Pascal Pelletier scored the game-winning goal with 3:42 remaining in regulation as the Utica Comets rallied from a two-goal deficit to defeat the Rochester Americans 3-2 in the first half of a home-and-home series Friday night at The Blue Cross Arena. With the loss, the Amerks fall to 7-6-2-2 on the season and 3-1-0-0 against the North Division rival Comets.
CLICK TO VIEW BOXSCORE
Dan Catenacci and Chad Ruhwedel scored for the Amerks, Johan Larsson tallied two assists and Joel Armia and Mike Zigomanis also added an assist each. Nathan Lieuwen made 28 saves in net for the Amerks, as his record dropped to 3-3-0 this season. Larsson’s assists mark his first points in two games with the Amerks so far this season.
Patrick Mullen had a goal and an assist, while Alexandre Grenier added a goal and Joacim Eriksson made 24 saves in the win for the Comets, who pushed their road winning streak to three games.
The Amerks began the scoring early in the first period, as Catenacci got things started just 5:11 after puck-drop. Following a Utica turnover in their own defensive zone, Zigomanis whipped a hard pass from the top of the left circle in the high slot to Catenacci, who fired a one-timer past Ericsson to give the Amerks a 1-0 advantage.
Just under two minutes later with the Amerks on the power-play, Armia dished a pass to Larsson in the Utica corner. As Larsson slid behind the Comets net, Ruhwedel crashed down low and buried Larsson’s offer, giving Rochester the 2-0 lead.
Utica would begin mounting its comeback with 5:13 remaining in the first period. Despite an Amerks defensive zone face-off win to the corner, Darren Archibald was first to the puck and swung a pass to Grenier in front of the Amerk net. Grenier beat an unsuspecting Lieuwen, bringing the score to 2-1 to jumpstart a three-goal run the visitors.
The Comets would tie the score 2-2 midway through the second period with the man-advantage, when Mullen took a one-timed shot from the top of the circle off a pass from Benn Ferriero that went off the crossbar and into the net.
Both teams got testy with under a minute remaining in the middle frame, when Colton Gillies threw a hard body-check behind the Utica net that sent a Comet defender to the ice. Brandon DeFazio took exception to the collision and retaliated, leading to a four-minute power-play for the Amerks. Despite the extended man-advantage, the Amerks failed to score their third goal.
Pelletier’s game-winner came late in the third period off a deflection on a shot from the blueline by Henrik Tommernes, giving the Comets a 3-2 lead they would not relinquish. The Amerks pulled Lieuwen in favor of the extra attacker with 1:16 remaining, and despite heavy pressure in the Utica zone, could not find the equalizer.
These same two teams meet again on Saturday, Nov. 23 as the action shifts to Central New York for the second half of the home-and-home series at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. Game time is slated for a 7:00 p.m. start and will be carried live on Sports 1280 WHTK.