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[GDT] Comets vs. Devils (Utica's Home Opener) 4:35PM PST, Oct. 23rd


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ALBANY DEVILS (3-1-0-1) @ UTICA COMETS (0-3-0-0)

Utica Memorial Auditorium, 7:35 p.m.

Radio: 94.9 K-Rock

The Utica Comets make their home debut tonight against the Albany Devils in search of the first victory in franchise history. The Comets return to Utica following a three game stretch on the road that resulted in a trio of defeats. Puck drop is set for 7:35 PM with pre game ceremonies and the Galaxy Communications, Utica Comets Fan Fest preceding. Pre game festivities begin at 4 PM.

When They Last Met: The Comets fell by a narrow 3-2 margin in Albany on Oct. 11. Alexandre Grenier and Benn Ferriero both scored their first goals of the season and Pascal Pelletier finished with two assists. The Comets couldn’t get anything else past Devils netminder Keith Kinkaid, however, who finished with 23 saves on 25 shots. Scott Timmons notched two assists for the Devils while Reid Boucher, Mike Sislo and Joe Whitney each found the net once.

Comets Outlook: Utica played its third straight road game this past Saturday, and lost by a 6-4 scoreline to the Rochester Americans. The Comets put forth their strongest effort of the season, but narrowly fell after a stout comeback. The Comets fell behind early by a 4-1 mark, but rallied to knot the game at four, before they surrendered a late goal. Pelletier led all Comet players with three points (1-2-3). Grenier had his first career three-point game (0-3-3) and Darren Archibald, Colin Stuart and Zach Hamill each tallied their first goals of the season.

Devils Outlook: Albany comes to Utica on a high note, after they recorded points in four straight contests. The Devils enter with a record of 3-1-0-1 and have won three out of their last four contests, with the lone loss coming via the shootout. Albany was victorious the last time it took to the ice, when they defeated the Norfolk Admirals 2-1. Timmons scored to extend his point streak to five games and Stefan Matteau and Joe Whitney scored in the shootout to give Albany the extra point. Albany also defeated Utica and Adirondack on their four game run and had gained a point in a shootout loss against Norfolk.

Home Sweet Home: After beginning their inaugural season with three games on the road, the Comets finally receive the comfort of home ice. Utica went 0-3-0-0 on their road swing to open the season but will make history as they take the ice tonight for the first home game in franchise history. Tonight also marks the start of a six game home stand, which spans through the Nov. 5 game against Toronto.

New York, New York: The Comets are currently in the midst of a five game stretch to open the season against teams from the Empire State. Following two games apiece against Rochester and Albany, Utica hosts the Syracuse Crunch on Friday, before their first inter state, and country, matchup against the Hamilton Bulldogs on Saturday.

Matchbox Twenty: When the puck drops tonight, it will end a span of over twenty years without a regular season AHL home game in Utica. The Utica Devils played their regular season finale on Apr. 10, 1993 against the Hamilton Canucks.

Child’s Pelletier: Pascal Pelletier scored in his third straight game to open the season with his three points against the Americans. His six points (2-4-6) are tops on the Comets and tied for 21st in the entire AHL. Pelletier is tied for first in points amongst players who have played in three games or less.

Three’s Company: Alexandre Grenier recorded the first three-assist game in Comets history against the Americans, giving him five points (1-4-5) for the year.

Going Green: Quite a bit has changed from the last time teams from Utica and Albany met in the AHL, but one face remains the same. Comets head coach Travis Green was a member of the Capital District Islanders from 1990-1993, where he ended his tenure third all time in goals with 56 and fifth all time in points with 128.

Homecoming: Rome, NY native and Albany Devils’ forward Tim Sestito will be playing in his first professional hockey game in the Mohawk Valley area.

Scouting The Devils: Albany comes into tonight’s game at 3-1-0-1, good for seven points. The Devils sit third in their division and seventh in the Eastern Conference, which has them five points back of leader Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Timmons is the team leader in points with seven (2-5-7) and has appeared on the score sheet in each of his team’s five games. The center is tied for tenth in the AHL in both assists and points. Last season’s leading scorer Joe Whitney is second on the Devils with six points (3-3-6) and is tied with Timmons for the team lead in goals. Jon Merrill is the top scoring defenseman on the Devils with four points (0-4-4), which has him in a tie for 16th in the AHL amongst blueliners.

Kinkaid and Scott Wedgewood have split goaltending duties thus far for Albany. Kinkaid has appeared in three contests, with a 1-1-1 record, a 2.29 goals against average (GAA) and a .897 save percentage. Wedgewood has appeared in one less contest, but enters with a 0.96 GAA and a .961 save percentage, both good for fourth in the AHL.

No word on lineups or who starts in goal yet. Hope the Comets can give their fans a show and the first win of the season!

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2-0 at the end of the first period, Archibald fights Tim Sestito right before the buzzer sounds and pulls the jersey over his head.

Is Utica's failure a combination of our scouting, trading of some high picks and Canucks success over the past few years?

I'd hazard a guess that the team simply doesn't have enough experience... too many green faces in the lineup that don't know how to play together.

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Is Utica's failure a combination of our scouting, trading of some high picks and Canucks success over the past few years?

It's growing pains IMO. It's gonna take time to mesh together as a group, and have a leadership group emerge.

Our prospects don't have as many vets to hide behind now, so they're gonna have to step up and contribute. which will most likely be a good thing in the long run.

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Albany adds an empty-netter to seal it. 4-1 the final.

Comets are now 0-4 and have scored just 8 goals... I know it's early, but they really haven't looked good at all.

Keep in mind it's not just a new roster, it's a new coach and system. The Comets' average age is 23 years old... And they're playing in a professional hockey league. Give it time.

They're also without Jensen, who would easily be their top offensive player.

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My thoughts on the game last night.....

First it was great to have AHL hockey back in Utica. The Aud looks fantastic and the crowd was really into it. The overall game production needs some tweaks but it will improve - They brought 80's rock band Night Ranger on the ice to sign the national anthem but their mic's didn't work. The crowd responded by singing the anthem which was kind of a nice touch.

The game - The Comets continue to struggle on offense and finding ways to score goals. This started in the preseason and has continued into the first four regular season games. They just don't look like they have many skilled players who are creative with the puck. Most of their scoring opportunities come from rebounds and scrums in front of the net. The few AHL veterans that they have are much more noticeable than the Vancouver prospects (Stuart, Pelletier and Ferriero looked solid).

Of the prospects Archibald looks like he could fit right into a 4th line role in Vancouver right now. I though Lain had some good shifts but he is another grinder rather than a playmaker. Blomstrand looks lost out there and is no more impressive than the two ECHL players currently on the roster on a PTO. Grenier had some impressive shifts but also had many where he looked passive and not part of the play.

On defense it looks like the Comets are putting a lot of expectations on AHL vets Biega and Mullen but they both look very average to me. With the lack of scoring they are going to need the D-Men to jump into the play and create scoring opportunities and I thought Sauve moved the puck very well last night. He makes the occasional bad pass but overall I liked his staking and puck handling. Corrado has a big shot from the point and there are a ton of Vancouver fans that want him playing on the big club right now but I think he needs more time to develop. He had a few really good shifts but also turned the puck over in his own end a couple of times. I thought Tommernes looked good but Anderson doesn't show me that much. I'd like to see Guimond get an opportunity to play. He hasn't dressed for any of the regular season games but hasn't been sent down to the ECHL either.

Goaltending - It doesn't look like the Comets are going to score that many goals so they need to be very strong in net if they are going to be competitive and so far they have not been. I didn't think Cannata let in any soft goals last night but when you fall behind 2 - 0 early in the first period it makes for a tough hole to crawl back out of.

The next game is tomorrow night against the Syracuse Crunch which could be another tough one for the Comets. The Crunch made it to the Calder Cup finals last year and the same organization won the cup the previous year (Tampa Bay moved from Norfolk to Syracuse). Syracuse is not as strong this year as their entire first line and top D-Man all made the NHL roster this year in Tampa Bay. But they do have some very talented young Russians that took their place.

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Thanks for your analysis.

That's too bad that they're off to such a slow start.

I think the fact that they aren't the most skilled team just means they'll have to work harder for their wins. And that's not a bad thing to be teaching our prospects IMO.

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