Top 10 Moments Thus Far
Tuesday's game the Chicago Wolves officially marked the halfway point of the Comets inaugural season. Here is the first half of the Comets Top 10 Most Memorable Moments from the First Half of the Year.
10. Nicklas Jensen Breaks Out. Nicklas Jensen had a monumental performance against the Lake Erie Monsters on December 15. The winger finally broke his goal scoring drought, with a second period power-play marker that beat Sami Aittokallio to knot the score at two. With neither team able to score for the remainder of the game, Jensen saved his finest moment for the shootout with a beautiful deke and one-handed finish, which would eventually go down as the game-winning goal. Jensen replicated the same move in the 4-3 shootout loss against the Hamilton Bulldogs.
9. Utica-Syracuse Rivalry Renewed. October 25th was a highly anticipated date on the Utica Comets schedule from the get go. Not only was it the second home game in franchise history, but the opponents were none other than their regional rivals, the Syracuse Crunch, who traveled just down the Thruway for a Friday night showdown at The AUD.
A highly animated crowd of 3,611 was just short of a sellout, but the AUD was rocking to begin a new rivalry with the Crunch. Colin Stuart gave Utica its first ever lead, as he beat Syracuse netminder Cedric Desjardins on a deflected shot from Yann Sauve. Crunch winger Nikita Kucherov was able to level the score midway through the second period, which would account for all of the game's scoring during regulation.
Joacim Eriksson instantly became a fan favorite, as he put in a sparkling 32 save performance between the pipes. In addition to a sprawling pad save to rob Kucherov of a brace at the end of the second period, the Sweden native made an enormous glove save with just three seconds on the clock in overtime to preserve the tie to send the game into a shootout.
With a crowd nearly to capacity all on its feet, Benn Ferriero approached center ice, after Syracuse's Brett Connolly was unsuccessful in his first attempt. Ferriero moved in deftly on Desjardins and put a twisted wrister off the crossbar and in, sparking a roar from the AUD's faithful. Although the Comets would go on to lose, 2-1 in both the shootout and game itself, the team finally found its way into the points category of the standings.
8. "The Hit" Heard "ÂRound the Internet. If you were to simply view the box score, the November 26th game between the Lake Erie Monsters and the Utica Comets was nothing out of the ordinary. So why was it that this particular AHL hockey contest gained national coverage from CBS Sports, Deadspin and USA Today, amongst other nationally recognized media outlets? Two simple words. "The Hit". Utica winger Darren Archibald made waves throughout the hockey world for his check that literally flipped Lake Erie defenseman Karl Stollery. As Stollery rounded the net, he was met by a stout check from the Comets' winger, who flipped Stollery into a full 360-degree somersault. Despite a 3-2 defeat against Lake Erie, Archibald's hit sent the Utica Comets into the national spotlight.
7. Power-Play Goal Streak. If you went to a Comets game at The AUD between November 23rd and January 1st, you would have seen quite a few different things, but each game had one constant. A power-play goal for the home team. The Comets netted at least one goal with the man advantage in ten straight home games, spanning over three months and two calendar years. Utica converted 13 of 47 power-play opportunities over their scoring stretch, good for a 27.6 percent clip, which comes in almost 10 percent higher than their season mark of 17.8 percent.
Utica got power-play goals from seven different sources, led by Alexandre Grenier and Colin Stuart who scored three apiece. Defensemen Henrik Tommernes and Yannick Weber each scored a pair, while Benn Ferriero, Nicklas Jensen and Patrick Mullen each had one. The ten game stretch has accounted for 50% of Utica's overall output this season on the man advantage, with the Comets just 13 of 99 in their other 28 games.
6. The Captain Shines As Clinton Comets Ghosts Watch. December 13th was a special evening for the Comets. After a pre-game ceremony honoring the history of the Comets name with seven Clinton Comets adorning the stage end of The AUD, Utica stepped onto the ice before a fired up crowd to take on the Binghamton Senators. Team captain Colin Stuart opened the scoring just 7:48 into the game, with a power-play marker off of assists from Pascal Pelletier and Darren Archibald.
As the game went along, Utica and Binghamton ended up tied at two, before a memorable finish for Stuart. He scored his second power-play goal of the evening at the 18:06 mark of the second on a scrum in front. The Utica captain completed his hat trick just 2:43 into the third, after he took a long feed from Patrick Mullen and fired one over Senator netminder Andrew Hammond's glove hand.
Stuart netted his fourth of the evening and polished off his natural hat trick with 2:06 left on the clock as he buried a feed from Cal O'Reilly. Stuart's final three tallies came over a span of just 19:48. Both the hat trick and four-goal effort still stand as franchise records for the Comets.
Next Wednesday be on the look out for the Top 5 Moments of the First Half of the Season.
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American Hockey League Stories from January 22, 2014
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