It was brother versus brother at the Upstate Medical University Arena on Saturday night.
The Foote family had a reunion on the ice in Syracuse, as brothers Nolan and Cal met for the first time this season. Cal, the elder of the brothers by two years was a 2017 first round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Nolan was a also first round draft pick of the Lightning, he was picked in 2019. They could have been teammates this season, but by virtue of a trade, they find themselves on opposite sides of the bitter Utica Comets and Syracuse Crunch rivalry.
Neither brother got on the scoresheet, but it was a battle much like their father, Stanley Cup winning defenseman Adam Foote, took part in for several years. Tonight, it was Nolan’s Utica Comets getting the best of Cal’s Syracuse Crunch by a score a 2-1. It was the second consecutive night the Comets won by that score, as they did the same to the Providence Bruins on Friday night.
The Foote brothers rivalry provided a nice backdrop for the game, but the goaltenders were the stars of the show. Both Crunch goaltender Hugo Alnefelt and Comets net minder Akira Schmid were outstanding. Schmid made 32 saves, while Alnefelt countered with 28 saves of his own. Each goalie had to stop breakaways to keep their teams in the game.
The Crunch opened the scoring at the 2:51 mark of the first period when Gage Goncalves tipped an Alex Green shot past Schmid to make it 1-0 Syracuse. There would be no more goals scored in the period, as Alnefelt robbed Chase DeLeo of the Comets after Tyce Thompson made a pretty pass to get DeLeo into the open. Seconds later, Thompson went from dishing passes to throwing fists, as he fought Jimmy Huntington to close out the period.
The second period began with both teams exchanging unsuccessful power plays. At around the 5:30 mark, Schmid stymied a Charles Hudon breakaway chance to keep it a one goal game. The Comets goaltender would outdo that save at the halfway mark of the second when he sprawled to thwart a wide open net opportunity for the Crunch. In the ensuing transition to the Syracuse end, Alexander Holtz sniped a shot past Alnefelt to tie the game at one with his third goal of the young season.
Utica was not done. With fifty-two seconds left in the second period, they would take a 2-1 lead that they would not relinquish. Nate Schnarr, playing in his first game this season, finished a feed from Chase DeLeo to light the lamp.
The third period would see the Comets give the Crunch three chances on the power play, but it was Utica that nearly converted. Fabian Zetterlund broke in on Alnefelt all alone on a short handed breakaway, but the Syracuse goaltender slammed the door on the Comets bid for their first shorthanded goal of the season. The Crunch pulled Alnefelt with one minute and thirty seconds left and put in a furious effort to tie the game. Schmid made sure that did not happen, and defenseman Robbie Russo sealed the win with a strong defensive play with five seconds left.
Notes: With the win, Utica is still undefeated with a 3-0-0-0 mark, while Syracuse falls to 1-2-1-0….This was game one of the Empire Recycling Galaxy Cup….Nate Schnarr and Chase DeLeo, who combined for the game winning goal, also led the Comets in shots on goal with five each. Charles Hudon paced the Crunch with four shots on goal…Nico Daws, the Comets goaltender for their first win of this season, won his NHL debut tonight for the New Jersey Devils – defeating the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 in overtime…The Comets and the Crunch will play thirteen more times this season, the meeting is on Friday November 5th in Syracuse….The next game for the Crunch is on October 27th, when they travel to Hershey, PA to take win the Bears….The Comets next game is at home on Friday, October 29th when their former captain Cal O’Reilly and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms visit the Adirondack Bank Center.
Power Play: 0/2
Penalty Kill: 4/4
Power Play: 0/4
Penalty Kill: 2/2
Shots on Goal:
Three Stars of the Game:
#1: Hugo Alnefelt (Syracuse)
#2: Akira Schmid (Utica)
#3: Sean Day (Syracuse)