The newest franchise in the AHL made a sticky start to the season as I wrote here http://wp.me/p2gDti-97 back in November.
Since then the Utica Comets have picked up the pace somewhat.
It took the Vancouver affiliate eleven games to register their first victory of the season, but from those humble beginnings they have worked their way from the bottom of the AHL standings and currently sit third in the North division with a 0.500% record.
Continuity has been a problem for the team with the numbers of players used so far this season standing at a staggering 43. Between the pipes has been a struggle with just three rookies to call upon.
Swedish net minder Joacim Eriksson has seemingly now earned the job and after a tricky start, has acquitted himself well with 19 wins, 2.57GAA and 0.913SV%.
The experienced Pascal Pelletier has proved a vital cog in the Utica wheel, producing at almost PPG pace, whilst versatile forward Benn Ferriero has provided some good balance positional wise and is the teams leading scorer.
Rookie Alexandre Grenier is having himself a good season after spending last year between playing in Austria and the ECHL. Sadly he’s injured right now but the third round pick by Vancouver looks a decent prospect and would be a big boost if returning sooner than later.
The most interesting player this season is Cal O’Reilly, who was signed from Russia, where he was having a tough year in the KHL with Metallurg Magnitogorsk.
He’s a former Nashville pick who has been a proven playmaker in the AHL before now.
Showing he still has that ability with thirty points in his thirty-five starts with all bar three of those points being assists.
Utica currently sit seven points back of a playoff berth, the closest they’ve been all season and are in terrific form right now.
Winning their last four games and 8-3-0-0 in previous eleven games, perhaps a good marker of where they are at is their last win against Binghamton which featured an outstanding comeback.
Trailing 4-0 and 5-2 before running out 6-5 victors in regulation, with the game winner scored whilst short handed.
Seventeen games remain in Utica’s season and the odds are against them making the playoffs at the first attempt. However they do face twelve western conference opponents in those game, so if they continue on this good form who knows what could be possible.