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Game Thread and Preview: An Evenly Matched Comets and Monsters Meet This Weekend

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Photo Credit: John Saraya/Cleveland Monsters

Utica Comets vs Cleveland Monsters

Saturday, January 5th, 2019 at 1pm

AND

Sunday, January 6th, 2019 at 3pm

Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio

Radio: 99x(99.1); 99x Online

TV: Sunday’s game will be broadcast live on Sports Time Ohio

Twitter: @UticaComets , @Monstershockey

Cleveland Monsters , 17-11-4-1, 39 points, .591 win %, 3rd North, 7th East

vs

Utica Comets, 18-16-2-1, 39 points, .527 win %, 4th North, 8th East

Coming into this weekend’s games, the Cleveland Monsters and Utica Comets are pretty evenly matched. They have a similar power play and penalty kill percentage. As well as, goals for and goals against averages.

On top of it, the Comets and Monsters sit in 3rd and 4th. Lucky for the Monsters, seeding is based on win percentage not points. The Comets have played four more games than the Monsters. So, if the Monsters keep winning, this will bode well for the Monsters chances at getting into the playoffs as the season winds down.

This weekend will be a great test for the Monsters. If they can make it out alive, they will be on par for a banner year.

Player to Watch

The Vancouver Canucks organization has a bit of a goalie problem. As in, they don’t have many to choose from. Recently, they traded with the Ottawa Senators for Mike McKenna. The Canucks had him backstop the squad for two games before sending him down to Utica. McKenna was ready to play against the Monsters this weekend. However, the Philadelphia Flyers organization had other plans in mind. They scooped McKenna off of waivers leaving, former Monster, Ivan Kulbakov as one of their only option for starting netminder. This forced the Comets to sign Alex Sakellaropoulos to a PTO.

If Kulbakov starts for the Comets, he will be your player to watch. Kulbakov has a lot to prove this weekend. Not only does Kulbakov have a chance to prove he can be a consistent starting netminder for the squad, he also wants to prove to the Monsters that letting him go during free agency was a bad decision.

Kulbakov is known for his daring and brazen play. He is unafraid to leave the crease and steal the puck from an oncoming forward. Whether the Comets win or lose, you will want to keep your eye on Kulbakov.

Monsters Bench

After taking a few games off to play in the Spengler Cup, Zac Dalpe is back in action for the Monsters. Hopefully, his skillful play on special teams will give even more life to the team.

Adam Clendening will be out this weekend as he has been suspended for two games due to an “illegal check to the head” in the Monsters last game against the Grand Rapids Griffins.

The Other Bench

As always, the Monsters must keep an eye on guys like Reid Boucher and Tanner Kero. They know how to make magic happen. Those are the obvious guys to keep an eye on.

Where they really need to focus their attention is on Brendan Gaunce and Cam Darcy. They are defensive minded forwards who will stop at nothing to keep the Monsters from skating away with the game.

One thing will be the Monsters saving grace against Utica. Being in the lead gives the Comets life. Trailing, on the other hand, gives the Comets a complex. They get inside their heads and that’s when they begin to make mistakes. All the Monsters have to do is take the lead quickly and keep it for an extended period of time.

Season Series

10/19/18 - Monsters (4) @ Comets (3) -
01/05/19 - Comets @ Monsters
01/06/19 - Comets @ Monsters
02/17/19 - Monsters @ Comets

Stats Matchup