The Utica Jr. Comets NCDC team opened up a 3-game series versus the Wilkes-Barre Scanton Knights tonight in Utica. The visting 3-3-0 Knights traveled to Utica after a 1-2-0 showing at last weekends Jersey Hitmen Classic showcase. Utica, 2-3-1, last played October 1st-3rd at the Junior Bruins Shootout showcase event where they also finished the weekend 1-2-0.
Utica came out flying in the first period controlling much of the play firing 13 shots on net. It paid off at the 16:10 mark when Medrick Bolduc found paydirt for a 1-0 lead. Vladislav Pschenichnikov and Michael Herrera picked up assists.
Louie Kamienski tied the game at 2:51 of the second period. Gabriel Cull of Utica broke the tie four minutes later with assists going to Seth Ferguson and Cam Love. Wilkes-Barre had a power-play opportunity at 10:54 of the second with Cull in the box serving a tripping penalty, but it was the Comets who would capitalize. Bolduc hit Herrera with a pass following a Knights neutral zone breakdown. Hererra streaked in on goaltender Andrew Palena and buried the puck for a 3-1 lead. Michael Webster also assisted on the play.
Andrew Martino added to the lead with a power-play goal 4:11 into the third. Robert Gatewood and Webster picked up the helpers. After that the Comets got a little lacksidsical and the Knights took advantage. William Matzke scored an unassisted marker at 8:26 and Riku Brown followed it up at 9:59 to make it a 4-3 game.
With a face-off in their offensive zone, the Knights called a timeout and pulled Palena for the extra attacker. They had sustained pressure, but couldn’t get the puck past Comets goaltender Waylon Esche. Esche and Quinton Gove assisted on a Pschenichnikov empty net goal at the 19:06 mark to seal the 5-3 victory.
Palena finished with 40 saves and Esche finished with 38. The Knights and Comets face-off again tomorrow and Sunday at the Adriondack Bank Center. Saturdays contest is scheduled for 5:30pm followed by an 8:15pm puck drop on Sunday.