UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - In front of a sold-out electric crowd at the Utica Memorial Auditorium, the Utica Comets completed their weekend sweep of the Rochester Americans with a 2-0 victory, and have now won four of six. The win was Utica’s first on home ice this season as the Comets hit the double-digit mark in the standings with 10 points. The win gave Utica, NY it's first home American Hockey League victory since a March 13, 1993 Utica Devils victory over the Hershey Bears, a span of 7,560 days.
Joacim Eriksson was the man of the hour as he turned away all 33 shots he saw for the first shutout in Comets’ franchise history. The netminder was named first star of the game for his efforts, which ended with a loud standing ovation from The AUD faithful. Yannick Weber and Darren Archibald each found the back of the net for the Comets.
Utica opened the scoring as Yannick Weber fired a wrist shot past Rochester netminder Matt Hackett just 9:04 into his first period in a Utica jersey. It was the second power-play goal in as many nights for the Comets, with assists going to Henrik Tommernes and Pascal Pelletier. Each team finished the first period with seven shots on net as fast and physical play dominated the storyline.
The second period only built upon the intensity of its predecessor as both the pace and physicality picked up. Patrick Mullen and Kevin Porter dropped the gloves at the 11:51 mark, following a hard hit on Tommernes in the corner. It was the first fight of the season for the Comets defenseman. Eriksson came up with several huge saves to keep Utica ahead, including a breakaway stop on Rochester sniper Joel Armia.
The loud AUD crowd sat on the edge of their seats until the 10:26 mark of the third period, when Archibald would put the game away for the Comets. Archibald buried a rebound from the slot off of an Alex Grenier wrist shot that got Rochester goaltender Matt Hackett out of position. The goal sent the crowd into a frenzy that would not stop until the well past the final buzzer.
The Comets wouldn’t need anything else offensively as Eriksson was fantastic down the stretch. The Sweden native made 14 saves in the final stanza to stave off a surging Rochester attack and keep his team ahead. With Utica short-handed in the final minute, Eriksson made a flashy glove save on a point blank chance from the slot to put the icing on the cake on the Utica victory.
Eriksson’s win was his fourth of the season and his second in as many nights. The Comets’ goaltender also improved to 2-2 on the season against Rochester. With their assists, Grenier now has five points in his last six games and Pelletier has four in his last five.
Utica improves to 4-10-1-1 on the season with the victory. The Comets are next in action on Tuesday as the Lake Erie Monsters come to the Mohawk Valley for the first time this season. The Comets split two games in Cleveland earlier in the month, which included the first victory in Comets franchise history on Nov. 7, a 3-2 win for Utica. Puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m.