The Utica Comets (32-15-5-1) got back to their winning ways Tuesday night after they trampled over the Hamilton Bulldogs (26-21-7-0) 5-2 at The Utica Memorial Auditorium. With the win the Comets widened their division lead over the Bulldogs to 11 points.
Will Acton (2-0-2) (pictured above) applied his scoring touch in his second two-goal night of the season for the Comets and was awarded the first star of the game. Brandon DeFazio (1-2-3) led the way with three points en route to second star honors. Joacim Eriksson put on a performance in his first start since allowing six goals vs. the Bulldogs on Feb. 16. The Swedish netminder stopped 30 of the 32 shots the Bulldogs had taken on him.
The Comets kicked off the game’s scoring just over a minute into the second period. Dustin Jeffrey made it all happen for the Comets after winning the offensive zone face-off at the right dot. Once the puck wash pushed off to John Negrin, the Utica defensemen fed it over to Travis Ehrhardt at the point who in turn demolished the puck and buried it past the glove hand of Bulldogs’ Mike Condon to give the Comets the first goal of the game at 1:58.
The face-off strategy continued to work for the Comets as they drove the puck towards the net right off the dot. At 8:13 Alexandre Grenier obtained possession of the puck off another offensive zone face-off, but this time at the left dot. With a quick pass across the blue paint, Jensen found it on the opposite side and banged it in for the two-goal lead.
Just under two minutes later the Bulldogs scored from the top of the slot off of what looked like a routine shot from Daniel Carr. Nevertheless, the puck went past Eriksson’s glove hand to make it a 2-1 game. Morgan Ellis was credited with the only assist on the Bulldogs firs goal of the game.
The Comets regained their two-goal lead back when Acton and DeFazio found themselves rushing into the offensive zone on a 2-on-1 at 15:44. DeFazio decided to make a saucer pass over the stick of a sprawling Bulldog defensemen, which gave Acton the chance to bury the one-timer past Condon’s glove hand for the 3-1 lead and his first goal of the game. Darren Archibald tallied the secondary assist.
As they headed into the third period, the goals continued to roll in including Acton’s second of the game at 13:01. The short but sweet play began with a shot from DeFazio, which put it in front of Condon’s legs. Acton, who was sitting patiently in the crease saw it through and poked the rubber into the open hole to give the Comets a three-goal edge.
Hamilton continued to search for opportunities towards the end of the third and one finally panned out for them as Drayson Bowman snuck around the Comets defense to lay on the backhander in to the Comets net to make it 5-2.
The score was settled at 18:11 after the Bulldogs pulled their netminder for the extra attacker. From center ice, DeFazio flicked it down the ice and into the empty net for a final score of 5-2.
The boys in blue will try to continue their dominance over the Adirondack Flames this Friday for the fifth and final game of their homestand at 7 p.m. Through their previous nine meetings this season the Comets are undefeated against the Calgary Flames American Hockey League affiliate.