Tag Archives: Joe Cannata

UTICA COMETS: The Surprise Kids


The season did not start out well. The Utica Comets were winless in their first 10 games in their inaugural season in the American Hockey League, and they struggled mightily through the first couple of months.

I wouldn’t say worried,” said coach Travis Green, who was making his professional debut behind the bench. “I had high expectations of starting the year off right. There were some trying times for our coaching staff. There definitely was a time we wondered if we were doing the right things.”

The 0-8-1-1 start put the Comets in an enormous hole. That, plus a six-game winless streak in early January and an epic collapse against the Syracuse Crunch on April 5 that cost them two crucial points in the standings didn’t help at all.

But despite a dearth of goal-scoring – 2.46 goals per game, 26th in the 30-team league – the Comets eventually figured it out. After an 8-3 home loss to the Albany Devils on Jan. 17, they went 24-12-3-1 to finish 35-32-5-4, two points out of the Calder Cup playoffs.

The desperate run over the last three months, and a season-long penchant for playing dramatic, one-goal games (24-22 in 46 of them) provided a lot of drama, and seemed to win over the majority of fans, thousands of whom saluted the team wildly after Saturday’s finale, a 2-0 win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.


Guys had a better understanding of how Travis wanted us to play, and when Cal (O’Reilly) came in,” he said. “(O’Reilly) provided a lot of things, and not just points – leadership and skills, on and off the ice.”

Green felt the team played better than its record early.

We had young guys in goal, we had young guys on defense,” he said. “Our team had never played together. It seems simple, but it isn’t. Even how your voice sounds matters. … When we added Husky (Kent Huskins) and O’Reilly, it made a difference. Both goalies (Joacim Eriksson and Joe Cannata) began developing after 15 or 20 games. That might be the biggest thing.”

Green plans to pound home the lessons learned this season next season.

Pat Conacher, the Stanley Cup winner and former Utica Devils captain who is the team’s director of operations, said he doesn’t know if all or any of the players who fall under the AHL’s veteran rule – Pelletier, O’Reilly, Huskins, Colin Stuart, Benn Ferriero, Alex Biega – will be back, or short-term vets like Brandon DeFazio, the only Comet to play every game this season, who had his best year in three AHL seasons at 17-17 -34 and plus-6.

He does know he is looking for better results as the Comets try to win and develop talent for the parent Vancouver Canucks.

It is not satisfactory,” he said. “The goal is to not only make the playoffs, but to win championships, every year. … They all want to be in the NHL. They have to do their work down here. Every game is important, first to last. If they play 12 minutes or 15 minutes, they have to make themselves the very best they can be in those minutes. The kids have to learn that down here.”

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Utica Comets Win Important, Even With No Playoffs


Yes, the Comets were out of the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup playoff picture.

Still, this was an important game.

“People are always watching,” said Comets goalie Joe Cannata.

Friday, a sellout crowd of 3,815 – including long ago Utica Devils heroes Tommy McVie and Eric Weinrich – at the Utica Memorial Auditorium watched the Comets come from behind to edge the Toronto Marlies 3-2, a victory that ensured them of a winning season and deprived the Marlies of a chance to move up from third in the Western Conference playoff seedings.

Spectacular goaltending by Cannata – he stopped 37 shots, many of them eye-popping and some of them that might best be described as miraculous – and a pair of third-period goals by veterans Pascal Pelletier and Cal O’Reilly did the job for the Comets.

Yann Sauve scored the other goal, and Alex Mallet, David Marshall, Nicklas Jensen, Alex Friesen and Alex Biega – who took a slap shot to the face in the third period and had to be assisted from the ice and eventually taken to the hospital – had assists for the Comets, who will take a 34-32-5-4 record into the season finale against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Saturday at the Aud.

The winning record discounts five overtime and four shootout losses, but the Comets have 77 points, more than half the 152 available over the 76-game schedule.

“We know the season was ended (in terms of playoff possibilities), but nobody likes to lose,” said Cannata, who has been outstanding the second half of the season and is 8-2 in his last 10 starts, allowing just 24 goals. “They (the Marlies) had something to play for. We tried to play spoiler.”

And succeeded.

Comets coach Travis Green said the game was important for many reasons – the chance to finish over .500, to be a spoiler, to play for the fans and for each other – and the result, especially being down entering the third period, was gratifying for him.

“It says a lot about our group,” he said. “They’re resilient, determined. There is no quit in them.” Read more about the Utica Comets

Utica Comets are still Hanging In There: Comeback Shootout Victory


Some how, some way, the Utica Comets are still alive.

Down 2-0 with eight minutes to play, the Comets came back on goals by Jeremy Welsh and Cal O’Reilly (pictured above), played through a scoreless overtime, went into a shootout without their top scorer and got four saves from Joe Cannata and goals from Alex Friesen and Brandon DeFazio to down the Lake Erie Monsters 3-2 Friday.

A crowd of 12,386 watched the game at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. It was the 44th one-goal game for the Comets and 20th that has gone to overtime or beyond.

The Comets, who also defeated the Monsters 3-2 Thursday on Pascal Pelletier’s overtime goal – the teams have met eight times this season and have played seven consecutive 3-2 games, with the Comets winning five of them – stayed alive in the race for the eighth and final American Hockey League Western Conference playoff spot. The Comets are 33-30-5-4 for 75 points and can climb within two points of a berth depending on the outcome of the Oklahoma City at Abbotsford game late Friday.

The Comets, Rochester, Oklahoma City, Charlotte and Rockford all remained in the running for the final berth as of late Friday.

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Pelletier, Stuart, Cannata lead Utica Comets Over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins


Old pros Pascal Pelletier and Colin Stuart scored the goals and Joe Cannata made 22 saves as the Utica Comets kept their slim American Hockey League playoff hopes alive with a 2-1 victory Saturday over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

The Comets now have 63 points, six points out of the final playoff spot with 13 games to play.

Pelletier scored a power play goal – and picked up his 50th point of the season – at 12:28 of the second period, with Alexandre Grenier and Brandon DeFazio assisting, to give the Comets the first lead. The Penguins (35-21-3-5, 78 points) got that back quickly, with Chuck Kobasew scoring, also on the power play, at 15:23.

The score remained deadlocked until Stuart, who is in his 10th professional season, as is Pelletier, fired home his 17th goal at 8:01 of the third. Cal O’Reilly had an assist – his 30th in 39 games – and Alex Friesen had the other.

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Tony’s AUDelicious Deli and Sports Bar across from the Utica Memorial Auditorium will open at noon Sunday. Frank Cristiano, who runs the tricked-out Tony’s Pizzeria in Washington Mills, said the property on Whitesboro Street was originally supposed to be a bakery, but with talk of an American Hockey League team started, he wanted to branch out.

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Our Utica Comets Get Another Shootout Win!


The Utica Comets have a long road to get that Calder Cup pictured above, but they are working hard to get there.

The Comets came up with another unlikely victory Saturday, storming back from an early 4-0 deficit, getting a big relief effort from Joe Cannata in goal, and surprising the Binghamton Senators with a 6-5 American Hockey League shootout victory at Broome County Arena.

It was the fourth straight win for the Comets – and third straight come-from-behind shootout victory – and eighth in their last 11 games as they reached .500 for the first time this season at 26-26-3-4. They are still seven points out of eighth place and the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Cannata, Biega Utica Comets to Victory Over Des Moines Wild


DES MOINES, Iowa – Joe Cannata made 43 saves through three periods and overtime and stopped seven shots in the shootout, and defenseman Alex Biega scored the deciding goal as the Utica Comets scored a 3-2 American Hockey League victory over the Iowa Wild Wednesday.

Cannata also stopped a second-period penalty shot by Carson McMillan and the Comets killed seven of eight Iowa power plays, including two brief 5-on-3 advantages. Utica improved to 17-22-2-4 and 17-14-1-3 since their 0-8-1-1 start to the season.

Biega’s game-winner came after teammates Jeremy Welsh and Patrick Mullen scored in the shootout and Zack Phillips and Brian Connelly scored for the Wild (19-16-5-4, 47 points). Cannata stopped Jon Landy to set things up.

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Utica Comets Bounce Back, Edge Bulldogs


Benn Ferriero scored twice, the second an empty-net goal in the final minute, and the Utica Comets snapped an 0-4-1-1 winless streak with a 3-1 victory over the Hamilton Bulldogs Saturday.

Ferriero and Alexandre Grenier scored in the first period, Ferriero canned the empty-netter with 35 seconds left, and Joe Cannata made 32 saves as the Comets bounced back from an 8-3 beating at the hands of the Albany Devils Friday at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.

Ferriero and Grenier now share the team lead in goals with 13 apiece.

Read more: http://www.uticaod.com/article/20140118/SPORTS/140119320#ixzz2qp6bVY2E