The Utica Comets have recalled a forward and defenseman from their ECHL affiliate.

by Scott Kinville, host of the Martys Illegal Stick podcast

The Utica Comets announced on Tuesday that they have recalled forward Nick Rivera and defenseman Joe Masonius from the Adirondack Thunder of the ECHL. The recalls come on the heels of forward Alexander Holtz and defenseman Kevin Bahl being placed in the AHL Covid protocols just prior to the Comets Saturday night game against the Hartford Wolfpack.

The twenty-five-year-old Rivera began his professional career in 2020-21, playing fifty-five games for the Wheeling Nailers of the ECHL after playing four years of college hockey at Minnesota State University – Mankato. He has played twenty-three games for the Thunder this season, totaling five goals and four assists to go with twenty-two PIM.

Masonius is a left-shot defenseman who was a sixth-round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins. The twenty-four-year-old is in his fourth professional season, having played for the Macon Mayhem of the Southern Professional Hockey League and the South Carolina Stingrays, Manchester Monarchs, Norfolk Admirals, Greenville Swamp Rabbits, and now the Adirondack Thunder of the ECHL. In twenty-four games with Adirondack this season, Masonius has three goals and thirteen assists along with sixty PIM.

With AJ Greer, Nolan Foote, Colton White currently with the New Jersey Devils, and Holtz and Bahl in Covid protocols, recalling Rivera and Masonius was necessary to fill out the Utica roster ahead of their Wednesday night game against the Rochester Americans.

The good news for the Comets is that Pavel Zacha, Andreas Johnsson, and Yegor Sharangovich took part in the New Jersey Devils – which could mean Utica will be getting some players back soon. The bad news is with goaltender Nico Dawes still on the mend and no definitive timetable for his return, the Utica Comets have been waiting on the return of Akira Schmid to pair up with their current goaltender Mareks Mitens. That will not happen this week has the Devils announced on Tuesday that they have placed Schmid in the NHL Covid protocols, meaning he will be unavailable for at least five days. Mitens has played every game in goal for the Comets since being recalled from Adirondack to fill in for Dawes and Schmid, going 3-2-1-0 with a 3.45 GAA and a .877 save percentage.

The Devils are also waiting for test results on their starting goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood. If Blackwood has to miss time, New Jersey would have to find a second goaltender in a hurry, as they would only have John Gillies available in goal. If they want to recall Mitens, they would have to sign him to an NHL contract. Without Mitens, the Comets would only have David Tomeo (who they have signed to a PTO) to play against Rochester – and Tomeo has no professional experience. Stay tuned.