Utica, NY – The Utica Comets historic start to the season finally ended when they were defeated by their division rival, the Rochester Americans, 4-2.
Tonight’s game began with back and forth scoring chances and some flurries of extracurricular activity from two teams who are already quite familiar with one another. It was Rochester who got on the board first at the 15:50 mark thanks to a goal by Sean Malone. Malone’s power play tally was assisted by Jack Quinn and Oskari Laaksonen. With 5:34 left in the period, defenseman Casey Fitzgerald extended Rochester’s lead to two. It was a shot from the point through traffic that found the back of the Comets’ net.
In the second period, it was the Comets who scored early on – just 1:01 into the frame. In his return to Utica, Alexander Holtz picked up right where he left off. Holtz got the puck from Reilly Walsh as he entered the Rochester zone, then fired a shot over the shoulder of goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen. The Comets had several scoring opportunities throughout the remainder of the period but were unable to tie the game. They headed into the locker room trailing 2-1.
There was no shortage of excitement in the third period. Just minutes into the frame, the Comets successfully killed off a penalty and were able to create some quality scoring chances while playing short-handed. Just seconds after emerging from the penalty box, Marian Studenic found himself on a breakaway but was tripped up by the Rochester defenseman, resulting in a penalty shot. Studenic made the most of this somewhat rare opportunity as he entered the zone at an angle, held the puck patiently, then slipped the puck just under the glove of Luukkonen. This Studenic goal tied the game at 2 with 16:07 remaining. Later in the period, the Americans took the lead once again, scoring with 6:54 remaining. The goal was scored by Brett Murray and assisted by Mason Jobst. Despite outshooting the Americans 11-6 in the final period, the Comets were unable to put another one in the net. Rochester forward Sean Malone secured the win for his team by scoring an empty net goal with :39 remaining in the game.
The Comets loss gives them a 13-1 record as they head out on a two-game road trip. The team will make their way to Charlotte to take on the Checkers this weekend on Saturday at 6:00 PM and Sunday at 3:00 PM. Games will be available on AHLTV.com or on 94.9 KROCK. The team’s next home game will take place on December 1st against the Belleville Senators on Wednesday night inside the Adirondack Bank Center at 7:00 PM. Tickets are still available. Visit uticacomets.com/tickets for more information.