The Comets were dominant in the second game of the series.
The Utica Comets enjoyed some southern hospitality this weekend.
On Saturday night, they took game one of the weekend series in a hard-fought 1-0 victory in which Comets goaltender Akira Schmid earned his first-ever professional shutout. Sunday afternoon’s game featured a lot more offense.
The Comets unloaded a five-goal barrage on Charlotte goaltender Christopher Gibson to win game two by a score of 5-2. The win improved Utica’s record to 15-1-0-0.
It only took five minutes for the visitors to get on the scoreboard. Alexander Holtz carried the puck down the right side, spun in the faceoff circle, and lost his balance. While falling, Holtz managed to shove the puck over to the high slot where Marian Studenic picked it up and simply waited until Gibson got out of position before snapping the puck into the top of the net giving Utica a 1-0 lead.
In the last five minutes of the first period, the teams would exchange goals. Utica took a 2-0 lead when Samuel Laberge and Aarne Talvitie broke into the Charlotte zone on a two-on-one. Laberge passed the puck over Talvitie from the right side who in turn gave it right back to Laberge. The pass back was in Laberge’s skates but he managed to recover the puck and put it by Gibson for his first goal as a member of the Utica Comets.
Three minutes after the Laberge goal, the Checkers caught the Comets defense pinching in their zone. Carsen Twarynski sprung Cole Schwindt on a breakaway who beat Comets starting goaltender Nico Daws for his seventh goal of the season. The game entered the first intermission with a score of 2-1.
Charlotte tied the score at two early in the second period when team-leading scorer Alexander True scored on the power play after putting a rebound off of a shot from Zac Dalpe into the back of the Utica net. After killing a Kevin Bahl tripping penalty after the Charlotte power-play goal, the Comets would score and take the lead for good. Fabian Zetterlund poke checked the puck back into the zone at the Checkers blue line, sped down the left side, and fed AJ Greer in the slot who beat Gibson with a wrist shot. After two periods of play, Utica led by a score of 3-2.
The Comets scored once again two minutes and fifty-one seconds into the third period. Charlotte failed to clear the puck out from the front of their net and Nate Schnarr capitalized with his fifth goal of the season and team-leading (among active players) twelfth point of the season. Three and a half minutes later, Samuel Laberge scored his second goal of the game when AJ Greer sent a saucer pass to Laberge in the left side slot who beat Gibson on the stick side to make the score 5-2 Comets.
Although they wouldn’t score any more after the second Laberge goal, Utica dominated the play in the third period. They limited the Checkers to just five shots on goal in the period, all of which Daws stopped. Frustrations boiled over at the end of the game as AJ Greer and Connor Carrick dropped the gloves for a fight that would spill into the Charlotte bench. The fight was eventually broken up, and the Comets head back to Utica with a stranglehold on first place in the AHL North Division.
Notes: Utica outshot Charlotte by a margin of 29 to 18…Utica was 0 for 3 on the power play, Charlotte was 1 for 3…Nico Daws recorded his eighth victory of the season, which is tied for second-best in the AHL…Samuel Laberge led Comets scorers with three points (two goals and one assist). AJ Greer (one goal and one assist) and Alexander Holtz (two assists) each had two points…Defenseman Reilly Walsh had his five-game point-scoring streak snapped…The Comet’s next game is on Wednesday night at home against North Division rival the Belleville Senators.