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FINAL: Comets 0 @ Lake Erie 4

vs monsters

The Utica Comets looked to change things up on the road after a winless homestand, but Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland proved to be more of the same as the Comets fell to the Lake Erie Monsters, 4-0.  The Monsters used a 42-17 shots on goal advantage as they returned to the .500 mark and evened their season record to 5-5-0-0. With the defeat, Utica remains winless on the season as they fell to 0-8-1-1 and lost their fourth straight in regulation away from The AUD.

Monsters netminder Calvin Pickard picked up his sixth career AHL shutout and his first of the 2013-14 season as he neutralized the Comets’ offensive efforts all evening. Joacim Eriksson put in a strong effort for Utica as he was able to stop 38 of Lake Erie’s 42 shots, but the goaltender fell to 0-5-1-1 with the defeat.

The Monsters found the back of the net first in this one as center Colin Smith put a rebound past Eriksson at the 6:22 mark of the first period.  Lake Erie captain Bryan Lerg and defenseman Tyson Barrie picked up the assists on the goal, which was the only of 14 Monster shots that got past Eriksson.

Eriksson was on point during the second period as he turned aside all but one of Lake Erie’s 17 shots on target. The Monsters extended their lead, however, with just under six minutes to play in the middle frame.  David van der Gulik put the puck over Eriksson and into the top of the net on the powerplay, off a feed from winger Paul Carey. Van der Gulik’s goal was his second in as many games, with both tallies coming via the powerplay. Mark Olver also picked up an assist on the play.

Things went from bad to worse for Utica in the early third period as Trevor Cheek picked Colin Stuart’s pocket in the corner while the Comets were in the midst of a line change. The winger walked to the front of the net uncovered and beat a defenseless Eriksson. The goal was the first in seven games this season for Cheek.

Lake Erie put the icing on the cake at the 10:01 mark as Andrew Agozzino scored his team’s second powerplay goal of the evening. Smith and Lerg both picked up their second points of the evening as the Monsters went ahead 4-0. It was only a matter of a shutout from that point out as Pickard handled each remaining Comets shot and closed out the victory.  The Avalanche prospect did get a bit of help from the iron as David Booth’s breakaway bid was denied by the red paint.

Winger Nicklas Jensen led all Comets players with four shots on goal and center Alex Mallet added three of his own. Booth and defenseman Kent Huskins each recorded two shots on net in their Utica Comets debuts.

The two teams meet again tomorrow for round two of the back to back set. Tomorrow night’s game will begin 30 minutes later than tonight’s puck drop, with faceoff set for 7:30 p.m.

UTICA COMETS (0-7-1-1) @ LAKE ERIE (4-5-0-0)
Quicken Loans Arena, 7:00 p.m.
Radio: 94.9 K-Rock

The Comets are back in action tonight as they take to the road for a three game trip which begins tonight in Lake Erie. The Comets are in Cleveland for the first time this season for the first of two back-to-back games against the Lake Erie Monsters. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. at Quicken Loans Arena.

When They Last Met: Tonight is the first ever meeting between these two teams.

Comets Outlook: The Comets finished the first homestand in franchise history at 0-4-1-1, as they dropped their final home game by a 5-2 score, to Toronto. It was another disappointing loss for the Comets, despite a hot start out of the gates. Alex Grenier scored just over a minute into regulation to put the Comets ahead, but Toronto scored five of the last six goals to pull out the three goal victory. Benn Ferriero also found the back of the net, while goaltender Joacim Eriksson made 24 saves on 29 shots. Marlies defenseman T.J. Brennan scored two goals and added an assist to lead Toronto.

Monsters Outlook: The Monsters are coming off of a 6-4 loss against the defending Calder Cup Champion Grand Rapids Griffins. Karl Stollery, David van der Guilk, Mark Olver and Bryan Lerg each scored for the Monsters but Lake Erie could not overcome a three point night from Gustav Nyquist and two goals from Tomas Jurco as they dropped beneath the .500 mark.  Monsters goaltender Calvin Pickard made 25 saves on 29 shots in the defeat.

Hey Hey Grenier: Winger Alexandre Grenier scored his second goal of the season against the Marlies and added a +1 rating to improve his plus/minus on the season to a team high +4. Grenier is also tied for second on the team with seven points.

Power Of Three: With his powerplay goal against Toronto, Comets forward Benn Ferriero extended his goal-scoring streak to three games, which ranks in a tie for second in the AHL amongst current streaks. The Essex, MA native has six points over the past four games and now leads the Comets with four goals. Ferriero has also vaulted into a tie with Grenier for second on the team in points with seven (4-3-7).

Photo Booth: Comets winger David Booth looks to make his Utica debut after he was assigned on a conditioning a stint from Vancouver.  Booth is a three time 20-goal scorer at the NHL level who scored a career high 60 points (31-29-60) in the 2008-09 season with the Florida Panthers. The Detroit, MI native has amassed 202 points (105-97-202) over 388 games in the NHL.

Powerful Power Play: The Comets’ powerplay ranks tied for eleventh in the AHL as they enter tonight’s action at 19.4 percent. Despite being tied for the least amount of opportunities with the man advantage, the Comets have buried seven power-play goals on 36 chances. Colin Stuart and Frank Corrado pace the Comets with two PPG’s apiece.

Capital Connection: Utica head coach Travis Green and Lake Erie head coach Dean Chynoweth were teammates for parts of three seasons from 1990-1993 with the AHL’s Capital District Islanders.  Both men rank in the team’s all-time Top 10 in games played with Green fourth and Chynoweth ninth.

First Timers: Comets forward Kellan Lain and defenseman Henrik Tommernes each recorded their first career assists against Toronto.  For Lain, it was the first point of his career.

Scouting The Monsters: Winger Bryan Lerg is the Monsters’ leading scorer with nine points (6-3-9) over nine games.  Lerg’s six goals also ranks tied for twelfth in the AHL, as well as first on the team.  Center Mark Olver has netted eight points (3-5-8), while winger Andrew Agozzino leads the Monsters roster with six assists over nine games.

Defenseman Stefan Elliott leads all Lake Erie blueliners with five points (1-4-5).  Karl Stollery leads all Monsters players with a +5 rating and has also contributed four points (2-2-4) over his nine games played.

The Monsters have employed a time share between young goaltenders Calvin Pickard and Sami Aittokallio, who each enter tonight’s action with two victories.  Aittokallio begins today with a 2.49 goals against average and a .908 save percentage, both of which lead the team. Pickard has amassed a 3.30 GAA and a .892 save percentage over his five games played.