The Utica Comets held the high-powered Grand Rapids Griffins offense to just one goal, just the second time that feat has been accomplished this postseason, and claimed a 2-1 Game 1 victory at The Utica Memorial Auditorium Sunday night.
Nicklas Jensen (1-0-1) ‘picture above)and Brandon DeFazio (1-0-1) both tallied their second goals of the postseason as they pushed the Comets over the Griffins to take the 1-0 series lead.
They say that Game 1 of a series usually sets the tone and the Comets attempted to set it pretty quickly as Nicklas Jensen found the top corner of the mesh just 35 seconds into the opening period. After obtaining the puck from Peter Andersson, Jensen lifted the puck at an angle that was just awkward enough to whiz past Tom McCollum’s shoulder to give the Comets the 1-0 lead. Cal O’Reilly tallied the secondary assist for his tenth of the postseason.
The Comets put another goal up on the board a little over 10 minutes later after Brandon DeFazio popped an innocent looking shot on net that just trickled past McCollum’s leg and over the goal line to make it a 2-0 game. Both Wacey Hamilton and Adam Clendening received assists on the play.
A well planned faceoff and a Comets penalty is all it took for the Griffins to find their first of the night with a little less than four minutes left in the first period. Teemu Pulkkinen set up the play with a pass to Nathan Paetsch at the blue line. Paetsch then shot it to the left of the net and the puck met Mark Zengerle’s stick prior to popping into the net for the power-play goal.
The Comets learned from their lesson and stayed out of the penalty box the rest of the way as they held the Griffins off through the two remaining periods. En route to their 2-1 victory the Comets took control of shots on goal with a total of 31 compared to the Griffins 26 on Jacob Markstrom, their second-lowest total of shots on net in the postseason. (24 shots on May 13th vs Rockford)
The third round series continues Monday night at The AUD as the Comets and Griffins will partake in Game 2 before shifting the series to Grand Rapids, Michigan for Games 3, 4 and 5 (if required)