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Comets navigate busy stretch in AHL schedule

Ben Birnell
Sports writer
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Posted 1/13/23

The Utica Comets are in the middle of one of their busiest stretches of this season.

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Comets navigate busy stretch in AHL schedule

Posted

The Utica Comets are in the middle of one of their busiest stretches of this season.

January’s original slate features 13 games, which is tied for the most on the team’s schedule with March. There’s also about 22 minutes of the first home game from October against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton that was suspended when the power went out that the team has to finish. That game is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 24.

Between Dec. 28 and this Monday — a span of 19 days — Utica is scheduled to play 11 games. As a comparison, the team’s first 11 games this season were played over 34 days.

“We’re at one of the toughest challenges of our schedule as far as number of games,” Comets coach Kevin Dineen said this week.

In addition to Friday’s road game at Providence, Utica also is set to play at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Bridgeport Islanders in Connecticut before a 1 p.m. Monday game at rival Syracuse. That makes three games in four days, which the Comets have had a few stretches of this season.

It is lot of games in a short amount of time as the Comets look to continue a hot stretch that started in mid-December. Entering Friday, the Comets had a season-best 12-game point-streak (10-0-2-0) following a comeback 3-2 win over Cleveland.

The team is trying to maintain spot near the top of the seven-team North Division after climbing up the standings since mid-December.

“We’re at the stage of the season right now where we’re just churning out some points. I think you fib a little bit if you say you don’t take a look at the standings and see where you are,” Dineen said

How does the team stay fresh during a stretch like this?

“I just think the biggest thing is using the resources we have,” said forward Nolan Stevens, who is in his fifth pro season. “They spend a lot of money giving us stuff to recover during these kind of stretches. It is just using the stuff around you to get back to 100% and play your best.”

Dineen noted the New Jersey Devils organization’s sport dietitian, Amy Marteney, was around the team earlier in the week. He also said a chiropractor would be around as well.

“It is nutrition, hydration and practices are a high, high priority for us,” Dineen said. “We don’t want to over-think the game.”

Utica Comets at Bridgeport Islanders

WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday.

WHERE: Total Mortgage Arena, Bridgeport, Connecticut.

BROADCAST: KROCK 94.9FM or krock.com (free), watchtheahl.com (subscription video).

SEASON SERIES: Utica won the first meeting 5-2 on Dec. 16. Saturday is the second and final regular-season meeting of the season between the teams.

WHAT TO KNOW: Bridgeport, the New York Islanders affiliate, is 0-7-1-0 in its last eight home games. The team is 8-9-1-0 at home this season. ... Utica’s season-best point-streak started with the home win over Bridgeport in December. ... Comets’ defenseman Tyler Wotherspoon’s brother, Parker, plays for the Islanders organization. While they played against each other in December, Parker was on recall with the NHL club as of Friday. ... Comets’ forward Tyce Thompson’s dad, Brent, is Bridgeport’s longtime head coach. Tyce had a goal and assist in the previous meeting.

Utica Comets at Syracuse Crunch

WHEN: 1 p.m. Monday.

WHERE: Upstate Medical University Arena, Syracuse.

BROADCAST: KROCK 94.9FM or krock.com (free), watchtheahl.com (subscription video).

SEASON SERIES: Syracuse has won the first two games of the 14-game series by four or more goals.

WHAT TO KNOW: The meeting is the first of four between the North Division rivals over a span of 11 days this month. ... Darren Raddysh, one of three Syracuse all-star selections, has six assists and seven points in two games against the Comets this season. ... Brian Halonen leads Utica with two goals against Syracuse this season.

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