Utica Comets Suffer Defeat Against the Springfield Thunderbirds

Despite getting goals from the Utica Comets “Swedish Supermen” combination of Fabian Zetterlund and Alexander Holtz, Akira Schmid loses his first game in regulation this season.

There are times when it just isn’t a team’s night, and Wednesday night was one of those nights for the Utica Comets. Despite a spirited comeback attempt, the Comets fell to the Springfield Thunderbirds by a score of 3-2.

Springfield opened the scoring at just 2:16 into the first period when after sustained offensive zone pressure, Will Bitten tipped a shot from Griffin Luce past Comets goaltender Akira Schmid. Less than two minutes later, the Thunderbirds went on the powerplay after Alexander Holtz was assessed a delay of game penalty for inadvertently batting the puck over the glass and they took full advantage. Matthew Peca sent a pass across the low slot to Hugh McGing on the left side. McGing then darted across the front of the Utica crease and lifted a backhand shot into the top of the net to give the Thunderbirds an early 2-0 lead.

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After the McGing goal, the Comets got a powerplay of their own and used it to get on the scoreboard with what can be described as an unusual goal. Fabian Zetterlund scored his team-leading seventeenth goal when he snapped a shot that went over Springfield goaltender Charlie Lindgren’s head, bounced directly back toward the goal off the end boards glass, hit Lindgren in the back, and rolled into the net. Despite getting only one shot on goal through the first eighteen minutes of the game, the Comets went into the first intermission only down by a score of 2-1.

Utica Comets at Springfield Thunderbirds Game Preview 02-09-2022

The second period was much more balanced in terms of shots on goal, as both teams registered twelve each (it was the first time in nine games the Comets were not outshot in the second period). Both teams had chances, but it was the Comets who came away with the only goal of the period. Alexander Holtz scooped up a loose puck in the neutral zone skated down the left side of the Springfield zone, and fired a laser of a shot past Lindgren to tie the score at two. After the Holtz goal, the Comets continued to put pressure on but Lindgren stood firm and the period ended with no further scoring.

Utica Comets Sam Laberge is about to throw a hit during Wednesday night’s game against the Springfield Thunderbirds at the MassMutual Center. Photo credit: Scott Kinville.

Springfield snatched the lead just one minute into the third period when Alexey Toropchenko stole the puck from Frederik Gauthier and was able to get in all alone on Schmid who beat with a wrist shot to make the score 3-2 in favor of the home team. Each team had a powerplay opportunity that they did not convert in the period, and once again, the shots for the frame were even at twelve each. Schmid was pulled with a minute and a half left and despite a push by the Comets, Lindgren held them off and the Thunderbirds skated off with a 3-2 victory and in the process handed Schmid his first regulation loss in the AHL this season.

Notes: Springfield outshot Utica 34 to 27…Springfield was 1 for 4 on the powerplay, Utica was 1 for 2…AJ Greer (6), Joe Gambardella (5), and Frederik Gauthier (3) had their point streaks snapped…With their goals scored, Alexander Holtz now has a five-game point streak, and Fabian Zetterlund has a three-game point streak…Comets leading scorer Chase DeLeo missed his third straight game and captain Ryan Schmelzer missed his second straight game – all due to injury…This is the last time these teams will meet in the regular season, they split the season series 1-1…Springfield plays again on Friday night at Hartford, Utica plays again on Friday night as well at home against Cleveland.

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