Two power-play goals rocketed the Utica Comets over the Toronto Marlies 5-2 Friday evening at The Utica Memorial Auditorium. The Comets have scored two power-play goals in back-to-back games and have won seven of their last nine games.
Alexandre Grenier (1-2-3), Cal O’Reilly (1-1-2), Dustin Jeffrey (1-1-2), Alex Friesen (1-1-2) all helped the Comets win their 31st game of the year with multi-point games, and Jacob Markstrom stopped 28 of the 30 shots taken on him by the Marlies.
Things began to ramp up towards the end of period once O’Reilly netted the first goal for the Comets. Grenier saw the play unfold before his eyes as he circled around the back of Antoine Bibeau’s net. Once Grenier made it to the right circle, the Canadian winger released a quick pass that met O’Reilly just above the center slot. Without giving Bibeau the chance to react, O’Reilly sniped it through Bibeau’s right side for the 1-0 lead at 15:02. Nicklas Jensen received the secondary assist on the play.
The Comets waited almost twenty minutes but they scored another one for the two-goal lead at 14:11. It all started with Hunter Shinkaruk who popped off a pass to Jeffrey just before they crossed the blue line. Jeffrey streaked down the left wing and saw Friesen motioning his arm for the pass to the right wing. Jeffrey fed a saucer pass to Friesen who unloaded on the puck to put it straight past Bibeau to make it 2-0.
The third stanza was a bit more eventful for both sides of the ice with a total of five goals combined.
Jeffrey found the Comets third goal of the game and his 17th of the season after a dish to the right dot from Grenier in the opening minute of the third. Bibeau who was on the wrong side of the crease was distracted as the puck slid out to Jeffrey and right back to the open side of the net for the three-goal lead and the power-play goal.
The game wasn’t out of reach for the Marlies just yet as they scored two quick ones to make it a one-goal game.
Ryan Rupert found the net for Toronto’s first goal as the Comets were trying to kill off a slashing penalty taken by Brendan Gaunce. Rupert received a pass just inside the slot from Connor Brown and buried it past Markstrom’s glove to make it 3-1.
Brendan Leipsic, who was just dealt to the Marlies from the Milwaukee Admirals scored in his first game for his new club to shorten the Comets lead to one. The play developed much like their first goal as Leipsic was traveling to the right of the net. He received a pass from Sam Carrick which enabled him to knock the puck past Markstrom’s glove side for the second time.
The Comets took back their two-goal lead on yet another power-play attempt at 11:31. Grenier received the a pass at the point from O’Reilly and fired a shot that would not miss the back of the net to give the Comets a 4-2 lea. Jeremie Blain, who was recently called up from the ECHL’s Kalamazoo Wings, was also credited with his first assist on the season for the Comets fourth goal.
Just prior to the three-minute mark, Friesen took slashing penalty, which brought the face-off into the Comets zone at 16:49. In turn, the Marlies took advantage of the opportunity and pulled Bibeau out of net for a fighting chance. Luckily for the Comets, Acton intercepted the puck and directed it into the open net for the shorthanded goal and the 5-2 final decision.
The Comets have now scored five goals in three consecutive games for the first time in franchise history.
It’s another game night at The AUD tomorrow night as the Comets take on the Albany Devils for a 7 p.m. matcH-up to continue their season-high five-game homestand.
Three Stars: 1. UTI Dustin Jeffrey (1 Goal, 1 Assist, 2 Points) 2. UTI Cal O’Reilly (1 Goal, 1 Assist, 2 Points) 3. UTI Alex Friesen (1 Goal, 1 Assist, 2 Points)