Springfield, MA – Richard Bachman and Thatcher Demko combined for 37 saves on 38 shots and combined to help the Utica Comets to a 2-1 win over the Springfield Thunderbirds on Friday night at MassMutual Center.
The first period featured a flurry of chances for both teams, with the goaltenders stealing the show for a majority of the frame. The Comets eventually broke through the Thunderbirds’ defense after forcing a steal with relentless forechecking. Darren Archibald earned a takeaway, and set up a give-and-go play with Brendan Gaunce that finished with Archibald playing the puck between his legs to chip it past the glove of Michael Hutchinson. The late goal sent Utica into the first intermission with a 1-0 lead.
The Comets continued to dictate the pace of the game and Bachman continued to flawlessly backstop, allowing Utica to take a 2-0 lead early in the second. While shorthanded, a neutral-zone swipe from Gaunce started a two-on-one, in which Gaunce called his own number and wired a wrist shot into the net for the only goal of the second period.
After making 27 saves on 27 shots through 9:40 of the third period, Bachman had to leave the game due to injury. Thatcher Demko entered the net to take the Comets through the home stretch.
Creating sustained pressure, Springfield got on the board with a seeing-eye slap shot from the stick of Josh Brown, who made it 2-1 with under seven minutes to go. Down the stretch, Demko slammed the door shut and was able to withstand a late barrage, closing out the win for Utica.
The Comets return home tomorrow night when they face the Binghamton Devils. Puck drop at the Adirondack Bank Center is a 7 p.m. Fans are encouraged to use the ticket exchange site, StubHub!. The game can be heard on 94.9 KROCK and viewed on AHL TV.