Roster moves continue for Utica Comets
The roster changes continue for the Utica Comets.
On Tuesday, the American Hockey League team announced rookie forward Xavier Parent — among the players signed to an AHL deal with the Comets this season — has been assigned back to ECHL affiliate Adirondack in Glens Falls.
The move leaves Utica with 16 forwards, though Nolan Stevens (out of the lineup last 12 games), Brian Pinho (out last nine games) and Nick Hutchison (out last four games) have missed time recently with injuries. And, leading scorer Graeme Clarke wasn’t in Utica last weekend, according to the Comets head coach Kevin Dineen, after being assigned by the parent New Jersey Devils on Friday.
The move involving Parent comes after he scored his first AHL goal in the Comets’ 6-4 comeback victory Sunday over visiting Syracuse. Parent, who had been recalled to the Comets on Feb. 28, played three games in his recent stint with Utica. He has a goal and assist in six games with Utica.
The 21-year-old Parent returns to Adirondack, where his 45 points in 44 games are second-most for the Thunder.
The move likely means at least one of those forwards who has recently missed time is set to return. The team returns to practice Wednesday ahead of Friday’s home game against Belleville. It is possible there could be more clarity when Dineen is set to meet with the media following the team’s practice.
In another move, the team released goaltender Brody Claeys from a professional tryout contract after a one-game stint as an emergency backup to Isaac Poulter in Sunday’s game. Claeys, one of a handful of short-term backups for the Comets this season, didn’t appear in the game.
Technically, there have been a total of 12 roster transactions involving the Comets since March 1. That includes paper transactions to make Kevin Bahl and Akira Schmid eligible for the rest of AHL season and playoffs.
Claeys was the second player to serve as an EBUG for the Comets as Utica University assistant coach and sometimes fill-in Adam Dekker, served as the backup to Poulter in Friday’s overtime setback to visiting Charlotte.
Claeys and Dekker were both needed because usual starter Nico Daws was not available because of illness during the weekend, according to Dineen. Adirondack was in Florida last weekend, which made possibly adding Jake Theut to the Comets tough. Theut was signed in December with Utica in need of goalie depth. Mareks Mitens has been out for much of this season because of an injury and related surgery.
Schmid remains on recall with the Devils while Mackenzie Blackwood works his way back from an injury. Goaltender Zachary Emond, one of the players acquired in New Jersey’s massive trade in late February, is technically on the Comets’ roster but is expected to miss the rest of the season with an injury.
With Sunday’s win over Syracuse, Utica (27-20-6-2) is in second place in the seven-team North Division. However, Utica has played one more game this season than Syracuse.
Utica has 17 regular-season games remaining. After Friday’s key home game against sixth-place Belleville (three points outside of one of the five North playoff spots), Utica is scheduled to play Saturday (at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton) and Sunday (at Lehigh Valley) kick off a season-long five-game road stretch.
Utica also plays Wednesday, March 15 at Belleville before two games at Laval on Friday, March 17, and Saturday, March 18.
Utica has a season-long five-game homestand over the last two weeks of the regular-season in April. That stretch includes three meetings against Syracuse.
Entering Wednesday, North teams in spots second through seventh were separated by 10 points. Seventh-place Cleveland is four points back of fifth-place Laval.
Division-leading Toronto has a comfortable 15-point lead over Utica.
Clarke: 20 goals-24 assists-44 points
Daws (28 appearances): 2.83 GAA/.901 SV%/14-12-2 record
Poulter (6 appearances): 3.91 GAA/.877/2-1-3
x-Schmid (20 appearances) 2.53/.908/10-6-3
x-not active on Comets roster
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