UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - In what has become a theme on home ice for the Utica Comets this season, a hard fought effort goes unrewarded as the Comets dropped a 2-1 nailbiter to the Texas Stars. The Comets carried the play for much of the third period and finished with a 29-23 shots on goal advantage but could not find the tying goal. With the loss, Utica falls to 2-10-1-1 and still remains winless on home ice (0-6-1-1).
Alex Grenier scored his fourth goal of the season for the Comets late in the first period, off of an assist from Frankie Corrado. Despite the loss, Joacim Eriksson was stout in net for Utica as the Swede made 21 saves on 23 shots. Eriksson started his sixth straight for the Comets and his ninth of the last ten.
The Stars struck first after a nonchalant beginning of the game that saw just seven shots on goal over the first ten minutes. Texas winger Mike Hedden deflected a William Wrenn point shot past Eriksson to give his team the early lead at the 9:56 mark of the period. Defenseman Hubert Labrie also picked up an assist on the play, his first point of the season.
The Comets fought back strong in the latter half of the period and capitalized on their efforts with just 67 seconds left in the first. Grenier took a feed from Corrado in the left hand circle and fired a twisted wristshot past Christopher Nilstorp to knot the score at one. The goal was Grenier’s fourth of the season, which moved him into a tie with Colin Stuart for second on the team.
Texas took advantage of a Colin Stuart interference penalty as Matej Stransky buried his third of the season to put the Stars back ahead by one. Justin Dowling had the primary assist after Eriksson denied his original chance. Hedden picked up his second point of the evening with the second assist on the play.
Utica put forward a frantic effort in the third period as they searched for the equalizer. Brandon DeFazio was the only Comet to beat Nilstorp during the final stanza but his shot could not beat the iron as well. Utica mounted an 11-5 shots on goal advantage during the third, but could not solve the Stars’ netminder, who finished as a deserving second star of the game with 28 saves on 29 shots faced.
The Comets now fall to 1-4-1-1 in games decided by one goal, and Utica has lost all nine times this season where they failed to score more than two goals. The Comets are also still in search of their first win at the Aud and their first point since a 5-4 overtime loss to the Abbotsford Heat on Oct. 30.
The Comets are off until Friday, which begins a home and home series with last evening’s opponents, the Rochester Americans. The Comets travel to Rochester for a 7:05 p.m. faceoff on Friday night, before they return to home ice to faceoff with the Americans again on Saturday at #TheAUD. Puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m. on Saturday.