ROCHESTER, N.Y. - The Utica Comets erased a 4-0 deficit, scoring the game-tying goal with less than a minute to play in regulation in order to force overtime, but had to settle for just one point in the standings, falling 5-4 to the Rochester Americans at Blue Cross Arena, Friday.
Coming in on its longest winning streak of the season, at four straight games, the Comets had about as difficult a first 40 minutes as you could have.
With goals by Brandon Biro at 5:19 and Brett Murray at 9:54 of the first period, and Michael Mersch, on the power play, at 9:04 and Lukas Rousek at 10:11 of the second period, Utica found itself down 4-0 midway through the game.
Desperately needing a spark, captain Ryan Schmelzer took matters into his own hands, going end-to-end and snapping a shot top corner, glove side, to get the Comets on the board 14:18 into the middle frame.
Just over a minute later, AHL Player of the Week Graeme Clarke continued his torrid stretch, at 15:32, as he wristed home a shot from the slot off a feed from Joe Gambardella for his tenth goal of the season, and his tenth point in his last five games, to bring Utica within two. Brian Halonen earned the secondary assist on the play, keeping the puck in the zone at the blue line.
Halonen then scored one of his own 7:42 into the third, jamming the puck over the goal line during a frenzied scrum in the crease to get the Comets within striking distance, down 4-3. Nick Hutchison and Robbie Russo notched the assists on the play.
With time winding down, and Akira Schmid on the bench for an extra attacker, Nolan Foote put in a one-timer in the slot off tic-tac-toe feeds from Clarke and Reilly Walsh to bring Utica all the way back with four unanswered goals to tie the game at 4-4 with just 54 seconds remaining in regulation.
That forced overtime, giving each team a point in the standings, but 2:34 into the extra session, Chase Priskie beat Schmid to halt what would have been another instant Comets comeback classic this season, giving the Amerks the extra point and the 5-4 win.
Schmid finished the night with 21 saves between the Comets pipes, while Malcolm Subban stopped 27 shots in goal for the Amerks.
Utica's four-game winning streak comes to an end as they drop to 12-9-4-1.
The Comets close out the 2022 portion of the schedule with a pair of North Division battles, on Friday, against the Laval Rocket, and on Saturday, against the Belleville Senators. Puck drop in both games is set for 7 p.m.