Dec 16, 2022

Utica, N.Y. —The Comets stepped on to the ice against the Bridgeport Islanders for the first time this season. Coming off a loss at home two days previously, the home team was looking to erase the memory of the defeat against a North Division opponent by taking two points away from the top affiliate of the New York Islanders. After being down by a goal twice during the game, their leadership, including captain, Ryan Schmelzer, pushed them to victory by a 5-2 score. 

In the first period, the only goal was scored during a delayed penalty by the Islanders when Ruslan Iskhakov sliced his way around the Comets defense and wristed a shot that beat MacKenzie Blackwood on the glove side at 11:21. It was the only tally of the opening period. 

The Comets got onto the scoreboard in the second period during a two-man advantage. It was Nolan Foote who found open ice between the circles and wristed a shot beating Islanders goalie, Corey Schneider at 16:14. The goal was Foote’s seventh of the year and it was assisted by Reilly Walsh and Nolan Stevens. Later, the Comets gave up a shorthanded tally late in the period when Parker Wotherspoon, brother of Utica defenseman Tyler Wotherspoon at 19:51. The period ended with the Comets down 2-1 but they would enter the final period of regulation on a power-play. 

It didn’t take long for the Comets to tie the game again and it was Joe Gambardella scored at 1:51 as he took the puck from the bottom of the far circle and drove the net roofing the puck over the blocker of Schneider at 1:51. It was Gambardella’s third goal of the season and it was assisted by Graeme Clarke and Nolan Stevens. Later, the captain Ryan Schmelzer brought the fans to their feet when he dangled through the Bridgeport defenseman and roofed the puck past Schneider at 9:04 for his first of the year. Later, Tyce Thompson added an insurance goal as he took the lovely pass from Brian Pinho and slammed the puck into the cage at 16:09. The goal as Thompson’s fifth of the year and helped Utica to a 4-2 lead. The Comets added an empty net goal with Nolan Foote for his second of the year at 18:12. This was all the offense they needed to skate away with their ninth victory of the season.

Blackwood finished the game with 31 saves on 33 shots while Schneider stopped 23 of 28. Utica scored on one power-play out of five chances while Bridgeport couldn’t score on four opportunities.

The Comets are back in action tomorrow night against the Springfield Thunderbirds inside the Adirondack Bank Center at 7:00 PM

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