BRIDGEPORT, C.T. - The Utica Comets snapped a three game losing streak as they quieted the Bridgeport Sound Tigers with a 2-1 victory at Webster Bank Arena in Connecticut Sunday afternoon. The Comets used a perfect eight-for-eight penalty kill performance to split the season series against Bridgeport at a game apiece.
Nicklas Jensen and Benn Ferriero each scored for Utica, which improved to 23-26-3-4 with the win. Cal O’Reilly picked up two assists and the center now has ten helpers over his past ten games played. Joacim Eriksson was stout between the pipes, with 29 saves on 30 shots as he earned his 17th victory of the 2013-14 campaign.
Jensen opened the scoring just 17 seconds into the game to put the Comets in front 1-0. The Denmark native took a feed from teammate Brandon DeFazio in the neutral zone and did the rest on his own, as he slotted a wrist shot past the blocker hand of Bridgeport netminder Kevin Poulin for his 15th goal of the season. The goal was the fastest in team history, surpassing Pascal Pelletier’s mark of 28 seconds on Feb. 1 against Rockford. O’Reilly also picked up an assist for Utica.
Bridgeport evened up the score as Alan Quine redirected a Marc Cantin shot from the point past Eriksson. Quine’s goal, his sixth of the season, was one of twelve Bridgeport shots during the second period. Center Joey Martin also picked up an assist on the play, the first of his AHL career.
Utica scored what would go down as the game winner, as Benn Ferriero scored a power-play goal for the second straight game. From nearly the goal line beneath the left hand circle, Ferriero took a Pelletier feed right in the wheelhouse and buried it past Poulin. The goal was the 19th of the season for Ferriero, which tied his AHL career high set in 2009-10 with the Worcester Sharks. O’Reilly also picked up an assist for his fifth multi-point game of the season.
For the twentieth time this season, Eriksson held his opposition to two goals or less and the Galve, Sweden native improved to 16-2-2 in those scenarios. Eriksson’s performance lowered his goals against average to 2.53 and raised his save percentage to .914. The Utica goaltender was named the game’s first star for his efforts.
The Comets also played in their 32nd one-goal game of the season, the third most in the AHL. Utica is 15-10-3-4 in games decided by one goal, which accounts for nearly 70 percent of their 53 total points for the season.
The Comets are back in action this week with a full slate of games on the agenda. Utica hosts the Oklahoma City Barons for the first time in franchise history, on Wednesday evening at The AUD. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton also travels to the Mohawk Valley for the first time, as the Comets host the Penguins on Friday for Irish Night. Both games are slated for a 7:00 p.m. puck drop. The Comets conclude their week in Binghamton on Saturday evening for the final meeting of the season against the Senators.