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Utica Comets vs Cleveland Monsters Game Preview 12-23-23

The Utica Comets

The Utica Comets hope to snap a two-game losing skid when they face off against the Cleveland Monsters at home on Saturday night. Utica has lost its past two games while being outscored six to one. The main reason for the losses is that their powerplay is failing to connect. In the past two games, the Comets have failed to score a powerplay marker, going 0/7 across the skid. Just before the streak started the Comets were starting to gain some traction with a four-game winning streak. They outscored their opponents 18-9 during that span.

One player the Comets are going to turn to is Graeme Clarke, who has four points in the past five games – including three goals. If Clarke can continue to produce at this pace, then a win against the North Division-leading Cleveland Monsters could be in the forecast as an early Christmas present for the fans and the players of the Comets.

With Jeremy Brodeur back with Adirondack of the ECHL, the Comet’s goaltending tandem will consist of Nico Daws and Isaac Poulter. Brodeur was called up last week to backup Poulter, as Daws had been recalled by the New Jersey Devils to backup Akira Schmid against the Anaheim Ducks. Daws returned to Utica on the 19th, setting up the return of Brodeur to Adirondack.

The Cleveland Monsters

The Monsters are trending in the opposite direction of the Comets, as they are on a three-game winning streak. Cleveland’s offense has been on full display, scoring twelve goals in those three games. Cleveland’s offense has been a key to their success this season. They are second in the division with eighty-eight goals on the season, only two goals behind the Toronto Marlies.

The Central New York hockey scoreboard for December 22, 2023

Five out of Cleveland’s top ten scorers will be out of the lineup for this matchup. Most notably, Kent Johnson, who was the fifth overall pick in 2021 of the Columbus Blue Jackets. In ten games for Cleveland this season, Johnson has fifteen points. Even without Johnson, the Monsters still have their top scorer. Trey Fix-Wolansky has twenty-four points in twenty-two games played. Fix-Wolansky started the season with a four-point game against Lehigh Valley and has sixteen points in his first ten games.

On the goaltending side, the Comets will either see Jet Graeves or Pavel Cajan. Jet Graeves is the primary starter, and in fifteen games played, he has posted a 12-3 record, while putting up a 2.80 GAA, a .913 save percentage, and one shutout. Cajan has only played eight games and has a 3-3-1 record, with a 3.68 GAA and a .891 save percentage.

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

Saturday’s game will be the third of four regular-season meetings between the teams. Each team has won one game in Cleveland. Here’s the tale of the tape for Saturday’s game between the Cleveland Monsters and Utica Comets:

Team Records

Utica Comets

  • Overall record: 10-10-3-0, 23 Pts – 6th in the North Division.
  • Home record: 5-5-1-0, 11 Pts.
  • Goal Differential: -2.
  • Head Coach: Kevin Dineen.

Cleveland Monsters

  • Overall record: 18-7-1-0, 37 Pts – 1st in the North Division.
  • Away record: 10-3-1-0, 21 Pts.
  • Goal Differential: +10.
  • Head Coach: Trent Vogelhuber.

Team Offense

Utica Comets

  • Goals For: 68.
  • Goals Per Game: 2.96 – 21st in the AHL.
  • Shots: 630.
  • Shots per Game: 27.39 – 29th in the AHL.
  • Power Play: 9.4% (8 for 85) – 32nd in the AHL.

Cleveland Monsters

  • Goals For: 92
  • Goals Per Game: – 3.54 – 5th in the AHL.
  • Shots: 775
  • Shots per Game: 29.81 – 18th in the AHL.
  • Power Play: 19.6% (19 for 97) – 13th in the AHL.

Top Five Scorers + Individual Leaders

Utica Comets

  • 1.) Graeme Clarke: 9G + 9A = 18Pts.
  • 2.) Xavier Parent: 7G + 10A = 17Pts.
  • 3.) Ryan Schmelzer: 4G + 9A = 13Pts.
  • 4.) Max Willman: 7G + 6A = 13Pts.
  • 5.) Kyle Criscuolo: 4G + 9A = 13Pts.
  • Shots Leader: Graeme Clarke with 70.
  • Power Play Goals Leader: Graeme Clarke with three.
  • Power Play Points: Graeme Clarke and Xavier Parent with four each.
  • Shorthanded Goals Leader: Shane Bowers with two.
  • Game Winning Goals: Graeme Clarke with four.
  • +/- Leader: Joe Gambardella at +7.
  • PIM Leader: Samuel Leberge with 35.

Cleveland Monsters

  • 1.) Trey Fix-Wolansky: 9G + 17A = 26 Pts. Fix-Wolansky is 10th in the AHL in Pts and 13th in assists.
  • 2.) Jake Christiansen: 5G + 17A = 22 Pts. Christiansen is 16th in the AHL in assists.
  • 3.) Carson Mayer: 12G + 4A = 16 Pts. Meyer is 16th in the AHL in goals.
  • 4.) Mikeal Pyyhtia: 3G + 11 A = 14 Pts
  • 5.) Luca Del Bel Belluz: 4G + 11 A = 14 Pts.
  • Shots Leader: Carson Meyer with 71.
  • Power Play Goals Leader: Luca Del Bel Belluz and Jake Christiansen with two each.
  • Power Play Points Leader: Nick Blankenburg with seven.
  • Shorthanded Goals Leader: Roman Ahcan with one.
  • Game Winning Goals Leader: Emil Bemström with three.
  • +/- Leader: Trey Fix-Wolansky at +9.
  • PIM Leader: Carson Meyer with thirty-three.

Team Defense

Utica Comets

  • Goals Against: 70.
  • Goals Against Per Game: 3.04 – 17th in AHL.
  • Shots Allowed: 670.
  • Shots Allowed Per Game: 29.13 – 12th in AHL.
  • Penalty Kill: 88.2% (75/85) – 1st in the AHL.
  • Shorthanded Goals Socred: five – 5th in the AHL.

Cleveland Monsters

  • Goals Against: 82.
  • Goals Against Per Game: 3.15 – 21st in the AHL
  • Shots Allowed: 842.
  • Shots Allowed Per Game: 32.38 – 28th in AHL
  • Penalty Kill: 78.7% (85 for 108) – 21st in the AHL
  • Shorthanded Goals Scored: one -30th in the AHL.

Goaltenders

Utica Comets

Isaac Poulter

  • Record: 8-4-1.
  • GAA: 2.33.
  • Saves: 355.
  • Save Percentage: 0.920.
  • Shutouts: one.

Nico Daws

  • Record: 1-1-0.
  • GAA: 2.04.
  • Saves: 59.
  • Save Percentage: 0.937.
  • Shutouts: none.

Cleveland Monsters

Jet Greaves

  • Record: 13-3-0. Greaves is tied for 1st for wins in AHL.
  • GAA: 2.80.
  • Saves: 451.
  • Save Percentage: 0.911. Greaves is 13th in the AHL in save percentage.
  • Shutouts: one.

Pavel Cajan

  • Record: 3-3-1.
  • GAA: 3.68.
  • Saves: 212.
  • Save Percentage: 0.891.
  • Shutouts: none.

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