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Utica, NY – The Comets nearly saw a five goal lead evaporate but held off the surging Monsters and skated away with a 7-5 victory against their North Division rival.
In the first period, the Comets offense erupted. It was forward Graeme Clarke who got things going in his return to the lineup after suffering an upper body injury on December 31st. Clarke collected a pass from Aarne Talvitie on the right wing and rifled a shot off the crossbar and in at 5:45 of the period. Three minutes later, Nate Schnarr struck on the power play to put the Comets up by two. Fabian Zetterlund sent a pass to the high slot and Schnarr connected on the one timer for his 13th goal of the season. At 12:16 of the period, A.J. Greer joined the scoring party when he received a pass from Frederik Gauthier, and sent a beautiful shot into the top corner of the Monsters net. Just two minutes later, Alexander Holtz made it a 4-0 game off Zetterlund’s second assist of the period. It was Zetterlund once again threading a pass across the zone, this time to Holtz who hammered home a one timer. In the final minute of the frame, Greer tallied his second goal of the period on a shorthanded breakaway.
In the second period, the Monsters got on the board first when Justin Scott scored at 5:55. Halfway through the frame, the Comets answered back when Gauthier won a faceoff to the stick of Holtz, who set Groleau up for his first goal of the season. With twenty-five seconds to go, Cleveland forward Cole Fonstad made it a 6-2 game when he picked up a rebound goal off shot from Tim Berni.
In the final period, Cleveland cut the deficit to three when Scott registered his second goal of the evening. This time, it was a short-handed goal just two minutes into the frame that was assisted by Tristan Mullin and Jake Christiansen. At 9:19 the Monsters struck again. Cole Fonstad scored a power play goal assisted by Scott to make it a 6-4 game. With five minutes remaining, the Monsters brought the score within one. Robbie Payne found the back of the net, with Thomas Schemitsch and Christiansen collecting assists. Cleveland pulled their goalie with two minutes remaining in the game in effort to complete the comeback but the Comets defense stood strong. Nolan Foote added an empty net goal to make it 7-5 and cap off what turned out to be a wild game at the Adirondack Bank Center.
The Comets are back in action tomorrow night against the same Cleveland Monsters. Tickets are still available. You can purchase them by going to uticacomets.com/tickets.