Travis Green is happy with his hockey team.
Why wouldn’t he be?
His Utica Comets won for the fifth time in six games, and collected their 11th point over that stretch, with a 3-1 American Hockey League victory over the Syracuse Crunch before a sold out, Pink-the-Rink crowd of 3,815 Friday at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.
“I like how we’ve been skating,” said the first-year coach, who hopes things continue along the same lines when the Rockford IceHogs visit the Aud at 7 p.m. Saturday. “We’re working hard, playing smart hockey. When there’s a play to be made, we make it. “
Joacim Eriksson had another big game, turning aside 31 shots and not allowing a goal until just over a minute remained in winning for the fourth time in five games. Brandon DeFazio, Pascal Pelletier and Darren Archibald scored the goals for the Comets (16-20-2-4, 38 points, and 16-12-1-3 since their 0-8-1-1 start to the season). Alexandre Grenier had two assists and Pelletier, Cal O’Reilly and Archibald had one apiece.
Andrej Sustr scored the only goal for Syracuse (17-20-2-4, 40 points) with 1:05 left in the game as the Crunch skated 6-on-5. Cedrick Desjardins made 26 saves for Syracuse, which has dropped six straight.
The Comets have allowed just nine goals in the last six games, five wins and a shootout loss, in a streak that began after an 8-3 beating at the hands of the Albany Devils Jan. 17. Utica began the streak with a 3-1 win over the Hamilton Bulldogs with Joe Cannata in net, and Eriksson has had the duty the last five, since returning from his stay with the parent Vancouver Canucks.
“Yokie has been playing great,” said Alex Biega, the former Harvard hockey captain who has been a solid presence on defense all season. “And the defensive corps, not just the defensemen but everyone, has been very solid. We’re boxing guys out, taking away seams, taking away the Grade A chances.”