Utica Comets season preview
For the first time since 1993, an American Hockey League team will call Utica, New York, home. The Vancouver Canucks AHL affiliate, the Utica Comets, are getting set to kick-off their inaugural season in the AHL as they travel to Rochester to take on the Americans on Friday night.
Canucks.com breaks down the Comets roster:
Up front Darren Archibald, Ludwig Blomstrand, Alex Friesen, Alexandre Grenier, Nicklas Jensen, Kellan Lain and Alexandre Mallet are the Canucks forward prospects on the roster. They are joined by Brandon DeFazio, Benn Ferriero, Zach Hamill, Colin Stuart and Jeremy Welsh, who are all under contract with the Canucks, while David Pacan and Pascal Pelletier are under AHL contracts.
Peter Andersson, Jeremie Blain, Frank Corrado, Yann Sauve and Henrik Tommernes are all Canucks prospects that will be fighting for ice-time on a crowded Comets blue-line, which also includes Patrick Mullen and Alex Biega, who are under contract with the Canucks, and Sacha Guimond and John Negrin, who are both under AHL contracts.
Canucks prospects Joacim Eriksson and Joe Cannata will be the goalie tandem between the barber poles for the Comets this season.
Five to watch
Of all the players that are making the move from the Chicago Wolves to the Comets, no player had more points with the Wolves last season then Archibald. The 6-foot-3, 212-pound power-forward scored 12 goals and 22 points in 55 games last season, however consistency is the key for the Newmarket, Ontario native, as six of his 12 goals came in his first 11 games, before going on a 19-game drought. If Archibald can consistently play with an edge, a 20-goal season shouldn’t be out of reach.
Mallet had a strong showing with the Canucks at the 2013 Young Stars Classic in Penticton, but like Archibald, consistency is something he needs to show this season. The 6-foot-1, 203-pounder is at his best when he is crashing and banging, something we didn’t see enough of last season. If Mallet can consistently use his speed and size this season, look for a breakout season from the Amqui, Quebec native.
Jensen is looking to regain the form he had in the AHL during the 2011.12 season, where he netted six goals in eight games with the Wolves to end the year. After a successful tenure in the Swedish Hockey League last season, the 6-foot-3, 200-pounder could only muster two goals in 20 games upon his return to the Wolves. Now, with a full season of pro hockey under his belt, including two games with the Canucks, Jensen could be poised for a big season with the Comets, which could lead to a call-up to Vancouver at some point.
Corrado enters his first full season of professional hockey already with seven NHL games and nine AHL games under his belt. Most likely the first defenseman to get a call to Vancouver if the Canucks are in need of a blue-liner, the Woodbridge, Ontario native will be a solid two-way threat for the Comets this season. The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder will look to add some offense to his game to go along with his stellar defensive play.
Cool, calm and collected when patrolling the point on the power-play, Tommernes will be one of the Comets’ top scoring threats from the blue-line. It remains to be seen how the 23-year-old will adjust to his first season on smaller ice, especially in his own zone, but if the 2013 Young Stars Classic and the lone pre-season game he played with the Canucks are any indication, he will be just fine.
Close to home
You can catch the Comets up close and personal in Abbotsford on November 29th and 30th, January 24th and 25th, and March 14th and 15th when they come to town to take on the Heat.