The Utica Comets visit the Blue Cross Arena on Wednesday night to take on the Rochester Americans for the sixth of ten matchups between the two teams this regular season. The teams are separated by two points in the standings with the Americans in second place in the North Division and the Comets sitting in fourth. Utica has won three of the five games played between the two teams thus far this season.
The Comets are having a great month in December – having won their last four games and an overall record of 6-3. A big part of this success has been the offensive explosion the team has experienced over the past four weeks. They have averaged 4.5 goals per game for the month, and have gone from last place in the North Division to within two points of second place.
Leading the way on offense has been Graeme Clarke, who has thirteen points so far in December, and is the reigning AHL Player of the Week after having two goals in each of the two games he played last week. Nolan Stevens also has thirteen points for the month thus far with seven goals and six assists in that time frame. Joe Gambardella is on a four-game points streak and has had three goals and six assists since the beginning of the month.
For Utica to continue this success, they will have to get through some roster turbulence. On a positive note, goaltender Akira Schmid was reassigned to the team nine days ago. As Schmid was returning, however, they lost standout rookie defenseman, Simon Nemec – as he will be playing for Team Slovakia at the World Junior Championship for at least one more week. Four days after losing Nemec, the New Jersey Devils recalled defenseman Nikita Okhotiuk, and on Wednesday morning, they announced they had recalled forward Tyce Thompson and defenseman Tyler Wotherspoon, leaving three more holes in the Utica lineup.
The Rochester Americans have been experiencing success as of late themselves. They have won their past three games with their last loss coming at the hands of the Comets on December 9th. Like Utica, they have been experiencing some roster turmoil as of late, as they have lost forwards Jiri Kulich and Isak Rosen to the World Junior Championship. Kulich is playing for the Czech Republic and Rosen is on Team Sweden.
With both teams currently riding hot streaks, let’s take a look at how they match up against each other.
Utica Comets Records
- Overall: 12-9-3-1, 28 points.
- Away: 6-5-1-0, 13 points.
- Standings: 4th place in the North Division.
Rochester Americans Records
- Overall: 14-9-1-1, 30 points.
- Home: 7-3-1-0, 15 points.
- Standings: 2nd place in the North Division.
Utica Comets Team Offense
- Goals For: 84 (17th in the AHL).
- Goals Per Game: 3.36 (12th in the AHL).
- Shots: 731.
- Shots Per Game: 29.24 (26th in the AHL).
- Power Play: 22.5% (18 for 80 – 10th in the AHL).
Rochester Americans Team Offense
- Goals For: 82 (20th in the AHL).
- Goals Per Game: 3.28 (15th in the AHL).
- Shots: 703.
- Shots Per Game: 28.12 (30th in the AHL).
- Power Play: 19.1% (17 for 89 – 20th in the AHL).
Utica Comets Top Five Scorers
1.) Graeme Clarke: 9 goals + 12 assists = 21 points.
2.) Nolan Stevens: 8 goals + 10 assists = 18 points.
3.) Brian Pinho: 8 goals + 10 assists = 18 points.
4.) Reilly Walsh: 3 goals + 12 assists = 15 points.
5.) Nolan Foote (9 goals + 4 assists), Jack Dugan (4 goals + 9 assists), and Ryan Schmelzer (1 goal + 12 assists) = 13 points each.
- Andreas Johnsson (3 goals + 10 assists) and Tyce Thompson (6 goals + 7 assists) would be in the Comet’s top five, but they are currently with the New Jersey Devils.
Shots Leader: Graeme Clarke with 64.
Power Play Goals Leader: Nolan Stevens and Brian Pinho with three each.
Game Winning Goals Leader: Samuel Laberge, Nolan Stevens, Graeme Clarke, and Tyce Thompson with two each.
Rochester Americans Top Five Scorers
1.) Brandon Biro: 7 goals + 16 assists = 23 points.
2.) Brett Murray: 10 goals + 9 assists = 19 points.
3.) Linus Weissbach: 10 goals + 9 assists = 19 points.
4.) Lukas Rousek: 7 goals + 11 assists = 18 points.
5.) Sean Malone: 8 goals + 7 assists = 15 points.
*Jiri Kulich (6 goals + 10 assists = 16 points) is Rochesters fifth leading scorer but he is currently at the World Junior Championship with the Czech Republic.
Shots Leader: Linus Weissbach with 53 (overall Kulich leads with 57).
Power Play Goals Leader: Sean Malone and Jiri Kulich with three each.
Game Winning Goals Leader: Linus Weissbach with three (14th in the AHL).
Utica Comets Team Defense
- Goals Against: 81 (11th in the AHL).
- Goals Against Per Game: 3.24 (19th in the AHL).
- Shots Allowed: 724.
- Shots Allowed Per Game: 28.96 (6th in the AHL).
- Penalty Kill: 75.0% (60 for 80 – 26th in the AHL).
- Shorthanded Goals Scored: 4 (14th in the AHL).
Rochester Americans Team Defense
- Goals Against: 83 (14th in the AHL).
- Goals Against Per Game: 3.32 (22nd in the AHL).
- Shots Allowed: 773.
- Shots Allowed Per Game: 30.92 (19th in the AHL).
- Penalty Kill: 73.7% (56 for 76 – 29th in the AHL).
- Shorthanded Goals Scored: 2 (24th in the AHL).
Utica Comets Goaltending
Nico Daws has a record of 7-6-1 with a GAA of 2.83, 369 saves, a 0.900 save percentage, and no shutouts.
Akira Schmid has a record of 3-1-1 with a GAA of 2.18, 110 saves, a 0.909 save percentage, and no shutouts.
Rochester Americans Goaltending
Michael Houser has a record of 3-4-0 with a GAA of 3.17, 238 saves, a 0.895 save percentage, and no shutouts.
Malcolm Subban has a record of 5-2-0 with a GAA of 2.82, 222 saves, a 0.910 save percentage, and one shutout.
Wednesday night’s game is scheduled to begin at 7:05 pm EST. Radio coverage will be on 94.9 K-Rock, and the television broadcast will be on AHLTV. For more information about the Utica Comets, including tickets and schedules, visit https://uticacomets.com.