UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - A come from behind effort from the Utica Comets came up just short in the third period, as they dropped a tough 4-3 decision to the Adirondack Phantoms on Friday evening at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. The Comets tied a season high with a trio of third period goals but were unable to breakthrough against the Phantoms, who have claimed all three meetings with Utica this season.
Brandon DeFazio, Kent Huskins and Colin Stuart each scored for Utica, which dropped the Comets to 27-28-3-4 this season. Joacim Eriksson was denied his fifth victory of the month, as the Galve, Sweden native turned aside 21 of 25 shots in defeat. Jason Akeson led all skaters with three points (2-1-3) for Adirondack, while Yann Danis stopped 35 of 38 for the victory.
Neither team scored during the opening stanza, with the two squads tied at eight shots apiece. Cal O’Reilly had the best chance of the period for the Comets, after he intercepted a Cullen Eddy pass and got a quality shot from the slot on Adirondack netminder Yann Danis. Adirondack had perhaps the best overall opportunity of the first, with a flurry of action in front of Eriksson, which resulted in an emphatic glove save from the Utica netminder.
Adirondack opened the scoring with just 2:10 to play in the second period as Ben Holmstrom beat Eriksson from the bottom of the left circle to make it 1-0. The Phantoms captain found a loose puck in front of the Utica net and slotted it home, off of assists from center Kyle Flanagan and defenseman Mark Alt.
The Phantoms made it 2-0 just under four minutes into the third period, as Tye McGinn continued his stellar play against Utica with a goal past the glove hand of Eriksson. Veteran defenseman Bruno Gervais collected the primary assist on the play, while Akeson picked up his 36th assist on the season, tied for tenth most in the AHL.
The Comets finally got on the board less than two minutes later, as Brandon DeFazio crashed the net off of a bomb from Frank Corrado and slotted the rebound past Danis. The goal for DeFazio, his 13th of the season, marks the fourth time in five games that the winger has scored. Corrado had the primary assist and defensive partner, Huskins, collected the secondary marker.
Akeson re-extended the Adirondack lead to two goals as he collected a loose puck behind Pelletier at the left point, skated in on Eriksson and beat the Swede with a wrist shot from the slot to make it 3-1 Phantoms. The goal, which went unassisted, was the first time in franchise history that the Comets had conceded a shorthanded goal at The AUD.
Utica once again found an answer, this at the 13:58 mark of the third, as Huskins buried a centering feed from David Marshall to cut the score to 3-2. The Comets winger took a feed from Pascal Pelletier and spun a pass into the slot, right in the wheelhouse of Huskins. The goal was just the third of the season for the blueliner and marked the first multi-point game for Huskins since Feb. 23, 2007, when he played for the Portland Pirates.
Adirondack once again were successful while shorthanded, however, as Akeson buried his second of the evening. The Phantoms leading scorer took a feed from teammate Derek Mathers and unleashed a shot off the crossbar and past Eriksson. The goal gave Akeson 20 for the season, which matches his career high set in 2012-13.
Utica was able to once again pull one back, this inside the final minute of play with just 28 seconds on the clock. Stuart positioned himself in front of Danis, where he collected a rebound off of a Biega shot and slotted it home. The goal, the 16th of the season for the captain, tied Stuart with teammate Alexandre Grenier for second on the roster. Defenseman Henrik Tommernes also picked up a helper on the play.
The Comets schedule continues with games both tomorrow and Sunday. Utica travels to Wilkes-Barre for the final time this season as they take on the Penguins in a 7:05 p.m. start at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. The Comets return home for a Sunday tilt against the Milwaukee Admirals. Puck drop is set for 5:00 p.m. for Sunday’s game.