Calder Cup Playoffs! Utica Comets 3, Chicago Wolves 2 in Overtime

It’s been 22 years since the Mohawk Valley has witnessed professional playoff hockey and on Wednesday night that drought ended as the Utica Comets (1-0) defeated the Chicago Wolves (0-1) 2-1 in double overtime of Game 1 in the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs at the Allstate Arena.

Hunter Shinkaruk (1-1-2), Nicklas Jensen (1-0-1), and Bobby Sanguinetti (1-0-1) all scored goals for the Comets, while Jacob Markstrom made 30 saves through the four-plus periods of hockey. Alexandre Grenier (0-2-2) also enjoyed a multi-point night in the victory.

“It’s always important to win the first game of a series,” said Comets Head Coach Travis Green. “It’s even more so in a shorter series like this.”

Starting the playoffs on the road isn’t an easy task, but that didn’t stop Shinkaruk from finding the first goal of the game on the first shot of the game. Alexandre Grenier and Cal O’Reilly set the play up in front as Shinkaruk came rolling in towards the slot. With the puck on his backhand, Shinkaruk lifted it up past the glove hand of goaltender Jordan Binnington for the Comets first goal of the play-offs to make it 1-0.

The Comets found another way to get through Binnington on just their third shot of the game at 10:28. Kent Huskins and Darren Archibald helped out as a give and go pushed Jensen up the ice and into the offensive zone on the left wing. As Jensen reached the left circle, he sniped it in to the far side which gave the Comets the 2-0 lead.

After the second period saw a combined total of 22 saves, the third period brought more than the Comets expected as the Wolves finally answered back with their first goal of the night just past the one-minute mark. The goal resulted from a shot on net from Brendan Bell, which then rebounded into the possession of Pat Cannone. With Magnus Paajarvi on the left side and a wide open net at his disposal, Cannone fed it across the slot and Paajarvi banged it home to get the Wolves within one.

After the second period saw a combined total of 22 saves, the third period brought more than the Comets expected as the Wolves finally answered back with their first goal of the night just past the one-minute mark. The goal resulted from a shot on net from Brendan Bell, which then rebounded into the possession of Pat Cannone. With Magnus Paajarvi on the left side and a wide open net at his disposal, Cannone fed it across the slot and Paajarvi banged it home to get the Wolves within one.

UticaCometsJacobMarkstrom

And just as the Comets thought they had wrapped up game one, Murphy’s Law decided to kick in as the Wolves netted the equalizer from another Paajarvi snapshot with one second left in the third period. After tying it up 2-2, the Comets and the Wolves were the first to enter overtime in the 2015 Calder Cup Playoffs.

It took one-full overtime period and just about three minutes into the second overtime, but the Comets finally got the job done after Sanguinetti fired home a shot past Binnington after the puck squirted to the slot from behind the net. Grenier and Shinkaruk both tallied their second points of the night on the Comets overtime winner.

“I saw a lot of open ice (in the slot) and Grenier battling with their defenseman,” recalled Sanguinetti. “So I slid down and the puck popped out to me. It worked out well for us. After letting one in late, that was a real nice win to get. A big win.”

With the second best penalty-killing percentages (87.1%) on the road during the regular-season, the Comets continued their special-teams success by killing off all five of the penalties they took during Game 1 of the series.

The Comets will return to the Allstate Arena this Friday April 24th for game two of the best-of-five series against the Chicago Wolves before returning home to the long-awaited return of playoff hockey to The AUD.