Comets Battle Lake Erie
UTICA COMETS (31-30-5-4) @ LAKE ERIE MONSTERS (29-32-0-9)
Quicken Loans Arena, 7pm
Radio: 94.9 K-Rock
Tonight's Game: Tonight begins the final road week of the season, as the Utica Comets travel to Cleveland to do battle with the Lake Erie Monsters. Utica enters the game with playoff hopes still on the line, as they sit five points behind eighth place Rochester.
When They Last Met: The Utica Comets dropped a 3-2 shootout decision to the Monsters on Jan. 28. Utica forward Benn Ferriero improved his scoring streak to nine games with a goal and an assist, while Patrick Mullen also lit the lamp for the Comets. AHL Player of the Week Joacim Eriksson turned aside 34 of 36 shots as he earned his team a point for the eighth time in his past nine starts.)
Comets Outlook: The Utica Comets dropped a tight 3-2 decision to the Toronto Marlies last Sunday afternoon at Ricoh Coliseum. Center's Pascal Pelletier and Cal O'Reilly each scored for the Comets, while winger Alexandre Grenier collected two assists. Sam Carrick led the way for Toronto with two goals, while defenseman Eric Knodel had two assists. Joe Cannata took the loss despite a 33 save effort, while Garret Sparks was victorious with 23 saves on 25 shots.
Monsters Outlook: Lake Erie dropped its sixth out of its past seven games, this a 4-1 loss to the Texas Stars. David van der Gulik scored the lone goal for Lake Erie. Justin Dowling (1-1-2) and Mike Hedden (0-2-2) each recorded multiple points for Texas, while Jyrki Jokipakka, Brett Richie and Scott Glennie also found the back of the net. Cristopher Nilstorp took the win with 30 saves on 31 shots, while Sami Aittokallio was handed the defeat with 23 stops.
Mr. Friese: Utica Comets center Alex Friesen has been on a tear as of late with his three-point effort (2-1-3) on Saturday evening a career high. Friesen has now recorded 14 points over his past 14 games. The St. Catharine's, ONT native had recorded just 11 points (1-10-11) over his 86 prior games between the AHL and ECHL levels.
Feel The FlO': With his goal against Toronto on Saturday, Comets center Cal O'Reilly extended his scoring streak away from The AUD to seven games. Despite the loss on Sunday, the Comets are now 19-9-4 in games in which O'Reilly records a point. The former Nashville Predator is now tied for second on the Comets with 39 points (5-34-39).
The Brand Before Time: With a helper on Sunday in Toronto, Comets winger Brandon DeFazio set a new career high with 15 assists this season. The Oakville, ONT native has also set career best marks in goals (16), points (31) and shots on goal (182).
Fortune Peller: Utica's leading scorer and center Pascal Pelletier moved past Benn Ferriero and into the team lead in power-play goals, with eight. Pelletier is also now just one goal shy of Ferriero's team leading 19 mark on the season. With 58 total points, Pelletier is now tied for 12th in the league in overall scoring.
Power Play Ball: The Comets have now recorded a power-play goal in four straight games, extended by Pelletier's tally on Sunday. Utica, which has also scored two PPG's in three of their past seven, has moved back to 16th in the league at a 17.2 percent clip for the season.
Scouting The Monsters: The Monsters have a deadlock atop their scoring leaderboard, as Marc Olver and Andrew Agozzino lead the team with 45 points apiece. Olver's 15 goals top the charts, while Agozzino's 31 assists lead the way. The Monsters are currently without winger and team captain Bryan Lerg due to injury, who had recorded 27 points (12-15-27) over just 35 games.
Lake Erie is led on the blue line by Matt Hunwick, who has collected 31 points (10-21-31) in 52 games this season since the Colorado Avalanche reassigned him. Defenseman Stefan Elliott is tops on the roster amongst blueliners with 14 goals.
Lake Erie has employed a split all season between netminders Calvin Pickard and Sami Aittokallio, with Pickard currently leading the team with 15 victories and 40 appearances. It's Aittokallio, however, with the narrow advantage in goals against average (2.72 compared to 2.90) and save percentage (.907 to .903).
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