Utica Comets start season with road setback; Thompson assigned
There won’t be a record win streak this season for the Utica Comets.
For the first time in three seasons, the Comets dropped their first game of the season.
The host Hershey Bears scored twice in the first period — including a power-play goal to earn a 3-1 win over the Comets on Saturday at the Giant Center in the season-opening American Hockey League game for both teams.
Last season, Utica — in its first season as the New Jersey Devils’ AHL affiliate — won its first 13 games to set an AHL record.
With the result, the Comets have a 4-6-0-0 record in season-opening games during their 10 seasons.
Utica had six players in the lineup playing with the team for the first time.
Utica got its lone goal in the second period with help from former Bears player Brian Pinho on the power play. The forward, who played 172 AHL games the last four seasons with Hershey, got a backhand feed from Nolan Stevens and beat Bears goaltender Zach Fucale (19 saves) from the low slot.
Hershey added a empty net goal with 30 seconds remaining to put the game out reach.
Utica finished 1-for-4 on the power play while Hershey was 1-for-2.
Second-year goaltender Akira Schmid was solid for Utica, totaling 20 saves on 22 shots.
Utica’s home-opener Monday — the 35th anniversary of the Utica Devils’ first game as New Jersey’s affiliate — was postponed in the second period with 2:43 remaining in the second period due to a power outage.
Thompson sent to Utica
Tyce Thompson has officially been assigned to the Comets.
The 23-year-old forward had remained with the parent club after suffering an undisclosed injury at the end of September. The Devils had to assign Thompson to remain at the mandated 23-man roster.
Thompson, who spent a majority of last season with Utica, is another boost for the team’s offense. He could see a top-six forward role with Utica. He didn't play Monday.
In 16 games with Utica last season, Thompson — who missed about five months due to injury — finished with six goals and nine assists. He’s appeared in a total of 27 AHL games over the last two seasons. He also appeared in two games with New Jersey.
The Devils’ 2019 fourth-round draft pick was teammates with current Comets forward Jack Dugan at Providence College in Rhode Island.
In another roster move, the Comets loaned rookie forward Xavier Parent (AHL contract) to ECHL affiliate Adirondack in Glens Falls.
Utica has a total of 15 forwards on the roster.
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