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Comets blast into New Year with a victory

By UTICA COMETS

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The Utica Comets moved to 4-1-0-1 on their current homestand as they defeated the Lake Erie Monsters 3-2 in a matinee showdown at The AUD that kicked off the 2014 portion of the American Hockey League’s schedule.

The Comets, who have now earned points in six of their past seven games on home ice, moved to 25 points on the season, eight points out of eighth place in the Western Conference.

Pascal Pelletier, Colin Stuart and Darren Archibald each scored for the Comets, while Joe Cannata made 18 saves to earn his first victory on home ice this season, his third overall. Pelletier, Archibald and teammate Alex Biega all had multiple points on the afternoon.

Cannata and Lake Erie’s Sami Aittokallio stole the show in the first period as both goaltenders posted a shutout.  Cannata made eight stops to Aittokallio’s seven as neither team could find the back of the net. Alex Friesen led all Utica skaters with two shots on net. Pelletier had the period’s best scoring chance with a penalty shot at the 8:23 mark but his backhanded bid was denied by Aittokallio.

Pelletier put the Comets ahead 6:10 into the second period with his sixth goal of the season.  After serving his minor penalty for roughing, Alex Biega hit the Comets leading scorer with a breakaway pass and the center slotted a wrist shot past Aittokallio on the glove side. Brandon DeFazio also picked up an assist on the play, his eighth helper of the season.

The Comets doubled their advantage with a power-play goal at the 15:34 mark as Colin Stuart put a slap shot from the point into the lower right corner of the Lake Erie net.  Off of a feed from Pelletier, the captain buried his tenth goal of the season, becoming the second Comet, along with Benn Ferriero, to hit the double-digit mark. The goal marked now the tenth straight home game in which the Comets have scored with the man advantage.

Lake Erie drew one back just 2:13 into the third period as captain Bryan Lerg scored his twelfth of the season on a shot from the point. Lerg’s goal, his team high twelfth of the season, came off of assists from defensemen Matt Hunwick and Brett Clark and cut the Utica lead to 2-1.

The Comets regained their two-goal advantage as Darren Archibald scored for the third straight game. The bruising winger put a sharp angle shot past Aittokallio from the right hand circle to put Utica ahead 3-1. Biega picked up his second assist of the afternoon to tie his career high in both assists and points.  Pelletier added another assist to complete his second three-point game of the season.

Lake Erie once again was able to cut the deficit to one as Andrew Agozzino scored a power-play marker at the 11:18 mark of the third. The winger banged a loose puck in front past Cannata to bring the Monsters as close as they would get. Mark Olver and Lerg each picked up assists on the play to remain tied as the Lake Erie leaders with 15 on the season.

The Comets complete their seven game homestand with a home tilt against the Rochester Americans on Friday. The Americans will skate in their first game in North America since December 21st, due to their participation in the Spengler Cup in Switzerland. The Americans went 0-3 and were eliminated in the quarterfinals. Puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m. on Friday evening.

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