The Utica Comets were handed their second loss of a three game homestand on Saturday night when they were defeated by the Rochester Americans by a score of 3-2.
The City of Utica held its St. Patrick’s Day celebration on Saturday, but for the Utica Comets, there was not a lot to celebrate.
The Rochester Americans (28-23-3-2, 61 points, 0.545 pts. % – 5th place in the North Division) entered Saturday night’s game without four of their top players: Jack Quinn, Brandon Biro, Michael Mersch, and Sean Malone (who has been notoriously good against the Comets this season). It did not matter, as they got timely scoring and a strong game from goaltender Aaron Dell to take down the Eastern Conference-leading Comets (34-12-6-0, 74 points, 0.712 pts. %).
Here’s what the preview for this game looked like: Utica Comets vs Rochester Americans Game Preview 03-12-2022
The first shot of the game at the 2:38 mark also resulted in the first goal of the game when Rochester’s Jimmy Schuldt sent what looked to be a non-threatening shot toward the Utica goal from the bottom of the left circle. Fortunately for Schuldt and the Americans, Comets goaltender Akira Schmid was screened and could not track the puck until it was already by him and in the net to give the visitors an early 1-0 lead.
The Comets controlled play for most of the period, outshooting the Americans thirteen to three. Dell was up to the task, however, and turned aside everything he faced to preserve Rochester’s one to nothing lead going into the first intermission.
The Comets broke through at just under seven minutes into the second period when a Joe Gambardella shot was knocked down in front of the Rochester net but Aarne Talvitie was there to snap the loose puck past Dell to tie the game at one. The Americans regained their lead with just over six minutes left in the period when Ben Holmstrom carried the puck down the left side of the Utica zone and saucered a pass to Lukas Craggs who re-directed it from the slot past Schmid. With the Craggs goal, the visitors took a 2-1 lead that held going into the second intermission.
The Comets once again controlled play to start the third period and were able to tie the game at the 4:53 mark when AJ Greer fed a pass to Ryan Schmelzer, who ripped a shot past Dell from the high slot tie the game at two. Three and a half minutes after the Schmelzer goal, the Americans took the lead yet again when JJ Peterka burst down the left side of the Comets zone, backed the defense off and fed Linus Weissbach who blasted a one-timer past Schmid. With just under one minute remaining in the game, the Comets had a golden opportunity to tie the game as they were awarded a power-play off of a Nick Boka slashing penalty. It ended up being for naught, as they could only muster one shot from Robbie Russo which Dell stopped to preserve the 3-2 win for Rochester.
Notes: Utica outshot Rochester 35-19…Utica was 0 for 4 on the power play, Rochester was 0 for 2…Utica has not allowed a power-play goal in four straight games (nine consecutive penalty kills in that span)…Utica has not scored a power-play goal in their last three games (0 for 12 in that span)…Utica had six players with one point each, Rochester had seven players with one point each…Utica plays again on Tuesday night at Belleville.