Utica Comets Stunned by the Cleveland Monsters

Chase DeLeo returns to the lineup, but the Utica Comets still fall on Saturday night.

There is an old sports axiom that says “that’s why you play the games”, and for the first place Utica Comets and last place Cleveland Monsters, their Saturday night matchup proved that saying true. After nearly completing a massive comeback after being down by five goals on Friday night, the Monsters finished the job in this matchup, defeating their North Division rival Comets by a score of 2-1.

Utica Comets Hang On to Defeat the Cleveland Monsters

Like Friday night’s game, the Comets dominated play in the first period, but unlike that game, the Comets were held scoreless (they scored five in the first frame the previous night). Utica had several chances – including a blast by Fabian Zetterlund that went off of the crossbar, but Monsters goaltender Jet Greaves stopped all sixteen shots that came his way in the period. The Comets thought they had a goal with 3:09 left in the frame when while on the powerplay AJ Greer snapped a shot over a fallen Greaves into the net, but it was waved off after the officials ruled Greaves helmet was off before the puck entered the net. Utica goaltender Mareks Mitens stopped all three shots he faced and the period ended in a scoreless tie.

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The Comets finally broke through just under three minutes into the second period, when Alexander Holtz extended his point streak to seven when he got the step on the Cleveland defense coming through the Monsters zone and darted through the slot and beat Greaves with a backhanded shot to give the Comets a 1-0 lead. The goal is Holtz’s sixteenth of the season in only twenty-seven games played.

The Utica Comets have been a dominant team all season long, but if there is a problem they have had it is the number of shots on goal they have given up in the second period. In eleven of their last thirteen games, they have been outshot by their opponent in the middle frame (in the other two games the shots were even), and Saturday night was no different as Cleveland registered twelve shots on goal to Utica’s five. It would haunt the Comets in this game, as just two minutes later Cleveland’s Tyler Angle tied the game when he capiatlized on a turnover in front of the Utica net and ripped a shot past what looked to be a screened Mitens.

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After Angle’s first goal, the Monsters continued to put pressure on the Comets. Mitens was able to keep them at bay making several big saves, but Angle struck again with two and a half minutes left in the period. Carson Meyer was initially stopped on a breakaway by Mitens, but he was able to corral his own rebound and slid a pass to a trailing Angle, who put the puck into the open Utica net.

The Comets found themselves behind on the scoreboard to start the third period by a score of 2-1 but would get chances to tie the game. Greaves made a tremendous save on a point-blank tip-in chance by Graeme Clarke early in the third period, and the Monsters survived giving up two powerplay opportunities to the Comets that resulted in a one-minute five-on-three chance. Coach Dineen pulled Mitens with two minutes left in the period for an extra skater, and despite a Utica flurry in the closing seconds, Greaves and the Monsters hung on for a 2-1 victory. The win was Cleveland’s first in five attempts versus Utica this season. The teams will play three more times this season – once more in Utica and twice in Cleveland.

Notes: Utica outshot Cleveland 29 to 20…Utica was 0 for 4 on the powerplay, Cleveland was 0 for 2…Tyler Angle (two goals), and Carson Meyer (two assists) accounted for all of Cleveland’s points, AJ Greer and Kevin Bahl earned the assists on the Holtz goal for Utica…Cleveland plays again on Saturday night at Charlotte, Utica’s next game is on Wednesday night at Toronto.

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