The Utica Comets extended their losing streak to four game after losing 3-1 to rival Syracuse Crunch, in a chippy affair Wednesday night at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. The regulation to the Crunch was the Comets first of its kind on home ice to their Galaxy Cup rivals. The Galaxy Cup series now rests at 4-3-0-0, in Utica’s favor.
Alex Freisen (1-0-1), Ashton Sautner (0-1-1), and Ronalds Kenins (0-1-1) each recorded a point for the Comets, while Joe Cannata made 15 saves in his first regulation loss in 10 games.
After a scoreless first period that saw the teams combine for just 11 shots on goal and six penalty minutes, the second period got off to a raucous start.
The Comets found the game’s first goal just 4:12 into the second period. Kenins dug the puck out of a scuffle and poked it to Sautner, who was stationed at the point. Sautner wound up and unleashed a heavy slap shot on net that Friesen redirected past Gudlevskis for his 10th goal of the season.
Five minutes later the Crunch came back to tie it with 9:23 left in the second. Adam Erne came down the right side of the ice and put a wrist shot past Cannata’s stick to make it 1-1.
On the power play due to a controversial goaltender’s interference call on Brandon Marino, Syracuse came up with the game-winning goal with 59 seconds left in the period. After the Crunch worked the puck around, Matthew Peca sent a pass across the slot to Joel Vermin, who quickly tapped the puck into the open net.
The teams collected 33 combined penalty minutes, with most of them coming in a skirmish that saw Greger Hanson and Cameron Darcy drop the gloves. The fight alone resulted in 27 of the period’s 33 penalty minutes.
The Comets dominated the third period with an 18-3 shots advantage, but could not find the equalizer. In the game’s waning seconds Matthew Peca scored an empty-net goal to seal the deal.
The Comets finished with 29 shots on goal, while the Crunch had 18 shots. Kristers Gudlevskis made 28 saves in net for Syracuse.
The loss drops the Comets to 31-23-6-4 on the season, while Syracuse improves to 28-25-10-3.
The Comets will look to snap their losing streak Friday night, as they take on the Hershey Bears at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.