The Utica Comets jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead and never looked back en route to defeating the Binghamton Senators 4-1 Saturday night at the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena. The Comets, on a four-game winning streak, saw their magic number to clinch a playoff spot get reduced to just five points after the Syracuse Crunch lost to the Rochester Americans 5-1.
Joseph LaBate (2-0-2), Taylor Fedun (1-1-2), and T.J. Hensick (0-2-2) posted multi-point nights, while Carter Bancks scored his 13th of the season. Richard Bachman made 26 saves for his 15th win of the season. The power-play unit clicked twice in four chances, while the penalty-killing unit was a perfect 4-for-4.
The first period could not have been better scripted for the Comets. A three goal first period was kicked off 10:26 into the game when Joseph LaBate redirected T.J. Hensick’s shot from the top of the circle up and over O’Connor for his seventh goal of the season. It was a bit of a quirky goal as no player could find the puck that was suspended in the air for several seconds before it crashed back down to the crease, and kicked into the net for the power-play goal.
LaBate struck again seven minutes later when his slapshot from the top of the left circle was wired past O’Connor’s blocker for his second of the night.
The Comets concluded the 17-shot first period barrage with a second power-play goal on their second opportunity of the night. With LaBate wreaking Havoc at the top of the crease, Taylor Fedun blasted a slapshot through traffic and past O’Connor’s leg pad for his seventh of the season.
The Comets rode the early momentum into the second period and scored just 43 seconds into the period. Carter Bancks improved on his career year with a wrist over the blocker of O’Connor for his 13th goal of the season.
The Senators were finally able to get on the board late in the second period thanks to Mark Fraser’s second goal of the year.
With the win, the Comets record improves to 35-23-7-4.
The Comets put the finishing touches on their three-in-three weekend with a critical home game against the Syracuse Crunch. The Comets can seal the deal and win their third consecutive Galaxy Cup with a regulation win. Puck drop is scheduled for 3pm at The AUD.