February of 2014 is a month that acts as a revolving door throughout much of the hockey community. For many players and teams, this means unaccustomed challenges and unacquainted faces.
For the Utica Comets, however, February is a time where we see a return of some familiar faces. With the NHL currently on pause for the Olympic Games, the Vancouver Canucks returned four crucial players to Utica's roster. Defensemen Frank Corrado and Yann Sauve, and forwards Kellan Lain and Pascal Pelletier have all made their way back to where their season started, in the Mohawk Valley.
Many of the NHL's finest, including former Comet and Swiss defenseman Yannick Weber, are currently participating in the Winter Olympics in Sochi, where they have an entirely new collection of teammates with their native countries. Some of the AHL's brightest lights were in St. Johns, Newfoundland, teaming up on the AHL all star team that defeated Farjestad BK of the SHL just last evening.
But the Comets now have the entire set of core pieces that began the season in Utica finally back in place at the same time. For the first time in a long time, the Comets' roster feels complete once again.
Utica welcomed back over 150 games of experience with the team, in addition to 67 combined points (19-48-67). The quartet of returnees skated with the team in the final two games of the road trip last week, in which the Comets claimed three of a possible four points from games against Milwaukee and Rockford.
Kellan Lain was the only of the four to make his NHL debut this season, and it came in spectacular fashion. In a game that made waves throughout the hockey community, Lain appeared in just two seconds of game time during his debut against the Calgary Flames. Lain was involved in a full ice fight off of the opening faceoff that saw eight players ejected and his NHL debut will go down as one of the most unique in NHL history. Lain's ejection from the game just two seconds in etched his name into the NHL's record books. His fight two seconds into a career is the fastest in NHL history. The previous record was 12 seconds, set on October 8th, 1963 by John Ferguson.
Center Pascal Pelletier is perhaps the largest return for the Comets. Pelletier is Utica's leading scorer this season with 40 points (9-31-40) over 40 games and was sorely missed after he was recalled to the Canucks just before Utica lost 4-2 against Chicago last Tuesday. Pelletier was held scoreless in two games in Vancouver, but recorded a season high 10:04 of ice time against St. Louis.
It is Corrado who has been away from Utica the most this season, however, with 11 games played in Vancouver throughout two separate stints. With all of Vancouver's injuries on the back end, Corrado has seen a significant role at not only even strength, but also on the power play. The Toronto, ON native is also the most seasoned at the NHL level overall, with 18 games on the world's biggest stage.
In a return that was nearly three years in the making, Yann Sauve played his first NHL game since 2011 on Feb. 3 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. Sauve skated in three total contests with Vancouver, where he played mostly on a pairing with Corrado. The Saint John Sea Dogs product made his presence felt with the Comets with four shots on net in his short two game return since.
The Comets are now in possession of arguably the strongest roster they have had all season, with the ability to play four strong lines game in and game out. With Rochester in the cross hairs for a home and home series on Friday and Saturday, no time is better than now to make a move.
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American Hockey League Stories from February 13, 2014
- Stars Weekly (Week 20) - Stars Take Three Points out of Four at Abbotsford - Texas Stars
- Comets Reloaded - Utica Comets
- Griffins and Sled Wings to Throw Down in Ninth Annual Sled Hockey Game - Grand Rapids Griffins
- Iowa Recalls Brace from Ontario - Iowa Wild
- Weekend Preview: Games 51, 52 vs. Charlotte Checkers - Abbotsford Heat
- Sharks Aim Toward Playoff Push - Worcester Sharks Weekly - Worcester Sharks
- Penguins Assign Manderson and Rowney to Wheeling - Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
- Rock Report - St. John's IceCaps
- "Cheers" with the Wolves at Hofbräuhaus in Rosemont - Chicago Wolves
- Friday's Heat vs Checkers Game Postponed Until 2pm Saturday - Abbotsford Heat
- Labatt Bubble Hockey Tournament of Champions - Adirondack Phantoms
- Hoffman Stellar in First All-Star Appearance - Binghamton Senators
- Pirates Release Corey Trivino from Professional Tryout Contract - Portland Pirates
- Phantoms Weekly - Love Is in the Air - Adirondack Phantoms
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