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Utica Comets vs Syracuse Crunch weekend preview

Credit: Syracuse Crunch

The Utica Comets will take on the Syracuse Crunch for a home-in-home weekend matchup.

The Comets will face off against the Syracuse Crunch on Friday the 23rd at the Adirondack Bank Center, then travel to face them again on Sunday at the Upstate Medical University Arena. The Comets are in seventh place in the North Division with a record of 20-20-4-3 and 47 points. As for the Crunch, they are second in the North Division with a record of 27-15-3-2 and 59 points.

Syracuse and Utica have played 10 of their 14 regular season matchups this season. Both teams have won five games.

This will not be a true “home-in-home” for the Crunch, as they host the Belleville Senators on Saturday night in between the games against the Comets.

Utica Comets

The Utica Comets are looking to build on their last 10 games, going 6-4-0 in that span. In those games, the Comets also had a short three-game losing skid. That losing streak was snapped in their last game, a 7-3 victory in Rochester on Sunday.

Despite the sloppy start to the season, the Comets have willed their way back to a nearly 0.500% point percentage. They find themselves only five points behind the 5th-place Toronto Marlies and two games in hand over the sixth-place Laval Rocket.

There have been many different reasons for this resurgence of the Comets. The powerplay has come to life, and the penalty kill is one of the best in the AHL. But the main reason is the goaltending from Isaac Poulter who unfortunately for Utica will be missing this weekend’s game as he was called up by the New Jersey Devils. As of this writing, their goaltending tandem will be Akrika Scmid who has a record of 3-5-4, and Erik Källgren with a record of 2-5-2. Goaltending will be a huge factor this weekend as the Crunch score on average 3.1 goals per game which is the same as the Comets.

The conference tournament matchups for CNY Division III teams

One skater to look out for the Comets is Xavier Parent. After a brief stint with the Comets last season, he has been phenomenal for them this season. In his rookie campaign, he posted 33 points, 10 goals and 23 assists. Furthermore, he has been on a streak recently with 4 points in his last 4 games.

There have been no call-ups or recalls since the Comet’s last game besides Isaac Poulter.

The Syracuse Crunch

The Syracuse Crunch got off to a great start this season, and have continued their strong play under first-year head coach Joel Bouchard. This is despite the Tampa Bay Lightning leaning on the Crunch callup-wise more than they have in previous seasons.

The latest call-up is forward Cole Koepke, who was recalled to the Lightning on February 21. Before the recall, Koepke had been on a tear for the Crunch, as he had scored in three straight games. In 36 games for Syracuse this season, he has 13 goals, 11 assists, 10 PIM, and 110 shots.

Koepke isn’t the only one on a hot streak for the Crunch. Defenseman Declan Carlile is on a four-game points streak, while Gage Goncalves and Jack Thompson have at least one point in the last three games.

With Koepke and Mitchell Chaffee (who was recalled to Tampa Bay on February 4) currently wearing Lightning sweaters, the Crunch will get some help this weekend. According to Elliotte Friedman, Alex Barré-Boulet cleared after being put on waivers by Tampa Bay on Thursday, and can now be assigned to Syracuse. Barré-Boulet had a monstrous season for the Crunch in 2022-23, registering 24 goals and 60 assists for 84 points. It is unclear when exactly he will be inserted into the lineup, but when he does it will be a huge boost.

Television coverage for both games will be on AHLTV. The Comets radio broadcast will be on 94.9 K-Rock, while the Crunch will be heard on ESPN Radio Syracuse. For more information about either team, including schedules and/or ticketing, visit either https://uticacomets.com or https://syracusecrunch.com.

Team Records

Utica Comets

  • Overall record: 20-20-4-3, 47 Pts. – 7th in the North Division.
  • Home record: 10-11-1-3, 24 Pts.
  • Away Record 10-9-3-0, 23 Pts.
  • Goal Differential: -8.
  • Head Coach: Kevin Dineen.

Syracuse Crunch

  • Overall record: 27-15-3-2, 59 Pts. – 2nd in the North Division.
  • Home record: 13-6-3-1, 30 Pts.
  • Away record: 14-9-0-1, 29 Pts.
  • Goal Differential: +19.
  • Head Coach: Joel Bouchard.

Team Offense

Utica Comets

  • Goals For: 148.
  • Goals Per Game: 3.15 – 12th in the AHL.
  • Shots: 1349.
  • Shots per Game: 28.70 – 25th in the AHL.
  • Power Play: 16.6% (27/170) – 26th in the AHL.

Syracuse Crunch

  • Goals For: 147.
  • Goals Per Game: 3.13 – 14th in the AHL.
  • Shots: 1364.
  • Shots per Game: 29.02 – 22nd in the AHL.
  • Power Play: 17.8% (30/169) – 20th in the AHL.

Top Five Scorers + Individual Leaders

Utica Comets

  • 1.) Graeme Clarke: 19G + 18A = 37 Pts. Clarke is 16th in the AHL in goals.
  • 2.) Ryan Schmelzer: 11G + 22A = 33 Pts.
  • 3.) Xavier Parent: 10G + 23A = 33 Pts.
  • 4.) Kyle Criscuolo: 10G + 18A = 28 Pts.
  • 5.) Justin Dowling: 69G + 16A = 25 Pts.
  • Shots Leader: Graeme Clarke with 142. Clarke is 13th in the AHL in shots.
  • Power Play Goals Leader: Brian Halonen with 6.
  • Power Play Points: Xavier Parent with 11.
  • Shorthanded Goals Leader: Shane Bowers and Ryan Schmelzer with two. Both are T-4th in the AHL for SHG.
  • Game Winning Goals: Graeme Clarke with Six. Clarke is 2nd in the AHL in GWG.
  • +/- Leader: Nolan Stevens at +11.
  • PIM Leader: Samuel Laberge with 53.

Syracuse Crunch

  • 1.) Gage Gonclaves: 7G + 33A = 40Pts. Conclaves is 5th in the AHL for assists, and 20th in points.
  • 2.) Jack Thompson: 5G + 27A = 32Pts. Thompson is 20th in the AHL in assists.
  • 3.) Felix Roberts: 11G + 17A = 28Pts.
  • 4.) Gabriel Dumont: 10G + 13A = 23Pts.
  • 5.) Maxim Groshev: 10G + 13A = 23Pts.
  • Shots Leader: Jack Thompson with 113.
  • Power Play Goals Leader: Gabriel Dumont with 6.
  • Power Play Points: Jack Thompson with 17.
  • Shorthanded Goals Leader: 7 different skaters with 7.
  • Game Winning Goals: Joe Carrol with 4. Carrol is 18th in the AHL in GWGs.
  • +/- Leader: Philippe Myers with 23. Myers is 6th in the AHL in +/-.
  • PIM Leader: Shawn Element with 82.

Team Defense

Utica Comets

  • Goals Against: 156.
  • Goals Against Per Game: 3.32 – 25th in AHL.
  • Shots Allowed: 1412.
  • Shots Allowed Per Game: 30.04 – 20th in AHL.
  • Penalty Kill: 84.5% (142/168) – 3rd in the AHL.
  • Shorthanded Goals Socred: 7 – 8th in the AHL.

Syracuse Crunch

  • Goals Against: 128.
  • Goals Against Per Game: 2.72 – 5th in the AHL.
  • Shots Allowed: 1247.
  • Shots Allowed Per Game: 26.53 – 2nd in the AHL.
  • Penalty Kill: 84.3% (161/191) – 7th in the AHL.
  • Shorthanded Goals Scored: 7 – 5th in the AHL.

Goaltenders

Utica Comets

Akira Schmid

  • Record: 3-5-4
  • GAA: 3.58
  • Saves: 339
  • Save Percentage: 0.885
  • Shutouts: None

Erik Källgren

  • Record: 2-5-2
  • GAA: 4.03
  • Saves: 224
  • Save Percentage: .858
  • Shutouts: none

Syracuse Crunch

Hugo Alnefelt

  • Record: 11-5-4
  • GAA: 2.28 – 7th in the AHL.
  • Saves: 485
  • Save Percentage: 0.912 – 16th in the AHL.
  • Shutouts: Two – 12th in the AHL.

Matt Tomkins

  • Record: 9-8-1
  • GAA: 2.73
  • Saves: 422
  • Save Percentage: .896
  • Shutouts: None
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