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Utica, NY – The Comets took on their I-90 rival in the nineth addition of the Empire Recycling Cup against the Syracuse Crunch coming off a loss the last time these two teams met last Saturday. This time around, the Comets skated away victorious with an 8-5 win.
In the opening period, after the Comets killed off a penalty, Utica rushed inside the Syracuse zone where AJ Greer sent the puck to the streaking Frederik Gauthier who rifled a shot that beat goaltender Huge Alnefelt short-side at 12:00. The Crunch answered back as Cage Goncalves, standing at the edge of the crease, took a pass and immediately lifted it over the glove of Akira Schmid and into the net at 13:24 tying the game at 1-1. Undeterred, the Comets roared back with two more goals. First, they reacquired a lead when Greer pounced on a turnover and sent the puck to an open Graeme Clarke. Clarke’s initial bid was stopped by Alnefelt but he found his own rebound and shot the puck past the sprawling goaltender. The Comets took a 2-1 lead at 14:21 and them one minute and four seconds later, veteran Brian Flynn added to it as Nolan Foote and Ryan Schmelzer assisted on Flynn’s nineth goal of the season. The period ended with Utica up 3-1.
In the middle frame, the Crunch cut the Comets lead to 3-2 after a save by Schmid on a point shot by Sean Day, Remi Elie found the rebound and slammed into the net just 2:11. But, the Comets got back on the board and it was the rookie sensation, Alex Holtz who took the pass from Chase DeLeo and fired it under the blocker of Max Lagace who substituted in for Alnefelt. Holtz’s goal, his 19th of the season, leads the Comets in the goal scoring department. Syracuse got on the board again and it was Charles Hudon, who placed a wrister just under the catching glove of Schmid and into the goal at 8:27. Later, the Comets got the man-advantage and Robbie Russo teed up a perfect one-timer for Fabian Zetterlund who blasted the shot into the net at 13:27. Zetterlund’s 19th of the year, tied Holtz for the team lead and gave the Comets a 5-3 lead. Comets defenseman Michael Vukojevic hammered a one-timer with just 1:05 remaining in the period that slid under the pad of Lagace giving Utica a 6-3 lead. The goal by Vukojevic, his third of the season, was assisted by Gauthier and Kevin Bahl.
In the final period of regulation, the Crunch added a power-play goal when Hudon scored his second of the game at 13:23 bring the game to a 6-4 lead for the Comets. With the Crunch goalie pulled for the extra attacker, Nolan Foote deposited the puck into the net at 17:23. The Crunch added a goal from Antionne Morand at 17:27 but another empty netter by Utica with AJ Greer collecting his 16th of the season at 18:12. The Comets skated off with their 32nd win of the season.
The Comets are back in action tomorrow night against the Crunch again before finding their way back inside the Adirondack Bank Center on Wednesday, March 9that 7:00 PM against the very same Crunch. Tickets are still available. You can purchase them by going to uticacomets.com/tickets.