Czarnik who has four. Terry also leads the Islanders in power-play assists with eleven.

The Comets rank thirteenth on the overall penalty kill in the AHL, allowing 32 goals in the 174 total times they have been shorthanded for a success rate of 81.6%. At home they have a success rate of 87.4%, allowing 11 goals on the 87 times they have been shorthanded at the Adirondack Bank Center, which ranks second in the AHL. The Comets have also not allowed a power-play goal in seven consecutive games. They have eight shorthanded goals this season, with AJ Greer scoring three of them and five other players having one each.

The Islanders have an overall success rate of 82.3% on the penalty kill, allowing 35 goals in the 198 times they have been shorthanded which ranks ninth in the league. On the road, they are third in the AHL with a success rate of 85.1%, allowing 15 power-play goals in the 101 times they have been shorthanded. As a team, they have scored four shorthanded goals, with Cole Bardreau scoring three of them.

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

In this episode, the co-host of the Calder Farmstead an AHL Podcast Sean O’Brien joins the show! The Calder Farmstead is a podcast that covers everything AHL, we’ll chat about the Utica Comets, their strengths and weaknesses, the NHL North, favorites to come out of the Eastern and Western Conferences, Sean’s AHL analytical work, and much more!

Check out Sean’s AHL, ECHL, and SPHL analytical work at http://bit.ly/dumpandchase – you won’t find analytics for the AHL, ECHL, and SPHL like this anywhere else! You can also visit The Calder Farmstead’s linktree page at linktr.ee/thecalderfarmstead.

Subscribe to The Calder Farmstead an AHL Podcast and Marty’s Illegal Stick Hockey Podcast on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms! Check out https://martysillegalstick.com for daily articles and content covering Mohawk Valley (NY) hockey! Marty’s Illegal Stick Hockey Podcast: By the Fans, For the Fans

Utica Comets Add Pair From the Adirondack Thunder

The Utica Comets have recalled a forward and defenseman from their ECHL affiliate.

The Utica Comets announced on Tuesday that they have recalled forward Nick Rivera and defenseman Joe Masonius from the Adirondack Thunder of the ECHL. The recalls come on the heels of forward Alexander Holtz and defenseman Kevin Bahl being placed in the AHL Covid protocols just prior to the Comets Saturday night game against the Hartford Wolfpack.

The twenty-five-year-old Rivera began his professional career in 2020-21, playing fifty-five games for the Wheeling Nailers of the ECHL after playing four years of college hockey at Minnesota State University – Mankato. He has played twenty-three games for the Thunder this season, totaling five goals and four assists to go with twenty-two PIM.

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Masonius is a left-shot defenseman who was a sixth-round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins. The twenty-four-year-old is in his fourth professional season, having played for the Macon Mayhem of the Southern Professional Hockey League and the South Carolina Stingrays, Manchester Monarchs, Norfolk Admirals, Greenville Swamp Rabbits, and now the Adirondack Thunder of the ECHL. In twenty-four games with Adirondack this season, Masonius has three goals and thirteen assists along with sixty PIM.

With AJ Greer, Nolan Foote, Colton White currently with the New Jersey Devils, and Holtz and Bahl in Covid protocols, recalling Rivera and Masonius was necessary to fill out the Utica roster ahead of their Wednesday night game against the Rochester Americans.

The NHL Taxi Squads will create chaos in the AHL and ECHL

New Jersey Devils roster mayhem continues

The good news for the Comets is that Pavel Zacha, Andreas Johnsson, and Yegor Sharangovich took part in the New Jersey Devils – which could mean Utica will be getting some players back soon. The bad news is with goaltender Nico Dawes still on the mend and no definitive timetable for his return, the Utica Comets have been waiting on the return of Akira Schmid to pair up with their current goaltender Mareks Mitens. That will not happen this week has the Devils announced on Tuesday that they have placed Schmid in the NHL Covid protocols, meaning he will be unavailable for at least five days. Mitens has played every game in goal for the Comets since being recalled from Adirondack to fill in for Dawes and Schmid, going 3-2-1-0 with a 3.45 GAA and a .877 save percentage.

The Devils are also waiting for test results on their starting goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood. If Blackwood has to miss time, New Jersey would have to find a second goaltender in a hurry, as they would only have John Gillies available in goal. If they want to recall Mitens, they would have to sign him to an NHL contract. Without Mitens, the Comets would only have David Tomeo (who they have signed to a PTO) to play against Rochester – and Tomeo has no professional experience. Stay tuned.

New Jersey Devils Injury Woes Could Impact the Whole Organization

The New Jersey Devils received some bad injury news on Tuesday as two of their top players will be out long term.

It never rains, it pours for the New Jersey Devils.

On Tuesday, the team found out that defenseman Dougie Hamilton and center Nico Hischier will miss extended time due to injuries. The injuries will have a significant impact on the team’s top-six forward group and top four defense corps.

Hamilton will miss multiple weeks after suffering a broken jaw during Sunday’s 4-3 overtime win against the Washington Capitals. The twenty-eight-year-old Hamilton was the prized free-agent signing for the Devils this offseason and so far has seven goals and thirteen assists for twenty points in thirty games played for New Jersey this season. Hamilton will undergo surgery on his jaw on Wednesday.

The NHL Taxi Squads will create chaos in the AHL and ECHL

NJ Devils reporter Amanda Stein (you can find her on Twitter at @amandacstein) reports that Devils captain Nico Hischier will miss the game against Boston (I misinterpreted the tweet, as I originally thought it meant he was going to miss multiple weeks – my sincere apologies Amanda!). He might very well have a broken foot, but it was reported during the Devils broadcast on Tuesday night that he will try to skate on it Wednesday and see how the pain is (again my apologies for the original misinformation, it was not intentional). Obviously it is a fluid situation as to how much more time if any, he will miss. Hischier had just returned to the team after spending time in the NHL Covid protocol. In twenty-eight games played this season, Hischier has six goals and fourteen assists for twenty points.

Utica Comets Add to Roster, Announce Makeup Dates, and Time Changes

Stein also reports that Devils forwards Pavel Zacha and Yegor Sharangovich have been placed in the Covid protocol, and that forward Tomas Tatar has come out of it. The Devils play tonight (Tuesday) in Boston, and has of 4:30 on Tuesday no recalls from their AHL affiliate, the Utica Comets, have been made. The Devils have forwards Alexander Holtz and Nolan Foote, as well as defenseman Kevin Bahl on their Taxi Squad. The Comets play again on Wednesday in Toronto before returning home for games on Friday and Saturday against Wilkes-Barre Scranton and Hartford.

If the Utica Comets were to lose a significant amount of players to New Jersey, it would almost certainly require them to recall more players from the Adirondack Thunder of the ECHL and/or sign more professional tryout (PTO) contracts. Stay tuned.

Tune in for a brand new episode of Marty’s Illegal Stick Hockey Podcast on Wednesday night January 5th starting at 7:30 pm EST on our Facebook page and YouTube channel! Segment 1 features John Moncovich of the Utica College Pioneers (currently ranked #3 in the nation) to talk about the season so far and return to play after the holiday break. Segment 2 will feature Neil Villapiano of the Devils State of Mind Podcast and Armand Klisivitch (covers the Adirondack Thunder for http://thepuckauthority.com) to discuss how the Devils injuries will impact the Devils, Comets, and Thunder!

Utica Comets Add to Roster, Announce Makeup Dates, and Time Changes

The Utica Comets made some more roster additions and schedule changes.

For the Utica Comets and the rest of the American Hockey League, Covid has turned rosters and the schedule upside down. On Monday, the Comets announced roster additions and the makeup dates for games of theirs that were postponed due to the pandemic.

With defenseman Kevin Bahl along with forwards, Nolan Foote and Alexander Holtz recalled to the New Jersey Devils Taxi Squad, and dealing with protocol issues of their own, the Comets recalled four players from the Adirondack Thunder of the ECHL. Per https://uticacomets.com those four players are:

  • Forward Samuel Laberge
  • Forward Tyler Irvine
  • Forward Patrick Grasso
  • Forward Jordan Kaplan
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Laberge and Irvine were recalled to the Comets for the New Year’s Eve game against Lehigh Valley and then returned to Adirondack the next day. Grasso and Kaplan were in the Comets training camp in September and then assigned to Adirondack – neither has played a regular-season game for Utica this season. In twenty-three games played for the Thunder this season, Grasso has ten goals and eight assists. Kaplan has played nineteen games for Adirondack so far this season totaling two goals and eight assists.

The NHL Taxi Squads will create chaos in the AHL and ECHL

The Comets begin a stretch of three games in four days on Wednesday, January 5th in Toronto against the Marlies, so having a full roster is crucial.

Speaking of the Toronto Marlies, the Comets game against them on Wednesday is now starting at 1:00 pm EST instead of 7:00. Other schedule changes announced by the team and the AHL are as follows:

  • The December 5th game in Providence against the Bruins that was orginally rescheduled to January 10th will now take place on April 30th.
  • The game that was supposed to take place in Rochester on December 27th will now happen on April 29th at the Blue Cross Arena.
  • The matchup against the Springfield Thunderbirds on December 29th that was postponed will now be made up on February 9th in Springfield.

Utica Comets Bring in Some Reinforcements

Two forwards are coming to the Utica Comets from the Adirondack Thunder. The team also signed another goaltender to a PTO.

The Utica Comets are scheduled to play at home on New Year’s Eve against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, and two new players along with a familiar face will be joining the party.

The return of Nico Daws or Akira Schmid is apparently not imminent, as the Comets also announced on Thursday morning they have signed goaltender David Tomeo to a Professional Tryout (PTO) contract. Tomeo will apparently backup starting goaltender Marek Mitens. The twenty-two-year-old Tomeo last played for Sacred Heart University in the 2020-21 season and did not record any stats. Sacred Heart belongs to the Atlantic Hockey Association, which will have its conference chapionship games at the Adirondack Bank Center in March (Atlantic Hockey Association Championship coming to Utica).

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The team has recalled forwards Samuel Laberge and Tyler Irvine from their ECHL affiliate, the Adirondack Thunder. Laberge has seen time with the Comets already this season, as he has played eight games for the team. In those eight games, the twenty-four-year-old winger had two goals, two assists, and nineteen PIM’s – seventeen of them coming in one game. Laberge seemed to be getting comfortable with the Comets before he was sent back to the Thunder on December 2nd.

Unsung Utica Comets Heroes so far: Aarne Talvitie

This will be the first time Irvine has joined the Utica Comets this season. The twenty-five-year-old winger played last season in the American Hockey League for the Binghamton Devils. In twenty five games for the Devils, he totalled four points.

Irvine is off to a great start for the Thunder this season. In twenty-one games played, he has eleven goals and eleven assists, averaging over one point per game. At the time of his recall to the Comets, Irvine was the leading scorer for the Thunder.

Utica Comets reassign two players to the Adirondack Thunder

A pair of forwards will join the Thunder.

The Adirondack Thunder, the ECHL affiliate of the Utica Comets and New Jersey Devils, announced in Thursday morning that forwards Luke Stevens and Samuel Laberge have been assigned to the team by the Comets.

Note: The day after this article was published, Stevens was recalled back to Utica.

The recent returns of Fabian Zetterlund, Alexander Holtz, and Chase DeLeo have created a surplus in Utica and thereby necessitating some movement. After today’s moves, the Comets are now carrying fourteen forwards, seven defensemen, and two goaltenders.

Another Akira Schmid shutout sparks Utica Comets victory over Belleville

Laberge started this season with the Adirondack Thunder and was then recalled to Utica. The twenty-four-year-old winger played in eight games for the Comets this season, totaling two goals, two assists, and nineteen PIM – seventeen of which came in last night’s game. The six feet, two inches, two-hundred-pound native of Chateauguay, Quebec has played in both the ECHL and AHL throughout his professional career.

Samuel Laberge taking a warmup skate prior to the start of Wednesday nights game. Photo Credit: Scott Kinville.

Forward Luke Stevens has played in four games for the Comets so far this season, totaling no points and no PIM. The twenty-four-year-old native of Duxbury, Massachusetts was drafted in the fifth round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft by the Carolina Hurricanes and played last season for the Wilkes Barre Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League. Stevens will bring an element of size to the Thunder as he stands six feet, four inches tall, and weighs one hundred ninety-two pounds.

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The Adirondack Thunder next play on December 3rd, when they travel to Worcester, Massachusetts to take on the Railers. The Thunder have a 6-8-1 record thus far for the season and are in fifth place in the ECHL North Division. The Comets next game is on December 4th on the road as well against the Bridgeport Islanders. They are in first place in the AHL North Division with a 16-1-0-0 record.

Utica Comets recall Samuel Laberge from the ECHL

Laberge will be heading to the Utica Comets from the Adirondack Thunder.

Per https://echl.com and Armand Klisivitch of https://thepuckauthority.com, the Utica Comets recalled forward Samuel Laberge on Thursday November 11th.

The twenty-four-year-old left wing played his junior hockey for Rimouski Oceanic of the QMJHL – the same junior team that Sidney Crosby and Alexis Lafreniere, among others, played for. He turned professional in 2017, joining the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League. He played two seasons for the Stars, posting a total of twenty-two points during his time with Texas.

Utica Comets win eighth straight game on Thursday

After leaving Texas, Laberge played the 2019-20 season for the Sorel-Tracy Blackhawks of the LNAH. The LNAH is an A level professional league in the Province of Quebec. After one season with Sorel-Tracy, Laberge played for the Allen Americans of the ECHL. It was with Allen that he had his best professional season, posting fifteen goals and twenty-two assists in fifty games played.

Laberge has played five games for the Adirondack Thunder so far this season, where he has no goals and five assists, to go with nine PIM. At 6 feet two inches tall and 198 pounds, Laberge will bring size and playmaking ability from the wing to the Comets lineup.

All statistics via https://hockeydb.com.

Utica Comets roster moves announced

Two players are going from the Comets to the Adirondack Thunder.

The Adirondack Thunder, the ECHL affiliate of the Utica Comets and the New Jersey Devils, announced on Wednesday that defenseman Michael Vukojevic and goaltender Marek Mitens have been assigned to them by the Devils and Comets respectively.

The twenty-year old Vukojevic, is a left shot defenseman who was a third round pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft by the New Jersey Devils. He played twenty-six games with the Binghamton Devils of the American Hockey League last season, totaling one goal, and ten assists to go with thirty-one PIM. He has played one game for the Thunder this season, and did not see any game action during his time in Utica. With defenseman Colton White being sent to the Comets by the Devils, it makes sense for Vukojevic to go to Adirondack to get some playing time.

With the Comets assigning Mitens to the Thunder, it is expected that either Nico Daws or Scott Wedgewood will be coming to Utica soon. The twenty-three year old native of Latvia, played four seasons of NCAA Division I hockey for Lake Superior State, before making his professional debut in Binghamton last season. He compiled a 1-3 record while playing for the then New Jersey Devils AHL affiliate. Mitens did not see any game time while in Utica this season.

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