Dec 27, 2022

After an outstanding comeback win on Tuesday night, the Comets offense exploded on Thursday against the Cleveland Monsters with a 7-5 win. Graeme Clarke continued to lead the way with a two goal night, and a four goal second period propelled them to victory.

Cleveland struck early to start the game. Cole Fonstad scored just 2 minutes and 45 seconds in to make it 1-0. Three minutes later, Utica got a goal from Jarod Gourley. Gourley was just recalled from ECHL Adirondack, and ripped a wrist shot from the point that hit two Cleveland bodies before going in. The first would end in a 1-1 tie.

Both team’s offenses exploded in the second. Chris Clayton got the first tally of the period for Cleveland. Thirty seconds later Utica’s Graeme Clarke created a turnover at the top of the zone on a puck he knocked out of the air, then made a move in the high slot and scored to tie the game at two. Blue Jackets’ first rounder David Jiricek scored a minute and forty seconds later for Cleveland to take the lead again.

Reilly Walsh would have the answer for Utica on the powerplay. His shot from the point beat Cleveland goalie Pavel Cajan low. Utica had tied the game for the third time. Fonstad scored again for Cleveland at 14:24 to make it 4-3. The Comets continued to battle, they got another goal from Clarke as he made a similar move and faked out multiple Cleveland defenders for his second goal of the night. Less than a minute later, Utica took their first lead of the game. Jack Dugan got a pass from Ryan Schmelzer and rifled it past Cajon as the netminder ranged to his right. It was 5-4 Utica after two periods.

The Comets started the third shorthanded, but still kept the offense going. Nolan Stevens stripped a puck away from the Cleveland attack, went the length of the ice and scored to make it 6-4. Five minutes later at even strength, Michael Vukojevic buried a winding slapshot from the point past Cajon to extend the lead to three.

Cleveland answered with an extra attacker late, but Utica capped off a 7-5 win and a sweep of the Monsters. The Comets have now won four in a row heading into the holiday break. They’ll be back on the ice Wednesday the 28th in Rochester before returning home on the 30th and 31st. Tickets are available for the final two games of 2022 at

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