The Binghamton Senators will have their work cut out this week as they will host the red-hot Utica Comets tonight in the first of a home-on-home series as they start out the season winning five of seven in what has transformed as short of a miracle after last season’s ugly start for the Comets in their inaugural season. Quality goaltending, stingy defense and special teams lead the early turnaround success as they look to make it four straight wins tonight against the struggling Senators.
(2-3-2, 6 pts) 4th in the East Division
(5-1-1, 11 pts) 1st in North Division
Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena
RADIO: 96.9 FM, 680 AM. AHL Live
Last season Utica won three out of four outscoring the Senators 17-13. This season six games are on tap.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Joacim Eriksson, UTI – The back-up goaltender is off to a rapid start himself not as equal to Jacob Markstrom, but a respectable 1-1-1, 1,94 GAA, 0.939 SA% after three games. Both goaltenders have flip flop all seven games so far and it’s perhaps Eriksson’s turn, as I would imagine head coach Travis Green would want to give the opportunity for Markstrom to break the shut-out record at home on Friday against Binghamton.
Chris Wideman, BNG – The third year pro from St. Louis is off to a fast offensive start leading the team in points with eight and tied for first with Rochester’s Chad Ruhwedel among AHL defensemen. Hopefully his offensive prowess begins to rub off on the rest of the club.
TOP 3 STORYLINES FOR THE GAME
1. Senators Need A 60 Minute Effort – Especially at home where they only have one win in three tries after last season’s 24-8-1-4 record. A strong start and a strong finish does not make amends with a soft middle sandwiched in-between as 40 minutes of hockey won’t cut it against this club.
2. Goaltending Key To Comets’ Early Success – Between Swedish goaltender’s Jacob Markstrom and Joacim Eriksson, they have nearly split their start’s after seven games with a combined 0.99 GAA and a staggering 0.966 SA%! That’s just outstanding and rare for a team in the AHL (or NHL) to have not one, but two quality players between the pipes start out so hot. (Yeah, I’m extremely jealous.)
3. Turn Around in Full Effect for the Comets –In what took almost two months last season to accomplish what they have done in the first two weeks of the season, Utica is the real deal. They have allowed just seven goals in seven games and credit not only the goaltending, but the defense in allowing an average of 29.57 shots per game ranking 12th in the league and #1 on the penalty kill at 96.3%.
B-SENS TWEET OF THE GAME
*Cover Pic Courtesy of Alicia Strauch