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Hamlin drops puck before Comets win

By UTICA COMETS

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The Utica Comets rolled over the Abbotsford Heat for the second time in three nights as they earned a 3-0 victory in front of a rambunctious crowd at the Utica Memorial Auditorium on Friday night.

Remsen's Erin Hamlin, who's getting ready to make her third straight trip to the Winter Olympics in the Luge, dropped the ceremonial first puck.

Joacim Eriksson was the star of the show as he earned the second shutout of his AHL career. The Swede turned aside all 21 shots he faced and his two shutouts on the season moved him into a tie for second in the league. Eriksson is now 4-0-0-0 in his last four starts, with a 1.48 goals against average, and a .953 save percentage.

Kellan Lain, Alexandre Grenier and Benn Ferriero each found the scoresheet for the Comets, who moved past the Hartford Wolf Pack and out of the league’s basement with the win. The team’s 22 points also puts the Comets just six behind eighth place Chicago. 

For the second straight game, the Comets struck first as Lain used a nifty move to get past a Heat defender, and in all alone on Ortio. From there, Lain beat Ortio with a slick back hand deke, to give the Comets a 1-0 lead. Lain, who now has goals in three straight games, also picked up his fourth in six games against the Heat this season.  Linemate Brandon DeFazio had the primary helper, while defenseman Peter Andersson picked up an assist for the third game in a row.

The Comets doubled their advantage with just 3:11 left in the period as Alexandre Grenier scored a highlight reel goal on the power play. The winger took a feed from Cal O’Reilly, dragged the puck to front of the net and went top shelf on the backhand, over Ortio’s short side. O’Reilly’s assist extended his point streak at home to six games, while Benn Ferriero picked up the secondary assist on the play. 

Eriksson was a perfect six of six during the second period as each team finished the middle frame with as many shots and neither team found the back of the net.  Yann Sauve and David Eddy dropped the gloves at the 16:16 mark of the second drawing a raucous response from the 3,225 in attendance.

Another fine defensive effort in the third period secured the victory for Utica. Benn Ferriero put the icing on the cake with an empty net goal with just two seconds to play. Captain Colin Stuart picked up the helper as Ferriero finished with a multi-point night for the sixth time this season.

Eriksson finished as the game’s first star as he was perfect all evening. The goaltender is now riding a 112:47 even strength shutout streak, which spans over five periods of play.

With the win, Utica remained undefeated on their current homestand as they moved to 3-0.  The Comets, who have their next four on home ice as well, have also won their last four overall at The AUD. Utica was also able to score a power-play goal for the fifth straight game on home ice, which ties their longest streak of the season.

The Comets are off for seven days, until they return to The AUD on Dec. 27 for a home tilt against the Binghamton Senators. The Comets will also host the Hamilton Bulldogs the following evening.  Both puck drops are set for 7:00 p.m.

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