The first game of 2022 did not go so well for the Utica Comets as they fall to Toronto by a score of 6-4.
It was not a fun trip north of the border to kick off the new year for the Utica Comets.
After losing 6-5 in overtime on New Year’s Eve to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, they lost on Wednesday afternoon to the Toronto Marlies by a score of 6-4. Suddenly, the rock-solid defense that carried them to the best record in the American Hockey League so far this season seems to have disappeared – leaving the Comets with a sudden deficiency that was a team strength.
The Marlies were the first to get on the scoreboard with just under five minutes remaining in the first period, as Utica goaltender Mareks Mitens made a save off a shot from the point by Curtis Douglas, but left a rebound at the right side of his crease. Alex Steeves was waiting to put the puck in the open net to open the scoring.
Three and a half minutes later the Comets would tie the score when defenseman Reilly Walsh made a cross-ice pass to Fabian Zetterlund who blasted a one-timer from the left circle past Toronto goaltender Erik Kallgren. The Zetterlund goal was the last of the period and the teams went into the intermission tied at one.
The Comets started the second period on the power play as Toronto’s Joseph Blandisi took a high sticking penalty to end the first. Utica would capitalize as AJ Greer found Chase DeLeo in the slot who snapped a shot past Kallgren to give the Comets a temporary lead. Temporary because just forty-three seconds later, the Marlies tied the game when Matthew Hellickson took a pass from Mikhail Abramov in the left circle and lit the lamp with a wrist shot.
Toronto took the lead when their leading scorer and long-time former Binghamton Devil Brett Seney beat Mitens with a toe drag and wrist shot from the left circle. The Comets tied the score less than two minutes later in a most unusual way when Colton White attempted to center a pass from behind the Marlies goal line, but instead of reaching its intended target, it ricocheted off of a skate and into the Toronto net.
The tie score would be fleeting as with five minutes left in the second period, Toronto’s Joey Anderson took a pass in the slot from behind the Utica net by Brett Seney and ripped a wrister past Mitens to give the Marlies a 4-3 lead they would hold going into the second intermission.
Nine minutes into the third period, Toronto scored what would ultimately be the game-winning goal when they took advantage of a Comets turnover at the Utica blue line that resulted in a goal by Mikhail Abramov from the left circle. The Comets answered one minute later when once again, a centering pass from behind the Toronto goal line bounced off of a skate and into the Marlies net – this time Brian Flynn was the recipient of the goal. Joey Anderson’s second goal of the game, an empty net, shorthanded goal with one minute and twenty-three seconds left, sealed the Marlies 6-4 victory. With the win, Toronto moved into third place in the AHL North Division, eleven points behind the first-place Comets.
Notes: Utica outshot Toronto 36-31…Utica was 1 for 3 on the power play, Toronto was 0 for 0…Chase DeLeo (one goal, one assist) and Reilly Walsh led the Utica scorers, while Joey Anderson (two goals, one assist) along with Brett Seney and Matthew Hellickson (one goal, two assists) led the way for Toronto…Utica plays again on Friday night at home against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Toronto’s next game is on January 10th at home against Springfield.