By Scott Kinville/315 Hockey.
The Utica Comets will face the Rochester Americans at the Adirondack Bank Center on Saturday night in a game critical to the North Division standings. The Comets and Americans are separated by five points in the standings, with Utica in second place and Rochester sitting in fourth. The top five teams in the division will qualify for the Calder Cup Playoffs, with the top three teams receiving a bye into the Semifinals. At the same time, the fourth and fifth-place finishers will face each other in a best-of-three series to determine who will play the division’s number-one seed in the next round.
The AHL Playoff Primer and Magic Numbers via theahl.com: https://theahl.com/23playoffprimer#.ZB8jVvSxOu4.link.
The Comets and Americans have played six of their ten regular season meetings going into Saturday night’s game, but haven’t faced each other since December 28th. The teams have split The series so far, with each one winning three games in regulation. Utica is 6-3-1-0 in its last ten games, while Rochester is 3-4-1-2 in the same span. Each team played on Friday night and both were victorious – the Comets defeated Syracuse 4-3 and the Americans downed Hershey 4-3 in the shootout.
Including Saturday night, three of the remaining four regular season games between the two teams will be played in Utica.
With the NCAA Basketball Tournament in full swing, the Utica Comets have a bit of March Madness going for themselves. They have points in seven out of the ten games they have played in the month of March thus far. In that time frame, they also have three players that are on hot streaks helping to spur the team’s success. Defenseman Reilly Walsh has nine points (one goal and eight assists) and forward Brian Halonen has eight points (five goals and three assists) since the start of March. Rookie defenseman Simon Nemec has been excellent as well – he has points in six of his last seven games (three goals and four assists).
Saturday night will be the second of three games in a three-night stretch for Utica, as they play tomorrow in Syracuse. The Comets have ten regular season games remaining, and all are against North Division rivals.
The Americans are in the middle of a three-games in a three-night stretch as well – they will host the Cleveland Monsters tomorrow afternoon. Three of their last four games have gone to the shootout and Friday night’s win over Hershey snapped a three-game losing streak. Rochester will be looking to win consecutive games for the first time in March on Saturday night.
Rochester will be without their second-leading scorer on Saturday night, as the Buffalo Sabres have recalled forward Lukas Rousek. In sixty-one games played for the Americans this season, Rousek has fifteen goals and thirty-three assists for forty-eight points.
Utica has an opportunity to gain some space between themselves and fourth place on Saturday night, while Rochester has an opportunity to get within one point of third place. Let’s take a look at how the Comets and Americans match up against each other.
Utica Comets Team Records
- Overall Record: 31-23-6-2, 70 points – 2nd place in the North Division.
- Home Record: 15-9-3-2, 35 points.
- Goal Differential: 0.
- Head Coach: Kevin Dineen.
Rochester Americans Team Records
- Overall Record: 29-25-4-3, 65 points – 4th place in the North Division.
- Away Record: 13-14-2-2, 30 points.
- Goal Differential: -6.
- Head Coach Seth Appert.
Utica Comets Team Offense
- Goals For: 187 (20th in the AHL).
- Goals Per Game: 3.02 (20th in the AHL).
- Shots: 1,807.
- Shots Per Game: 29.15 (27th in the AHL).
- Power Play: 16.1% (33 for 205 – 31st in the AHL).
Rochester Americans Team Offense
- Goals For: 199 (12th in the AHL).
- Goals Per Game: 3.26 (9th in the AHL).
- Shots: 1,765.
- Shots Per Game: 28.93 (28th in the AHL).
- Power Play: 20.4% (46 for 226 13th in the AHL).
Utica Comets Top Five Scorers + Individual Leaders
1.) Graeme Clarke: 21 goals + 28 assists = 49 points.
2.) Reilly Walsh: 5 goals + 29 assists = 34 points.
3.) Joe Gambardella: 9 goals + 22 assists = 31 points.
4.) Brian Halonen: 17 goals + 13 assists = 30 points.
5.) Ryan Schmelzer: 5 goals + 24 assists = 29 points.
- Shots Leader: Graeme Clarke with 179. Clarke is 11th in the AHL in shots.
- Power Play Goals Leader: Brian Halonen with five.
- Game Winning Goals Leader: Graeme Clarke with five. Clarke is 15th in the AHL in game-winning goals.
- +/- Leader: Jeremy Groleau at +14.
- PIM Leader: Mason Geertsen with 127. Geertsen is 6th in the AHL in PIM.
Rochester Americans Top Five Scorers + Individual Leaders
1.) Brandon Biro: 15 goals + 35 assists = 50 points. Biro is 19th in the AHL in assists.
2.) Brett Murray: 19 goals + 21 assists = 40 points.
3.) Linus Weissbach: 18 goals + 21 assists = 39 points.
4.) Michael Mersch: 15 goals + 24 assists = 39 points.
5.) Jiri Kulich: 19 goals + 19 assists = 38 points.
- Shots Leader: Jiri Kulich with 133.
- Power Play Goals Leader: Brett Murray with eight.
- Game Winning Goals Leader: Linus Weissbach with four.
- +/- Leader: Brandon Biro and Jeremy Davies at +5 each.
- PIM Leader: Jeremy Davies with 84.
Utica Comets Team Defense
- Goals Against: 187 (12th in the AHL).
- Goals Against Per Game: 3.02 (16th in the AHL).
- Shots Allowed: 1,792.
- Shots Allowed Per Game: 28.90 (7th in the AHL).
- Penalty Kill: 78.0% (145 for 186 – 26th in the AHL).
- Shorthanded Goals Scored: six (18th in the AHL).
Rochester Americans Team Defense
- Goals Against: 205 (22nd in the AHL).
- Goals Against Per Game: 3.36 (24th in the AHL).
- Shots Allowed: 1,890.
- Shots Allowed Per Game: 30.98 (22nd in the AHL).
- Penalty Kill: 80.0% (160 for 200 – 20th in the AHL).
- Shorthanded Goals Scored: four (27th in the AHL).
Utica Comets Goaltenders
- Issac Poulter: Record: 6-2-3 / GAA: 3.33 / Save Percentage: 0.889 / Saves: 295 / Shutouts: 0.
- Nico Daws: Record: 14-12-2 / GAA: 3.33 / Save Percentage: 0.901 / Saves: 711 / Shutouts: 0.
- Michael Robinson: No AHL Statistics.
Rochester Americans Goaltenders
- Malcolm Subban: Record: 16-13-3 / GAA: 3.00 / Save Percentage: 0.903 / Saves: 891 / Shutouts: 2. Subban is 15th in the AHL in wins and shutouts.
- Michael Houser: Record: 6-7-2 / GAA: 3.03 / Save Percentage: 0.902 / Saves: 440 / Shutouts: 0.
Saturday night’s game between the Utica Comets and Rochester Americans is scheduled to begin at 7 pm EDT. Radio coverage will be on 94.9 K-Rock (WKLL), and the television broadcast will be on AHLTV. for more information about the Utica Comets, including schedules and ticketing, visit https://uticacomets.com.
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