Comets edged in OT by rival Crunch

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SYRACUSE — The Utica Comets 4-3 lost in overtime to division rival Syracuse Crunch Saturday on the road.

The Comets started the scoring in the first period when captain Ryan Schmelzer sent the puck to an open Joe Gambardella who struck for his fourth goal of the season at 11:44. Goalie Nico Daws, who made his return to action for his first game since Dec. 8 after an injury, faced eight shots in the first period and stopped all eight.

In the second period, the Crunch tied the contest on a short-handed goal by Charles Hudon after he wristed a shot low to the glove side on Daws. The goal at 5:30 made it a 1-1 game.

In the final period of regulation, Otto Somppi found a loose puck in the Utica zone and sent it to the stick of Gabriel Fortier who fired it over the right shoulder of Daws to put the Crunch up 2-1. Moments later, Maxim Cajkovic was the beneficiary of a rebound in front of Daws and he potted the goal that put Syracuse up 3-1.

Utica cut the lead to one when Nolan Foote carried the puck into the offensive zone and sent it over to Nate Schnarr who fired a one-timer past Crunch goalie Hugo Alnefelt at 12:02. Foote factored in the next scoring play as well when his shot beat Alnefelt at 16:10 and tied the game at 3-3.

In overtime, it was the Crunch who capitalized on a power play when Hudon scored at 2:13 after finding a deflected puck on his stick and sending it into the net to lift his team to a 4-3 win.

The Comets will be in action Wednesday night on the road against the Laval Rocket before heading to Syracuse again for a game on Friday night. The team will return home on Saturday, Jan. 22, to face the Crunch again.

The Comets are now 20-4-4 and are in first place in the North Division.

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