UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The Utica Comets made it three in a row both on home ice and against the Abbotsford Heat as they skated to a 4-2 victory at the Utica Memorial Auditorium on Wednesday night. The Comets, who have now started a season long seven game home stand perfect with a four of a possible four points, reached the 20 point mark on the season with the victory.
Patrick Mullen tied his career high with two goals, while Kellan Lain and Alex Biega also found the score sheet for the Comets. Joacim Eriksson, who earned his third victory in as many starts, made 24 of 26 saves in one of his finest performances of the season. Alex Friesen picked up two assists for his first points as a Comet, while Cal O’Reilly extended his point streak on home ice to five games with an assist on Mullen’s second goal.
The Comets opened the scoring at the 14:55 mark of the first period as Kellan Lain parked his 6’6” frame in front of the Abbotsford goalmouth and buried a centering feed from Alex Mallet. Lain’s goal, his fourth of the season, was the second in as many games the big center has found the back of the net. Mallet picked up his first assist as a Comet, while Peter Andersson picked up a helper for the second game in a row with the secondary assist.
Utica doubled its advantage less than two minutes later as a series of opportunities for the Comets ended with Patrick Mullen putting a rebound home on the backhand. Colin Stuart picked up the primary assist, while center Alex Friesen added his first point of the season on the play. The Comets ended the first ahead or tied for the fifth straight time this season against the Heat, despite being outshot 11-9.
Brett Olsen halved the Utica lead 7:13 into the second period as he beat Eriksson top shelf from the left hand circle. The Heat centerman took a feed from teammate Max Reinhart and found space around the Utica defense for Abbotsford’s first of the night. Chad Billins picked up the second assist on the play as he moved into a tie for third in the AHL in assists, with 20.
The Comets regained their two-goal advantage just over three minutes later as they converted on a two-man advantage. Mullen fired his second goal of the evening past Joey MacDonald on a twisted wrist shot from the point. Mullen, who scored two goals for the second time in his career, picked up assists from Pascal Pelletier and Cal O’Reilly on the play. The goal marked the ninth time in the last twelve games where the Comets have scored on the power play.
Utica held the Heat to just six shots for the entirety of the third period with a stellar defensive effort. Alex Biega put the icing on the cake with a shorthanded, empty-net goal with just 58 seconds left in the game. Alex Friesen made it a multi-point evening with an assist on the play, while Biega’s goal was his first as a Comet.
Abbotsford narrowed the gap by one on a late power-play goal from Braden Lamb with just 22 seconds left in the game. Lamb ripped a feed from Heat captain Dean Arsene past Eriksson to cut the final margin to two. Carter Bancks also picked up an assist on the play.
The Comets continue their string of games on home ice as the Heat return to The AUD on Friday for the sixth meeting of the season between the two teams. Friday evening’s game is the last for the Comets before a holiday break that spans until Dec. 27. Puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m.