The Comets remain undefeated with the win.
The slogan for the Utica Comets this season is “a new era begins”, and this era is couldn’t be off to a better start.
The Comets defeated the Toronto Marlies 5-2 on Saturday night at the Adirondack Bank Center before a capacity crowd. With the victory, they now have a record of 6-0-0-0 and sit in first place in the AHL North Division.
Utica got on the board first, on a goal scored five and a half minutes into the game. A shot from the point created a mad scramble in front of the Marlies net, when Joe Gambardella put the puck over the goal line to put the Comets up 1-0. Many thought it was Chase DeLeo’s goal, but according to https://theahl.com, the goal has been credited to Gambardella.
Toronto answered back forty seconds later, when Alex Steeves scored after a puck he sent to the net redirected off of a Comets defender’s skate and past goaltender Akira Schmid. Schmid got the start after Nico Daws played last night in Syracuse, and repelled several good Marlies chances in the first period.
Toronto thought they had taken the lead on a shorthanded wraparound attempt with forty-two seconds left in the first. The play went to video review where the officials determined the Schmid was able to cover the puck before it crossed the goal line. This would not be the last controversial play of the game.
The Marlies took the lead just nineteen seconds into the second period, when an errant Comets pass went directly to Steeves who had just stepped out of the penalty box. he broke in on a breakaway and beat Schmid to give Toronto a 2-1 lead. Less than two minutes later, bedlam would ensue when the Comets were the beneficiaries of a controversial goal. Utica’s AJ Greer blocked a Toronto clearing attempt and got it alone against Marlies goaltender Michael Hutchinson. Greer beat Hutchinson with his shot but it appeared to hit the crossbar with the puck landing in the right side of the Toronto crease. The referee signaled goal and the red line went on, but Joe Gambardella continued the play and pushed the uncontested puck into the net. After a long review and at times, animated discussion, it was ruled that Greer had indeed scored. It would later be credited to Gambardella, and the teams went into the second intermission tied at two.
In the third period, the Comets would breakthrough to take the lead for good. While on the power play, Utica’s Reilly Walsh fired a shot from the point that was tipped past Hutchinson by Nolan Foote for his first goal of the season, giving the Comets the lead that they would not relinquish. Schmid stood tall and stymied the Toronto comeback attempt, and the game was sealed by two Comets empty net goals – including a 175 foot shot by Joe Gambardella. Akira Schmid made twenty-four wins to pick up the win to improve his record to 3-0.
The Comets return to action on Sunday to complete their third game in three days when they face the Laval Rocket at the Adirondack Bank Center.
Notes: Utica outshot Toronto by a 29-26 margin….Utica was 2 for 5 on the power play, Toronto was 0 for 3….Colton White, who was recently assigned to the Comets, has been recalled by the New Jersey Devils and did not play in this game….the next meeting between these two teams is on January 5th in Toronto, they will play each other two more times after that.