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FINAL: Comets 3 @ Hamilton 1

comets beat hamilton

For the first time in franchise history the Utica Comets have a winning streak. The Comets closed out their three game road trip with a 3-1 win over the Hamilton Bulldogs on Sunday afternoon, at Copps Coliseum.  In the franchise’s first game north of the border, Utica put in a strong effort on both ends of the ice to finish the short three-game road trip at 2-1.

Comets netminder Joacim Eriksson made 29 saves on 30 shots as he earned his second victory in as many nights. Eriksson stopped 89 of the 96 shots he faced over the three game road trip, good for a .927 save percentage.  Zach Hamill, Alexandre Grenier and Colin Stuart found the back of the net for the Comets, as each player picked up his second point in as many games. The Comets move to 2-8-1-1 on the season and 2-4-0-0 away from The AUD.

A scoreless first period was highlighted by a standout performance from Eriksson, who was peppered with 17 shotsi n the frame. But the goaltender stood tall, and turned aside every shot he faced through the first 20 minutes. Aided by a pair of power play chances, the Bulldogs dominated in the shots on goal category, but were unable to beat the Comets netminder. The 17 saves were the most by a Comets goaltender in any period this season.

After the first scoreless first period of Utica’s season, the Comets used a fortunate bounce to get on the board first. In his first game back from injury, assistant captain Pascal Pelletier, along with Hamill, broke in on a 2-on-1 rush. Pelletier’s pass was a little behind Hamill, but deflected off forward’s skate and past Hamilton goaltender Dustin Tokarski. The goal was Hamill’s third of the season and his sixth point in his last six games. With the assist, Pelletier became the first Comet player with double figures in points (2-8-10).

Despite a dominant showing from the Comets throughout the second, Hamilton was able to equalize late as Sven Andrighetto buried a rebound on the back post with just 55 seconds left in the period.  The winger’s tally was his team high sixth goal on the season. Despite a second period 16-6 shots advantage for the Comets, the score would tie the game at one. Forwards Mike Blunden and Martin St. Pierre each recorded assists on the play.

Grenier found his way to the scoresheet once again as he put home a loose puck in the crease to put the Comets ahead 2-1. The winger was left all alone in front to put home a rebound into a wide open net, as Tokarsky. Peter Andersson and Brandon DeFazio picked up the assists on the play. With the assist, DeFazio netted his fourth point over the last six games.

After a back-and-forth third period down the stretch, Comets captain Stuart iced things with an empty net goal with just 19 seconds left. With Utica shorthanded after a slashing minor by Pelletier, Stuart shot cleared the puck out of his zone, off the sideboards, and into the empty net. Stuart’s marker, the first shorthanded goal in Comets history, was assisted by Benn Ferriero and sealed the deal on another Comets win.

Utica now returns home to play four of their next five games at The AUD. The Rochester Americans come to town for the first time this season on Friday, as the Comets look to avenge two earlier losses at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester. Utica will meet the Texas Stars the following night for the first ever meeting between the two franchises. Both games are scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. puck drop.

Copps Coliseum, 3 p.m.
Radio: 94.9 K-Rock

The Utica Comets are in Hamilton, Ontario for the final of three straight games away from home, as they do battle with the Hamilton Bulldogs. Utica is coming off of its first victory of the season on Friday night against Lake Erie, where they defeated the Monsters 3-2, to split the second of a back-to-back set.  Puck drop is set for 3:00 p.m. this afternoon at Copps Coliseum.

When They Last Met: The Comets dropped a narrow 3-2 decision to the Bulldogs on Oct. 26 at The AUD. Defensemen Peter Andersson and Henrik Tommernes each scored third period goals as the Comets attempted a ferocious comeback, but ultimately came up just short as Bulldogs netminder Dustin Tokarski made 31 saves for the victory.

Comets Outlook: The Comets finally moved into the win column Friday night as Colin Stuart’s goal with less than three minutes to play gave Utica a 3-2 lead that they would not relinquish against the Monsters. Alex Mallet and Patrick Mullen scored first period goals for Utica, while Joacim Eriksson recorded 22 saves on 24 shots for the win. The victory ended a 10 game winless streak to begin the season and moved the Comets to four points in the standings.

Bulldogs Outlook: After they defeated Utica, Hamilton has gone just 1-3-0-1 in their last five games.  The Bulldogs have dropped their last three meetings, including a 6-1 decision against the defending league champions, the Grand Rapids Griffins. Sven Andrighetto scored the only Hamilton goal as Robert Mayer was pulled midway through the second period after he surrendered five goals. The Griffins scored four times over a 73 second span in the second period which ultimately sealed Hamilton’s fate.

Better Late Than Never: The Comets were able to end the losing drought with their 3-2 win over Lake Erie on Friday night. The victory was the first for a Utica AHL franchise since Apr. 9, 1993, when the Utica Devils defeated the Baltimore Skipjacks, a mere 7,518 days ago.

Captain Clutch: Colin Stuart once again wrote his name in the Utica Comets history books as the winger recorded the first game-winning goal in Comets history. Already the first captain in team history and the scorer of the team’s first powerplay goal, Stuart now adds a third mark to his already impressive list. The Minnesota native now has three points (3-0-3) over nine games.

G.I. Joacim: Comets goaltender Joacim Eriksson also set a milestone as he was in net for Utica’s first victory on Friday. In addition to the first win in team history, Eriksson’s victory was also the first of his AHL career.  The 23 year old had spent the last five seasons playing professionally in his native Sweden.

More Milestones: Forward Alex Mallet was the most recent Comet to score his first career AHL goal as he beat Pickard midway through the first period.  David Booth also added his first Comet point with an assist on Patrick Mullen’s powerplay goal.

Zach Attack: With his helper on Colin Stuart’s game winning goal, Comets center Zach Hamill has now recorded five points over his last five games.  This marks the sixth straight AHL season that Hamill has scored five points over a five game span.

Sticking Together: Hamilton head coach Sylvain Lefebvre, his two assistants, Donald Dufresne and Stephan Lebeau and his goaltending consultant Vincent Riendeau were all teammates on the 1987-88 Sherbrooke Canadiens, the Montreal Canadiens AHL affiliate at the time.

Scouting The Bulldogs: Andrighetto is the team leader in points as he enters tonight’s action with nine (5-4-9) over 12 games played.  The winger’s five goals are tied for first on the Bulldogs, while his +6 rating is tops on the team.  Amidst callups to Montreal, forwards Louis Leblanc and Martin St. Pierre have each skated in nine games and picked up eight (5-3-8) and seven (1-6-7) points respectively.

Magnus Nyrgen has led the offensive effort from the blueline, as the Karlstad, Sweden man has amassed eight points (1-7-8) over 12 games. Nygren’s eight points are tied for 16th amongst all defensemen in the AHL. The Bulldogs will be without Greg Pateryn, who was recently recalled by the Canadiens. Pateryn had put up seven points (3-4-7) over seven games played.

Dustin Tokarski has led the way in net for the Bulldogs, as the 24 year old has a 4-1-1 record and leads Hamilton with a .912 save percentage and a 2.43 goals against average.  Robert Mayer has been solid in a reserve role as well as the Czech Republic native enters at 1-3-2, with a .902 save percentage and a 3.00 GAA.