Utica Comets vs Syracuse Crunch 04-01-2022 Three Observations

The Utica Comets defeated the Syracuse Crunch by a score of 5-3 on Friday night, but there was more to the game than meets the eye.

The Utica Comets celebrated the birthday of their mascot “Naudie” on Friday night with a win over the Syracuse Crunch before a packed house at the Adirondack Bank Center. Although they picked up the victory, the Comets did not play their best game. Here are three takeaways from the thirteenth meeting this season between the I-90 rivals.

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More was less and less was more

If you were to look at the shots on goal for the game only, you would think that Syracuse won this game easily. The Crunch outshot the Comets by a total of 35-15, which included a 22-5 advantage at the halfway point of the game. Yet, it was the Comets who held a 2-0 advantage on the scoreboard through the first two periods of the game. So how, despite being outshot by an over two to one margin did the Comets come away with the victory?

Simply put, this game was a tale of two goaltenders. Utica goaltender Akira Schmid was outstanding, as the Crunch relentlessly poured shots in on him for the entire game. He made several big saves to keep the Crunch off of the scoreboard until the third period – when with under four minutes to go Syracuse scored three goals in under two minutes. Despite the three-goal barrage, it was Schmid that kept the Crunch at bay for a vast majority of the game to vault his team to victory.

Syracuse goaltender Max Legace had a game to forget, letting in three goals on thirteen shots.

The special teams were special

The Utica Comets scored five goals in this game, but not one of them was at five on five. Utica opened the scoring by getting a shorthanded goal for the second consecutive game – this time it was Frederik Gauthier who lit the lamp. The Comet’s power play was also perfect, capitalizing on both of their chances with goals by Ryan Schmelzer and Chase DeLeo. In a desperate attempt to get on the scoreboard in the third period, the Crunch left their net vacated several times for an extra skater. Utica capitalized on that as well by getting empty-net goals from Aarne Talvitie and Tyce Thompson.

Ryan Schmelzer scores for the Utica Comets against the Syracuse Crunch on Friday night. Video credit: Scott Kinville.

Debuts and returns

The Comets welcomed a new face and some familiar faces back on Friday night. Brian Halonen, who was recently signed by the New Jersey Devils, made his Utica Comets debut (for more on Halonen, please click here: Utica Comets Bring in Brian Halonen). Rookie sensation Alexander Holtz returned to the lineup on Friday night after missing two games with an injury. Although he did not register a point, his return is a welcome boost for the team.

Speaking of returns and boosts, Tyce Thompson returned on Friday night as well, playing his first game for the Comets since November. He made an immediate impact, by scoring a goal and registering an assist as well. Nolan Foote and Jeremy Groleau are still out with injuries, but the Comets are nearing full health as the regular season schedule winds down and the playoffs are on the horizon.

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