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FINAL: Comets 1 vs Texas 2

(Comets Photo by Lindsay A. Mogle)

In what has become a theme on home ice for the Utica Comets this season, a hard fought effort goes unrewarded as the Comets dropped a 2-1 nailbiter to the Texas Stars. The Comets carried the play for much of the third period and finished with a 29-23 shots on goal advantage but could not find the tying goal. With the loss, Utica falls to 2-10-1-1 and still remains winless on home ice (0-6-1-1).

Alex Grenier scored his fourth goal of the season for the Comets late in the first period, off of an assist from Frankie Corrado.  Despite the loss, Joacim Eriksson was stout in net for Utica as the Swede made 21 saves on 23 shots.  Eriksson started his sixth straight for the Comets and his ninth of the last ten.

The Stars struck first after a nonchalant beginning of the game that saw just seven shots on goal over the first ten minutes. Texas winger Mike Hedden deflected a William Wrenn point shot past Eriksson to give his team the early lead at the 9:56 mark of the period.  Defenseman Hubert Labrie also picked up an assist on the play, his first point of the season.

The Comets fought back strong in the latter half of the period and capitalized on their efforts with just 67 seconds left in the first.  Grenier took a feed from Corrado in the left hand circle and fired a twisted wristshot past Nilstorp to knot the score at one. The goal was Grenier’s fourth of the season, which moved him into a tie with Colin Stuart for second on the team.

Texas took advantage of a Colin Stuart interference penalty as Matej Stransky buried his third of the season to put the Stars back ahead by one.  Justin Dowling had the primary assist after Eriksson denied his original chance.  Hedden picked up his second point of the evening with the second assist on the play.

Utica put forward a frantic effort in the third period as they searched for the equalizer. Brandon DeFazio was the only Comet to beat Nilstorp during the final stanza but his shot could not beat the iron as well.  Utica mounted an 11-5 shots on goal advantage during the third, but could not solve the Stars’ netminder, who finished as a deserving second star of the game with 28 saves on 29 shots faced.

The Comets now fall to 1-4-1-1 in games decided by one goal, and Utica has lost all nine times this season where they failed to score more than two goals.  The Comets are also still in search of their first win at the Aud and their first point since a 5-4 overtime loss to the Abbotsford Heat on Oct. 30.

The Comets are off until Friday, which begins a home and home series with last evening’s opponents, the Rochester Americans. The Comets travel to Rochester for a 7:05 p.m. faceoff on Friday night, before they return to home ice to faceoff with the Americans again on Saturday at The AUD.  Puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m. on Saturday.

TEXAS STARS (8-5-2-0) @ UTICA COMETS (2-9-1-1)
Utica Memorial Auditorium, 7 p.m.
Radio: 94.9 K-Rock


The Utica Comets play host to the Texas Stars for the first and only time this season as they look to rebound from last night’s loss to make it three out of four in the win column.  Utica is still in search of its first victory on home ice after they dropped a 4-2 result to the Rochester Americans last evening. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.

When They Last Met: Tonight is the first meeting between these two franchises.

Comets Outlook: The Comets put in a strong effort as they outshot the Rochester Americans 33-30, but the Comets could not extend their winning streak to three as they fell 4-2. Benn Ferriero scored both Utica goals, his first multi-goal game of the season while Pascal Pelletier added his team high ninth assist. Colin Stuart, Patrick Mullen and Nicklas Jensen each picked up assists as Joacim Eriksson took the loss. Eriksson was replaced by Joe Cannata midway through the second period. Cannata made 14 saves on 15 shots, while Eriksson turned aside 12 of the 15 he faced.

Stars Outlook: Texas comes to Utica ranked fourth in the West at 8-5-2-0, but the Stars were defeated in their last time out, 7-3 against the Abbotsford Heat. Scott Glennie and Francis Wathier scored, while Colton Sceviour added his 12th goal of the season in the defeat. Cristopher Nilstorp took the defeat as he surrendered six goals before being relieved of his duties midway through the third period. Blair Jones had a five point evening (3-2-5) for Abbotsford, while Ben Street added four points (2-2-4) of his own.

Binary Benn: Benn Ferriero found the back of the net twice for the Comets, his first two-goal output since Dec. 9, 2011 when he was a member of the Worcester Sharks.  Ferriero is now the Comets leader amongst all skaters with six goals on the season.

Home Woes Continue In Utica: The Comets have recorded their only two victories away from The AUD, and enter tonight’s game just 0-5-1-1 on home ice.  The Comets, who have been outscored 26-15 in Utica this season, are one of two teams, along with new conference rivals, the Charlotte Checkers, who have yet to record a victory on home ice. 

Pelletier Leads The Way: Comets center Pascal Pelletier picked up his team high eleventh point of the season with an assist on Ferriero’s second goal.  The Labrador City, NL native has picked up a point in eight of the nine games he has played in this season.

No Average Joe: Utica netminder Joe Cannata made his first relief appearance of the season against Rochester and saw his first game action since early November. The Merrimack graduate was stout off the bench as he recorded 14 saves on 15 shots faced, good for a .933 save percentage. 

Jerrard’s Faces Familiar Foe: Utica assistant coach Paul Jerrard spent seven of the past eight seasons as a part of the Dallas Stars organization, including two with the Texas Stars from 2009-2011. Jerrard was a part of the Stars inaugural season in 2009-10 as an assistant coach, the same role and situation he is now a part of in Utica.

Welcome Back Arch: The Comets welcomed back Darren Archibald to the lineup, who returned after an eight game stint with Vancouver in the NHL. The bruising winger recorded two points (0-2-2) and a +3 rating over eight games.

Penalty Kill Continues To Struggle: The Comets gave up yet another marker against the man advantage against Rochester. Utica’s penalty killing unit currently ranks just 27th in the AHL at 76.4 percent.

Scouting The Stars: Sceviour and Travis Morin have been at the top of the league leaderboards all season, as Morin leads the AHL with 24 points (10-14-24) and Sceviour is sixth with 19 (12-7-19). With Morin recently recalled to Dallas of the NHL, Sceviour now leads the way.  His 12 goals are tied for second in the AHL while he ranks third in power play goals with five and tied for fifth in plus/minus at +9.  Center Chris Mueller is also over a point per game pace with 15 points (6-9-15) over 13 games played.

Jamie Oleksiak has been a rock on the Texas blueline, as he leads all defenseman on the team with five points (3-2-5) and is tied for first with a +7 rating over 13 games played.  A first round pick of the Dallas Stars in 2011, Oleksiak also leads all defensemen on the roster with 36 shots on goal. Finnish blueliner Jyrki Jokipakka leads all Texas blueliners with five assists on the season.

Texas has had a carousel of netminders so far this season, as four different goaltenders have seen action between the pipes. Jack Campbell and Allen York have each posted stellar stats in limited action. Campbell leads with way with a 1.00 goals against average (GAA) and a .956 save percentage in two games, with York at 1.63 and .946 in three games. Nilstorp has carried much of the workload thus far, as he enters with eight games played.  The Sweden native has worked up a 2-4-2-0 record, compiled with a 3.35 GAA and a .883 save percentage.