Rochester, NY – The Utica Comets were provided some late-game heroics from Olli Juolevi as they skated to a 4-3 win on Saturday night at Blue Cross Arena.
The first period was a quick-moving stanza that didn’t have any scoring, but the Comets out-shot the Amerks 9-4 and out-chanced the home team as well. Richard Bachman and Andrew Hammond did well protecting their respective nets as the two teams went into the first intermission in a 0-0 deadlock.
Both teams found their groove in the second, as goals were exchanged from start to finish in the period. The Amerks opened the night’s scoring while on a power play at 3:34, after Taylor Leier banked one in from an acute angle.
Utica’s response came less than four minutes later, with a potent counterattack creating the equalizer. Reid Boucher carried through center ice along the right wing side and used a head fake to create enough space to fire a back-post feed to Sven Baertschi, who one-timed it into the back of the net for his sixth of the season.
Sticking with it through the period, Utica earned their first lead of the game with another picture-perfect transition through neutral ice just minutes later. Justin Bailey feathered a pass forward to Vincent Arseneau, who raced in behind the defense, and snapped a wrist shot over the left leg of Hammond, making it 2-1 favoring the Comets. However, before the end of the period, the Amerks knotted things up with their second power play goal of the night.
Less than five minutes into the third period, the Comets used a fortunate bounce to re-gain the lead. A long shot from Dylan Blujus went off the back of Jonah Gadjovich’s leg, but the puck landed at Gadjovich’s stick where he turned and flung it into the net.
While shorthanded, Leier led Rochester back to even the game with a shorthanded tally that beat Bachman over the glove side.
With time winding down, and pressure being maintained in the offensive zone, Utica generated the game winner, as Seamus Malone warded off a pair of Amerks before sending a shot to the goal which was tipped by Baertschi, over the head of Hammond and left at the goal line for Olli Juolevi to sweep over the line for the game winner.
The Comets return to the ice Friday, December 27 when they host the Hershey Bears. Puck drop is at 7 p.m. Tickets are still available at the Box Office, over the phone by calling (315) 790-9070, or online at www.empirestatetix.com. The game can be heard on 94.9 KROCK and viewed on AHLTV.
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