Utica, NY- The best of five series between the Utica Comets and the Rochester Americans came down to the deciding game inside the Adirondack Bank Center on Thursday night. Each team needed one more win to move on and play Laval for the North Division title. While the Comets faithful jammed the Adirondack Bank Center donned in white and adored their team with shouts of support, ultimately, it was the Amerks who skated away with the 4-2 win and a trip to the North Division finals against Laval.
In the first period, as the crowd showered their team with chants of “Utica,” the Comets started off using that fuel for numerous shots and chances but Rochester goalie Aaron Dell settled in and held the fort. That allowed for a point shot from Casey Fitzgerald at 10:32 that found its way through traffic over the blocking shoulder of Comets netminder Nico Daws. The Comets wouldn’t be deterred, and they fought right back to the delight of the thousands in attendance. After an offensive zone faceoff was won by the Comets by Chase DeLeo, AJ Greer slid the puck to Fabian Zetterlund who lofted the puck over just under the bar and into the net at 10:32. It was Zetterlund’s eighth point of the playoffs and his second goal. The arena began to shake with excitement as the Comets made it a 1-1 game. Using that momentum, they capitalized with a goal less a minute later after Alex Holtz glided into the Rochester zone on the right-wing side and picked his spot under the crossbar and into the net at 11:21. The goal was Holtz’s s first of the postseason and it was assisted by Joe Gambardella and Ryan Schmelzer. The first period ended as did the second with the score 2-1 in favor of the Comets.
The final period of regulation, the Amerks received an early powerplay which invariably tipped the balance of the game in their favor after a goal by Arttu Ruotsalainen was scored on a deflection off a Comets defenseman at 3:21. This tied the contest and 3-3 and then the Amerks scored the eventual game winner on a rush down the right-wing side with Sean Malone wristing a shot that beat Daws low stick side at 6:45. They added one more empty net goal at 18:59 to seal the victory and the Comets season ended. The crowd remained in attendance and on their feet as they all saluted the Comets after the game. The Comets players, including head coach Kevin Dineen, saluted the crowd right back as the Utica faithful showed their unconditional support for their team.
With the culmination of the season, the Comets look forward to returning to the ice at the start of the 2022-23 season representing the New Jersey Devils prospects. To be part of all the action inside the Adirondack Bank Center, visit uticacomets.com for more information