The Comets continue to haunt the Adirondack Flames after Friday night’s 2-1 victory at The Utica Memorial Auditorium. Tonight marks the fifth consecutive win against the Flames for the Vancouver Canucks’ American Hockey League affiliate.
Frank Corrado (1-1-2), and Hunter Shinkaruk (1-0-1) (picture above= showed up for the after Christmas special in Friday night’s win over their North division rivals. Out of Shinkaruk’s five goals on the season, four of them have been game-winning goals including tonight’s third period goal. Jacob Markstrom stopped 17 of the 18 shots he faced in his second consecutive game and improved his overall season record to a 9-1-1-0 and his goals-against average to a remarkable 1.63.
It took an opening face-off fight and most of the entire first period for the Comets to find the net, but they were able to bury one past Joni Ortio with only 63 seconds left in the opening period. After O’Reilly played keep-away near the blue line, the Comets captain dished it over to Corrado. After a quick release, Corrado slipped one through Ortio’s left arm for the 1-0 lead and his fourth goal of the season. Kane Lafranchise received the secondary assist on the play for his seventh on the season.
Just 10 seconds into the second stanza, the Flames tied the game back up. After a quick entry into the Comets zone, Tyler Wotherspoon took a straight shot towards Markstrom’s net from the point. Bryce Van Brabant met the puck halfway to the net and deflected it past an un-expecting Markstrom for the equalizer. Michael Ferland was credited with the secondary assist on the play.
The Comets finally found the go-ahead goal almost halfway through the third period at 7:27. Corrado received the puck from Ronalds Kenins at the blue line and delivered the puck directly to the front of the net. The bouncing puck was uncontrollable for Ortio as Shinkaruk met him on the doorstep. The rookie forward popped it past the right side of the Finnish goaltender for the 2-1 game-winning goal and his fifth of the season.
Even with the security of the one goal lead, the Comets almost slipped into yet another overtime game. In the remaining seconds of the third period, things almost came crumbling down for the league leading Comets as the puck popped through Markstrom’s pads and almost crossed the line before the buzzer. After video review it was determined that the puck had never crossed the line before the time expired.
The heart attack that was Friday night’s Comets game has kept Utica in first place among the entire league with a total of 45 points and also has secured Comets Head Coach Travis Green with a Head Coaching spot on the bench for the AHL 2015 All-Star Classic that takes place Jan. 25-26, 2015 in Utica, N.Y.
In less than 24 hours the Comets will be right back at The AUD on Saturday night to face the Lake Erie Monsters for the second time this season at 7 p.m. During their first meeting on Nov. 7, the Monsters were defeated by the Comets and Joacim Eriksson for a 4-1 final decision.
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