UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - After a tough two game set with Abbotsford, the Utica Comets rebounded nicely on Sunday with a 3-2 victory over the Iowa Wild at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. The Comets, who moved back over the .500 line at 30-29-4-4, are now five points behind Rockford for the final Western Conference playoff berth with ten games to play.
Pascal Pelletier led all Utica skaters with a three-point night (1-2-3), while Jeremy Welsh and Brandon DeFazio also scored for the Comets. Defenseman Frank Corrado had two assists for his second straight game. Goaltender Joe Cannata, who started on home ice for the first time since Jan. 3, made 32 saves on 34 shots for the victory.
The Wild opened the scoring 7:38 into the game as Tylar Graovac found a rebound in front and buried it past Cannata. The power-play goal came after an extended stretch of offensive zone time for the Wild. The goal was the ninth of the season for Graovac, with Brad Winchester and Steven Kampfer collecting the assists, the 17th of the season for Kampfer, a team high amongst defensemen.
Winchester scored a goal of his own just 16 seconds later as he converted with an even strength marker to extend the Iowa advantage to 2-0. The goal, Winchester’s 19th of the season, gave the winger his fifth multi-point game between his time with Iowa and Rockford. Bryce Aneloski picked up his first professional point with an assist and winger Marc Hagel collected the secondary helper.
Utica got one back on their first power play of the second period, as Pelletier fired a one timer past Gustafsson to cut the deficit to 2-1. The center took a feed in his wheelhouse from Corrado and put a shot home from the top of the right circle. The helper was Corrado’s fourth over his past four games, with the most recent three coming on the man advantage. Cal O’Reilly also collected an assist on the play, his 32nd of the season.
The Comets waited just 36 seconds before they struck again, courtesy of a shorthanded tally from Jeremy Welsh. Pelletier took the puck nearly the length of the ice and around the Wild defense before Welsh crashed the net and banged home the rebound. The goal was the second in as many nights for Welsh and gave Pelletier his 14th multi-point game of the season. The Comets have also now scored a shorthanded goal in three straight games for the first time in franchise history.
Brandon DeFazio found the game winner with the only third period goal the Comets would need, as he beat Gustafsson 3:39 into the final stanza. Pelletier threaded the needle to hit DeFazio in front and the winger left no doubt, as he buried his 15th of the season. The assist gave Pelletier his fourth three-point night of the season. Corrado collected the secondary assist, the second two-point performance of his professional career.
Utica caps off a five game homestand on Friday, as they host the Toronto Marlies at The AUD. Puck drop is slated for 7:00 p.m. The Comets then take to the road for away contests in Syracuse on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. and a matinee rematch in Toronto on Sunday, with a 3:00 p.m. puck drop.