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Comets drop first game north of the border

By UTICA COMETS

TORONTO, ON - The Utica Comets dropped their second game in as many nights by a 5-2 scoreline, this coming above of the border against the Toronto Marlies. The defeat was the fourth straight away from home for the Comets and the first this season in Canada. Utica had previously entered tonight’s action 3-0-0-0 in games played in our neighbors to the north.

Alexandre Grenier and Kellan Lain each scored for the Comets, who fell to 11-18-1-2 with the loss. Joacim Eriksson made his return to the Utica net on a personal four game winning streak, but the Swede could not continue the stretch as he suffered his 11th defeat of the season, despite 26 saves on 30 shots.

The Comets got off to a quick start as Grenier scored just 1:35 into the game. The winger picked up his 10th goal of the season as he put his own rebound past Toronto netminder Garrett Sparks. Grenier’s linemates, Pascal Pelletier and Darren Archibald each picked up assists on the play. Archibald extended his scoring streak to five games, while Pelletier remained at a point-per-game clip with his 28th point in 28 games.

Toronto equalized at the 13:15 mark of the period as Korbinian Holzer fired a slap shot past Eriksson to tie the game at one. With Utica forward Alex Friesen in the box on a boarding minor, Holzer put Stuart Percy’s one time feed on goal, which just trickled past Eriksson. Winger Troy Bodie also picked up an assist on the play.

Josh Leivo gave Toronto the lead for the first time 7:42 into the second as he found a loose puck first in the slot and beat Eriksson with a snap shot. Percy, for the second time tonight, and Peter Granberg picked up the assists on the play, the sixth goal this season for Leivo.

Spencer Abbott doubled Toronto’s advantage just under five minutes later.  The Marlies leading assist man found his way into the goal column as he collected a rebound off of a Wade MacLeod shot that rang off the post and slotted it through Eriksson’s five hole. Winger Kenny Ryan collected the secondary assist, his second helper of the season.

Leivo scored for the second time just 2:50 into the third period with an unassisted power-play goal. Utica defenseman Alex Biega saw his clearing attempt in front of his own net go awry and Leivo was on hand to beat Eriksson and extend the Marlies’ lead to 4-1.

In an identical scoring arc to last night, the Comets were able to cut the deficit to 4-2 as Kellan Lain put rebound past Sparks. Alex Mallet took an outlet pass from defenseman Yann Sauve and got a shot on net from the right wing, which Sparks handled, but Lain was on hand to score for the second time in as many games. Lain’s goal was his seventh of the season, which ties him with Pelletier for fourth on the team.

Leivo completed his first career AHL hat trick with an empty net goal just 19 seconds from the final buzzer. McKegg found Leivo streaking down the right flank and the winger would not miss from the neutral zone to seal the victory for Toronto.

Utica will remain on the road for its next three games, as they travel to Oklahoma City for the first time this season. The Comets and Barons will faceoff on Wednesday evening, with puck drop scheduled for 8:00 p.m. at Cox Convention Center.

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