By Scott Kinville/315 Hockey.
The Utica Comets and Lehigh Valley Phantoms meet for the first of two regular-season meetings this season on Friday night. The Comets enter the game having won four of their last five games with their four-game winning streak having been snapped on Wednesday night in Rochester. The Comet’s defense corps has been turned upside down a bit lately, as Simon Nemec has been playing in the World Junior Championship, Nikita Okhotiuk and Tyler Wotherspoon have been recalled to the New Jersey Devils, and Dylan Blujus has missed the last six games.
Forward Tyce Thompson has also been called up to the Devils, but help is on the way. Andreas Johnsson has been reassigned to Utica from New Jersey and should help replace Thompson’s offensive contributions. The Comets have also announced they have recalled Ivan Chukarov and Sebastian Vidmar from the Adirondack Thunder.
The Phantoms are on a bit of a hot streak of their own, having won their last two games. They too have been experiencing some roster turmoil as their third-leading scorer, Olle Lycksell (5 goals + 8 assists = 13 points) has been recalled to the Philadelphia Flyers along with goaltender Samuel Ersson, who has started eighteen games for the team this season.
Let’s take a look at how the two teams match up against each other.
Utica Comets Team Records
- Overall: 12-9-4-1, 29 pts – 4th in the North Division.
- Home Record: 6-4-2-1, 15 points.
- Head Coach: Kevin Dineen.
Lehigh Valley Phantoms Records
- Overall: 14-11-2-1, 31 points – 6th place in the Atlantic Division.
- Away Record: 7-7-0-1, 15 points.
- Head Coach: Ian Laperriere.
Utica Comets Team Offense
- Goals For: 88 (15th in the AHL).
- Goals For Per Game: 3.38 (13th in the AHL).
- Shots: 762.
- Shots Per Game: 29.31 (25th in the AHL).
- Power Play: 22.0% (21 for 82 – 12th in the AHL).
Lehigh Valley Phantoms Team Offense
- Goals For: 83 (21st in the AHL).
- Goals For Per Game: 2.96 (21st in the AHL).
- Shots: 835.
- Shots Per Game: 29.82 (20th in the AHL).
- Power Play: 25.3% (25 for 99 – 5th in the AHL).
Utica Comets Top Five Scorers
1.) Graeme Clarke: 10 goals + 13 assists = 23 points.
2.) Nolan Stevens: 8 goals + 11 assists = 19 points.
3.) Brian Pinho: 8 goals + 10 assists = 18 points.
4.) Reilly Walsh: 3 goals + 13 assists = 16 points.
5.) Nolan Foote (10 goals + 4 assists) and Ryan Schmelzer (2 goals + 12 assists) = 14 points each.
- Shots Leader: Graeme Clarke with 67.
- Power Play Goals Leader: Nolan Stevens and Brian Pinho with 3 each.
- Game Winning Goals Leader: Sam Laberge, Nolan Stevens, and Graeme Clarke with 2 each.
Lehigh Valley Phantoms Top Five Scorers
1.) Tyson Foerster: 8 goals + 11 assists = 19 points.
2.) Elliot Desnoyers: 12 goals + 6 assists = 18 points. Desnoyers is 3rd among AHL rookies in goals and 15th in points.
3.) Artem Anisimov: 10 goals + 4 assists = 14 points.
4.) Garrett Wilson: 5 goals + 8 assists = 13 points.
5.) Ronnie Attard (4 goals + 8 assists) and Cal O’Reilly (3 goals + 9 assists) = 12 points each.
- Shots Leader: Tyson Foerster with 72.
- Power Play Goals Leader: Artem Anisimov and Tyson Foerster with 4 each.
- Game Winning Goals Leader: Keifer Bellows, Louie Belpedio, and Artem Anisimov with 2 each.
Utica Comets Team Defense
- Goals Against: 86 (12th in the AHL).
- Goals Against Per Game: 3.31 (20th in the AHL).
- Shots Allowed: 750.
- Shots Allowed Per Game: 28.85 (5th in the AHL).
- Penalty Kill: 74.4% (61 for 82 – 28th in the AHL).
- Shorthanded Goals Scored: 4 (15th in the AHL).
Lehigh Valley Phantoms Team Defense
- Goals Against: 85 (11th in the AHL).
- Goals Against Per Game: 3.04 (12th in the AHL).
- Shots Allowed: 854.
- Shots Allowed Per Game: 30.50 (16th in the AHL).
- Penalty Kill: 72.6% (85 for 117 – 30th in the AHL).
- Shorthanded Goals Scored: 4 (14th in the AHL).
Utica Comets Goaltending
Nico Daws has a record of 7-6-1 with a GAA of 2.83, 410 saves, a 0.900 save percentage and no shutouts.
Akira Schmid has a record of 3-1-2 with a GAA of 2.63, 147 saves, a 0.891 save percentage and no shutouts.
Lehigh Valley Phantoms Goaltending
Pat Nagle has a record of 1-2-1 with a GAA of 3.01, 134 saves, a 0.910 save percentage and no shutouts.
Troy Grosenick has a record of 2-1-0 with a GAA of 3.93, 103 saves, a 0.883 save percentage and no shutouts.
Nolan Meier has a record of 2-0-1 with a GAA of 2.58, 68 saves, a 0.882 save percentage and no shutouts.
Friday night’s game is scheduled to begin at 7:00 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.