Pascal Pelletier (pictured above) got the first of 5 goals.
To some eyes, the Utica Comets were flat as a pancake.
They trailed the Toronto Marlies 1-0 after the first period, had been outshot 9-3 and had definitely gotten the worst of the territorial battle.
“We weren’t really flat, but we needed a little energy,” Pascal Pelletier said.
They got it early in the second period, when Darrren Archibald traded some big, heavyweight punches with Toronto’s Brad Staubitz, and Alex Mallet dropped the gloves with the Marlies’ Brad Ross just a couple of minutes apart.
“It got the boys going and it got the crowd going, and we got the train rolling,” said Pelletier, who played a large role in the whole thing.
The Comets suddenly ripped off five goals in 13 and half minutes, rumbling to a 5-1 victory over the Marlies before a nominal sell-out crowd of 3,815 – there were quite a few empty seats – Friday at the Utica Memorial Auditorium, keeping their flickering American Hockey League playoff hopes alive.
It was the first game in a third straight three-in-three weekend for the Comets, who head up the road to Syracuse to play the Crunch today, then immediately leave for Toronto to play the Marlies again at 3 p.m. Sunday. Utica (31-29-4-4, 70 points) trails Charlotte, which holds the last Western Conference playoff berth, by five points, is four points back of Rochester and three behind Oklahoma City, and has a game in hand on all of those teams.
Pelletier scored on the power play and shorthanded to cap Utica’s explosive second period run, and Frankie Corrado, Brandon DeFazio and Alex Friesen scored the other goals. Kellan Lain had two assists for the Comets, Friesen, Henrik Tommernes, Alex Biega, Jeremy Welsh, Alexandre Grenier and Cal O’Reilly had the others, and Joacim Eriksson made 21 saves.
Friesen, the Comets’ small – he is listed at 5-foot-10, 186 pounds, which most would say is generous – and highly energetic forward, had another good night playing with Lain and Welsh. He thought the Comets did a much better job of managing the puck and keeping the Marlies in their end in the second period – Utica had a 14-6 shot bulge – but agreed that Archibald and Mallet played big parts as well.