By Scott Kinville/315 Hockey.
For the Utica Comets (4-6-1-1, 10 pts, 7th place in the North Division), it looks like at least part of the band is getting back together. The New Jersey Devils announced on Tuesday that forward Alexander Holtz and defenseman Kevin Bahl, who were such big parts of the team’s big season in 2021-22 have been loaned to the Comets. In a corresponding move, the Devils have recalled defenseman Tyler Wotherspoon from Utica to round out their defense corps.
The arrival of Holtz and Bahl could not have come at a better time for the Comets. Both players have been in New Jersey since the beginning of the season, and their absence has affected the Comets, as two of the areas the team has struggled in line up with the strengths of the returning players.
The Comets are struggling to score goals this season, as was expected after the loss of their top four scorers from last season. They are averaging 2.75 goals per game, but the return of Holtz should help boost that number. He scored twenty-six goals as a rookie last season for Utica and is known for his booming accurate shot – something this season’s team could certainly use. Holtz will also boost a power play that is currently ranked twentieth in the American Hockey League.
Speaking of special teams, the Comets are also ranked twenty-first on the penalty kill – a unit that finished in the top ten in the league last season. The return of Bahl will certainly help in that regard, as the massive defenseman was a mainstay on the team’s penalty-killing unit during his previous time in Utica. Bahl will also provide an element of physicality that is needed while Mason Geersten is serving his six-game suspension.
The Comet’s opponent on Wednesday night, the Belleville Senators (7-7-1-0, 15 pts, 5th place in the North Division), are dealing with a big recall themselves. Belleville’s parent club, the Ottawa Senators, recalled their fifth leading scorer defenseman, Lassi Thomson, on Tuesday. In Thomson’s place, Ottawa assigned defenseman Jacob Larsson back to Belleville.
With the Comets seeking to close the gap in the standings with the Senators, let’s take a look at how the teams stack up against each other.
Utica Comets Team Offense
Goals For: 33 (32nd in the AHL).
Goals Per Game (average): 2.75.
Power Play: 19.6% (9 for 46, 20th in the AHL).
Belleville Senators Team Offense
Goals For: 54 (6th in the AHL).
Goals Per Game (average): 3.6.
Power Play: 25.9% (23 for 78, 4th in the AHL).
Utica Comets Top Five Scorers
1.) Brian Pinho: 8 goals + 3 assists = 11 points. Pinho is 17th in the AHL in goals.
2.) Andreas Johnsson: 2 goals + 9 assists = 11 points.
3.) Nolan Foote: 5 goals + 4 assists = 9 points.
4.) Brian Halonen: 3 goals + 4 assists = 7 points.
5.) Reilly Walsh: 1 goal + 6 assists = 7 points.
Graeme Clarke leads the Comets in shots with 33.
Belleville Senators Top Five Scorers
1.) Jake Lucchini: 5 goals + 11 assists = 16 points. Lucchini is 20th in the AHL in assists and 6th in shots.
2.) Egor Sokolov: 5 goals + 11 assists = 16 points.
3.) Rourke Chartier: 9 goals + 3 assists = 12 points. Chartier is 9th in the AHL in goals.
4.) Ridley Greig: 3 goals + 7 assists = 10 points.
5.) Angus Crookshank: 3 goals = 6 assists = 9 points/Cole Reinhardt: 3 goals + 6 assists = 9 points.
Jake Lucchini leads the Senators in shots with 54.
Utica Comets Team Defense
Goals Allowed: 39 (5th in the AHL).
Goals Against Per Game (average): 3.25.
Penalty Kill: 75.7% (28 for 37, 21st in the AHL).
Belleville Senators Team Defense
Goals Against: 60 (29th in the AHL).
Goals Against Per Game (average): 4.0.
Penalty Kill: 81.6% (62 for 76, 15th in the AHL).
Utica Comets Goaltending
Nico Daws has a record of 2-4-0-0 with a GAA of 2.45 and a 0.903 save percentage. Daws is 14th in the AHL in GAA.
Issac Poulter has a record of 0-1-1-0 with a GAA of 6.31 and a 0.827 save percentage.
Belleville Senators Goaltending
Kevin Mandolese has a record of 2-2-1-0 with a GAA of 3.54 and a 0.864 save percentage.
Antoine Bibeau has a record of 3-3-0-0 with a GAA of 3.14 and a 0.897 save percentage.
Mads Sogaard has a record of 1-2-0-0 with a GAA of 4.01 and a 0.899 save percentage.
Logan Flodell has a record of 1-0-0-0 with a GAA of 8.94 and a 0.708 save percentage.
Wednesday night’s game is scheduled to begin at 7 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, visit http://www.uticacomets.com.