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Comets beat Abbotsford 3-1 to stay in playoff hunt

By UTICA COMETS

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The Utica Comets righted the ship and earned a weekend split, as they collected a 3-1 victory over the Abbotsford Heat on Saturday evening at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre.

The Comets ended their season series in British Columbia with five wins in six contests and the win pushed Utica back to .500 at 27-27-3-4.

The Comets were led offensively by a pair of goals from Colin Stuart and a multi-point night, courtesy of two assists, from Alex Friesen. Brandon DeFazio also found the back of the net for the Comets. Goaltender Joacim Eriksson turned aside 38 of 39 shots to earn the number one star and his 20th victory of the season.

Neither team was able to find the back of the net during the first period, which was highlighted by Utica’s presence in the penalty box. The Comets took four minor penalties in the opening stanza, which resulted in a heavy period of work for the penalty kill unit. Utica remained hot whilst a man down, as they successfully killed off all four and moved to 33 kills over their past 35 attempts. Eriksson turned aside 10 Abbotsford shots throughout the frame, while Olivier Roy stopped each of the eight shots he faced.

The Comets took advantage of a fortuitous bounce and netted the game’s first goal 8:47 into the second period. A rim around from defenseman Yann Sauve deflected off of the official, off of the end boards and onto DeFazio’s stick for the goal. The marker was the 12th of the season for the Oakville, ON native, an AHL career high. Cal O’Reilly also collected an assist on the play to extend his scoring streak to seven games.

Utica doubled it’s advantage with just 4:35 left in the second, as Stuart found the back of the net to make it 2-0. The captain took a pass down the left wing from center Alex Friesen and beat Roy through the five hole. The goal was the fourteenth of the season for Stuart. Defenseman Kent Huskins also picked up an assist on the play.

Stuart added his second of the evening as the Comets opened up a 3-0 advantage 3:55 into the final period. The Colorado College alum scored this time off of a feed from Tommernes as he struck past Roy through a screen in front. Friesen picked up the secondary assist on the play, which gives him five points over his past five games. Tommernes’ point was his first since he returned from injury last evening.

Abbotsford drew one back as Eriksson’s record was blemished for the first and only time. With Kellan Lain and Jeremy Welsh in the box with penalties, Heat winger Ben Street buried a power-play goal on a one-timer to cut the Utica lead to 3-1. Corey Locke and Derek Smith picked up the assists on the play.

The Comets return home for a critical stretch of games, with five of their next six on home ice. It all begins on Friday evening, as the Comets host the Adirondack Phantoms for a 7:00 p.m. puck drop at The AUD. 

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