The Utica Comets wrapped up their three-in-three weekend with a 3-2 shootout loss to the Binghamton Senators Sunday afternoon at The AUD. The point knocked Utica’s magic number to clinch a playoff spot down to 22 points.
Joseph LaBate (1-1-2) and Carter Bancks (1-0-1) handled the scoring for the Comets, while Joe Cannata made 16 saves in the loss. The Comets fired a season-high 48 shots on goal, matching their total from their Nov. 14 game vs the Syracuse Crunch. The Comets power play clicked twice in seven tries, and the penalty-killing unit had a perfect night killing all three of the Senators power-play opportunities.
The Comets and Senators jumped out to a fast-paced first period. The home team started the game buzzing as they peppered Senators’ goalie Matt O’Connor with 18 shots in just the first period. By comparison, the Comets limited the Senators to 19 shots on goal the entire game.
Joe Cannata came up big early on in the game. Although he only faced six shots in the first stanza, Cannata was tested with a penalty shot. Binghamton’s Fredrik Claesson was awarded the penalty shot after he picked up a puck on his way out of the penalty box and was hooked by Comets defenseman Jordan Subban. Cannata played a big role in the Comets first period lead as he blockered away the point-blank shot by Claesson.
Not long after the penalty shot the Comets jumped out to their first lead of the day on a power-play goal from Joseph LaBate. The shot, taken by Taylor Fedun from the point, was redirected by Alex Friesen and then again by LaBate in front at 4:14 of the 1st.
Binghamton hit the ice hard for the 2nd period as Phil Varone tied the score at 1-1 after he deflected a puck over the shoulder of goaltender Cannata just two minutes into the second.
The Comets were able to capitalize on a 5-on-3 opportunity midway through the 2nd period to regain their one goal lead. Carter Bancks netted his 11th goal of the season off of a rebound from Senators’ goaltender Matt O’Connor. Joseph LaBate nabbed his second point of the game as it was his initial shot from the point that Bancks buried to take the lead. Ronalds Kenins also collected a point for his assist.
The Senators responded within minutes to tie the game at 2-2 after a bouncing puck was mishandled in the Comets zone. Senator’s Phil Varone quickly swooped in and wristed it past Cannata for an unassisted goal with 12:14 to play in the 2nd period.
Neither team could score in the third, or the overtime period.
Alex Friesen was able to beat Matt O’Connor, however, the Comets ultimately fell to the Senators as both Phil Varone and Casey Bailey found the back of the net for Binghamton.
The Comets record fell to 31-22-6-5 with the loss.
The Comets can seal the deal and win their third consecutive Galaxy Cup with a win over the Syracuse Crunch on Wednesday evening at The AUD. The Comets are 4-2-0-0 vs their rival to the West this season. Puck drop is scheduled for 3pm.