Despite losing 3-2 in overtime to the St. John’s IceCaps, the Utica Comets and their fans are celebrating tonight. With the overtime point, the Comets clinched their second consecutive appearance in the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup Playoffs.
IceCaps’ goaltender Zachary Fucale was the story of the game as he turned aside 47 of the Comets 49 shots on goal, including 18 in the third period. Both Comets goals came courtesy of the special teams with Wacey Hamilton’s (1-0-1) tally coming while short-handed, and Taylor Fedun’s (1-0-1) coming on the power play.
After the team’s combined for 25 shots in the scoreless first period, the IceCaps were the ones to break the scoreless tie 6:42 into the second period. The Comets clearing attempt was batted down by an IceCaps defender by what appeared to be a high stick, and kept in the Comets zone. From the boards, Jeremiah Addison wristed an off-angle shot that Cannata turned aside before Jason Gregoire stuffed the rebound into the net.
After turning aside the Comets first 30+ shots on goal, Zachary Fucale finally blinked 7:15 into the third period. With Taylor Fedun serving a four minute double-minor for high-sticking, Carter Bancks and Wacey Hamilton teamed up for a highlight-reel short-handed marker. On a 2-on-2 rush, Bancks entered the IceCaps zone and pulled up at the top of the circle. Hamilton raced to the slot and one-touched Bancks’ perfect pass past Fucale for the team’s league-leading 15th short-handed goal of the year.
The tied score did not last long as Jacob de la Rose sniped a shot over Cannata’s blocker to regain the lead.
With time winding down on regulation, the Comets got the one goal that would ultimately push them into the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs. From the point, Taylor Fedun one-timed T.J. Hensick’s pass through Joseph LaBate’s screen in front, and into the twine to force overtime.
In overtime, the Comets appeared to be headed for a 2-on-1 break but it was whistled down on a controversial embellishment penalty on Carter Bancks. Minutes later the Morgan Ellis netted the game-winning goal for the IceCaps.
With the overtime loss the Comets record dropped to 36-24-8-4.
The Comets wrap up their two-game road trip in St. John’s with a matinee game Sunday afternoon. Puck drop is scheduled for 2:30pm.