The Utica Comets got their second American Hockey League season off to a running start with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over the Toronto Marlies Saturday afternoon at the Ricoh Coliseum.
The Comets, who didn’t win until their 11th game in their inaugural campaign, 29 days into the season, got 5-on-3 power play goals from Alex Grenier and Dustin Jeffrey and some strong work in goal from Jacob Markstrom (pictured above) to earn the victory over the defending North Division champions.
“It feels good,” said Comets coach Travis Green, who suffered through that tough early season a year ago in his first professional coaching assignment. “I thought our team played really well. It’s a real good road win. I like a lot of things our team did.”
The Comets and Marlies, who split a half-dozen games last season, will meet again at 3 p.m. Sunday at Ricoh.
The Comets spotted the Marlies a goal, Trevor Smith’s score at 7:27 of the first period, but responded quickly. Less than two minutes later, Grenier, who scored 17 goals last season, connected on a one-timer as the Comets skated with a two-man advantage. Cal O’Reilly – the Comets’ new captain – and Bobby Sanguinetti picked up the assists. Utica took the lead early in the second period when Dustin Jeffrey scored, again as the Comets held a two-man advantage. O’Reilly, who had 45 assists in 52 games with the Comets last season, and Grenier helped out on that score. Utica had a wide 20-5 shot advantage in the period to help keep the Marlies at bay, then killed two penalties in the third period as Markstrom made 13 saves to hang on for the win.