UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Despite a flying start in the first period, and an exciting finish to regulation, the Utica Comets dropped their seventh straight game as they fell 5-4 in overtime to the Abbotsford Heat at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. For the second time in the current six game homestand, the Comets were able to earn a point in the standings, but a Corbin Knight goal with just 1:30 left in overtime sunk the team to 0-5-1-1 on the season.
Brandon DeFazio and Patrick Mullen both found the back of the net for the first time as Comets, and Pascal Pelletier extended his assist streak to five games in the defeat. Forward Nicklas Jensen also made his mark during his debut with the Comets, as he picked up an assist on Frank Corrado’s goal. Joacim Eriksson made 33 saves on 38 shots as his record moves to 0-3-1-1.
It was the Heat who struck first as Roman Horak buried his second goal of the season off of a great feed from Paul Byron just 1:15 into the game. Byron’s assist gave him sole possession of the team lead in points for the moment with eight (1-7-8) and Dean Arsene also picked up his first assist of the season on the play.
The Comets squared the score just over two minutes later as a Corrado wrist shot from the point snuck past Heat netminder Reto Berra. Zac Dalpe and Nicklas Jensen picked up the assists on the play. For Jensen, it was his first point in the season just 3:45 into his first game as a Comet, and Corrado’s tally made him the first Comet defenseman with multiple goals on the season.
Utica surged to its first lead of the evening as Benn Ferriero converted on a breakaway to put the Comets ahead. The Essex, MA native stole the puck in his own zone before he flew the length of the ice and put the puck under Berra’s glove for the goal.
The Comets doubled its margin with 42 seconds left in the first, for the first two-goal lead in franchise history. Just out of the penalty box, Pascal Pelletier collected a loose puck and went in two-on-one with DeFazio. The center connected with DeFazio on a saucer that passed over the defenseman’s stick, who deked to his backhand for the goal. It was the first of the season for Clarkson graduate and Pelletier extended his assist streak to five games.
Abbotsford was able to get one back in the second as Mark Cundari used an impressive series of moves on the Comets defense and put one off the post and past Eriksson. Byron and Corbin Knight each recorded assists on the play as the Heat drew to within one before the teams departed the ice for the locker rooms.
Entering the third period with a lead for the first time this season, the Comets started strong out of the gates, but an interference penalty to David Marshall gave the Heat a chance to convert on the power play and Billings capitalized at the 6:58 mark as he knotted the score at three.
With just 3:44 to play in the game, the Heat scored what appeared to be a game winner as Markus Granlund beat Eriksson at the far post to put Abbotsford up 4-3. The Finland native banged home a rebound off of Brett Olson’s shot. Ben Hankowski also picked up an assist on the play, his second helper of the night.
With The AUD deflated from the Heat comeback, the Comets turned on the afterburners and ignited the crowd as Patrick Mullen sent a blast from the point past Joni Ortio and knotted the score at four with only 2:12 to play. Zach Hamill’s poise with the puck drew the Heat down low leaving Mullen alone at the top of the circle. The Denver University product made no mistake as he fired home through traffic for his first of the season which earned the Comets a point.
The Heat would get the final word, however, as Knight buried his fourth goal of the year to dish out the Comets’ seventh straight defeat. Joni Ortio earned a victory in his first AHL game of the season as he made 17 saves on 18 shots in relief of Berra.
The Comets will not have to wait long for a shot at redemption as the host the Heat again this Friday at 7 p.m. The rematch will be the fifth of six consecutive home games for Utica. The Comets close out their homestand on Tuesday against the Toronto Marlies.