Utica Comets Doubled Up by the Syracuse Crunch

The Utica Comets struggles continued on Saturday night with a 6-3 loss in Syracuse.

The Utica Comets have been flying high all season, but this weekend they are experiencing some turbulence. After being shut out at home on Friday night by the Hershey Bears, the Comets continued their three games in three nights stretch on Saturday night in Syracuse looking to “get right”. It didn’t happen, as the Crunch, themselves in the middle of a three in three, came out with a strong first two periods and held on in the third to defeat Utica for the third time in the team’s eight meetings so far this season.

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The Comets controlled play for most of the opening minutes of the game until Gage Goncalves sprung Crunch leading scorer Gabriel Dumont who blasted a slapshot from the top of the right circle past Comets goaltender Mareks Mitens on Syracuse’s first shot of the game to give the Crunch an early lead. Two minutes later, Goncalves set up another Crunch goal when he sent a short pass to Anthony Richard, he skated into the top of the slot and snapped a shot past Mitens on the second Syracuse shot of the game to make the score 2-0. The Richard goal concluded the scoring for the first period, and the teams went into the first intermission with the Crunch holding a two-goal lead.

Here’s the interview with “The Voice of the Comets” Jason Shaya from Episode #65 of Marty’s Illegal Stick Hockey Podcast. Check out and subscribe to Marty’s Illegal Stick Hockey Podcast Youtube channel, as well as on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms.

The Crunch opened the scoring early in the second period when at the 1:10 mark, Gabriel Fortier put a rebound off of a shot by Alex Green past Mitens to make the score 3-1. The Comets then got on the scoreboard seven minutes later when AJ Greer took a drop pass from Fabian Zetterlund and ripped a shot from the high slot past Syracuse goaltender Max Legace to make the score 3-1. The Crunch answered right back two minutes later with a power-play goal by defenseman Sean Day, and four minutes after that scored their fifth goal of the game when a strange carom of the boards in the Comets zone led to a one-timer goal by Remi Elie from Fortier. After the Elie goal, Utica coach Kevin Dineen replaced Mitens in goal with Akira Schmid, and the second period ended with the score of 5-1 in favor of the home team.

Right Now is a Great Time if You’re a Fan of Utica Hockey

Mitens returned to the Utica crease to start the third period and Samuel Laberge gave his embattled goaltender a lift just three minutes into the period when he snapped a wrist shot from the top of the left circle off a feed from Joe Gambardella past Legace to make the score 5-2. Three and a half minutes later, the Laberge/Gambardella duo struck again when Laberge scored his second goal of the game with a laser into the top corner of the Syracuse net off a nifty pass from Gambardella to give the Comets life. Despite sustained offensive pressure through the rest of the game, Utica was unable to get any more goals, and an empty-net goal by Goncalves with forty-one seconds left salted the game away for the Crunch as they skated away with a 6-3 victory over the Eastern Conference-leading Comets.

Utica now leads the Empire Recycling Galaxy Cup series between these two teams by a margin of five games to three. They will play six more times this season, including three games in the next eleven days.

Notes: Syracuse outshot Utica 29 to 25…Syracuse was 1 for 1 on the power play, Utica was 0 for 2…Gabriel Dumont and Gage Goncalves led all Syracuse scorers with one goal and three assists each for four points…Samuel Laberge (two goals) and Joe Gambardella (two assists) led all Utica scorers with two points each…Tyler Wotherspoon returned to the Utica lineup after his absence with the Canadian Olympic team…Alexander Holtz and Reilly Walsh were scratched in this game. This was the first game Walsh has missed all season…Syracuse plays again on Sunday on the road at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton…Utica plays again on Sunday as well at Hershey.

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