For the second straight night the Utica Comets surrendered the game’s first goal early on in the first period, and for the second straight night the Comets rallied to take home the victory. Supported by goals scored by four of the Comets newest defensemen, the Comets defeated the Syracuse Crunch 4-2 Sunday afternoon at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. With the win, the Comets improved their record in the Galaxy Cup series to 3-1-0-0 this year.
The new kids on the Comets block, David Shields (1-1-2), John Kurtz (1-0-1), and Jon Landry (1-0-1) all recorded their first goals as members of the Comets. Danny Syvret (1-0-1) scored his second goal, and fourth point, since joining the team just nine days ago, while Bachman picked up his sixth win of the season, and lowered his season goals against average to 2.19 with a 29 save performance. Brendan Gaunce (0-1-1) extended his point streak to five games with an assist on Landry’s second period goal.
The scoring started off quickly after when the Crunch capitalized on Comets Too Many Men penalty just 3:09 into the game. With the power play unit set-up in the Comets zone, Anthony DeAngelo slid the puck over to his defensive partner, Dylan Blujus. Blujus sidestepped a Comets defender, which created an open lane for him to slip a shot past Bachman.
Minutes ticked away before the Comets would find an answer to the Crunch’s power play goal. With 2:04 remaining in the opening period, David Shields collected a pass from Alexandre Grenier, and backhanded the puck past Vasilevkiy for his first goal as a Comet. Hunter Shinkaruk picked up his now team-leading 12th assist on the goal.
The teams entered the second period knotted at 1-1. The Comets nabbed their first lead of the game when John Kurtz redirected a blast from John Negrin past the Crunch’s netminder. Michael Zalewski picked up the secondary assist.
The Comets held their lead until they reached 13:27 mark of the second period. The Crunch capitalized yet again on the power play after Subban went to the sin bin for tripping. Tanner Richard cleanly won the draw to Matt Taormina at the point. The defenseman quickly slid the puck over to his blue line partner, Slater Koekkoek, who quickly fired a shot into the back of the net.
Just four minutes later the Comets regained their lead, this time for good. Jon Landry unleashed a rocket of a shot from the blue line that screamed past heavy traffic in front, and past Vasilevskiy. Jordan Subban and Gaunce picked up the helpers.
Danny Syvret added an insurance tally early in the third period when he ripped a slap shot from the point past Vasilevskiy just 2:53 into the final frame. Assisting on the goal was David Shields and Alex Friesen.
With the win the Comets improved their record to 16-15-2-2, and created a six point buffer between them and the fifth place Rochester Americans for the fourth and final playoff spot in the North Division. The loss dropped the Crunch to .500 with a 12-12-4-1 record.
The Comets will continue their hectic post-Christmas schedule with a home-and-home series against the Albany Devils starting Wednesday night in Albany. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Times Union Center. After that, the Comets return home for a 5 p.m. New Year’s Eve showdown at The AUD against the same Devils team.
During the game the Vancouver Canucks General Manager Jim Benning announced that the club has recalled defenseman Ashton Sautner from the Comets. Sautner, 21, has recorded eight points (3-5-8) and two penalty minutes in 19 games with Utica this year, his first professional season. The 6’1”, 181-pound native of Flaxcombe, Saskatchewan native was signed by the Canucks as a free agent on March 14, 2015…The sold out game was the 30th consecutive sell out at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.