TEXAS TOAST! COMETS COMEBACK STUNS STARS
by Jay Flemma, Special to Facewash Magazine
UTICA, NY – This was a different kind of win for the Comets. Sure it was another one goal win, another Cardiac Comets high-wire act, but this win was a different arrow in the quiver. This was the comeback win – and the Comets are going to need to know how to win those games also if they want to make a run for the Calder Cup.
The Comets spotted the defending Calder Cup champion Texas Stars a 2-0 lead after the first period, but then rallied late, winning 3-2 in overtime. Brendan Gaunce tied the game six minutes into the third period, slamming home a Wacey Hamilton rebound past Stars goalie and Finnish superstar Jussi Rynnas. Local favorite Bobby Sanguinetti wristed home the winner 1:13 into the overtime off a Kane Lafranchise assist.
“Franch made a great play at the blue line picking off the pass,” Sanguinetti observed at the post-game presser, ever the team-fist player. “After that I just closed my eyes,” he then added, sending the room into peals of laughter.
The other huge moment – perhaps the turning point – was the 100 second-long 5-3 penalty the Comets killed early in the second period. The Comets had just closed to 2-1 on a Dustin Jeffery goal at 3:03, but then Henrik Tommernes and Carter Bancks followed each other into the penalty box within 19 seconds of each other, (delay of gane and tripping respectively).
But Texas managed just two shots on goal, and with Comets Goalie Joacim Eriksson making zany save after zany save – among his 23 saves was one during the 5-on-3 that he caught between the pads! – the stage was set for the Comets’ late heroics.
Finally the Comets win in overtime at the Aud! (For the first time in four tries this season…Indeed the Comets are still only 3-5 on games that go longer than 60 minutes…)
Finally the Comets come back from a deficit and close the deal! (The third period has sometimes been a bugaboo for Utica. Last weeks twin losses after leading late put a scare into the fans. And the magma-hot Adirondack Flames had crept to within two points of the Comets for the Northern Division, though the Comets have two games in hand.)
Finally the Comets showed the AHL a different winning script. We watched them hang on to leads by their fingertips all season. Now we’ve seen them come back from a big deficit against a quality opponent.
“Quality opponent?” asked hockey fan Bruce Moulton . “That’s the defending Calder Cup champions.”
“And no matter what happens we will be the champions until someone beats us…pries it from our cold dead hands,” chirped lifelong Stars fan and rising star (Lone Star!) golf course architect Jeff Brauer. “It would be a great seven game series to see these two tangle.”
Texas has some work to do on that score if they want to make the playoffs. Currently tied for 10th in the Western Conference and third in their division, the 10-8-8 Stars (28 points) have treaded water most of the season, particularly on the orad where they are a pedestrian 3-6-4.
Meanwhile, the Comets lead the entire AHL with 41 points, (18-5-5), though they lead the Flames by just three points heading into tonight’s tangle at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
The Glens Falls Civic Center is historic for a reason other than sports actually. Phish debuted their Halloween tradition of a “musical costume” by playing the entire White Album start to finish there in 1994.
But getting back on the clock, coach Trent Green has talked about the ability of this team to bounce back from adversity and be resilient on a number of occasions. And it’s the Group Think Attitude, (yes, all caps!), that everyone on all four lines has bought into that makes all the difference.
“We all trust each other, and we know where we other will be on the ice,” explained Alex Freisen in an interview from before the team left for their mid-west swing. “We’re able to play our game and flow, and make other teams adjust to what we want to do.”
Well it shows on the most important stat – the win column.
2015 is right here. Blink and it will be February. And soon it will be time to start talking magic numbers for making the playoffs. Utica may be able to look forward to a bunch – division, conference, home ice throughout. This team has been at or near the top of the entire AHL all season. Now to maintain it, and that means winning many different types of games: dominating, (which we still haven’t seen from Utica), maintaining a lead, coming from behind, whatever the situation calls for.
Nobody likes to face them: you have to play 60 minutes. Nobody seems to dominate against them: the best you can hope for is a zone trap and hope your goalie stands more on his head than Marky or Jokey. Nobody likes coming to the Aud: the way the crowd shouts “U! TI! CA!” it kinda sounds like “VA! FON! GUL!”
And let me tell you something…when they start that, it comes down like an I-90 blizzard.
There’s still a long way to go and many roads to take. Chicago and Rockford are both laden with talent. San Antonio grinds with the best of the AHL squads. And Adirondack has been on fire in December But even so, there’s no time like the present to learn how to win. Time will tell if yesterday’s game was the template or the statistical outlier, but the Comets seem to learn form their losses, rarely repeating mistakes and only losing back-to-back games three times this season, and never losing more than two in a row so far.
It’s a testament to the system: You can boil all Trent Green’s Xs and Os to four words: all hands on deck. One guy might be able to win a hockey game for you, but your chances are better with 20. And that’s one of the inalienable truths of AHL hockey: 20 men together can’t lose.
I once drank a glass of Frank’s Red Hot for $20 when I was at Deerfield. It burned for a couple of minutes going down, but otherwise there were no ill effects.
“Okay, that was ballsy,” said a dude named Rob-o who begrudgingly handed me my winnings, and only then after Professor Corkum threatened to cut off his nose if he didn’t.
Then there were the weekly battles at various wing joints with “Volcano” sauce, “Vesuvius” sauce, “Thermonuclear” sauce, and “Hindenberg” sauce to name a few. We’d all sit there eating, not saying a word to one another, just fighting to finish the plate…then we’d wipe our brow and revel in how tough a fight it was.
So who better than me, a tried and true connoisseur, to review the baddest, boldest, and best new hot sauce in America – it’s JB’s Best.
John Byrwa used to be a golf writer, and a damn good one. In fact, he was an editor of mine at PGA.com for years, but he left to chase his dream: hot sauce!
“I like him already!” said one of my co-workers as we sat around the conference room table passing the bottle around. Yes, we have some veterans of hot sauce wars in the firm, Big Ray most prominent among them. He and I took particular delight in analyzing not just the flavor of JB’s Best, but its color, its bouquet, and its texture.
By the end of the meal, we were nodding at each other – this is the real deal. Wings, pizza, sandwiches, salads, rolls, salmon, sushi, even fingertips – with each passing bite our salivary glands exploded with its savory flavor.
Two minutes after we were done, every bottle of Sriracha in the place got tossed into the trash.
I was amazed at the complexity of flavors. Yes, there’s heat, but the spices are the showstoppers, followed by the sauce’s richness. It was closer to barbecue sauce’s texture than your run of the mill wing sauce.
“It’s got quite a nice kick with lots of herbs and spices. There’s a pleasant afterburn on this sauce, with slight vinegar and cayenne overtones,” opined Big Ray, visibly impressed.
“It’s like there’s a party my mouth, and everyone got lucky!” joked AWITP correspondent Rodney Zilla, at another taste-test conducted later that evening. He may have traded hyperbole for enthusiasm for that moment, but you knew he was genuine when he slathered it on his grilled salmon, then poured it all over a dinner roll and ate that!
“Seriously, this is so thick and rich, it’s practically it’s own food group,” Zilla added. “I don’t think I’ve had a hot sauce that had this good a mix of savory flavor and heat, but was as thick as this is. Tell your friend he should make a bloody mary mix next!”
Rod, he’s way ahead of you. It’s tremendous in a bloody mary…or better still a bloody MARIA…made with 100% blue agave tequila!
Anyway, nothing says Christmas like topping out the Scofield Heat Index! So buy a few bottles for stocking-stuffers – it will keep you warm on a cold winter’s night. JB’s Best! When it says JB’s, it’s the best!
As usual, Ernesto the Prediction Iguana is hitting his stride at the right time! He had another 5-1 overall 2-1 in teasers week to lift the season totals to 54-22 overall, 20-18 in teasers! We’ve also done well with the Cabrera family as an adopted good luck charm, so while we won’t let Durban the Rhodesian Ridgeback make the picks, we’ll throw him a bone in the form of a shout out!
LAST HEADBANGERS BALL!
STEELERS-chiefs OVER 34.5
bills +1/2 at RAIDERS
The Raiders beat me twice this season, but have been money the rest of the way…as losers! The Bills beat everyone last week when they upset the Packers, so ride ‘em while they’re hot.
DOLPHINS-vikings UNDER 48
TEXANS-ravens UNDER 52
The Dolphins are an under team this year…the Vikings almost always are. The Ravens may quietly steal the AFC North after trailing all year.
GOING SOMEWHERE? NOT!
DOLPHINS -1/2 vs. vikings
BEARS-lions UNDER 53.5
Hitherto shalt though come Dolphins, but we’ll see NEXT week for sure. Lions, you better not blink.