The Utica Comets stormed back in the third period to upend the Syracuse Crunch 3-1 Friday night at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. Clad in their lucky green sweaters, the Comets entered the third period trailing 1-0. Two power-play goals, and their league-leading 16th short-handed goal of the season, powered the Comets to a 5-4-0-0 edge in the Galaxy Cup series.
Ronalds Kenins (1-0-1), Joseph LaBate (1-0-1), and Andrey Pedan (1-0-1) provided the goals for the home team, while Joe Cannata turned aside 18 of the Crunch’s 19 shots on goal. Brendan Gaunce (0-1-1) recorded an assist in his first game back with the Comets. Alexandre Grenier (0-1-1) inched closer to a 50-point season with his 48th point of the season.
It didn’t take long for the first goal as Syracuse got on the board just nine seconds after the opening face-off. Anthony DeAngelo controlled the puck off the opening face-off and sent a laser of a pass to Joel Vermin, who split the Comets defense for a breakaway goal.
No more goals would be scored in the first, and the second period followed suit. After being outshot 11-5 in the first period, the Comets held the Crunch to just two shots in the second period, and six shots in the third period.
Kenins tied the game for the Comets in the third period and breathed some life into the Utica crowd that was waiting for a reason to get into the game. Jordan Subban rifled a pass to Hensick who was stationed on the goal line. Hensick found Kenins as he streaked across the slot and set the Latvian up for a one-time slap shot that whistled its way past Kristers Gudlevskis.
The Comets fed off of the momentum and took their first lead of the game with 4:40 remaining. From the top of the circle, Grenier one-timed Gaunce’s pass on net. LaBate expertly redirected the shot through the Crunch netminder for his 10th of the season.
Despite being shorthanded, the Comets capitalized on an empty net to finish off the Crunch. After Carter Bancks Pedan bounced the puck down the length of the ice, and into the empty Syracuse net to put the game out of reach and seal the deal.
The Comets finished with 25 shots on goal, and the Crunch had 19 shots on the night. Gudlevskis saved 22 shots in net for Syracuse.
Utica improves to 37-25-8-4, while the loss drops Syracuse to 32-28-10-4.
The Comets will travel to Syracuse on Saturday for one last meeting against the Crunch before returning home Sunday for the final game of the regular season, when they take on the Binghamton Senators. Saturday’s puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m., and Sunday’s game will start at 3 p.m.