The Utica Comets set the AHL mark for consecutive wins to start a season.
History was made on Friday night at the Adirondack Bank Center, where the Utica Comets defeated the Charlotte Checkers by a score of 4-1. Coming into tonight’s game, they were tied with the 1984-85 Rochester Americans for the most consecutive wins to start an AHL season at eleven. They now own the record outright.
Leading scorer Chase DeLeo missed his fifth straight game while in the Covid protocol, but they did get alternate captain Brian Flynn back. Flynn had missed the previous seven games after suffering an upper-body injury at practice.
The Charlotte Checkers, who are the AHL affiliate of the Florida Panthers, came into tonight’s game looking to play the spoiler of the Comets big night. At just over a minute into the game, it looked like they might just do that. Max McCormick tipped a Matt Kiersted shot from the left side of the net past Comets starting goaltender Nico Daws to give the Checkers an early 1-0 lead. Utica would wind up outshooting Charlotte ten to eight in the first period but found themselves in a familiar position as they went to the locker room not being able to answer the McCormick goal.
Whatever Utica Comets coach Kevin Dineen said to his team during the first intermission worked, as they were the dominant team in the second period. It started just about six minutes into the period after some sustained offensive pressure, Nolan Foote scored his second goal of the season from the slot off of a feed from captain Ryan Schmelzer to tie the game at one. From this point through the rest of the period, the Comets were off and running.
Shortly after a fight between former Comet Kole Lind and current Comet AJ Greer, the Comets struck again. A loose puck scramble in front of Charlotte goaltender Joey Daccord was won by Nate Schnarr, who. found an opening and did not miss, giving the Comets their first lead of the night with a score of 2-1.
Schnarr and the Comets were not done in the second period. With under two minutes to Reilly Walsh stole the puck near the Checkers blue line to keep the pressure on. He fired a wrist shot from the point that was tipped by Schnarr in front of the net past Daccord for his second goal of the game that gave the Comets a 3-1 lead going into the second period.
In the third period, it would be the Checkers who turned on the offensive pressure, as the Comets protected their two-goal lead. Charlotte outshot Utica twelve to four for the period, but Nico Daws was up to the task. With just over two minutes left, Aarnie Talvitie scored his fifth goal of the season into the empty Charlotte net, and it was time to celebrate in Utica. The Comets won the 4-1 and set the record in front of a roaring home crowd.
Notes: Utica and Charlotte had the same number of shots on goal for the game at 24…Charlotte was 0 for 1 on the power play, Utica was 0 for 2…Nate Schnarr (2 goals, including the game-winner) and Graeme Clarke (2 assists) each led the Comets in points…with an assist tonight, Robbie Russo extended his point-scoring streak to four games…With the win, Nico Daws is now tied with Keith Kinkaid for most in the AHL with seven…The Comets play again Saturday night at home against Rochester, Charlotte plays again on Sunday in Hershey.