Akira Schmid returns, AJ Greer has a big night, and Alexander Holtz is the hero in the Utica Comets 3-2 overtime victory.
The Utica Comets and Laval Rocket met for the second time in three nights, and by the end of Friday night, there was certainly a dislike built up between the two teams. After defeating Utica on Wednesday night, the Rocket looked to complete the two-game sweep and take a rare season series lead over the Comets.
After only registering two shots on goal for the first nine minutes of the first period, the Comets opened the floodgates on Laval goaltender Kevin Poulin. They poured in thirteen shots over the course of the rest of the period, and at the 14:27 mark, AJ Greer scored the first of his two goals when he took a feed from Frederik Gauthier and snapped a wrist shot past Poulin from the high slot to make the score 1-0. Just over four minutes later, Greer struck again – this time on the powerplay. He took a cross-ice pass from Joe Gambardella and beat Poulin from the right circle to give the Comets a 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission.
Schmid and Poulin both made huge saves on point-blank chances in the second period, but the Rocket eventually broke through to get on the scoreboard. Corey Schueneman faked a shot from the point and passed to Troy Dello who ripped a wrist shot Schmid and into the Utica goal to make the score 2-1. After the Tory goal, there was a scary moment after a questionable hit on Ryan Schmelzer left the Comets captain slow to get up, Kevin Bahl, and Laval’s Gabriel Borque wrestled to the ice. Schmelzer was able to get to the bench under his own power, but a tone was set that would boil over at the end of the game.
The Comets came out of the locker room in the third period a determined team, outshooting the Rocket eight to nothing through the first seven minutes. The Rocket, however, would capitalize on their first shot of the period when Schueneman snapped a shot from the point past a screened Schmid to tie the game at two. Neither team could muster the go-ahead goal for the rest of the period and the game headed to overtime.
The overtime period lasted only twenty-one seconds, as the Comets won the opening faceoff and Alexander Holtz took over. He skated the puck into the Rocket zone and ripped a shot past Poulin to win the game for Utica. Right after the Holtz goal, the tension between the teams boiled over with the benches-clearing for a team-wide confrontation. Order was eventually restored, and the home crowd went home happy.
Notes: Utica outshot Laval 35-22…Utica was 1 for 3 on the powerplay, Laval was 0 for 2…This was Schmid’s first game for the Comets since January 21st – a victory over Syracuse…Comets leading scorer Chase DeLeo did not play in the game…AJ Greer has a five-game point streak going, including three goals in his last three games…Joe Gambardella has a four-game point streak…Laval plays again on Saturday night at Belleville…Utica plays again on Saturday night as well, at home against Springfield.