The Utica Comets defeat the Rochester Americans on Saturday night

The victory was the Utica Comets third against the Americans this season.

Who says thirteen is an unlucky number? Certainly not the Utica Comets, who won their thirteenth straight game to this season on Saturday night against the Rochester Americans. The 5-3 victory at the Adirondack Bank Center extended the AHL record for consecutive wins to start a season that they established on Friday night.

The Comets got some good news to start the game, as leading scorer Chase DeLeo made his return after missing five games while in the Covid protocol. Coupled with the return on Brian Flynn on Friday night, an already strong Utica Comets lineup got even stronger.

It showed in the early going.

The Comets got on the board just twenty-five seconds into the game, to kick off what would be a very loose first period. Ryan Schmelzer won a faceoff to the right of Rochester goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen to Nolan Foote, who was waiting in the slot. Foote corraled the puck and fired it past Luukkonen to give Utica an early one to nothing lead.

Utica Comets vs Rochester Americans preview

The Comets controlled play during the first half of the first period, but the Americans would gain the momentum in the second half of the frame. Despite this, it would be the Comets that would strike again with three and a half minutes left in the period while on the power play. Defenseman Reilly Walsh sent a shot in from the point that created a rebound for Marian Studenic to put back into the top right corner of the Americans net. The power-play marker made the score 2-0, a lead the Utica Comets held going into the first intermission.

Marian Studenic of the Utica Comets put the puck in the top right corner of the net to give his team a 2-0 lead on Saturday night. Photo credit: Scott Kinville.

Utica continued its strong play into what would become a feisty second period (a total of nine penalties were called). Just under two minutes into the period, while on the power play, Chase DeLeo made his return felt. He took a pass from Robbie Russo and labelled the top right corner with a wrist shot from the left side boards to give his team a 3-0 lead. four minutes later, Frederik Gauthier sprung Graeme Clarke on a breakaway with a beautiful bank pass off the right sideboards, and Clarke made no mistake in beating Luukkonen to give the Comets a 4-0 lead. After this goal, Rochester coach Seth Appert replaced Luukkonen in goal with Michael Houser.

Despite the goalie change, Utica would get its fifth goal of the night later in the period. While skating four on four, Chase DeLeo sent a pass across to Brian Flynn on a two on one, who cut to the slot and beat Houser on the backhand. It appeared the Comets were going to run away with the game.

Brian Flynn scores on the backhand for the Utica Comets on Saturday night against the Rochester Americans. Photo credit: Scott Kinville.

Although they were down by five goals, the Rochester Americans would claw back into the game in the closing minutes of the second period. With a little over three minutes left, a puck battle in the corner to the right of Comets goaltender Akira Schmid resulted in Rochester’s Brendan Warren getting a point-blank chance which he capitalized on, breaking Schmid’s shutout bid. Then with only five seconds left in the second period, the Americans Josh Teves put a loose puck in the slot past Schmid to make the score 5-2 and give Rochester some much-needed momentum heading into the third period.

Rochester picked up in the third period where it left off in the second. They were on a constant attack, keeping the home team on its heels. Early in the period, the Americans would get even closer when they cashed in on a power-play opportunity. Peyton Krebs, one of the main components of the Jack Eichel trade, one timerd a cross-ice pass from Jack Quinn past Schmid to cut the Utica lead to two. JJ Peterka also drew an assist on the play, and with it, a big part of the Buffalo Sabres future all contributed to one play.

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The Americans continued to carry the play for most of the third period but eventually ran out of gas. After the third Rochester goal, Schmid would yield no more, despite the Utica being outshot fifteen to three for the third period. With the five to three victory, the Comets added to their already sizeable first-place lead in the AHL North Division.

Notes: Rochester outshot Utica overall 37-29…Utica went 2 for 4 on the power play, Rochester was 1 for 5…Utica’s Robbie Russo extended his point-scoring streak to five games, Reilly Walsh extended his point-scoring streak to four games…this is the first game all season Schmid has given up more than two goals…Chase DeLeo (one goal and one assist) and Ryan Schmelzer (two assists) led the Comets in scoring with two points each…This was the third of twelve meetings between these two teams this season, they meet again this Wednesday at the Adirondack Bank Center.

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