The Chicago Wolves evened up the best-of-five series (1-1) with a two-goal second period that took down the Utica Comets 2-1 Friday night in Game 2 of the Calder Cup Western Conference Quarterfinals at the Allstate Arena.
Hunter Shinkaruk (1-0-1) scored the Comets lone goal of the night, and his second of the Calder Cup Playoffs. Alexandre Grenier (0-1-1) lent a hand as he tallied his third assist of the playoffs. Jacob Markstrom stopped 20 of the Wolves 22 shots on goal in the loss.
“I thought we were OK tonight,” said Comets’ Head Coach Travis Green. “We played really well defensively and limited their chances. You won’t win many hockey games scoring one goal.”
Even with a shot advantage like the Comets had in the first period (11-3) the Wolves were the first ones to find the back of the net on just their fourth shot of the game at the start of the second. The Comets started the period a man down after taking a tripping penalty in the closing seconds of the first, which gave Brent Regner the opportunity to bury a shot from the point to put the Wolves up 1-0 at 1:10. Magnus Paajarvi and Pat Cannone each recorded their third points of the series with assists on the power-play tally.
A 2-on-1 finally got the Comets back in the game at 10:10 with a feed across the slot to Shinkaruk from Grenier. With the puck on the tape of his stick, Shinkaruk buried the biscuit into the open side of the net for the 1-1 equalizer. Bobby Sanguinetti took credit for the secondary assist and his second point in as many games.
Less than two minutes later the Wolves took back their one-goal lead, this time for good, after a shot from Jani Hakanpaa was re-directed past Markstrom by former Comet Jeremy Welsh.
The Comets power-play, now in the midst of an 0-for-12 rut, went 0-for-6 tonight.
“We need to find a way to score on the power play,” said Green. “We were in their zone a lot but at the end of the day you have to set-up, create chances and find a way to score.”
In what started as a best-of-five series has now turned into a best-of-three series once the Comets return to The Utica Memorial Auditorium this coming Wednesday April 29th for Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals.
“We are really excited for the whiteout and to play in front of our fans,” said forward Brandon DeFazio. “We’ve seen what they’ve done for two years now and we can’t wait to see them on Wednesday.”
Whiteout conditions are expected April 29th as the Utica Comets are encouraging all fans to wear white to the game in order to rally behind the white sweaters on the ice. Fans who come to the games wearing white will also earn a chance to win authentic game-worn white jerseys from the Comets inaugural season. In addition, white #BuiltForThis pom-poms will be distributed to all fans in attendance.