Once again the Utica Comets special teams stepped up to lead the team to a 5-2 win over the Portland Pirates. Buoyed by a power-play goal and a short-handed tally, the Comets completed the season sweep of the Pirates with a perfect 4-0 record.
Alexandre Grenier (1-2-3) exploded for three points, including the eventual game-winning goal in the second period. Brendan Gaunce (0-2-2) and Jon Landry (1-1-2) recorded multi-point games for the Comets, while Joe Cannata made 33 saves for his 14th victory of the season. Gaunce’s multi-point game gives him eight points (4-4-8) in his last five games.
Brandon Prust, in his first period as a member of the Comets, kicked off the party at The AUD the right way. After he received a pass in the slot from Landry, Prust spun and fired a wrist shot on net that Joseph LaBate redirected past McKenna for his fifth of the season. The goal came just 7:06 into the game.
Chris Higgins doubled the Comets lead a little over eight minutes later when he buried a short-handed breakaway goal. Brendan Gaunce and Andrey Pedan assisted on the marker.
The lead was stretched to 3-0 when Grenier tapped home a beautiful back door feed from defenseman John Negrin in the second period. Gaunce’s second assist came when he picked up the secondary assist on the goal.
The Pirates picked up a short-handed goal of their own in the third, but the Jon Landry quickly erased their tally with a power-play goal just 49 seconds thereafter.
With a little over seven minutes remaining in the game, Hunter Shinkaruk inched a goal closer to the franchise record for goals scored in a single season when he sniped a wrist shot over the glove of goaltender Mike McKenna.
Tyler Sikura jammed a loose puck past Cannata 30 seconds later to make the final score 5-2.
With the win the Comets improved to 25-17-4-3, and they have now collected 15 out of a possible 16 points over their last eight games.
The Comets will be on the road Friday night as they meet the Crunch at the OnCenter in Syracuse, puck drop is scheduled for 7:00pm.