UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The Utica Comets were unable to extend their point streak to seven games as they dropped a 2-1 nailbiter to the Rockford IceHogs Saturday night. Another sold out crowd was on hand at the Utica Memorial Auditorium as the Comets and IceHogs meet for the first time in franchise history.
Pascal Pelletier scored Utica’s lone goal just 28 seconds into the game. The marker set a milestone for Pelletier, as it gave him his 500th career professional point. Joacim Eriksson made 28 saves in defeat, which gave him just his second regulation loss over his past 11 starts.
The Comets were lightning fast out of the gates as Pelletier put home a power-play goal just 28 seconds into the game. The goal maintained Pelletier’s point-per-game pace for the season. The Labrador City, NL native now has 39 points (8-31-39) over 39 games this season. Center Cal O’Reilly and defenseman Patrick Mullen collected assists on the play, the third straight game with a helper for O’Reilly.
Rockford answered back less than two minutes later, as Pat Mullane beat Eriksson on the glove side from close range for his fourth goal of the season. Zach Miskovic picked up the primary helper on the play, while Auburn, NY native Jeremy Morin also added an assist, his 25th point of the season.
The IceHogs netted the second period’s lone goal as winger Brandon Mashinter put a nice move on Eriksson to give Rockford its first lead of the evening. The goal was the sixth of the season for the IceHog winger. Center Joakim Nordstrom and winger Garret Ross each picked up assists on the play.
Despite a high octane third period that saw Utica outshoot their opponents by a 14-5 margin, the Comets were unable to solve Rockford goaltender Kent Simpson. Benn Ferriero had the period’s best opportunity as he took a feed in stride from O’Reilly and deked to his forehand, but was unable to finish into a gaping net. Simpson finished the contest with 34 saves and a first star nomination.
With the defeat, the Comets fell to 1-4 in month opening games this season. Utica also moved back to ten points behind the IceHogs, who currently sit in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference standings.
The Comets remained hot on the penalty kill as they killed off the only minor they took on the evening. Utica has now successfully killed off 28 of their last 29 shorthanded opportunities. Defenseman Peter Andersson saw his consecutive plus streak come to an end at six games, as he finished even on the evening.
The Comets now take to the road for their only trip to four different Western Conference cities. Utica is next in action on Tuesday afternoon as they take on the Chicago Wolves in a matinee matchup, with puck drop scheduled for noon from Allstate Arena.
The Comets do battle with their fellow first year franchise, the Iowa Wild, the following night, an 8:00 p.m. puck drop from the Iowa Events Center. Utica will not return to The AUD until Feb. 15, when they host the Rochester Americans.