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Comets Lose Thriller to Marlies

by Mark Caswell, Jr.

Nov 6, 2015

The Utica Comets fell 5-4 in a shoot out against the Toronto Marlies, after a hard fought back-and-forth battle at the Utica Memorial Auditorium on Friday night. The high-scoring game saw four lead changes, two apiece.

Wacey Hamilton (1-0-1), Brendan Gaunce (1-0-1), Mike Zalewski (1-0-1), and Travis Ehrhardt (1-0-1) scored for the Comets, while Jacob Markstrom made 30 saves in loss. Alexandre Grenier (0-2-2), and Carter Bancks (0-2-2) enjoyed multi-point nights.

The Comets and Marlies exchanged blows throughout the first period with the Comets striking first when Hamilton broke into the Marlies’ zone and put a wrist shot over the shoulder of the goalkeeper, for his first goal of the season. Taylor Fedun and Bancks assisted on the goal.

Toronto tied the game 1-1 just 42 seconds later on a Casey Bailey goal. Assisting on the goal were T.J. Brennan and Frederik Gauthier.

Utica came right back 1:11 later when Gaunce broke free on a breakaway and scored his second goal of the season. With only the goalkeeper to beat, Gaunce flicked a shot into the left corner of the net to give the Comets a 2-1 lead. Grenier and Alex Friesen were credited with the assists on the Gaunce goal.

The Marlies tied the score 2-2 when Kasperi Kapanen put a shot past Markstrom, from in front of the net. The goal came on a pass from William Nylander. Mark Arcobello also assisted on the play.

Toronto got their first lead of the game early in the second period when T.J. Brennan bounced a shot off Markstrom’s pad and into the net just 1:09 into the period.

The Comets came out firing in the third period and tied the game 3-3 just 1:02 into the period. Zalewski got past the defense on a breakaway and flicked a shot over the shoulder of the goalkeeper, for his first goal of the season. The goal was unassisted. The goal was his first goal at The AUD since his high school days, playing for the New Hartford Spartans.

The Comets regained the lead when Travis Ehrhardt took the puck behind the net, went back around the net and sent a shot past the goalkeeper for his second goal the season. Bancks and Grenier assisted on the goal.

With 9:20 left in the third, the Marlies had an answer once again, when William Nylander sent a shot by Markstrom to tie the game 4-4 and send it to overtime. Josh Leivo and Justin Holl set up the Toronto goal.

After a scoreless overtime period, the game went to a shootout Mark Arcobello went first for Toronto and scored the difference-maker for the Marlies.

Both teams got off their fair share of shots, with Utica getting away with a 36-35 advantage.

The loss drops the Comets to 4-4-1-1 on the season. Toronto improves to 8-3-0-1 with the win.

The Comets will be back in action Saturday night, when they take on the Boston Bruins AHL affiliate, Providence Bruins at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. The game is scheduled for 7 p.m.



UTICA COMETS (4-4-1-0) @ TORONTO MARLIES (8-3-0-0)
Utica Memorial Auditorium, 7 pm
Watch Live: AHL Live | Listen Live: Radio: 94.9 K-ROCK,  Desktop or Mobile

Tonight’s Game: The Utica Comets are back in action tonight in front of a SOLD OUT Utica Memorial Auditorium to take on the first-place Toronto Marlies. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m..

The Comets currently sit in sixth place in the North Division, seven points behind tonight’s guest, the Toronto Marlies, who have played two more games than Utica. All-time the Comets enjoy a 7-5-2-0 record vs. their North Division rival.

Reunited at Long Last: Last night Comets fans were delivered excellent news when forward Brendan Gaunce, defenseman Alex Biega, and goaltender Jacob Markstrom were assigned to Utica in time for tonight’s game. Markstrom, 25, was assigned to Utica on a conditioning assignment as he recovers from an injury suffered in training camp. All three players were vital members of the 2014-15 Western Conference Championship teams, and will join Darren Archibald, who signed a PTO with the Comets on Tuesday, on the ice tonight in an informal reunion of sorts tonight.

Last Game: The Comets last game ended in exciting fashion as the team hung on for a 3-2 victory over the Portland Pirates on Wednesday night. In his first game back from Kalamazoo, forward Darren Archibald scored the team’s first goal. Ashton Sautner followed that up with his first professional goal, before Blair Jones and Joe Cannata added the final winning touches to the game.

Scouting the Marlies: Through 11 games, the Marlies possess 16 points and a points percentage of .727, best in the North Division. The high-scoring Marlies (3.37 goals per game) have won four out of their past five games, and five out of seven. William Nylander (5-5-10), Josh Levio (3-5-8), T.J. Brennan (2-6-8), and Richard Panik (1-7-8) lead the way in scoring for the Marlies thus far. Earlier this week the Maple Leafs recalled Marlies’ starting goaltender, Antoine Bibeau, leaving Garret Sparks as their main goaltender. In five games, Sparks possesses a 3-2 record, a 2.18 goals against average, and a .933 save percentage.

The Return of the Mark: Goaltender Jacob Markstrom is expected to start both games this weekend for the Comets. The Galve, Sweden native appeared in 32 games for the Comets during the 2014-15 season, where he posted a record of 22-7-2, a GAA of 1.88, save percentage of 0.934 and five shutouts. Markstrom backstopped the Comets to the Calder Cup Finals with a 0.925 save percentage and 2.11 GAA through 23 games.

Not How Coach Drew it That Up: Wednesday evening the Comets gave up nine power-play opportunities to the Portland Pirates and won the game. The power-play attempts allowed tied a franchise high mark. The Comets also won the two previous times they allowed nine power-plays (Feb. 18 vs Toronto W 3-2, and March 8 at Binghamton W 6-5). In games where the Comets have allowed seven or more power-attempts, the team is 11-3.

As the Hunter Goes: Hunter Shinkaruk has six goals in nine games for the Comets. Three of the four Comets victories this season have come when the sophomore forward tallies a goal. Friday night in Binghamton, Shinkaruk recorded his second multi-goal game of the season with a two goal performance. The Vancouver Canucks’ 24th overall draft pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Level Draft enjoyed a 31-point rookie season with 16 goals in 74 games. His six goals are good for a fifth place tie among the AHL goal leaders.

Next Game: The Comets will welcome back Brandon DeFazio and the Providence Bruins to the Utica Memorial Auditorium on Saturday, for the final game of their three-game homestand. For the second time this season the Comets will be wearing their green alternate sweaters. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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