The Utica Comets became the first team out of the Western Conference to clinch a berth in the 2015 Calder Cup Playoffs on Wednesday night, continuing what has been a memorable season in the Mohawk Valley.
Guided by head coach Travis Green, Utica began its inaugural season with 10 consecutive losses but rallied to finish just four points out of a playoff spot in 2014. This season, the Comets (42-19-6-1) have been among the league’s elite teams since opening night and lead the Western Conference with 91 points, one point away from securing the North Division title entering Thursday’s action.
The top development club of the Vancouver Canucks, the Comets have been led on the ice by leading scorer Cal O’Reilly, whose 44 assists are tied for third in the AHL; Bobby Sanguinetti, who ranks among the AHL’s top defensemen with 15 goals, 37 points and a plus-22 rating; and goaltender Jacob Markstrom, who is 19-7-2 with a 1.91 goals-against average, a .932 save percentage and five shutouts this season.
Utica currently holds a one-point lead over Grand Rapids and San Antonio in the race for the top seed in the Western Conference. All three teams have eight games remaining.
Eight teams in each conference will qualify for the 2015 Calder Cup Playoffs. For more information and daily updates on the playoff races, check out the official AHL Playoff Primer.