UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The Utica Comets ended their longest homestand of the season on a down note as they dropped a 5-2 decision Friday night to their divisional rivals, the Rochester Americans. A near sellout crowd of 3,716 was on hand to witness the seventh meeting this season between Utica and Rochester, a game which featured seven goals and 38 penalty minutes.
Kellan Lain and Pascal Pelletier each scored for Utica, which fell to 6-10-1-2 at The AUD this season with the loss. Joe Cannata, who started his fourth straight game in net, made 21 saves on 26 shots in defeat. Despite tying their season high of 35 shots on home ice, the Comets were unable to extend their power-play scoring streak on home ice, which ends at ten games.
The Comets struck first, however, as Lain put a rebound past Rochester netminder Matt Hackett for his sixth goal of the season. Defenseman Kent Huskins, who picked up his first point of the season on the play, got his shot through on net where Lain was on hand to put it home. The assist was also the 150th of Huskins’ professional career and Brandon DeFazio picked up his ninth assist on the play as well.
The Americans equalized just 21 seconds later as winger Alex Hutchings scored his first in a Rochester uniform. Colton Gillies and Chad Ruhwedel picked up the assists on the play. With the helper, Ruhwedel became the fifth rookie defenseman to reach the 15-point plateau (4-11-15) this season.
Rochester took its first lead of the evening at the 14:43 mark as Hutchings picked up his second of the game, this on a deflection. Defenseman Drew Bagnall put a point shot through traffic and Hutchings got a tip on the puck to beat Cannata. Bagnall’s helper was just his second of the season.
Rochester doubled it’s advantage 46 seconds later as Cannata was beat again courtesy of a deflected puck. Joel Armia scored his third goal of the season off of a deflection on teammate Nick Crawford’s point shot. Armia picked up his fourth point against the Comets in the process, while Dan Catenacci added the secondary assist.
The second period also featured two scraps as Yann Sauve and Alexandre Grenier each dropped the gloves. Sauve fought with former Comet forward Brayden Irwin early into the second period, while Grenier and Tim Schaller went at it following an altercation in front of the scorers box at the 6:27 mark of the middle stanza.
Crawford extended Rochester’s lead to 4-1 with a power-play goal 6:41 into the final period. The defenseman crashed into the slot from the point and hammered a Phil Varone feed past Cannata’s glove. The assist was the 22nd of the season for Varone, good for fourth in the AHL. Armia also picked up an assist on the play, his fifth of the season.
Pelletier drew the Comets back to within two goals just 24 seconds later as he put a loose puck in front into the back of the net. The Comets leading scorer took a swipe at a bouncing puck in front that Hackett could not turn aside. Pelletier’s linemates, Darren Archibald and Grenier, each netted an assist on the play.
Rochester put the icing on the cake with the game’s third goal in less than two minutes as Schaller streaked down the right flank and put a shot past Cannata’s glove hand. Gillies and Bagnall each collected their second assists of the evening.
The Comets now travel north of the border for their game tomorrow evening with the Toronto Marlies. The Marlies are currently the only divisional foe that the Comets have not defeated this season, with Toronto victorious 5-2 in their only meeting this season. Puck drop is set for 5:00 p.m. from Ricoh Coliseum.