Allentown, Pa. – Zack MacEwen scored his 19th goal of the season, but it was all the Utica Comets could generate during a 3-1 loss on Saturday night at PPL Center.
Forced into a shorthanded situation early in the first period, the Comets surrendered the opening goal. Good puck movement from the Phantoms allowed Greg Carey to fire a right-wing wrist shot into the top corner of the net. Towards the end of the period, Carey’s presence was felt again as his long-range knuckler flew through traffic and over the shoulder of Marek Mazanec, who was making his Utica debut.
The Comets threw everything they had at Mike McKenna and the Phantoms in the second, but none of their 17 tries could find the back of the goal. Mazanec made 11 saves of his own during the middle stanza, and it sent Utica into the locker room facing the same 2-0 deficit from the first.
Earning a power play in the opening minutes of the third period, the Comets sliced the Lehigh Valley lead in half, as Zack MacEwen tallied his 19th of the season by putting back a long shot that was stopped by McKenna.
Pulling Mazanec in favor of the extra attacker created opportunities for Utica, but they couldn’t find an equalizer. Justin Bailey sealed the game with an empty netter with under 30 seconds remaining.
The Comets are back at it Wednesday night as they host the Syracuse Crunch. Puck drop is at 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.