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Comets Keep Playoff Hopes Alive With 3-1 Win

Utica Comets Beat Abbotsford
Joacim Eriksson defends the net as the Utica Comets keep their playoff hopes alive with a bounce-back win 3-1 victory over the Abbotsford Heat on Saturday, March 15m 2014. (Photo compliments of Utica Comets)

Colin Stuart scored twice to keep the Utica Comets playoff hopes alive on Saturday night with a 3-1 win over the Abbotsford Heat in British Columbia.

The Comets split the weekend with the Heat and ended their season series in British Columbia with five wins in six contests, pushing the Vancouver farm club back to .500 at 27-27-3-4.

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The Comets were led offensively by a pair of goals from Colin Stuart and a
multi-point night, courtesy of two assists, from Alex Friesen.  Brandon

Comets Goalie Joacim Eriksson (Photo courtesy of Utica Comets)

DeFazio also found the back of the net for the Comets. Goaltender Joacim
Eriksson turned aside 38 of 39 shots to earn the number one star and his
20th victory of the season.

Stuart, who played for Abbotsford last year, tallied his sixth goal in six games against his former teammates.

The win moves Utica to within eight-points of a Western Conference playoff berth with 15 games to play over the next month.  Nine of those games will be played at the Utica Memorial Auditorium and another will be on the ice in nearby Syracuse.

Game Recap

Neither team was able to find the back of the net during the first period,
which was highlighted by Utica’s presence in the penalty box. The Comets
took four minor penalties in the opening stanza, which resulted in a heavy
period of work for the penalty kill unit. Utica remained hot whith a man
down, as they successfully killed off all four and moved to 33 kills over
their past 35 attempts. Eriksson turned aside 10 Abbotsford shots throughout
the frame, while Olivier Roy stopped each of the eight shots he faced.

The Comets took advantage of a fortuitous bounce and netted the game’s first
goal 8:47 into the second period. A rim around from defenseman Yann Sauve
deflected off of the official, off of the end boards and onto DeFazio’s
stick for the goal. The marker was the 12th of the season for the Oakville,
ON native, an AHL career high.  Cal O’Reilly also collected an assist on the
play to extend his scoring streak to seven games.

Utica doubled it’s advantage with just 4:35 left in the second, as Stuart
found the back of the net to make it 2-0.  The captain took a pass down the
left wing from center Alex Friesen and beat Roy through the five hole.  The
goal was the fourteenth of the season for Stuart. Defenseman Kent Huskins
also picked up an assist on the play.

Stuart added his second of the evening as the Comets opened up a 3-0
advantage 3:55 into the final period.  The Colorado College alum scored this
"The win moves Utica to within eight-points of a Western Conference playoff berth with 15 games to play over the next month.  Nine of those games will be played at the Utica Memorial Auditorium and another will be on the ice in nearby Syracuse."time off of a feed from Tommernes as he struck past Roy through a screen in
front. Friesen picked up the secondary assist on the play, which gives him
five points over his past five games.  Tommernes’ point was his first since
he returned from injury last evening.

Abbotsford drew one back as Eriksson’s record was blemished for the first
and only time.  With Kellan Lain and Jeremy Welsh in the box with penalties,
Heat winger Ben Street buried a power-play goal on a one-timer to cut the
Utica lead to 3-1.  Corey Locke and Derek Smith picked up the assists on the
play.

The Comets return home for a critical stretch of games, with five of their
next six on home ice. It all begins on Friday evening, as the Comets host
the Adirondack Phantoms for a 7:00 p.m. puck drop at The AUD.

 

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