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Comets Lose to Heat, Key Game Scheduled Today

(Photo courtesy of Utica Comets)

The Utica Comets were handed one of the worst defeats in
franchise history, as they dropped a 7-2 decision to the Abbotsford Heat,
Saturday evening on home ice in front of a sold out crowd at the Utica
Memorial Auditorium.  Tonight’s game concluded the season series between
Utica and Abbotsford, with the Comets victorious in seven of twelve
meetings.

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Jeremy Welsh and Alex Biega scored for Utica, which fell to 29-29-4-4 with
the defeat.  The Comets received 18 saves form Joacim Eriksson, who took the
loss, and 12 saves from Joe Cannata in relief.  Ben Street led all scorers
with three points (1-2-3) for Abbotsford, while Brett Olson had two goals.
Netminder Joni Ortio made 32 saves on 34 shots to earn the victory.

Abbotsford used an extended stead in the offensive zone to get on the board
first, 14:38 into the game.  Winger Jordan Kremyr let go a backhanded effort
from the slot that slipped between Eriksson’s five hole to put the Heat up
1-0.  Tim Miller and Kane LaFranchise picked up assists on the goal, the
first of Kremyr’s professional career.

Utica knotted the score at one just 30 seconds into the second period as
Welsh fired a slap shot past Ortio from the left wing.  Welsh was sprung by
a feed from Alex Friesen, who collected his eighth point over his past ten
games.  Defenseman Peter Andersson also picked up an assist, his first point
since he picked up an assist on Jan. 28 against Lake Erie.

The Heat scored their first of five during the middle stanza at the 3:40
mark of the second, as Zachery Davies beat Eriksson off of a cross-ice feed
from Max Reinhart.   Davies’ finish came from the lower left circle for his
second goal of the season. Street also had an assist on the play.

Olson made it 3-1 just over a minute later as he found the back of the net
just seven seconds into a David Marshall hooking minor.  The center picked
up his 12th goal of the season on the play, with the assists going to Corey
Locke and Derek Smith.

Olson found his second of the night less than four minutes later, this a
shorthanded marker as the score moved to 4-1.  The Heat forward collected a
deflected pass from Street in his defensive end and went the length of the
ice before he slid a backhander through Eriksson’s legs.  With the brace,
Olson recorded multiple goals in an AHL game for the first time in his
career.

The Heat made it 5-1 as Street potted his first goal of the evening to give
him his third point.  The tally chased Eriksson from the game, with Cannata
joining the fray in relief.  Eriksson finished with 18 saves on 23 shots.
Josh Jooris and Reinhart each collected an assist on the play.

The Heat finished a nightmare of a period for Utica, as Jooris converted on
a penalty shot after he was hooked on a breakaway.  The Union College
graduate beat Cannata for the first time and extended the score to 6-1.

The second did not officially end, however, until a series of fights broke
out in front of Ortio’s net.  Darren Archibald and Brandon DeFazio each
picked up misconduct penalties, with the two wingers totaling a combined 29
penalty minutes. Jooris picked up a misconduct of his own and Dean Arsense
also recorded five for fighting for the Heat.

Abbotsford added their final tally of the evening as a point shot from Shane
O’Brien beat Cannata to extend the Heat advantage to six goals.  Sven
Baertschi and Kane LaFranchise got in on the scoring with assists on the
play.

Alex Biega and the Comets drew one back with the game’s final tally just
4:23 from the final buzzer.  The defenseman laid into a pass from Friesen
and wired a slap shot past Ortio to make it 7-2.  The goal was the second
shorthanded marker of the season for Biega, which ties him with Colin Stuart
for the team lead.  It’s also Utica’s fifth shorthanded goal since Feb. 5.
DeFazio picked up an assist on the play as well.

The Comets face an enormous game tomorrow, with the Iowa Wild in town for
the final game of the weekend.  Utica, which remains within striking
distance of the playoffs, is in need of a victory to remain so.  Tomorrow’s
contest is a matinee, with puck drop slated for 3:00 pm at The AUD.

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