The Utica Comets ended a three game losing streak on Friday night by defeating the Syracuse Crunch by a score of 3-1.
The Utica Comets were ready to end a losing streak that has plagued the team as of late. The fans that packed the Adirondack Bank Center on Friday night were ready for that losing streak to come to end as well. It all came together as the Comets returned to their winning ways with an outstanding effort as they prepare to play five games next week starting on Sunday.
The Comets played the game without five regulars, as Ryan Schmelzer, Nolan Foote, and Jeremy Groleau are still out with injuries and AJ Greer and Kevin Bahl are with the New Jersey Devils. To help replace some size and brawn in the lineup, Utica recalled the six feet five inches tall and 207 pounds Luke Stevens from Adirondack of the ECHL and optioned Tyler Irvine back to the Thunder. Stevens would pay dividends in this game.
The first period did not feature a lot of shots on goal (each team had five), but despite the lack of shots, there was a lot of back and forth action. Each team had two power plays in the period, but Syracuse goaltender Max Legace and Utica goaltender Mareks Mitens were both up to the task, and the period ended in a scoreless tie.
The Crunch opened the game’s scoring at just fifty-one seconds into the second period. Anthony Richard drove the net from the left side of the Comets zone, and although Mitens made the initial save, Gage Concalves put the rebound in the back of the net to give the Crunch a 1-0 lead. After that, the Comets came right back and Chase DeLeo nearly tied the game but his shot rang off of the post. Three minutes after the Goncalves goal, Luke Stevens took a Frederik Gauthier pass and slid a backhand feed to Comets leading scorer Fabian Zetterlund who beat Legace to tie the game. The ensuing goal celebration is one for the ages.
Three and a half minutes later, after Zetterlund blocked a clearing attempt out of the Syracuse zone Gauthier set him up in the slot. Zetterlund then snapped a laser over Legace’s glove to give the Comets the lead. Utica completed a strong second period with twelve shots on goal compared to four for Syracuse.
The third period was back and forth until the last two minutes. Desperately needing a goal to tie the game, Syracuse pulled Legace for an extra skater. Mitens held off chances by Charles Hudon and Alex Barre-Boulet before Brian Flynn scored into the empty Syracuse net to seal the 3-1 Comets victory and send the home crowd home very happy. It might not seem like it on paper, but this was a huge win for the Utica Comets as they needed to end their three-game losing streak before embarking on a tough stretch that will see them play five games in seven nights starting this Sunday in Providence, Rhode Island.
Notes: Utica outshot Syracuse 24-20…Utica was 0 for 5 on the power play, Syracuse was 0 for 2…Gage Concalves and Anthony Richard registered the only points for the Crunch…Fabian Zetterlund (two goals) and Frederik Gauthier (two assists) led all Utica scorers…Utica now holds a 9-1-2 in the season series so far with two regular-season games remaining…Syracuse plays again on Saturday at home against Rochester…Utica plays again on Sunday at Providence.