The Utica Comets weathered losing three different leads through the course of the game, and needed just 33 seconds of extra time to take the coveted Galaxy Cup Trophy home with a 4-3 win over the Syracuse Crunch. With a series record of 6-4-0-0, the Comets claimed their third consecutive Galaxy Cup title with a 12-9 edge in points.
Michael Zalewski (2-1-3), and Brendan Gaunce (1-2-3) enjoyed three-point nights while Taylor Fedun (0-2-2) chipped in a multi-point game with two assists. Richard Bachman made 32 saves for his 101st career American Hockey League victory. Friesen’s short-handed marker in the second period was the Comets 17th short-handed goal of the season, the most scored by any team in the AHL.
The Comets wasted no time getting on the board, just 18 seconds in fact, courtesy of a perfectly placed wrist shot from Zalewski. The New Hartford, NY native received a pass from Brendan Gaunce and expertly ripped a wrist shot from a step above the hashmarks past Gudlevskis outstretched glove for his 15th goal of the season. Curtis Valk also assisted on the tally.
Less than five minutes later the Crunch tied it up when Ben Thomas’s shot from the point snaked its way through traffic and in to the net.
With 5:50 remaining in the second frame the Comets claimed their second lead of the night. While the Comets killed a Crunch two-man advantage, Alex Friesen intercepted Joel Vermin’s pass and was off to the races. The first Comets penalty expired shortly before Friesen’s wrister escaped Gudlevskis paddle for his 14th goal of the season.
However, the lead was short-lived as Matthew Peca stuffed home a rebound on his third whack just 3:02 into the third period to tie the game at 2-2.
The Comets answered right back when Taylor Fedun’s perfect breakout pass through two Crunch defenders sprung Zalewski on a partial breakaway. Zalewski’s wrist shot beat Gudlevskis on the shortside for his second goal of the night.
Just like most Comets-Crunch match-ups this game was rich with the dramatics. Peca scored his second of the night after his shot from the top of the slot snuck past a screen Richard Bachman to tie the game at 3-3 with 5:56 to play.
After Bachman turned aside a Crunch shot on goal, Fedun pounced on the loose puck and sprung Zalewski and Gaunce on a two-on-one fast break. Gaunce’s first slid the puck to Zalewski who saw his chance get turned aside before Brendan Gaunce cleaned up the rebound for his 16th goal of the season.
With the win the Comets record improves to 38-25-8-4.
The Comets wrap up the regular season schedule with a matinee tilt against the Binghamton Senators at The AUD Sunday afternoon. Fan Appreciation Weekend will conclude with a plethora of activity during the game. The Save of the Day Foundation will be selling 1,000 mystery boxes behind section 204 when doors open. Prior to puck drop, the Comets will announce their 2015-16 awards winners. Stick around after the game for the live auction of the Comets green alternate sweaters. Puck drop is scheduled for 3pm.