Fabian Zetterlund about to score the game winning goal for the Utica Comets on Friday night. Photo credit: Scott Kinville.
It wasn’t pretty, but the Utica Comets defeated their arch rival by a score of 4-3 in overtime on Friday night.
There are times when teams must snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, especially when they aren’t playing their best. Friday night was one of those nights for the Utica Comets.
Entering Friday night’s game the Comets and Crunch have been on opposite trajectories as of late – with Syracuse winning four of their last five games and Utica losing four of their last five. The way this game began, it looked like that trend would continue as Syracuse dominated play in the opening period. Syracuse outshot Utica 9-2 by the halfway point and 15-5 for the entire frame. Despite this, Comets goaltender Mareks Mitens was very sharp, only giving up one goal that was unusual, to say the least. Darren Raddysh fired a shot toward the Utica net that was deflected by Crunch team-leading scorer Gabriel Dumont straight up in the air over Mitens and into the goal.
It took the Comets only fifty-six seconds into the second period to tie the game as Fabian Zetterlund scooped up a loose puck in the left circle, raced into the slot, and snapped a wrist shot that Syracuse goaltender Hugo Alnefelt got some of but not enough of and the puck found the back of the net, tying the game at one. After that, the Crunch once again took control of the pace of the game and took the lead with six minutes left in the period when they took advantage of a powerplay opportunity as Charles Hudon redirected a pass from Alex Barre-Boulet past Mitens to go up two to one.
The Comets answered back one and a half minutes later when Zetterlund took control of the puck in the neutral zone, barreled down the left side of the Syracuse zone, and sent a backhand centering pass to Nate Schnarr who lit the lamp to tie the game. It appeared the game would be tied going into the second intermission but with five seconds left Otto Somppi tipped a shot from the point in the high slot that eluded Mitens and gave the Crunch a one-goal advantage to close the period.
The third period looked as though it was going to be a repeat of the first and second, with the Crunch controlling play. The “Cardiac Comets” broke through with just under three minutes to play when with a delayed penalty against Syracuse in effect, Alexander Holtz found Nate Schnarr in the slot from the left half-wall. Schnarr’s initial scoring attempt was blocked in front of the Crunch net, but he roofed his own rebound past Alnefelt for his second goal of the game bringing the home crowd to its feet. The third period ended with the score tied at three.
The sudden-death overtime period only lasted twenty seconds. After Utica won the opening faceoff, Reilly Walsh sent a pass to Nate Schnarr who got free down the right side of the Syracuse zone after carrying the puck through the neutral zone. His bid for a hat trick was denied, but Fabian Zetterlund swooped in from the left side and put the waiting rebound into the net winning the game for the Utica Comets. The teams will meet again on Saturday in Syracuse at the Upstate Medical University Arena.
Notes: Syracuse outshot Utica by a 34-20 margin…Syracuse was 1 for 5 on the powerplay, Utica was 0 for 1…Mareks Mitens started his eighth straight game in goal for the Comets…With an assist tonight, Utica’s Chase DeLeo extended his points-scoring streak to six games…Forwards Brian Flynn and Frederik Gauthier and defenseman Jeremy Groleau each missed their second straight game for the Comets, Nico Daws and Graeme Clarke are still out with injuries.