More Comets, more changes: Utica liveblog

Accidents of networks and start times meant I actually got to watch a little Islanders last night; Josh Ho-Sang looked pretty darn good. But afterward Arthur Staple said the Big Club may need someone for Saturday in St. Louis. Was told everyone who traveled was on the ice this morning, but we’ll see what the lineup looks like tonight.

(Speaking of Vancouver and call-ups, Utica sent leading scorer Alexandre Grenier up to the Canucks this afternoon.)

We’ll be following along with Alan on The AHL Live (audio/pay-per-view). You can get Andy Zilch’s audio through this page. We’ll follow Ben Birnell, the OD’s Comets account, Alan, the team, the Comets and Andy. Edit: Mike Ashmore‘s there, too.

This should be the box. (R: D.Lewis, C.Brown. L: Harper, Sauda.) (First game with Chris Brown since New Year’s Day 2016.) Scoreboard watching: Hartford at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and Hershey at Lehigh Valley. Providence has the night off, so at the end of the night, the Phantoms, Bruins and Sound Tigers will all have 59 games played; the Penguins and Bears will each have 60.

Prescout. Last trip in for Albany.

No high school hockey to distract us tonight. When I woke up, the back of my place looked like it’d been buried in snow, snow covering the trees, couldn’t see down the hill to the main drag. And the front of my place looked like it was two days after a snowstorm; sidewalks were clear. Go figure. (Duck and cover Tuesday, apparently.)

Greenville (ECHL) signed Sacred Heart’s Evan Jasper. The ECHL learned it’s losing Elmira after the season.

And RIP, Danni Kemp. So sad.

More closer to gametime.

–As they were Tuesday, it looks, so if there’s a call-up, it’s untipped from the pregame tweets:

F: Verhaeghe-Kearns (A)-Winquist
Dal Colle-Rowe-Fritz
Johnston-B.Holmstrom (C)-J.Holmstrom
D: Lafranchise-Pulock
Landry (A)-Leduc
G: Halak

–Demko for the CComets… and no Pedan or Nilsson.

UTICA from Ben
F: Archibald-Zalewski-Roy
D: Shields-Billins
G: Demko

–Alan’s ahead of video but behind Twitter: Ben Holmstrom for a slash 42 seconds in.

–Good kill without their top PK centerman.

–Feels like more of the first eight minutes has been spent in the Bridgeport zone, but shots are close to even.

–Kearns sends Verhaeghe in with half a step from the blue line in. Demko stops him; looked like he might’ve been getting tugged from behind, but nothing forthcoming.

–Markison for an offensive-zone hook going for a rebound. A Kunyk shot tips into the crease; Burroughs clears it out. Halak gets across right to left to stop Kunyk again off a blocked shot.

–Penalty killed. Alan mentions Jon Landry will be his first-intermission guest in a bit. Landry was talking yesterday about Utica and how cool the atmosphere is at the Aud.

–With 3:06 left, a bad clear gives Utica a two-on-none. Carcone to Pelletier, and Halak again gets right to left to make the stop on the one-timer.

–No score after one. Shots 12-7 Utica. Wilkes-Barre leads 2-0 late first against Hartford. Phantoms and Bears are scoreless.

–Hershey’s got a 1-0 lead on the Phantoms as the Sound Tigers start the second period.

–Utica’s got the better of the play again to start the second, with a 6-1 shots edge through almost seven minutes. Still scoreless, though.

–A Pulock turnover led to a long Utica shift in the Bridgeport end. Puck stays out with nine minutes left in the period. Shots 7-2 in the period. Meanwhile, Lehigh Valley tied up the Bears at 1.

–Bridgeport picks up the pace a bit. Demko stops Burroughs. A few seconds later in the neutral zone, Burroughs and Cassels go. Burroughs’ first fight in a while.

–Comets win a draw in their own zone, break quickly, and a touch pass into the zone makes it a two-on-one. Curtis Valk finishes it off with a backhander from the right side with about five minutes left in the first.

–Think it was Kunyk’s touch pass, based on the assists and the call.

–Bridgeport’s first PP with 2:58 to go on a Rendulic hook.

–They stuck with the even-strength forward lines on the power play, but nothing doing. As my feed cuts in and out here, Twitter tells me I’ve missed a Demko stop on Kearns in front of the net, and the period ends with the Comets up 1-0. (There’s the first part: Kearns coming in from the right corner after Toews kept it in on the backhand at the right point and got it back down low.) Shots 22-16 Utica. Wilkes-Barre has stretched it to 5-1, while Lehigh Valley and Hershey remain tied at 1.

–Lehigh takes a 2-1 lead on Hershey late second. Back in Utica, on that first Comets goal, Bridgeport never really set up. McEneny made a quick pass up the left side that trapped the forwards, and Kunyk’s pass got Virtanen and Valk a half-step ahead of Pulock, two-on-one vs. Lafranchise.

–As the third period begins in Utica, the second period ends in Allentown with a Hershey power-play goal to tie that game at 2.

–Billins for a dive to counter a Markison trip, apparently. On the four-on-four, Verhaeghe and Pulock had chances in tight; think someone got a stick on Pulock’s stick to prevent the scoring chance.

–Bridgeport gets away with a Burroughs turnover behind the Bridgeport net, but the Comets keep in a clear attempt. A shot goes wide; Pelletier retrieves it behind the net, and at least four Sound Tigers watch him as he sets up Carcone in front to make it 2-0 at 6:36.

–Demko stops Landry, rushing through the Comets one by one, on a power play that ends soon after. With 10:30 left, Alan says Bracken Kearns goes to the dressing room on his own. (I assume Zack is there, which could mean medical, but no idea.) And as I try to type that, Kellen Jones on a harmless looking carry into the zone, winds and fires from the high slot, and it beats Demko to make it 2-1 Utica with 10:20 to play.

–Beautiful Fritz move as he spins to the net, but Demko stops him with about 2 minutes left, then may’ve stopped a Dal Colle rebound. Halak to the bench with about 1:15 left.

–Scramble stays out with 10.8 seconds left. Time out, Bridgeport.

–A Comet streaked across the front of the crease to keep a rebound away from Winquist after Demko stopped a Toews slapper. Utica 2, Bridgeport 1, final. Good game, but the Sound Tigers can’t put more than one in against the Comets.

–Eight different scorers for the Penguins in an 8-1 win. The Wolf Pack called up Jeff Malcolm today, Greenville had announced, but he didn’t dress and Mackenzie Skapski was in for all eight goals while Magnus Hellberg sat in the runway. That’s… interesting. Pens are eight points ahead of Bridgeport. Phantoms and Bears remain 2-2 late in regulation.

–Corban Knight puts the Phantoms ahead 3-2 with 2:18 left in regulation.

–Phantoms hold on to win, so Bridgeport remains two points ahead of Hershey, but the Sound Tigers are four points behind Lehigh Valley and two behind Providence.

–Looking back, Kearns came out of a battle with Sautner limping his way to the bench about three minutes into the third. Thought I’d seen him on the power play before he departed, but that turned out to be Kellen Jones, 28 rather than 38.

–Brent Thompson says Kearns is day-to-day; they’ll see how he is tomorrow. No word of a call-up that he had (or would tell me, at least). More in a little.

–Thompson went me one better on the puck-staring on the game-winner. Not at least all four watching Pelletier: All five. “Head on a swivel” and all that. All in all, “both goalies played great. We were a little sloppy with puck turnovers.”

Halak: “Great game.” The first goal, “they made a hell of a pass, backhand pass to backhand one-timer. The hockey gods smiled down on that one. … (Halak) gave us a chance to win. We just didn’t score goals.”

They’ll bus home, and the depleted — maybe more depleted — lineup gets a crack at Albany tomorrow in the Devils’ last visit. More then.

Michael Fornabaio