The Utica Comets opened their preseason on Friday night with thrilling 4-3 win in the shootout.
The Utica Comets kicked off their preseason on Friday with a rocking party outside of the Adirondack Bank Center, then ended their evening with a win over the Rochester Americans.
The Comets dominated play in the first period right from the opening face off. Americans goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen stood tall until the Comets Joe Gambardella broke in all alone on him and drew a penalty shot at the 8:23 mark after being tripped. Gambardella buried it, and put the home team ahead 1-0. That score would hold for the rest of the period, and the teams went to the locker rooms with Utica outshooting Rochester 13-5.
The Rochester Americans opened the second period on the power play after the Comets Graeme Clarke took a tripping penalty with 42 seconds left in the first. The Amerks (as the Americans are sometimes called) took advantage, as with one second left 2020 first round draft pick Jack Quinn sniped a laser of a shot into the top right corner of the net past Utica goaltender Nico Daws to tie the game at one. Rochester would take the lead approximately eight minutes later when Dominic Franco finished a two on one opportunity. The Comets would fight back, however, and tie the game at 14:18 of the second period on power play goal by Graeme Clarke.
The Comets came out flying in the third period and very much so looked like a team on a mission. They took the lead when Fabian Zetterlund broke on Luukkonen short handed and lit the lamp, giving Utica a 3-2 lead. It looked like the Comets were in control and headed home with a victory.
Despite being on their heels for most of the third period, the Rochester Americans would not go away. They tied the game with 4:28 left to go on an Ethan Prow goal after a chaotic scramble in the Comets end. Even the shots on goal at the end of regulation was 35-19 in Utica’s favor, the game went to overtime.
The overtime period was a back and forth battle, as both teams had their chances. For the Comets, Joe Gambardella and Ryan Schmelzer each had opportunities in front the Rochester net, but Luukkonen again was able to keep the Americans in the game.
With the overtime period deciding nothing, the game shifted to the shootout. In the second round, the teams traded goals by Linus Weissbach and Nolan Foote, but it was the Comets Graeme Clarke that was able to solve the Luukkonen mystery in the third round and sent the Comets faithful home happy with a 4-3 victory.
Impressions from the game:
- The Comets played an aggressive, attacking style of game that if that’s the way they’re going to play, it will be a very exciting season in Utica.
- Despite not recording a point, Nolan Foote was very impressive and asserted himself early and often. Look for him to have a strong season for as long as he is with the Comets.
- Joe Gambardella seemed to be all over the ice tonight. Not only did he score on his penalty shot, he displayed an energy about his game that will serve the Comets very well this season.
- On the flip side, goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen was very impressive for Rochester. He spent most of the game facing a barrage of Comets shots, but was able to get his team to the shootout in a game they were outshot by an almost two to one margin.
The Comets next game is Saturday October 9th, when they travel to Syracuse to face the Crunch in more preseason action.