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Utica Comets pushing to be 'above .500 team’

Ben Birnell
Sports writer
email / twitter
Posted 12/10/22

As the Utica Comets move into the second quarter of their 2022-23 schedule, the team is trying to continue to make progress.

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Utica Comets pushing to be 'above .500 team’


As the Utica Comets move into the second quarter of their 2022-23 schedule, the team is trying to continue to make progress.

Entering weekend games against North Division rivals Rochester (Friday) and Syracuse (Saturday), the Comets were looking to put together a string of solid results following last Saturday’s lopsided victory over Belleville.

The Comets — averaging 2.94 goals through 18 games — exploded for a season-most seven goals in that bounce-back win following a lackluster result against division-leading Toronto the previous night as the search for consistency continues to be a focus.

The result against Belleville was the third time in 18 games the Comets had scored more than three goals in a contest. A bright spot for the Comets was that seven players scored a goal and 11 players had at least a point. Six players had multi-point games.

“Confidence begets confidence,” sad Comets coach Kevin Dineen, who is close to matching Mark Morris (374) for ninth-most career wins in the American Hockey League. “Meaning that you get feeling a little good about yourself and you find the back of your net. You get a little bit more swagger when it comes to making the next play. So, we’re looking to feed off that.”

Can that be a spark for a team that entered Friday without an extended win streak this season?

“It is hard to predict like a lot of things,” Dineen said. “After a loss, you have to put it in the rear view mirror and move forward. After a win, you want to keep building on the good things. I think it is a little coach speak, but when you stick with the process and you play the right way and you see your team doing the right things, those are the encouraging signs.”

Dineen said the bar is “higher” than being a “.500 team.”

“I think we’re finding our footing,” forward Jack Dugan said.

Utica Comets at Syracuse Crunch

WHEN: 7 tonight.

WHERE: Upstate Medical University Arena, Syracuse.

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

SEASON SERIES: Syracuse won the first of 12 meetings 8-3 at home on Nov. 12.

WHAT TO KNOW: Syracuse begins a five-game homestand Friday against Toronto. Entering Friday, Syracuse is 1-1-1-0 at home since the last meeting against Utica. ... Darren Raddysh (28 points entering Friday) and Alex Barré-Boulet (27 points entering Friday) are among the American Hockey League leaders. ... Entering Friday, Gemel Smith had four goals and seven assists during an eight-game point-streak. ... Utica was 11-1-2-0 against Syracuse last season. ... Brian Halonen has two goals against Syracuse this season. He had four goals this season entering Friday, which tied him for third-most on the team with Graeme Clarke. ... Nolan Foote is top returning leader in points from the Comets against the Crunch last season. He finished with four goals and 10 points in 12 games. Entering Friday, Foote appeared in 98 career AHL regular-season games.

Upcoming games: 7 p.m. Wednesday at home vs. Laval; 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 16 at home vs. Bridgeport; 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17 at home vs. Springfield.


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