HAMILTON, ON - For the first time in franchise history the Utica Comets have a winning streak. The Comets closed out their three game road trip with a 3-1 win over the Hamilton Bulldogs on Sunday afternoon, at Copps Coliseum. In the franchise’s first game north of the border, Utica put in a strong effort on both ends of the ice to finish the short three-game road trip at 2-1.
Comets netminder Joacim Eriksson made 29 saves on 30 shots as he earned his second victory in as many nights. Eriksson stopped 89 of the 96 shots he faced over the three game road trip, good for a .927 save percentage. Zach Hamill, Alexandre Grenier and Colin Stuart found the back of the net for the Comets, as each player picked up his second point in as many games. The Comets move to 2-8-1-1 on the season and 2-4-0-0 away from The AUD.
A scoreless first period was highlighted by a standout performance from Eriksson, who was peppered with 17 shotsi n the frame. But the goaltender stood tall, and turned aside every shot he faced through the first 20 minutes. Aided by a pair of power play chances, the Bulldogs dominated in the shots on goal category, but were unable to beat the Comets netminder. The 17 saves were the most by a Comets goaltender in any period this season.
After the first scoreless first period of Utica’s season, the Comets used a fortunate bounce to get on the board first. In his first game back from injury, assistant captain Pascal Pelletier, along with Hamill, broke in on a 2-on-1 rush. Pelletier's pass was a little behind Hamill, but deflected off forward's skate and past Hamilton goaltender Dustin Tokarski. The goal was Hamill’s third of the season and his sixth point in his last six games. With the assist, Pelletier became the first Comet player with double figures in points (2-8-10).
Despite a dominant showing from the Comets throughout the second, Hamilton was able to equalize late as Sven Andrighetto buried a rebound on the back post with just 55 seconds left in the period. The winger’s tally was his team high sixth goal on the season. Despite a second period 16-6 shots advantage for the Comets, the score would tie the game at one. Forwards Mike Blunden and Martin St. Pierre each recorded assists on the play.
Grenier found his way to the scoresheet once again as he put home a loose puck in the crease to put the Comets ahead 2-1. The winger was left all alone in front to put home a rebound into a wide open net, as Tokarsky. Peter Andersson and Brandon DeFazio picked up the assists on the play. With the assist, DeFazio netted his fourth point over the last six games.
After a back-and-forth third period down the stretch, Comets captain Stuart iced things with an empty net goal with just 19 seconds left. With Utica shorthanded after a slashing minor by Pelletier, Stuart shot cleared the puck out of his zone, off the sideboards, and into the empty net. Stuart’s marker, the first shorthanded goal in Comets history, was assisted by Benn Ferriero and sealed the deal on another Comets win.
Utica now returns home to play four of their next five games at The AUD. The Rochester Americans come to town for the first time this season on Friday, as the Comets look to avenge two earlier losses at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester. Utica will meet the Texas Stars the following night for the first ever meeting between the two franchises. Both games are scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. puck drop.