|CHRIS TAYLOR POST-GAME|
|KEVIN PORTER POST-GAME|
|LINUS ULLMARK POST-GAME|
|SETH GRIFFITH POST-GAME|
(Rochester, NY) … A goaltending duel between Linus Ullmark of the Rochester Americans (23-9-4-4) and Thatcher Demko of the Utica Comets (18-14-4-3) ultimately went the way of the visitors, as the Comets came out with a 2-1 shootout win Monday afternoon at The Blue Cross Arena.
Despite the shootout loss, the Amerks have earned points in 27 of their last 31 games and have collected 46 points dating back to Nov. 1. Additionally, the Amerk have gone winless in back-to-back games for the first time since Nov. 29 and Dec. 1.
Seth Griffith led the Amerks offense as he tallied his seventh marker of the campaign, upping his recent offensive surge to eight points (3+5) over his last five games at The Blue Cross Arena. Ullmark made 40 saves on the afternoon but suffered the overtime loss. The Swedish goaltender has gone winless in two straight starts for the first time since his second and third appearances of the slate.
Zack MacEwen netted his fourth goal of the season while Darren Archibald was the only player to score in the skills competition to extend Utica’s road point streak to six games with the 2-1 shootout win. Demko, meanwhile, finished the matinee stopping 27 of 28 to improve to 14-7-5 on the season and 4-1-1 in the head-to-head series.
With the game tied at 1-1 entering the final period of regulation, the Amerks and Comets combined for 19 shots over the final 20 minutes but neither team could find the equalizer to decide an outcome.
“Both goaltenders played really well,” Amerks captain Kevin Porter said. “There were a lot of good scoring chances in the game, both for us and them, but Linus gave us a chance to win the game and the same can be said with Utica’s goaltender.”
In the overtime period, Ullmark made eight saves while Demko stopped both shots he faced, resulting in the shootout as the contest remained tied at 1-1.
“Linus has been great all year,” said Amerks head coach Chris Taylor. “He got us another point in the standings today. He has a lot of confidence and he cares a lot about this team.”
The Amerks elected to shoot first during the skills competition but Eric Cornel and C.J. Smith were both turned aside by Demko while Griffith, who missed on a penalty shot with 56 seconds left in regulation, rang a shot off the left post.
“I tried to make a move on Demko but I lost control of the puck,” said Griffith, who appeared in his 300th professional game. “I think if I get the puck up and do not lose it, I score. But in the shootout when I had an empty net, I need to bare down more and make the most of those opportunities.”
Utica’s Nikolay Goldobin, who returned from a 14-game stint with the Vancouver Canucks, and Reid Boucher were both stoned by Ullmark in the opening rounds of the shootout, but Archibald gave the Comets the extra point as he fired a shot past the Rochester netminder in the third.
MacEwen opened the scoring 2:14 into the first period as he ripped his third of the slate from the right face-off dot to give the Comets a 1-0 advantage. The power-play marker was assisted by Goldobin and Boucher.
After the Comets took the one-goal lead into the first intermission, Griffith knotted the game at the 14:19 mark of the second stanza with a power-play goal of his own.
Keeping the puck from the escaping the Comets zone, Porter flagged down a clearing attempt at the right point. In one motion, Rochester’s captain hit Zach Redmond at the right point before trading places with Brendan Guhle at the top of the zone. After gathering the puck from his fellow blueliner, Guhle sent a perfect one-time feed to Griffith and he blasted a shot to tie the score at one.
The chances for each of the two teams continued into the final period, but the goaltenders stood tall for their respective teams as they stopped the final 29 shots before Archibald won it in the shootout.
The same two teams meet again for the second time in three days as the home-and-home series shifts to Utica on Wednesday, Jan. 17 for a rematch at Adirondack Bank Center at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. Game time is slated for a 7:00 p.m. start and can be heard live on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM ESPN Rochester.
RCH: Griffith (7)
UTI: MacEwen (4), Archibald (SOW)
RCH: Ullmark– 40/41 (SOL)
UTI: Demko – 27/28 (W)
RCH: PP (1/4) | PK (4/5)
UTI: PP (1/5) | PK (3/4)