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The Last Time Out: The Comets ended their weekend of three games in three nights with a rematch from their opponent on Friday, the Hershey Bears. After losing on Friday, the Comets were looking for redemption and that’s exactly what they got when they defeated the Bears, 3-1.
After a scoreless first period, the Comets had a five-on-three advantage in the middle frame but all to show for it were two hit posts by Fabian Zetterlund and one by Brian Flynn as the Bears were able to kill their penalties. After 40 minutes, neither team could solve the other team’s goaltender.
Heading in the final period of regulation, the Comet’s Joe Gambardella, coming off a multi assist game last night, registered the first goal of the game just 16 seconds into the fame. Gambardella’s backhand shot sailed passed Vitek Vanecek giving Utica a 1-0 lead. Later, the Comets added to their lead after a point shot from defenseman Nikita Okhotiuk was deflected by Ryan Schmelzer, off a Hershey defenseman and into the net at 8:53 putting the Comets up 2-0. The Bears finally got on the board after defenseman Jake Massie put the puck in on a cross ice pass by Brett Leason. With the Hershey net empty, Schmelzer added his second of the game into the empty net at 19:07 and the Comets skated away with their 31st win of the season and snapped a two-game losing streak.
Our Previous Visit to Syracuse: The Comets took on their I-90 rival in the eighth addition of the Empire Recycling Cup against the Syracuse Crunch last Saturday night. In the previous seven games, the Comets won six of them and their only loss came in overtime. But, on Saturday night, they were defeated by a score of 6-3 against Syracuse. While the Crunch got off to a 3-0 lead, AJ Greer put Utica on the board in the second period while Samuel Laberge struck twice in the third. It wasn’t enough to close the gap completely and the Crunch skated away with the victory.
Comets Leading Scorers: The team’s leading scorers heading into the weekend is both Chase DeLeo, scoring 10 goals and 28 assists for 38 points in 34 games played and forward Fabian Zetterlund who has registered 18 goals and 20 assists for 38 points in 43 games played. Reilly Walsh leads all d-men in scoring with six goals and 28 assists for 34 points in 46 games. Alex Holtz is the team’s leading rookie scorer with 18 goals and 16 assists for 34 points in 31 games. Defenseman Tyler Wotherspoon leads the team in plus/minus with a +20 rating.
The Standings: The Comets remain atop the North Division with 47 games played and 31 victories. Holding a record of 31-11-5 gives Utica 67 points which is 10 points ahead of the next team, the Rochester Americans who have 57 points on the season. The Americans have played four more games that Utica as of today. The Comets winning percentage of .713 ranks them first in the North Division and the entire Eastern Conference.