By Scott Kinville/315 Hockey.
The Utica Comets will be in Cleveland on Wednesday night as they face the Monsters for the sixth of eight regular season matchups. The Comets have won the previous five that have been played between the teams so far.
While the Comets have all five games against Cleveland so far, as of late things have not gone the Comet’s way at all. They are 2-7-0-1 in their last ten games, and as a result, have fallen from second place into third in a suddenly tightening up North Division. The injury list has not been kind to the team, as they are already missing forwards Nolan Stevens and Brian Pinho, as well as defenseman Nikita Okhotiuk. Utica fans rejoiced on Friday, as the New Jersey Devils assigned the popular goal scorer Alexander Holtz to the Comets. As they say, it never rains it pours, and Holtz was injured in Saturday night’s game against the Syracuse Crunch. His status for Wednesday night’s game at Cleveland is unknown as of this writing.
One of the bright spots for the Comets has been the play of goaltender Akira Schmid. He has a record of 10-6-3 with a 2.53 GAA, to go with a save percentage of 0.908 and two shutouts. The Comets will have to carry on without him as well, as the Devils recalled him to New Jersey in the wake of yet another Mackenzie Blackwood injury.
One Comet who has been playing very well is Joe Gambardela. The veteran winger has four goals and five assists in his past ten games and is now third on the team in points.
To help fill the holes in the roster, the Comets recalled goaltender Issac Poulter, forward Nick Hutchinson, and defenseman Jarrod Gourley from Adirondack of the ECHL.
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The Monsters have really begun to turn around what had looked to be a lost season. They are 7-3-0-0 and have climbed to within one point of fifth place in the North Division after spending most of the season in the cellar. They are also within four points of the Comets for third place making Wednesday and Friday nights games against each other extremely important.
The Cleveland roster has been a revolving door of sorts this season with several call-ups to their NHL parent club the Columbus Blue Jackets. One constant has been the play of forward Trey Fix-Wolansky. After a brief recall to the Blue Jackets, he leads the Monsters in scoring by a large margin – posting 21 goals and 32 assists for 53 points so far this season.
With a massive four points on the line Wednesday and Friday nights, let’s take a look at how the Utica Comets and Cleveland Monsters match up against each other.
Utica Comets Team Records
- Overall Record: 23-20-5-2, 53 points – 3rd place in the North Division.
- Away Record: 11-11-3-0, 25 points.
- Goal Differential: -10.
Cleveland Monsters Team Records
- Overall Record: 22-21-3-2, 49 points – 6th in the North Division.
- Home Record: 11-10-2-0, 24 points.
- Goal Differential: -18.
Utica Comets Team Offense
- Goals For: 144 (25th in the AHL).
- Goals Per Game: 2.88 (27th in the AHL).
- Shots: 1,454.
- Shots per Game: 29.08 (26th in the AHL).
- Power Play: 17.5% (27 for 154 – 24th in the AHL).
Cleveland Monsters Team Offense
- Goals For: 158 (14th in the AHL).
- Goals Per Game: 3.29 (9th in the AHL).
- Shots: 1,421.
- Shots Per Game: 29.60 (23rd in the AHL).
- Power Play: 22.2% (45 for 203 – 9th in the AHL).
Utica Comets Top Five Scorers + Individual Leaders
1.) Graeme Clarke: 18 goals + 21 assists = 39 points.
2.) Nolan Stevens: 12 goals + 15 assists = 27 points.
3.) Joe Gambardella: 8 goals + 18 assists = 26 points.
4.) Andreas Johnsson: 8 goals + 17 assists = 25 points.
5.) Ryan Schmelzer: 4 goals + 20 assists = 24 points.
- Shots Leader: Graeme Clarke with 150. Clark is 11th in the AHL in shots.
- Power Play Goals Leader: Nolan Foote with four.
- Game Winning Goals Leader: Nolan Foote with five. Foote is 6th in the AHL in game-winning goals.
- +/- Leader: Jeremy Groleau at +11.
- PIM Leader: Mason Geertsen with 102. Geertsen is 5th in the AHL in PIM.
Cleveland Monsters Top Five Scorers + Individual Leaders
1.) Trey Fix-Wolansky: 21 goals + 32 assists = 53 points. Fix-Wolansky is 7th in the AHL in points and 12th in goals.
2.) Justin Richards: 8 goals + 21 assists = 29 points.
3.) Josh Dunne: 15 goals + 11 assists = 26 points.
4.) Cole Fonstad: 13 goals + 13 assists = 26 points.
5.) David Jiricek: 6 goals + 20 assists = 26 points.
- Shots Leader: Trey Fix-Wolansky with 154. Fix-Wolansky is 7th in the AHL in shots.
- Power Play Goals Leader: Trey Fix-Wolansky with eight.
- Game Winning Goas Leader: Josh Dunne and Cole Fonstad with four each.
- +/- Leader: Justin Richards at +7.
- PIM Leader: Billy Sweezey with 47.
Utica Comets Team Defense
- Goals Against: 154 (16th in the AHL).
- Goals Against Per Game: 3.08 (17th in the AHL).
- Shots Allowed: 1,448.
- Shots Allowed Per Game: 28.96 (7th in the AHL).
- Penalty Kill: 75.3% (113 for 150 – 30th in the AHL).
- Shorthanded Goals Scored: 5 (17th in the AHL).
Cleveland Monsters Team Defense
- Goals Against: 176 (27th in the AHL).
- Goals Against Per Game: 3.08 (17th in the AHL).
- Shots Allowed: 1,468.
- Shots Allowed Per Game: 30.58 (20th in the AHL).
- Penalty Kill: 77.4% (154 for 199 – 26th in the AHL).
- Shorthanded Goals Scored: 4 (23rd in the AHL).
Utica Comets Goaltending
- Nico Daws: Record: 11-12-2 / GAA: 2.98 / Save percentage: 0.898 / saves: 646 / Shutouts: 0.
- Issac Poulter: Record: 1-1-2 / GAA: 4.35 / Save Percentage: 0.865 / Saves: 115 / Shutouts: 0.
Cleveland Monsters Goaltending
- Jet Greaves: Record: 11-10-3 / GAA: 3.35 / Save Percentage: 0.892 / Saves: 684 / Shutouts: 0.
- Pavel Cajan: Record: 7-7-2 / GAA: 3.31 / Save Percentage: 0.881 / Saves: 401 / Shutouts: 0.