The Utica Comets surrendered a late short-handed goal to the Hershey Bears to break a 3-3 tie, before ultimately losing 6-3 at the Giant Center on Sunday afternoon. The loss sends the Comets to their sixth straight defeat after gaining a point in 14 of 16 games.
Cole Cassels (0-2-2) and Joseph LaBate (1-1-2) recorded multi-point nights. Hunter Shinkaruk (1-0-1) scored his team-leading 15th goal of the season, and newcomer Michael Pereira (1-0-1) scored his first as a Comet. Joe Cannata made 33 saves in the loss.
The Comets surrendered the first goal for the seventh time in their last eight games just 3:22 into the game. From just inside the blue line, Chris Bourque ripped a slap shot that found its way through heavy traffic in the slot, and into the net for the 1-0 lead.
Three minutes later an unlikely trio for the Comets reset the game. In just his second game since signing a PTO, Michael Pereira received a pass from John Negrin before he stepped into a wrist shot that went through the legs of Dan Ellis. Goaltender Joe Cannata picked up the secondary assist on the goal, his first point as a Comet.
Halfway through the second period, the Comets lone All-Star representative put the Comets ahead for the first time. Joseph LaBate gained entry to the Bears’ zone and flicked a shot on net as he absorbed a check. Hunter Shinkaruk drove to the net hard and buried the rebound into the top shelf for his team-leading 15th goal of the season.
22 seconds later the Bears answered back when Sean Collins clanked in a shot off of the post while on a two-on-one rush.
Five minutes later the Bears had their second lead of the night when Liam O’Brien’s shot was originally blocked by Wacey Hamilton but dribbled its way into the Comets net.
The Comets started the third period with a power play thanks to Carter Bancks drawing a tripping penalty on Ryan Stanton in the waning seconds of the second period.
With the power-play unit established, Michael Zalewski whipped a hard pass to Joseph Labate in the slot. LaBate redirected the pass over the shoulder of Ellis to tie the game at three. Cole Cassels picked up his second assist of the night on the goal.
The Comets power play unit giveth, and then taketh away.
A mishandled puck while on the attack led to a quick two-on-one rush for the Bears. Jordan Subban laid out to take away the pass, but Dustin Gazley was still able to get the pass over to Collins who had an easy back door tap-in for the game-winning goal.
Two empty-net goals for the Bears ran the final score to 6-3.
With the loss the Comets record falls to 16-15-3-2.
The Comets return to The AUD for some home cooking against the division leading Toronto Marlies on Wednesday night. Puck drop is scheduled for 7pm.