The Utica Comets Are Back on Track

After losing three games in a row, the Utica Comets have now won three consecutive games after defeating the Hartford Wolfpack on Monday night.

The Utica Comets have turned things around, as the Hartford Wolfpack found out on Monday night. After defeating the Providence Bruins on Sunday afternoon to kick off a three-game road trip, the Comets rolled into Hartford, Connecticut, and took down the Wolfpack by a score of 7-3 at the XL Center despite playing without their second-leading scorer Alexander Holtz. He did not play in the third period against Providence with an undisclosed injury. They did, however, welcome back AJ Greer and Kevin Bahl, who was re-assigned back to the team by the New Jersey Devils on Monday morning.

Utica did not wait long to start the scoring when Graeme Clarke put a loose puck in the crease past Hartford goaltender Adam Huska at the 1:44 mark of the first period. The Comet’s lead could have been larger but they hit the post twice within the first six minutes (and three times total for the period). The Wolfpack would capitalize on the Comet’s post misfortunes and then a turnover with six minutes left that wound up on the stick of Zac Jones who ripped a shot past Utica goaltender Akira Schmid from the high slot to tie the game at one and complete the scoring for the first period.

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Like they did in the first period, the Comets opened the scoring in the second period as well. While on the power play, Fabian Zetterlund wired a wrist shot from the left circle that was re-directed by Ryan Schmelzer into the Hartford net to give the Comets a 2-1 lead. The Wolfpack answered right back two minutes later when their leading scorer, Anthony Greco put the rebound off a shot from Ty Ronning past Schmid to tie the game at two. Utica re-took the lead with five and a half minutes left in the period when AJ Greer tipped a Reilly Walsh point shot past Huska for the Comet’s second power-play goal of the period. The teams went to the locker rooms for the second intermission with the Comets leading 3-2.

Utica Comets vs Hartford Wolfpack Game Preview 03-28-2022

The scoring floodgates opened in the last half of the third period. Fabian Zetterlund scored his team-leading twenty-fourth goal of the season when took a beauty of a backhand pass from Frederik Gauthier and put it past Huska to give the Comets a 4-2 lead. Once again, the Wolfpack answered right back as less than two minutes later Lauri Pajuniemi poked a loose puck in the crease past Schmid to once again get Hartford within one goal.

Live on March 29th at 7:30 pm EDT on the Marty’s Illegal Stick Hockey Podcast YouTube channel, a brand new episode of Marty’s Illegal Stick Hockey Podcast features the voice of Utica Pioneers Hockey, Ray Biggs! We’ll chat about Ray’s career, review the season and look to the future for the Pioneers Men’s and Women’s Hockey Teams, covering the Division III Frozen Four in Lake Placid, and much more!

Thirteen seconds later, Utica would get its two-goal lead right back when AJ Greer scooped up a loose puck along the boards in the right side of the Hartford zone, skated in, and fed a backhand pass to Chase DeLeo who deposited the puck in the Wolfpack net to make the score 5-3. DeLeo added an empty-net goal with two minutes and forty-six seconds left off another pass from Greer to make it 6-3, then Graeme Clarke added his second goal of the game with just over a minute remaining to seal the victory.

Notes: Hartford outshot Utica 32-26…Utica was 2 for 2 on the power play, Hartford was 0 for 1…AJ Greer led all Utica scorers with four points (one goal and three assists). Chase DeLeo had three points (two goals and one assist), while Graeme Clarke (two goals), Fabian Zetterlund (one goal and one assist), and Samuel Laberge (two assists) each had two points…Anthony Greco (one goal and one assist) led all Hartford scorers…For all you wrestling fans out there, the XL Center is where The Undertaker made his WWF debut at the 1990 Survivor Series…Hartford plays again on Wednesday night at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton…Utica plays again on Wednesday as well at Rochester.

Utica Comets Drop Close Game to the Hartford Wolfpack

The Comets have lost three of their last four games.

The good news is the Utica Comets held the Hartford Wolfpack to only two goals. The bad news is they only scored one for themselves.

With Frank Fleming and Coach Duggs from Barstool Sports in attendance, the Comets got an unpleasant surprise before the game even started. Alexander Holtz and Kevin Bahl, who had just been reassigned to the team two days prior by the New Jersey Devils, were placed in the AHL Covid protocol making them unavailable for the game (they had played the night before against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton).

The Wolfpack, who are the AHL affiliate of the New York Rangers, scored the game’s first goal in the first period, taking just twelve seconds to strike on the first powerplay of the contest. Anthony Bitetto fed Justin Richards in the left circle who attempted to send a pass to Ty Ronning but instead the puck ended up in the net past Utica goaltender Mareks Mitens to make the score 1-0. This was Mitens second start in as many nights, as he was in goal for the Comets 6-5 shootout win against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins the night before.

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The Comets nearly tied the game with one minute left in the first period when Tyler Irvine got in all alone on a breakaway against Hartford goaltender Adam Huska, but Huska made the save to keep the score at 1-0 heading into the first intermission.

The Comets came out with a more concentrated offensive effort in the second period, outshooting the Wolfpack five to one through the first five minutes of the frame. Much to Utica’s chagrin, it would be Hartford that scored the next goal. Mike O’Leary blocked a Utica clearing attempt at the blue line and slid a pass to Cristiano DiGiacinto, who then sent a backhanded pass to Alex Whelan deep in the right circle. Whelan then wired a shot top shelf past Mitens to extend the Wolfpack lead to two – a lead they would hold throughout the period.

Utica Comets Notch Shootout Win vs Wilkes-Barre/Scranton

The beginning of the third period was a reversal of what the start of the second period was, as the Wolfpack outshot the Comets three to none, but they gave Utica a powerplay that the Comets would capitalize on. This time it was the Comets who blocked a clearing attempt at the blue line and Fabian Zetterlund sent a cross-ice pass to team leading scorer Chase DeLeo along the left half wall. DeLeo then found Frederik Gauthier at the top of the Hartford crease who redirected the feed past Huska and into the net to make the score 2-1.

With a minute left in the game and the score 2-1, Utica coach Kevin Dineen pulled Mitens for an extra skater. Despite a furious attempt to the game in the closing seconds, Utica could not get one more past Huska, and Hartford skated away with the victory. The loss was only the third regulation defeat of the season for the Comets, albeit their second in their last three games.

Notes: Hartford outshot Utica by a 25-22 margain…Hartford was 1 for 6 on the powerplay, Utica was 1 for 4…Neither team had a player with more than one point in the game…With his powerplay assist, Utica’s Chase DeLeo extended his point scoring streak to six games…Frederik Gauthier of the Comets has goals in two straight games…Hartford’s next game is on Wednesday night against the Charlotte Checkers…Utica’s next game is also on Wednesday night, on the road against Rochester.

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