Rochester, NY – Sven Baertschi scored his 11th goal of the season and earned the shootout winner while Michael DiPietro made 34 saves, and the Utica Comets beat the Rochester Americans 3-2 in a shootout on Wednesday at Blue Cross Arena.
The Comets needed just two minutes to get on the board, as a record-breaking tally from Brogan Rafferty started the scoring. On a power play, Rafferty handled the puck at the blue line before rifling a long shot that sailed through traffic and into the goal. It marked his 41st point of the season, setting a new franchise record for single-season points by a defenseman.
The Comets lead lasted just over 16 minutes before Casey Mittelstadt evened things up with 1:02 remaining in the first.
Generating some rhythm in the early goings of the second period, Utica produced their second lead of the game as Baertschi put the Comets back on top. Cruising up the right wing side, Baertschi flung a wrist shot that appeared to be stopped by Andrew Hammond, but it dribbled past the netminder and over the line for the only goal of the period.
The 2-1 lead held until the final minute of regulation, as Scott Wilson tied the game with a follow-up finish with Hammond on the bench for the extra attacker. The late goal forced an overtime session with the teams deadlocked at a pair apiece.
The five minute overtime didn’t decide a winner, setting the stage for a shootout. Needing five rounds of shootout action, Baertschi earned the deciding goal with a hesitation move that bought time to find the top corner of the net for the winner.
The Comets return home Friday night to square off against the Toronto Marlies. 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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