Tag Archives: Calder Cup

Utica Comets, Calder Cup and Travis Green

The Manchester Monarchs, their families and fans were down the runway, celebrating the winning of the Calder Cup.

Travis Green and his Utica Comets were answering questions about their fabulous season and how it ended just a bit short of their ultimate goal.

It hurt to lose, dropping a 2-1 decision to the Monarchs Saturday at the always loud and nearly always sold out Utica Memorial Auditorium, and dropping the best-of-seven-game series four games to one.

The Monarchs would ride back to New Hampshire with the cup, the American Hockey League’s championship trophy. The Comets would walk of the Aud with scores of fans still cheering their approval.

“I’m proud of them,” Green said of his players, who captured the AHL’s North Division and Western Conference titles with a 47-20-7-2 record, then fought through three playoff rounds before bowing to the fast and skilled Monarchs. “It’s tough to lose. If you lose, you want to lose playing your best. I thought we played our best game of the series.”

And he thought a lot of his players.

“You need good people on your team; you need good leaders,” he said. “They are not just good hockey players. They’re good people.”

Early goals by Adrian Kempe and Vincent LoVerde and very solid goaltending from Patrik Bartosak – 31 saves – fueled the Monarchs’ win. Comets captain Cal O’Reilly scored the lone Comets goal with 14.6 seconds to play, and Jacob Markstrom made 17 saves.

The 3,835 fans were up and cheering for much of the last five minutes, roaring in approval when Cal O’Reilly finally scored with 14.6 seconds left and cheering “Let’s go Comets” well after the finish. Nearly all of them stayed on to applaud the Monarchs as they celebrated their title.

Green, in his second season as a professional coach, thought things could have ended differently – the Comets lost two overtime games in Manchester, won Game 3 3-2, were not at their best in a 6-3 loss Friday, and lost the deciding game by a goal – and so did O’Reilly, the Comets’ captain and leading scorer in the regular season and in the playoffs.

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Utica Comets 1 vs. Manchester Monarchs 2 (Series: 4-1 MCH)

t wasn’t the ending the loyal hockey fans of the Mohawk Valley wanted, but the Utica Comets were celebrated and bid a due by the loudest fans in the American Hockey League after ending just their second season in the Calder Cup Finals on Saturday night at The Utica Memorial Auditorium.

The series ended in five games as the Manchester Monarchs defeated the Comets 2-1 in Game 5 and claimed their right to hoist the most prized possession in the AHL, the Calder Cup.

Captain Cal O’Reilly (1-0-1) scored the Comets lone goal of the night in the remaining seconds of the third period and finished the postseason for a team high of 19 points. Monarchs’ goaltender Patrik Bartosak gave the Monarchs some breathing room as he stopped 30 of 31 shots en route to the team’s championship win.

The Comets gave up an early goal in the first period when rookie Adrian Kempe found his fourth goal in just three games after a sneaky drop pass from Nic Dowd left the puck right underneath Markstrom’s nose outside of the blue paint. Without hesitation, Kempe spiked the puck in on the short side to make it a 1-0 game at 10:02,

A hooking penalty called on Will Acton left the Comets vulnerable a little over three minutes later as the Monarchs took fully advantage of the situation and scored their fifth power-play goal of the series for the two goal lead. Vincent LoVerde was credited with the goal for his second of the postseason.

It was just a little too late as Bobby Sanguinetti dished one up to O’Reilly with just 15 seconds left in the third period. O’Reilly’s shot from the left circle launched past Bartosak’s right side to set the score at 2-1. Cory Conacher received his third and final assist postseason on the play.

After going 47-20-7-2 during their 76 game 2014-2015 regular season, and making it to the Calder Cup Finals with a final record of 12-11 in the postseason, the Utica Comets humbly ended their season in front of the most supportive fans in the AHL.

Utica Comets 3 vs Manchester Monarchs 6 (Series 3-1 MCH)

The Utica Comets are just one game away from being eliminated from the Calder Cup Finals after Friday night’s 6-3 loss in Game 4 to the Manchester Monarchs at The Utica Memorial Auditorium. Despite having their home crowd behind them, the Comets found themselves in a three-goal deficit before the third period even began and now trail the series 3-1.

Sven Baertschi (1-0-1), Frank Corrado (1-0-1) and Will Acton (1-0-1) were the three to score for the Comets. Joacim Eriksson made his second appearance this postseason after he relieved Jacob Markstrom who made 27 saves before being pulled in the third period.

Manchester opened up the scoring for the third time in the series at 12:45 into the first period after Sean Backman retrieved a turnover and waited for the shot as he brought around the Markstrom’s left side. After Markstrom went down on his stomach to make the glove save, Backman released the shot and put over the glove for the 1-0 lead.

Just 32 seconds later Manchester forced another turnover just above the high slot as Alexandre Grenier fought to keep the puck in the Comets possession. The Monarchs forecheck paid off as Nic Dowd snapped off a quick shot into the mesh for the two-goal lead.

A quick reply was in order for the Comets as Corrado nailed the Comets first goal of the night in from the left point right past Patrik Bartosak’s stick-side to make it a 2-1 game at 14:09. Brandon DeFazio and Hunter Shinkaruk both got credit for the goal.

A handful of penalties at the end of the first period gave the Comets their chance on the power play and Baertschi netted the 2-2 equalizer after a solid pass across the slot from Cory Conacher. Bobby Sanguinetti recorded the secondary assist.

A handful of penalties at the end of the first period gave the Comets their chance on the power play and Baertschi netted the 2-2 equalizer after a solid pass across the slot from Cory Conacher. Bobby Sanguinetti recorded the secondary assist.

The third period saw two more goals including Monarch’s Adrian Kempe’s blast from the left circle at 6:27 and the Comets third and final goal of the night after Will Acton popped the puck in from a slick feed from Peter Andersson.

The Comets took recorded a total of 43 penalty minutes and gave the Monarchs six power-play chances, two of which the Monarchs capitalized on.

The AUD will see it’s last game of the hockey season tomorrow night with Game 5 of the Calder Cup Finals beginning at 7 p.m.

Utica Comets 3 Over Manchester Monarchs 2 (Series 2-1 MCH)

Playing on home ice for the first time in the Calder Cup Finals made all the difference for the Utica Comets Wednesday night as they took Game 3 of the best-of-seven series and beat the Manchester Monarchs 3-2 in front of a rowdy sold out crowd at The Utica Memorial Auditorium. With the win, Utica now trails the series 2-1 and have guaranteed their fans a Game 5 this Saturday.

It was a multi-point night for the Comets captain and point leader Cal O’Reilly (1-1-2) (pictured above) after he scored his first goal of the postseason and recorded his 17th assist. Alexandre Grenier (1-1-2) had an identical night to O’Reilly’s with a goal and an assist to keep the Comets one step ahead of the Monarchs. Things haven’t cooled down for Nicklas Jensen (1-0-1) as he buried his second in just as many games for his fourth of the postseason. Jacob Markstrom had another great bounce-back performance with a total of 32 saves on 34 shots.

Getting on the board first had favored the Monarchs up to this point in the series so the Comets took the initiative and made it 1-0 game at 5:45 into the first period. Adam Clendening and Mike Zalewski made the play possible for O’Reilly who received the puck just above the high slot. With a swift skate to the left circle, O’Reilly released a shot and beat Jean-Francois Berube glove-side for the game’s opening goal.

Shortly after the Comets first goal, Berube was injured on a play and was replaced in net by back-up goaltender Patrik Bartosak at 7:51.

The AUD was rocking once again just before the last minute winded down in the first period. This time Grenier got the tally as he raced down the right wing and put a snapshot on net to beat Bartosak glove side to make it a 2-0 game.

Manchester quickly answered just 37 seconds later after Derek Forbort took a shot from inside the slot. Markstrom stopped the initial shot, but Adrian Kempe positioned himself to the right of the post as he picked up the rebound and slotted it over the glove hand to get the Monarchs within one.

Utica took their two-goal lead right back just 6:18 in to the second period after a shot from the left side of the ice bounced off of a defender in front of Bartosak and slipped through to make it 3-1. Both Grenier and Peter Andersson tallied the helpers on the play.

There was another quick reply from the Monarchs as Kempe slipped one past Markstrom for his second goal of the night just 1:02 after the Comets third goal. Sean Backman and Nick Shore set up the 2-on-1 for Kempe as the Monarchs made it the third one-goal game of the series.

The Monarchs and the Comets will meet again this Friday at The AUD for Game 4 of the Calder Cup Finals at 7 p.m. as they hope to even the series 2-2.


Utica Comets 2 @ Manchester Monarchs 3 In Overtime

An overtime goal review couldn’t help the Comets as they lost 3-2 in Game 1 of the Calder Cup Finals to the Manchester Monarchs on Saturday night at the Verizon Wireless Arena. Michael Mersch’s three-point (2-1-3) improved the Monarchs record to 2-0 in postseason overtime games, and sank the Comets record to 3-4.

“We almost stole one from them,” said Comets forward Cory Conacher. “We have to play a lot better if we’re going to take this series.

Cory Conacher
Cory Conacher

Both Conacher (1-0-1) and Sven Baertschi (1-0-1) scored their fourth goals in five games for the Comets. Jacob Markstrom was named the third star of the game after he stopped 34 of the 37 shots the Monarchs unleashed on him over the course of three plus periods.

Sven Baertschi
Sven Baertschi

FINAL: Comets 2 @ Monarchs 3 OT (Series: 1-0 MCH)

(Lindsay A. Mogle/Utica Comets)

An overtime goal review couldn’t help the Comets as they lost 3-2 in Game 1 of the Calder Cup Finals to the Manchester Monarchs on Saturday night at the Verizon Wireless Arena. Michael Mersch’s three-point (2-1-3) improved the Monarchs record to 2-0 in postseason overtime games, and sank the Comets record to 3-4.

“We almost stole one from them,” said Comets forward Cory COnacher. “We have to play a lot better if we’re going to take this series.”

Both Conacher (1-0-1) and Sven Baertschi (1-0-1) scored their fourth goals in five games for the Comets. Jacob Markstrom was named the third star of the game after he stopped 34 of the 37 shots the Monarchs unleashed on him over the course of three plus periods.

It wasn’t until the tail end of the first period when things started to ramp up for the Calder Cup finalists when Manchester’s own Brian O’Neill spiked a wild puck past the far side of Markstrom as he was fighting off unwanted company in front of the crease. O’Neill’s 10th goal of the postseason gave the Monarchs the 1-0 lead with just four minutes remaining in the period.

A goaltender interference penalty taken 48 seconds later by Justin Auger gave the Comets the spark they needed as Cal O’Reilly set up Alexandre Grenier with the puck to the left of Jean-Francois Berube’s net. Grenier saw the play develop further once Baertschi appeared to the right of the slot and with a quick feed across the paint, Baertschi slapped it past the netminder for the power-play goal and the equalizer at 17:01.

Despite being outshot 12-3 in the second stanza, the Comets were able to keep the game tied at 1-1.

The scoring resumed 2:23 into the third right as the Comets were about to kill off a penalty taken by defensemen Peter Andersson. A pass from Nick Shore at the left dot did the Comets in as Michael Mersch met the puck at the right post and popped it in for the power-play goal and the 2-1 lead.

Like clockwork, the Comets answered back again as Cory Conacher received a pass from Adam Clendening and snapped a shot off from just above the right circle. The puck was too quick for Berube as the goaltender slid across the crease with his glove hand just missing it by inches. Andersson received the secondary assist on the Comets second game-tying goal.

With no victor after three periods, the Comets initiated their seventh overtime game of the postseason but were unable to capitalize on their chances as Mersch found his second of the night just past the four minute mark into the first overtime period. The goal stood after the officials went to video review to see if the net came off its moorings before crossing the goal line.

The Monarchs outshot Utica 37-17 in the game. Both teams scored on the power play with Utica going 1-for-3 on the night, and the Monarchs 1-for-4.

The Monarchs and Utica will be right back it tomorrow night as the Utica Comets visit the Verizon Wireless Arena for Game 2 of the Calder Cup Finals. Puck drop is slated for 5p.m.

Utica Comets 2 vs. Grand Rapids Griffins 0 (Series 4-2 Utica)

History was made Tuesday night as the Utica Comets advanced to the Calder Cup Finals after they silenced the Grand Rapids Griffins 2-0 in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. In just their second year as a franchise, the Utica Comets have been awarded the Robert W. Clark trophy for being the 2015 Western Conference Champions.

Cory Conacher’s (1-0-1) game-winning second period goal ended up being all the Comets would need. From there the Griffins intensity couldn’t match up to the play that Jacob Markstrom provided in the crease with 21 saves as he recorded his second shutout of the postseason.

Jacob Marstrom
Jacob Marstrom

It took one whole period and a few minutes into the second period, but the Comets were fortunate to find their first of the night after a Cal O’Reilly pass met Conacher at the right circle. With a quick snap of the wrist, Conacher sniped the puck past McCollum on the short side to give the Comets the 1-0 lead at 3:16. Peter Andersson was credited with the secondary assist.

The Calder Cup Finals were all but a reality after the Griffins pulled their goaltender for the extra man with just a little less than two minutes left in the game. After multiple attempts to get the puck in the empty-net, Alexandre Grenier was finally able to put it away from center ice at 18:46 to give the Comets a two-goal lead with a little less than a minute left in regulation.

After taking a total of four penalties through the first two periods, the Comets withheld from taking any in the third to make their 2-0 all but certain.

Alexandre Grenier
Alexandre Grenier

The Calder Cup Finals begins this Saturday in Manchester, New Hampshire at 6 p.m. at the Verizon Wireless Arena.


Utica Comets 3 @ Grand Rapids Griffins 2 : Series 3-2 Utica : Getting Close to FINALS

The Utica Comets are one win away from clinching a spot in the Calder Cup Finals and claiming the Western Conference title after defeating the Grand Rapids Griffins 3-2 Sunday evening at The Van Andel Arena.

Wacey Hamilton (1-0-1), Hunter Shinkaruk, (1-0-1), and Bobby Sanguinetti (1-0-1) first period goals would hold up for the Comets, who know hold a 3-2 series lead. Brendan Gaunce (0-2-2) (pictured above) handed out great opportunities to his teammates with two assists on the night for a total of five this postseason. Jacob Markstrom saw his 10th win of the postseason after making 32 stops including a highlight reel stick save.

“”It wasn’t our best game but we managed to get it done,” said Comets captain Cal O’Reilly. “We grinded out a greasy win tonight.”

It was a busy first period for the Comets as they quickly found three goals within the first 12 minutes. Hamilton kicked it off at 2:14 after he redirected a shot by Gaunce that slipped past McCollum’s short side for the early lead. Mike Zalewski was credited with the secondary assist.

About two minutes later, the Griffins took advantage of their first power play of the night and Mark Zengerle sniped the puck through some traffic after collecting the rebound for the equalizer. Tyler Bertuzzi recorded the only assist on the play after taking the initial shot on Markstrom.

From there, the Comets showed no mercy and answered back at 6:07 with a nice touch in front by Shinkaruk who discovered the puck skipping around in the blue paint after a shot from Brandon DeFazio. The Comets then transformed their one-goal lead into a two-goal lead after Sanguinetti sniped a shot directly past the McCollum’s glove hand and into the top right hand corner of the net at 11:47.

The Comets had a long way to go with a 3-1 lead after the first period and the Griffins made it clear they weren’t going to roll over. Just 56 seconds prior to the end of the second the Griffins’ power play struck for the second time in the game. Dylan Larkin scored his third goal of his professional career after he spiked the puck into the net from a close angle at the bottom of the right circle. Both Jeff Hoggan and Xavier Ouellet assisted on the Griffins power-play goal that made the score 3-2.

After giving the Griffins a total of five power-play opportunities through the first two periods, the Comets refrained from taking any more penalties during the third period which helped them walk away with the 3-2 win and the series lead.

In the second period Markstrom made a highlight reel save as he denied a Ryan Sproul shot with the paddle of his stick. Sproul, all alone on the far side, had a rebound kick directly to him. Markstrom, in a last ditch effort, stuck out his stick and swatted it away from the gaping net to keep the Comets then two-goal lead.

Jacob Marstrom
Jacob Marstrom

“Markstrom was big-time tonight,” said Head Coach Travis Green. “This time of the year you want your goalie to be at his best, and he was.”

With a 2-3-2 series format, the Comets have now finished their three game stint in Grand Rapids and will return to The Utica Memorial Auditorium in hopes of closing the series out in Game 6 of the Conference Finals this Tuesday.

Utica Comets 2 @ Grand Rapids 3 in OT. Tied Up 2-2; Off to Utica to Decide

The Western Conference Finals have now turned into a best-of-three series after the Utica Comets were defeated 3-2 by the Grand Rapids Griffins in the first overtime game of the series on Friday night at The Van Andel Arena.

Cory Conacher (1-0-1) has found his scoring touch and has now netted goals in back-to-back games. Alex Friesen (1-0-1) also found the back of the net on the power play for his fourth goal of the postseason. The Comets power play went 1-for-4 on the evening, and has now converted on four of their last 12 power-play chances after snapping a 1-for-28 funk.

“We played great tonight,” said Head Coach Travis Green. “We don’t have to change a lot. We have to come out and play another great 60 minutes (in Game 5).”

The power play continued to produce results for the Griffins as they opened up the scoring 5:48 into the second period. Dylan Larkin tallied his second assist of the postseason and his fourth point in four games after making a dish through the crease to Xavier Ouellet who pounded the puck in on the open side of the net. Ouellet’s go-ahead goal was his second in just as many games against the Comets.

Cory Conacher
Cory Conacher

Play turned back the other way once the Comets had their second power play of the night and Friesen was able to outwork two Griffins defensemen. Once he broke free, Friesen slid in towards the high slot and spiked it past Thomas McCollum’s left leg pad to tie the game up at one a piece. Sven Baertschi tallied the only assist on the play for his fourth point in two games.

The Comets didn’t stop there as Conacher tallied his second goal in as many games after a pass to the center slot from Alexandre Grenier led to a shot that passed under McCollum’s right arm for the 2-1 lead at the 16:42 mark of the second period. Cal O’Reilly also had a hand in on the play as he tallied his fifth assist of the series, and extended his point streak to four games.

The Griffins eventually found the equalizer just past the five-minute mark in to the third period. With Brian Lashoff at the blue line, the defensemen started a nice give-and-go play by feeding it to Andreas Athanasiou on the right wing. Athanasiou then quickly passed it to the front of the net where Anthony Mantha smacked it past Markstrom to make it 2-2.

An overtime period was necessary but the Griffins came out on top at 5:05 after Athanasiou broke away and beat Markstrom after he deked his way to the left side of the net. Athanasiou’s second point of the night put the game away with a final score of 3-2.

“We played well again tonight,” said Cal O’Reilly. “We did what we wanted to do. A few breakdowns cost us the game tonight.”

The Comets and the Griffins will wrap up their time at Van Andel Arena this Sunday as the two teams meet at 5 p.m. for Game 5 before heading back to Utica for Game 6 and 7*.

Notes: The Comets have now played 16 playoff games…Six of which were decided in overtime…The Comets possess a record of 3-3 in playoff overtimes games…The Comets have played nine periods of OT in the 2015 Calder Cup playoffs.

*If necessary

Utica Comets 4 over Grand Rapids Griffins; Series 2-1 Utica; Sven Baertschi and Marstrom Star

A natural hat-trick a bounce back 40-save performance from Jacob Markstrom got the job done, as the Utica Comets defeated the Grand Rapids Griffins 4-1 Thursday night at the Van Andel Arena. The win has now given the Comets a 2-1 series lead in the Western Conference Finals.

Sven Baertschi (3-0-3) scored his second hat trick of the year after recording his first earlier this year on February 10th with his prior team, the Adirondack Flames. Cory Conacher (1-0-1) also netted a goal for his second of the postseason. Jacob Markstrom recorded his first assist as a Utica Comet on top of stopping 40 of the 41 shots he faced.

“I liked Sven’s play tonight,” said Comets Head Coach Travis Green. “He was around the puck and carried the puck all night. When he carries the puck I know he’s playing well.”

After a scoreless first period, Sven Baertschi opened up the scoring with his first goal of the night just past the three-minute mark in the second stanza. Will Acton made an excellent heads up play in his first game back since March 21st, with a pass to Baertschi who met the puck at the blue line. Baertschi just had enough room to squeeze in past the defender and snapped off a shot that ripped past the left leg pad of Tom McCollum to give the Comets their first of the night. Wacey Hamilton recorded the secondary assist.

Baertschi’s next goal resulted from a goaltender interference penalty called on Xavier Ouellet for tripping up Markstrom behind his net. At 9:17 the Comets scored their third power-play goal of the series after Cal O’Reilly slid the puck across the center slot to Baertschi who ripped home the one-timer to make it a 2-0 game. Bobby Sanguinetti also made his way on to the scorer’s sheet for his seventh assist of the postseason.

Just over two minutes later, Baertschi’s natural hat-trick and Jake Virtanen’s first professional point became a reality after Virtanen shot the puck into McCollum’s chest and Baertschi backhanded the rebound for the 3-0 lead. Alex Friesen was also credited with an assist on the play.

Jacob Markstrom
Jacob Markstrom

Baertschi’s hat-trick was the first allowed in the playoffs by Grand Rapids in eight years and the first allowed at home in 13 years. His hat trick was the third time the feat has been achieved in Comets franchise history and the first in the playoffs.

It wasn’t until the Griffins third power-play attempt of the night when they finally solved Markstrom just past the four-minute mark into the third period. Jeff Hoggan set up a similar play to the Comets second goal after dishing a pass to the high center slot to Marek Tvrdon who then slapped it towards Markstrom and through the pads to make it a 3-1 game.

The Comets added one last goal to the scoreboard with less than five minutes left in the game as Cory Conacher raced in on the left wing and drove the puck into the net before running into the right goal post and causing a disturbance in the crease. Peter Andersson recorded the primary assist while Markstrom recorded the secondary point for his first assist in a Comets sweater.

With a win in Game 3 and the series lead, the Comets have now reclaimed home-ice advantage if necessary. Before heading back to The Utica Memorial Auditorium, the Comets have two games remaining in Grand Rapids with Game 4 slated for Friday night at 7 p.m. at the Van Andel Arena.