SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WKTV) - The Utica Comets moved one step closer to the Galaxy Cup, with a thrilling 2-1 overtime victory over the Syracuse Crunch. With the win, the Comets improved to 21-23-3-4, good for 49 points in the standings.
Brandon DeFazio was the overtime hero, as he scored the game winning goal with just 58 seconds left in the game. Nicklas Jensen also scored for Utica, his seventh marker during the month of February, while Cal O’Reilly added two assists. Joacim Eriksson picked up the victory, with 25 saves on 26 shots.
Syracuse got on the board first as Pierre-Cedric Labrie slotted one past Eriksson from the bottom of the right circle to make it 1-0. Phillippe Paradis and Mike Angelidis each picked up assists on the play, after Angelidis forced a turnover in the Utica zone. The tally was just the second of the season for Labrie.
Utica peppered Syracuse netminder Cedric Desjardins with 15 second period shots and were able to knot the score at one with a power-play goal from Jensen, his thirteenth tally of the season. After a scramble in front, Cal O’Reilly got the puck towards the net and found Jensen, who slotted one home from the side of the cage. The goal was the seventh during the month of February for Jensen and his fifth this season with the man advantage, which ties him for a team best. Center Pascal Pelletier also picked up an assist on the play, his team best 32nd.
Neither team was able to take the lead in the third period, despite two close calls for Syracuse. The Crunch thought they had pulled ahead when the puck squirted through Eriksson’s crease, but was judged to have not cleared the line. Syracuse thought they had the go-ahead goal a second time, but Luke Witkowski’s shot hit the iron, despite an original call of goal on the ice.
The nailbiting three periods set the stage for DeFazio to steal the show and avoid a shootout. The Comets won their second contest in overtime this season as the winger took the back half of a give-and-go feed from O’Reilly and beat a sprawling Desjardins for the game winner. The assist gave O’Reilly his third multi-point game as a Comet, while DeFazio picked up his ninth goal of 2013-14.
Eriksson won his fourteenth game of the season, as the Comets picked up two points towards a Galaxy Cup victory. Utica currently sits with five points from three games against Syracuse, while the Crunch have three. The final meeting of the series takes place on Apr. 5 in Syracuse.
The Comets continue their road swing as they travel to Binghamton tomorrow for a 7:00 pm meeting with the East Division leading Binghamton Senators. The stretch ends on Sunday with a matinee contest in Albany against the Devils. Puck drop for that game is set for 3:00 p.m. at the Times Union Center.
(Photo Credit: Lindsay A. Mogle/Utica Comets)