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!

Nate Schnarr traded by the New Jersey Devils

Former Utica Comet Nate Schnarr was traded on Monday to the Montreal Canadiens for goaltender Andrew Hammond.

Nate Schnarr is moving north of the border after the New Jersey Devils traded him to the Montreal Canadiens for Andrew Hammond. Although they lose a key member of their forward group, the trade will most likely mean the eventual return of goaltender Nico Daws to the Utica Comets.

Schnarr is in his third professional season. After being drafted by the Arizona Coyotes in the third round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, Schnarr was acquired by the New Jersey Devils as a part of the December 16th, 2019 trade of Taylor Hall. The twenty-three-year-old center played in forty-three games for the Utica Comets this season posting thirteen goals and thirteen assists in forty-three games played to go with 26 PIM and a +12 rating.

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Hammond, who is also known as “The Hamburgler”, is thirty-four years old, and began his professional career in 2013. He is a veteran of sixty NHL games with an overall record of 30-15-6 with a GAA of 2.31 and a 0.920 save percentage to go with 4 shutouts. He spent time with the Iowa Wild this season and has also played four games for the Montreal Canadiens, his record with Montreal this season is 3-0-0 with a 2.40 GAA and 0.920 save percentage. He is currently on injured reserve but is scheduled to return to action within one to two weeks.

Utica Comets vs Cleveland Monsters Game Preview 03-21-2022

Schnarr will most likely be assigned to the Laval Rocket. When Hammond returns, it is likely Nico Daws will be reassigned to the Utica Comets (he does not need to clear waivers) to join Akira Schmid as Utica’s goaltending tandem. Daws and Schmid formed what was considered by many to be the best goaltending tandem in the American Hockey League during the first half of this season.

Utica Comets vs Laval Rocket Series Preview 02-02-2022

The Utica Comets and Laval Rocket will meet for the fourth time and fifth times this season on Wednesday and Friday night.

The Utica Comets return home to the Adirondack Bank Center on Wednesday night to face the Laval Rocket after a weekend road trip that saw them pick up wins in Rochester on Saturday night, and then again in Cleveland on Sunday. Wednesday is also Groundhog Day and the Comets hope that it is not a repeat of the last time they played the Rocket, as the Montreal Canadiens AHL affiliate defeated them 4-3 the last time they played on January 19th in Laval.

Things are a bit different for the Comets since the last time they played the Rocket. Going into the January 19th contest, Utica had lost four of its previous six games. Since that loss to the Rocket, the Comets have won five of their last six games and are back to playing the strong defensive game they have become known for – they have allowed more than three goals just once in that span. Utica still has the best record in the AHL at 25-5-5-0 and a .786 winning percentage.

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The Rocket will be playing their first games since returning from the Lone Star State of Texas, where they split a pair of games with the Texas Stars. They have won three of their last five games, and are 7-3 over their last ten games. Laval is currently in fourth place in the North Division with a record of 16-12-2-0 and a winning percentage of .567.

The Utica Comets continue to be a force to be reckoned with on offense. They are fourth in the American Hockey League in goals scored with 131. Chase DeLeo continues to lead the team in points and is eleventh overall in the AHL with thirty-five. Fabian Zetterlund leads the team in goals scored with sixteen (he is also second on the team in points with thirty-one). Zetterlund is followed by Nate Schnarr, who has missed the last four games, with twelve. Alexander Holtz, who was just named the AHL Rookie of the Month for January, is third on the team in goals scored with eleven.

Jesse Ylonen was recently returned to the Rocket from the Montreal Canadiens, and he leads the team in points with eighteen in only twenty games played. With Laurent Dauphin still in Montreal, Jean-Sebastien Dea leads the team in goals with eleven. As a team, the Rocket is twenty-second in the league in goals scored with ninety-nine.

Utica Comets Notch a Victory Over the Cleveland Monsters

The defense has been a strong suit for both the Comets and Rocket. Utica has given up the second-fewest goals in the league with eighty-nine. The strong goaltending they have has been a key factor in their success. Nico Daws has been sensational this season ranking eighth in the AHL in GAA with 2.40, eighth in save percentage at .919, and eleventh in wins with eleven. With Akira Schmid in New Jersey with the Devils, Mareks Mitens has performed admirably as the second half of the Utica goaltending tandem. He has a record of 5-3-1 with a 3.64 GAA and .879 save percentage. The Comets are also getting some reinforcements on the blue line, as defenseman Colton White has been reassigned to Utica from the New Jersey Devils.

The Rocket is eleventh in the AHL in goals allowed with 104. They have experienced tremendous roster turmoil with callups to Montreal, especially among their goaltenders. Their current tandem is Kevin Poulin and Louis-Philip Guindon, both of whom spent time in the ECHL this season. Poulin has an AHL record of 3-3-0 with a GAA of 3.26 and a .900 save percentage. Guindon’s record with the Rocket is 1-0-0 with a 1.63 GAA and .946 save percentage.

On the powerplay, the Comets are third in the AHL with a success rate of 23.9%, while the Rocket is twentieth at 18.4%. It should be noted the Comets have had the least amount of powerplay opportunities in the league and the Rocket have had the second least.

On the penalty kill, Laval is thirteenth overall in the AHL, killing off 82.1% of the powerplay chances they give up. The Comets rank eighteenth, successfully killing 81.2% of the powerplay chances they hand out.

Both the Wednesday night and Friday night matchups start at 7:00 pm EST. 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.

The Utica Comets Lose a Close Game to the Laval Rocket

Photo credit: AHLTV

For the third straight game, the Utica Comets come back to tie the score in the third period. This time they ultimately fell short.

The Utica Comets have developed a knack lately for playing in close games, as seven of their last eight games have been decided by one goal. Wednesday night in Laval, Quebec was no different as the Comets tied the score at three in the third period but fell to the Laval Rocket by a score of 4-3.

The Comets entered this game with the eighth-best penalty-killing units in the American Hockey League and the Rocket were twenty-seventh out of thirty-one AHL teams on the powerplay. Those particular stats went out of the window on Wednesday night, as Laval converted on all three of their opportunities with the man advantage. The first of those three powerplay goals opened the scoring at the 4:29 mark of the first period when Jesse Ylonen, playing in his first game back with the Rocket since being reassigned by the Montreal Canadiens, snapped a shot from the slot past by Utica goaltender Nico Daws. The Ylonen goal was the only scoring in the opening frame.

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The second period was full of action as each team registered fifteen shots on goal. The Comets tied the score at one six minutes into the period when Alexander Holtz took a feed from Aarne Talvitie and wired a shot from the left circle past Rocket goaltender Kevin Poulin. Laval answered back three minutes later on the powerplay when Ylonen scored his second goal of the game as he fired a wrist shot from the left circle past Daws with the primary assist going to former New Jersey Devil Jean-Sebastien Dea.

Utica Comets at Laval Rocket Game Preview 01-19-2022

Two minutes after the second Ylonen goal, the Rocket extended their lead to two when Louie Belpedio blasted a one-timer from the point off of a pass from Tory Dello past a screened Daws. With one minute and ten seconds left in the period, the Comets made the score 3-2 when Nate Schnarr barreled down the left side of the Rocket zone and put the puck past Poulin for his eleventh goal of the season.

With momentum on their side, the Comets tied the game at three early in the third when Nolan Foote found Michael Vukojevic charging down the middle of the Laval zone. who went top shelf past Poulin for Utica’s third goal of the game. The teams went back and forth until the Rocket took the lead for good when with four minutes and twenty seconds left Peter Abbandonato scored Laval’s third powerplay goal of the game when ripped a loose puck in the slot into the Utica net. The Comets furiously tried to tie the game in the closing minute, but Poulin stopped a Nolan Foote point-blank chance with one second left to seal the game for the Rocket.

Notes: Utica outshot Laval 32-28…Utica was 0 for 3 on the powerplay, Laval was 3 for 3…Two natives of the City of Laval played in this game, Frederik Gauthier of the Comets and Jean-Sebastien Dea of the Rocket…Michael Vukojevic (one goal and one assist) and Fabian Zetterlund (two assists) led all Utica scorers, Jesse Ylonen (two goals) led all Laval scorers…Nate Schnarr has a three-game goal-scoring streak going for Utica, Nolan Foote has recorded a point in three straight games…Nico Daws made his second straight start in goal for Utica since returning from injury with Mareks Mitens as the backup. Akira Schmid has yet to dress for the Comets since being reassigned to the team on Saturday morning…Utica’s next game is on Friday night at Syracuse, Laval’s next game is on Friday, January 28th at the Texas Stars.

Utica Comets at Laval Rocket Game Preview 01-19-2022

The Utica Comets are in the Province of Quebec on Wednesday night to face the Laval Rocket for the third time this season.

The Utica Comets and Laval Rocket are separated by fourteen points in the AHL North Division standings, but looks can be deceiving as the Rocket has been a much-improved team as of late, posting a 7-2-1 record in their last ten games. Couple this with the 9-3-2-0 record Laval possesses at home makes tonight’s matchup much more precarious for the Comets than it might seem on paper.

For their part, the Comets have been playing with a “patchwork” lineup of sorts over the past few weeks as injuries, illnesses, and callups to the New Jersey Devils have forced Utica to play with multiple recalls from the Adirondack Thunder of the ECHL. Even with the roster turmoil, the Comets have gone 4-3-3 in their last ten games and still have the best winning percentage in the American Hockey League at .788. The Devils are finally getting healthy again, which by extension will help the Comets going forward.

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The Comets and Rocket will meet a total of six times this season. They have already played twice with the Comets winning both games. They won the matchup on November 7th in Utica by a score of 4-2 and then six days they scored a 5-3 victory in Laval. Tonight’s game will take place at Place Bell, which is the home of the Laval Rocket.

The Utica Comets have the best winning percentage in the AHL by playing a well-rounded overall game. They are tied for seventh overall in the league in team goals scored with 104. They are hoping team-leading scorer Chase DeLeo returns to the lineup after missing Saturday night’s game against the Syracuse Crunch. DeLeo has six goals and twenty-one assists for twenty-seven assists in only nineteen games played – he is nineteenth overall in scoring in the American Hockey League. Fabian Zetterlund leads the team in goals scored with eleven, followed closely by Nate Schnarr with ten.

The Utica Comets Lose to the Syracuse Crunch in Overtime

The Rocket, like the Comets and just about every team in the AHL, has struggled with roster turmoil and they have struggled overall on offense. They are nineteenth in the league in team offense with ninety-one goals scored. Team-leading scorer Laurent Dauphin is still with the Montreal Canadiens, so left-wing Kevin Roy currently leads the Rocket in points with fifteen (six goals and nine assists). In Dauphin’s absence, Jean-Sebastian Dea leads the team in goals scored with ten.

The Comets goaltending situation was turned upside down in early December when Nico Daws went down with a lower-body injury and Akira Schmid was recalled to the New Jersey Devils. Marek Mitens held down the fort in their absence, but on Saturday night Daws made his return to the lineup, and Schmid was reassigned back to the Comets. Daws started Saturday night’s game against the Syracuse Crunch and played admirably – making thirty-four saves in 4-3 overtime loss (Mitens served as the backup in that game). Mitens has not been reassigned to the Thunder yet, but as long as Daws and Schmid are on the Comets roster, they will get the vast majority of the team’s starts.

The Rocket has experienced the loss of their normal goaltending tandem as well as Cayden Primeau and Michael McNiven are still assigned to the Montreal Canadiens. In their absence, Kevin Poulin was called up from Trois Rivieres of the ECHL. Poulin has a record of 2-2-0 with a 2.31 GAA and .927 save percentage. He has been backed up by Louis-Phillip Guindon, who was signed to a PTO by the Rocket and has not played a game for them.

On the powerplay, the Comets are ninth in the American Hockey League, converting 17 of 82 chances good for 20.7%. Utica is the only team in the league with less than one hundred powerplay chances. The offensive struggles of the Rocket mirror their powerplay, as their 16% success rate (16 of 100 opportunities) ranks twenty-seventh in the AHL.

Both the Rocket and the Comets have top ten penalty-killing units. The Rocket is sixth in the AHL, allowing 18 goals on 105 times shorthanded. The Comets are close behind, ranked eighth in the league with an 82.8% success rate. They have allowed 17 goals on 99 times shorthanded.

Wednesday night’s game starts at 7:30 pm EST. Radio coverage begins with the pregame show on 94.9 K-Rock (WKLL). The television broadcast will be on AHLTV.

Utica Comets vs Laval Rocket preview

The Comets face another AHL North rival on Sunday.

So far, this season has been a dream come true for the Utica Comets.

With a brand new color scheme and affiliation with the New Jersey Devils, they are off to a 6-0-0-0 start and currently sit in first place in the AHL North Division. A brand new Comets team coached by Kevin Dineen is firing on all cylinders so far in this young season.

This weekend has presented a stiff challenge for the team, however, as they have been tasked with playing three games in three nights. So far, so good for the Comets, as they defeated the Syracuse Crunch on the road Friday night, then downed the Toronto Marlies at home on Saturday night. Up next is another AHL North rival, the Laval Rocket, when they pay a visit to the Adirondack Bank Center on Sunday.

The Rocket enter the game with a 4-4-1-0 record, which puts them in sixth place in the North Division. They are led offense by center Laurent Dauphin, who has eight points so far this season – six of which are goals. They recently received a huge addition to their offensive firepower in the form of Cole Caufield. The 2021 Hobey Baker Award winner, was reassigned to the Rocket by their parent team, the Montreal Canadiens, and will certainly be someone the Comets will need to look out for.

Utica Comets keeps rolling with victory over the Toronto Marlies

In goal, Laval sports a tandem of Cayden Primeau and Michael McNiven. Primeau is the teams usual starter, he has a record of 3-3 with a 2.53 GAA and .903 save percentage. In his three games played so far this season, McNiven has a record of 1-1-1 with a 3.47 GAA and a .882 save percentage. Primeau was in net for the Rocket last night, making twenty-two saves in a 4-0 loss, so McNiven is expected to get the start against the Comets.

Center Chase DeLeo leads all Comets scorers with ten points (one goal, nine assists). Although he is in New Jersey now, Alexander Holtz still technically leads the team in goals scored with five. On the current roster, Tyce Thompson, Joe Gambardella, and Aarne Talvitie have each lit the lamp three times to pace the club in goals scored.

Goaltending has been a rock solid component of the Comets hot start so far this season. Both Nico Daws and Akira Schmid sport 3-0 records, with Daws having a 2.34 GAA and a .932 save percentage, while Schmid sports a 1.31 GAA and a save percentage of .953. Schmid made the start in goal for the Comets last night against Toronto, so expect to see Daws back in net on Sunday versus the Rocket.

On special teams, the Rocket power play is operating at a 14.7% efficiency rate, while their penalty kill is at 84.2%. The Comets lead the AHL in both special teams categories, as they are 33.3% on the power play and their penalty kill is at 92%.

The game is scheduled to start at 5pm EST. It will be broadcast on television on WPNY and AHLTV. On the radio, the game will be carried on 94.9 K-Rock (WKLL). Comets play by play announcer Jason Shaya will be on the call.

The Zamboni Time Machine: The Richard Riot

Photo Credit: National Hockey league

The Zamboni Time Machine is Marty’s Illegal Stick’s look back at the zany, interesting, and historic events, characters, and teams from hockey’s glorious past. The Zamboni name is used with permission.

In this edition, The Zamboni Time Machine takes us back to St. Patrick’s Day 1955 in Montreal, Quebec for the Richard Riot. The city of Montreal has always had an unbridled passion for the Canadiens, and in particular for Maurice “Rocket” Richard. That passion would spill over on that fateful night and spark a riot that would cause over one hundred thousand dollars (over one million dollars today) in damage to their own city.

The cause of the riot actually started four days earlier on March 13th during a game between the Canadiens and the Boston Bruins. Hal Laycoe struck Montreal superstar “Rocket” Richard in the head with his stick, sparking a brawl between the two. The linesman who tried to break up the fight would end up on the receiving end of a fist from the Rocket and fell to the ice a bloody mess.

Richard’s striking of the official prompted NHL President Clarence Campbell to suspend the Rocket for the rest of the regular season as well as the soon to start playoffs. The Canadiens next game was against the Detroit Red Wings on March 17th at the Montreal Forum, and to say the crowd was hostile was an understatement. To make matters worse President Campbell, who was the most hated man in Montreal for suspending Richard, attended the game!

Utica Comets training camp has opened

During this era, there was no such thing as luxury suites or box seats, so Campbell sat amongst the very crowd that despised him – and they certainly did not hide their feelings. The NHL President was subjected to a tidal wave of verbal abuse, and had tomatoes, shoes, and other objects thrown at him. The final straw, however, came at the end of the first period. With the Canadiens losing 4-1, someone exploded a tear gas bomb in the arena near Campbell’s seat, forcing the crowd to evacuate.

The Montreal Police Department did an incredible job of getting Campbell to a secure area in the Forum, but could do nothing to stop the riot that was breaking out in the rest of the building. The chaos would spill out into the streets, and the Richard Riot (or L’Affaire Richard in French) was on. All night long, stores were looted, vehicles were burned, and windows were broken all over downtown Montreal. The next day, Richard himself went on Montreal radio to urge calm, which worked as the rioting stopped.

Utica Comets training camp has opened

As a result of the riot, the Canadiens were forced to forfeit the game. They would end up facing the Red Wings in the Stanley Cup Final, but without the Rocket, Montreal would go down in defeat – which was a rarity in the 1950’s.

If you liked this story, you can subscribe to the podcast version of The Zamboni Time Machine under “Marty’s Illegal Stick Hockey Podcast” on all major podcast platforms. To learn more about the Zamboni company, including it’s history, pictures, and merchandise, go to http://www.zamboni.com.

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