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Utica Comets at Laval Rocket Game Preview 11-01-2023

The Utica Comets are hoping to get the season sparked after splitting games last weekend.

Last weekend the Comets split the weekend games, – dropping their game on Saturday against the Rochester Americans 5-4 and winning their Friday game versus the Syracuse Crunch 4-2. Utica’s hoping that the win on Friday is enough to get the season going. After picking up their first win this season, their record improved to 1-2-2 (4 points). The Comets are looking at an opportunity to climb up the standings on Wednesday against the Laval Rocket. Their opponents, on the other hand, are off to a worse start, going 1-5-1 (3 points), which lands them dead last in the AHL. This is the first time these two face off this season, starting a season-long matchup consisting of 8 games. This game takes place at Place Bell at 7:00 PM EST.  

Laval, unlike their NHL affiliate the Montreal Canadiens, is off to a poor start. They are tied at the bottom of the AHL with the only team without an NHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves. Their main issue is clearly the goaltending. Despite only seeing an average of 33 shots per game, the Rocket’s tandem has had an average of 5.25 GAA. There is yet to be a game where the Rocket has let up under 4 goals.

Their scoring has come from 10 different scorers, including their starting goalie Strauss Mann. Who scored an unusual goal against the Americans on October 18th. Lias Anderson is the Rocket to look out for this weekend who seems to score in bunches. Except for one matchup, every game in which he’s scored has been a multi-goal game. In the small sample size of seven games, he’s shooting a very high percentage of 26.9%. Another player to watch out for is Joshua Roy who’s 3rd in the league in scoring with twelve points, five goals, and seven assists – all the while being a rookie.

Laval will be adding two new skaters Jakov Novak and Nolan Yaremko, both are forwards who were added to the roster on October 30th. Both skaters were brought up from their ECHL affiliate Trois-Rivières. Novak, in five games played, has recorded two goals and three assists, averaging a point per game. Yaremko in his five games played, has put up two goals and two assists for four points. Both skaters will be great additions for the Rocket who are hoping to turn their poor start around early before it becomes too late.

The Utica Comets

The Utica Comets are still struggling to get their season back to where they were last season, finishing 4th in the North Division and only one point out of second place. The Comets split their games the previous weekend and almost completed a comeback against the fast-paced Americans on Saturday night. The Comets should be looking to capitalize on the powerplay considering the Rocket have allowed on average one powerplay goal per game. On the other hand, Utica should be seeking to get into the offensive swing of things while being a man down since the Rocket has allowed three shorthanded goals – the most in the North division.

Justin Dowling, the Comets fifth leading scorer will return to the lineup after being called up by the Devils on the 29th. Dowling missed Saturday’s game against the Americans. In his four games played for Utica, he’s recorded three assists and has a +3 rating on the ice – a team-best. While Dowling was out of the lineup, Simon Nemec drew into it, playing his first game since October 13th. Nemec got the secondary assist on a Shane Bowers goal late into the 3rd period to bring the Comets within one. Tyce Thompson got the primary assist in hopes of completing the comeback which fell just short.

Despite the offensive struggles that the Comets had shown coming into this weekend, (only tallying seven goals in three games), they have come alive as of late. They have put on an offensive showcase, scoring eight goals in two games, effectively doubling their goal total so far this season. During the Saturday game, Chase Stillman, the rookie from St. Louis MO, recorded his first two career goals. The first goal tied the game at one-a-piece in the first period.

The television broadcast for Wednesday night’s game will be on AHLTV and radio coverage will be on 94.9 KROCK. For more information about the Utica Comets, including schedules and ticketing, visit https://uticacomets.com.

Here are some key stats to look at before the Utica Comets face off against the Laval Rocket:

Team Records

Utica

  • Overall Record: 1-2-2, 4 Points
  • Away Record: 1-1-1
  • Place in Standings: 6th in North Division
  • Goal Differential: -4
  • Head Coach: Kevin Dineen

Laval

  • Overall Record: 1-5-1, 3 points
  • Home Record: 1-2-1
  • Place in Standings: 7th in North Division
  • Goal Differential: -10
  • Head Coach: Jean-François Houle

Utica Pioneers season previews featured on the CNYHR podcast

Team Offense

Utica

  • Goals For: 14
  • Goals Per Game: 2.8 – 21st in the AHL
  • Shots: 122
  • Shots Per Game: 24.4 – 30th in the AHL
  • Power Play: 18.8% (3 for 16) – 14th in the AHL

Laval

  • Goals For: 27
  • Goals Per Game: 2.8 – 6th in the AHL
  • Shots: 212
  • Shots Per Game: 30.2 – 4th in the AHL
  • Power Play: 17.1% (7 for 41) – 21st in the AHL

Top Five Scorers + Individual Leaders

Utica

  • 1) Max Willman: 3G + 3A = 6Pts
  • 2) Xavier Parent: 1G + 4A = 5Pts
  • 3) Graeme Clarke: 3G + 1A = 4Pts
  • 4) Chase Stillman: 2G + 1A = 3Pts
  • 5) Justin Dowling: 0G + 3A = 3Pts
  • Shots Leader: Graeme Clarke with 22
  • Power Play Goals Leader: Graeme Clarke with 3
  • Shorthanded Goals Header: N/A
  • Game Winning Goals Leader: Robbie Russo with 1
  • +/- Leader: Justin Dowling at +3
  • PIM leader: Robbie Russo with 12 PIM

Laval

  • 1) Joshua Roy: 5G + 7A = 12 Pts (T-3rd in the AHL for points
  • 2) Lias Anderson: 7G + 2A = 9Pts
  • 3) Brandon Gignac: 2G + 4A = 6Pts
  • 4) Mitchell Stephens: 1G + 5A = 6 Pts
  • 5) 3 different skaters tied with 5 points
  • Shots Leader: Joshua Roy with 28
  • Power Play Goals Leader: Lias Anderson with 3
  • Shorthanded Goals Header: Strauss Mann with 1
  • Game Winning Goals Leader: Joshua Roy with 1
  • +/- Leader: Brady Keeper at +4
  • PIM leader: Riley Mckay with 17

Team Defense

Utica

  • Goals Against: 18
  • Goals Against Per Game: 3.6 – 26th in the AHL
  • Shots Allowed: 147
  • Shots Allowed Per Game: 29.4 – 11th in the AHL
  • Penalty Kill: 81.0% (17 for 21) – 16th in the AHL
  • Shorthanded Goals Scored: 0

Laval

  • Goals Against: 37
  • Goals Against Per Game: 5.2 – 32nd in the AHL
  • Shots Allowed: 231
  • Shots Allowed Per Game: 33 – 26th in the AHL
  • Penalty Kill: 75.0% (21 for 28) – 28th in the AHL
  • Shorthanded Goals Scored: 1

Goaltenders

Utica

Isaac Poulter

  • Record: 1-0-1
  • GAA: 1.77
  • Save Percentage: .942
  • Saves: 81
  • Shutouts: 0

Erik Källgren

  • Record: 0-2-1
  • GAA: 5.79
  • Save Percentage: .787
  • Saves: 48
  • Shutouts: 0

Laval

Strauss Mann

  • Record: 0-3-1
  • GAA: 4.65
  • Save Percentage: .851
  • Saves: 114
  • Shutouts: 0

Jakub Dobeš

  • Record: 1-2-0
  • GAA: 5.83
  • Save Percentage: .842
  • Saves: 80
  • Shutouts: 0

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