Tag Archives: Travis Green

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 News For June/July 2014


Cal O’Reilly might return to the Utica Comets for the 2014-15 American Hockey League season, but fellow center Pascal Pelletier, the team’s leading scorer, will not.

The Vancouver Canucks, the Comets’ parent club, announced Wednesday they had signed O’Reilly, center Dustin Jeffrey, who helped the Texas Stars wins the Calder Cup this season, and defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti.

Pelletier, an AHL veteran who scored 22 goals and had 40 assists in 69 games, has signed to play with Medvascek Zagreb of the Kontinental Hockey League. He was an assistant captain and a mainstay on the Comets’ power play and penalty kill.

O’Reilly, 27, who has played for three different National Hockey League teams, joined the Comets in mid-November after playing in the KHL. He scored seven goals and added 38 assists in 52 games, and was a key member of the power play and penalty kill.

Jeffrey, 26, who has spent time in the NHL with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Dallas Stars, scored four goals and six assists in 21 games with the Stars, playing for new Canucks coach Willie Desjardins, then added seven goals and five assists in 19 playoff games.

Sanguinetti, 26, played 15 games in the KHL last season, scoring two goals and adding five assists. He has played 45 games in the NHL with the New York Rangers, who drafted him 21st overall in 2006, and Carolina Hurricanes.

The Canucks did not announce it, but it is believed defenseman Alex Biega, who scored three goals and had 19 assists in 73 games for the Comets last season, also has signed with the NHL club.

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Now for some late-breaking news

The Vancouver Canucks have re-signed goaltender Joe Cannata, who spent last season with the Utica Comets.

The Canucks also re-signed forward Zack Kassian and defenseman Yannick Weber on Friday.

Cannata, a 24-year-old native of Wakefield, Massachusetts, was 11-12-1 in 28 games with the Comets. He had a 2.83 goals against average and a .907 save percentage in his third American Hockey League season.

Kassian had 29 points (14 goals, 15 assists) and 124 penalty minutes in 73 games for the Canucks last season.

“Zack is a skilled, young player and an important member of this team,” Canucks general manager Jim Benning said in a statement. “He has the ability to impact a game both with his talent and size. We look forward to seeing him continue to develop as a Canuck.”

Weber, who split last season between Vancouver and the Utica Comets of the AHL, had 10 points in 49 games for Vancouver.

More Late-Breaking News:

The Vancouver Canucks have re-signed defenseman Peter Andersson, who spent last season with the Utica Comets in the American Hockey League.

The 6-foot-3, 194-pound Andersson, 23, scored two goals and had 11 assists in 58 games for the Comets in his second season in the AHL. He had a goal and seven assists in 42 games during the 2012-13 season with the Chicago Wolves, the Canucks’ previous AHL affiliate.

The Canucks previously signed goalie Joe Cannata, defenseman Alex Biega, and center Cal O’Reilly, all of whom played for the Comets last season, along with center Dustin Jeffrey and defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti.

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Travis Green could have been working in the National Hockey League next season. Instead, he expects to return to as head coach of the American Hockey League’s Utica Comets.

Green was offered a job as an assistant to Mike Johnston, the new coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins, but turned it down. Green was Johnston’s assistant for five seasons with the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League. He took over the team for the second half of the 2012-13 season, when Johnston was suspended.

Mike Johnston is a phenomenal career coach,” Green said, adding that he had learned a great deal from him. “I have goals and aspirations, and they are to be a head coach in the NHL. I felt it was important for me to continue down the path I laid, and I feel I need to be a head coach a longer period of time.”

The former long-time NHL player coached the Comets to a 35-32-5-4 record in their inaugural season in 2013-14. The team just missed the Calder Cup playoffs after a disastrous 0-8-2 start.

Green said being a head coach in the AHL is the best way for him to get to the NHL, at least at the moment.

It’s not any different than a player,” he said. “You move up and move up and when you’re ready, you’re ready. … I feel the AHL is a great breeding ground for coaches and players. I want to build a program and be part of a program that is going to produce NHL players and produce a championship. I’m looking forward to building on what we started last year.”

Green said he likes what he sees in a revamped Canucks organization led by the new team of President Trevor Linden, General Manager Jim Benning and new head coach Willie Desjardins, who led the Texas Stars to the Calder Cup this past season.

I’ve been impressed with the commitment they have to developing players and developing winning players,” he said.

Green said he will miss Pascal Pelletier, the Comets’ leading scorer who recently signed to play in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League.

It was kind of expected,” he said. “I understood his decision. Your veterans are so important. But we’re going to have some good veterans again, and your younger veterans have to take the next step and be better than they were a year ago.”

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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 to miss Playoffs


Pascal Pelletier has missed the playoffs only twice in his 10 professional hockey seasons.This is one of them.“It’s not a good feeling,” the Utica Comets veteran said after he and his teammates eliminated from Calder Cup contention in a 4-1 American Hockey League loss to the Rochester Americans Wednesday before 3,316 at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.

Colton Gillies scored twice in the second period for the Amerks, who nailed down a playoff berth of their own with the win. Kevin Porter and Phil Varone scored the other goals and Andrey Makarov made 31 saves.

David Marshall scored the only Comets goal, with assists from Ray Kaunisto and Yann Sauve, and Joacim Eriksson made 18 stops.

The loss ended a desperate stretch of must-win games for the Comets, who have had a winning record – 33-24-4-3 – since going 0-8-1-1 in the first five weeks of the season.

“It’s been pretty hard,” said Pelletier, the team’s leading scorer (20-40 – 60). “But when you’re in it, you don’t really think about it. We’ve been trying to battle back from that horrible start.”

The Comets went last night’s game needing to defeat the Amerks and then win at home against Toronto Friday and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Saturday, with the hope that everyone else in contention would fall apart. Oklahoma City could have come close to securing a spot Wednesday, but lost 2-1 to Texas. They and Charlotte and Rockford all have two weekend games apiece to settle the eighth and final playoff spot.

That leaves the Comets with two so-called “meaningless games” to play.

“Everybody needs to be a pro about it,” Pelletier said. “People pay money, so play like you mean it.”

Which is what Comets Coach Travis Green expects.

“Part of being a pro is playing the right way,” he said. “This group has come a long way since the start of the season. I don’t expect that to change.  It’s tough to play games when you know you’re out of it, but this will show me who they are. It’s part of character. Playing in tough games is not easy, but it will tell you what kind of players you have.”

Green did not have a problem with his team’s effort Wednesday, and thought the first period was excellent. Several turnovers led to goals in the second, though, and that turned the game.

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Utica Comets Working Hard at Playoff Spot: 4-3 Over Milwaukee Admirals


Pascal Pelletier (top picture) called it “Standard Comets Hockey”. Coach Travis Green (bottom picture)  called it:”Hockey where you grind it out, gut it out, get greasy”.

You do what needs to be done to win a game.

The Utica Comets did just that again Sunday, for the seventh time in the last nine games, completing a three-game weekend after a 4-3 shootout American Hockey League victory over the Milwaukee Admirals before a sellout crowd – their 12th of the season – at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.

The Comets picked up four points in the three days to climb within five points of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, and pushed past the .500 mark for the first time this season (29-28-3-4) in what has been a remarkable turnaround after an0-8-1-1 start.

Alexandre Grenier, Pelletier and Brandon DeFazio scored in regulation, Pelletier, DeFazio and David Marshall scored in the shootout, and Joacim Eriksson denied three of five Milwaukee attempts in the shootout to earn the victory, the Comets’ sixth by a single goal in their last seven wins.   🙂

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Utica Comets sold-out for Friday’s game: new attendance milestone — 100,000 fans


The sold-out auditorium at Friday’s Utica Comets game will push the team past a new attendance milestone — 100,000 fans.

The Comets announced Wednesday that all tickets had sold for Friday’s game against the Adirondack Phantoms. With a full house Friday, the auditorium expects to see total Comets attendance for the season reach 100,981 — an average of 3,366 fans per game.

Tickets are still available for Sunday’s game against the Milwaukee Admirals, which will feature a post-game autograph session for all fans in attendance. The first 1,000 fans will receive a Comets pennant, courtesy of New York State Tool, the release stated.

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The Utica Comets will be working overtime through the final few weeks of their inaugural American Hockey League season, chasing a Calder Cup playoff spot all the way.

The Comets (27-27-3-4, 61 points) open a three-games-in-three-nights weekend when the Adirondack Phantoms visit the sold-out Utica Memorial Auditorium on Friday. That will be followed by a quick trip to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Saturday, then a date with the Milwaukee Admirals at home Sunday. There is another three-game weekend next week – all at home – and another April 4, 5 and 6, with the last two games on the road.

Tough stuff?

Obviously, three games in three days is physically taxing, but you actually feel better the third night,” said Comets captain Colin Stuart, adding that players get into something of a groove along the way.

You just get into game mode,” said defenseman Kent Huskins. “You prepare yourself and you do what you can.”

The rapid-fire schedule will mean, though, that there won’t be a lot of time for celebrating wins or trying to forget losses.

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Mike Zalewski will not play for the Utica Comets this season.

The former New Hartford High School star signed a contract with the Vancouver Canucks last week after two seasons at RPI, where he scored 21 goals and added 26 assists in 75 games. It was thought that he might join the Comets, Vancouver’s American Hockey League affiliate, but the Canucks said Wednesday he is ineligible to be assigned to the AHL because he was signed after the National Hockey League’s trade deadline. He is listed on the Canucks’ roster, but it is unknown whether he will dress for any games this season or if he will be assigned to the Comets next season.

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Travis Green and his Utica Comets


Travis Green was not happy with the energy level of his Utica Comets the last time out, a 3-0 loss to the San Antonio Rampage last Wednesday.

He had no problem with the effort last Friday, even if the result was a 3-2 loss to the Adirondack Phantoms before a sellout crowd of 3,815 at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.

We played a good hockey game,” he said. “We had a couple of little details that allowed goals.”

The last one was scored by Tye McGinn with three minutes left in the game and sent the Comets (22-26-3-4, 51 points) to their third consecutive American Hockey League defeat. Utica has 21 games left, starting with one at Bridgeport Sunday, in its drive somehow get into the Calder Cup playoffs.

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Coach Green Happy With Utica Comets After Another Win


Travis Green is happy with his hockey team.

Why wouldn’t he be?

His Utica Comets won for the fifth time in six games, and collected their 11th point over that stretch, with a 3-1 American Hockey League victory over the Syracuse Crunch before a sold out, Pink-the-Rink crowd of 3,815 Friday at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.

“I like how we’ve been skating,” said the first-year coach, who hopes things continue along the same lines when the Rockford IceHogs visit the Aud at 7 p.m. Saturday. “We’re working hard, playing smart hockey. When there’s a play to be made, we make it. “

Joacim Eriksson had another big game, turning aside 31 shots and not allowing a goal until just over a minute remained in winning for the fourth time in five games. Brandon DeFazio, Pascal Pelletier and Darren Archibald scored the goals for the Comets (16-20-2-4, 38 points, and 16-12-1-3 since their 0-8-1-1 start to the season). Alexandre Grenier had two assists and Pelletier, Cal O’Reilly and Archibald had one apiece.

Andrej Sustr scored the only goal for Syracuse (17-20-2-4, 40 points) with 1:05 left in the game as the Crunch skated 6-on-5. Cedrick Desjardins made 26 saves for Syracuse, which has dropped six straight.

The Comets have allowed just nine goals in the last six games, five wins and a shootout loss, in a streak that began after an 8-3 beating at the hands of the Albany Devils Jan. 17. Utica began the streak with a 3-1 win over the Hamilton Bulldogs with Joe Cannata in net, and Eriksson has had the duty the last five, since returning from his stay with the parent Vancouver Canucks.

“Yokie has been playing great,” said Alex Biega, the former Harvard hockey captain who has been a solid presence on defense all season. “And the defensive corps, not just the defensemen but everyone, has been very solid. We’re boxing guys out, taking away seams, taking away the Grade A chances.”

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