Comets Keep Playoff Hopes Alive
It took a shootout, but the Utica Comets pulled out a
thrilling victory, 4-3 over the Miwaukee Admirals at the Utica Memorial
Auditorium on Sunday evening. Utica made it four in a row in games that go
to the shootout and with the win, the Comets moved over the .500 mark for
the first time in franchise history at 29-28-3-4.
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Alexandre Grenier, Pascal Pelletier and Brandon DeFazio each scored in
regulation for the Comets and David Marshall netted the game winner during
the shootout. Frank Corrado collected the first multi-point game of his
professional career and Pelletier and DeFazio also scored during the
shootout. Joacim Eriksson finished with 20 saves on 23 shots during
regulation, in addition to three of five during the shootout.
Milwaukee opened the scoring 4:57 into the first period, after a bit of bad
luck went the Comets way. Both Utica defenseman, Frank Corrado and John
Negrin, saw their sticks break, which gave Vinny Saponari extra space in
front to bang a loose puck past Eriksson. Defenseman Joe Piskula recorded
the lone assist on the play, his 17th of the season.
Utica leveled the score 8:23 into the second, as they found the back of the
net on the power play for the second straight game. Alexandre Grenier
potted his 17th of the season with a deflection in front of Milwaukee
netminder Scott Darling. Corrado collected the primary assist off of his
shot from the point and Pelletier also picked up a helper on the play.
Milwaukee reclaimed the lead with just 2:39 to play in the middle stanza, as
Mathieu Tousignant collected a loose puck in the slot and beat Eriksson to
the glove side to make it 2-1. The goal, which was unassisted, was the
sixth of the season and the 18th point for Tousignant.
A great passing play from the Comets led to a goal from Pelletier to knot
the score at two, 4:02 into the second period. The Labrador City, NFLD
native took a perfect feed in stride from Marshall and beat Darling to the
glove side. The play was started by Darren Archibald, who collected his
first point since Feb. 23 with the secondary assist.
The Comets took their first lead of the evening just over two minutes later,
as Brandon DeFazio collected yet another goal, this with the man advantage,
to put the Comets up 3-2. A blast from the point by Corrado created a
scramble in front, which DeFazio pounced on for his fifth goal over his past
seven games. Cal O’Reilly also picked up an assist on the play, his AHL
leading 16th since he returned to the Utica lineup from injury on Feb. 21.
Despite a valiant defensive effort, the Comets could not hold onto their
lead down the stretch, as Francis Wathier beat Eriksson to knot the score at
three. Forward Austin Watson collected the lone assist on the goal, which
snuck past a screened Utica net.
It all came down to the shootout as neither team was able to score during
the overtime period. After Utica and Milwaukee each scored twice in the
first seven total shooters, Marshall came down the middle and went off the
crossbar and in to beat Darling and put Utica up 3-2. Wathier tried to even
the score as the Admirals’ final shooter but was denied by an emphatic glove
save from Eriksson, which gave Utica the important second point.
The Comets begin a critical weekend on Friday, as the Abbotsford Heat come
to town for the final time this season. Puck drop is slated for 7:00 p.m. on
both Friday and Saturday evening. The Comets then host fellow Western
Conference playoff hopeful, the Iowa Wild, in a Sunday matinee, with a 3:00