Utica Comets Lose to the Laval Rocket on Wednesday Night

Despite a good start, the Utica Comets could not hold of the Rocket as they come from behind for a 4-2 victory.

The Utica Comets and Laval Rocket opened a two-game series on Wednesday night at the Adirondack Bank Center that will have a rematch on Friday night in Utica as well. Coming into Wednesday night’s contest, the Comets and Rocket were separated in the standings by twenty-one points, but the head-to-head series this season was much closer – with the Comets winning two of the three games but all three games were decided by two goals or less.

The Comets came out in the first period looking very much like a team that has the best record in the American Hockey League. In the first ten minutes, Utica had chances to score but was turned aside by Laval goaltender Kevin Poulin. After weathering the initial storm, the Rocket was able to slow things down and get some chances of their own which were thwarted by Comets goaltender Nico Daws.

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The Comets, however, broke through with six minutes and forty seconds left in the first period. Reilly Walsh carried the puck over the Laval blue line, dished the puck to Joe Gambardella on the right side who gave it right back and Walsh took a shot that barely got through Poulin and across the goal line. Four minutes later, Frederik Gauthier dug the puck out of the left corner, got it to AJ Greer who cut across the slot and slid it to the red-hot Alexander Holtz. Holtz then wired a shot into the top of the Laval net to put the Comets up by a score of two to nothing a score that held for the rest of the period but could have been a larger Comets advantage if it weren’t for Poulin making some big saves.

Utica Comets vs Laval Rocket Series Preview 02-02-2022

After giving up two powerplays in the second period that they successfully killed, the Rocket took the rest of the frame over. From the ten-minute point until the end of the period the Rocket outshot the Comets by a margin of nine to two and earned a goal for their efforts. With just over five minutes left in the period, Laval’s Danick Martel was able to get several chances at a rebound off of a Gianni Fairbrother shot which he was finally able to put the third attempt past Daws. Laval continued to hold momentum after the Martel goal, but when the period ended the score remained 2-1 with the Comets holding the lead.

The Utica Comets set up from the point against the Laval Rocket on Wednesday night. Photo credit: Kristy Kinville.

The physicality picked up in the second period and continued into the third. The shot total for the period was only six to four favoring Utica, but scoring results proved disastrous for the Comets. Alex Belzile scored on the first shot for the Rocket to tie the game. Five minutes later they took advantage of a powerplay opportunity when Rafael Harvey-Pinard tipped a Louie Belpedio shot from the point past Daws to give Laval a 3-2 lead. Poulin made another huge save right after the Harvey-Pinard goal, this time off of Brian Flynn to keep the Rocket in the lead. Belzile scored his second goal of the night into an empty net with seventeen seconds left to seal a 4-2 win for the Rocket, setting up what should be an intense re-match on Friday night.

Notes: Utica outshot Laval 27-25…Utica was 0 for 3 on the powerplay, Laval was 1 for 2…Joe Gambardella has a three-game point streak going…Nate Schnarr remains out of the lineup for the Comets, he has missed the last five games…Rocket goaltender Kevin Poulin is undefeated (2-0) against the Comets so far this season…Prior to this game, the Comets earned at least one point in six straight games…The teams meet again on Friday night at the Adirondack Bank Center, start time is 7:00 pm EST.

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