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Four-goal first period dooms Utica Comets in road loss

Posted 4/8/22

BELLEVILLE — The Utica Comets gave up four goals in a six-minute span early into Friday’s game.  It didn’t get a lot better from there for the Comets, who are within striking distance of …

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Four-goal first period dooms Utica Comets in road loss

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BELLEVILLE — The Utica Comets gave up four goals in a six-minute span early into Friday’s game. 

It didn’t get a lot better from there for the Comets, who are within striking distance of clinching a North Division playoff spot.

Belleville used that four-goal first period and solid effort from goaltender Filip Gustavsson in earning a 4-1 victory over the Comets to sweep a home-and-home series on Friday at CAA Arena in Ontario.

Gustavsson finished with 33 saves, including 24 over the last two periods to help Belleville win for the fourth time in six games. He had 27 saves for Belleville in the team’s 4-3 overtime win Wednesday at Utica. 

The result means Utica – aided heavily by that record 13-0 record to start the season – will have to wait another day to clinch a playoff spot. Utica could have also clinched had Rochester lost in regulation. 

Utica, which has eight regular-season games remaining, plays again at 4 p.m. Saturday at North Division foe Laval. 

While Utica (39-17-7-1, 0.672 points percentage) remains in first place in the North Division, the result also means the Comets’ momentum has slowed again. The team has dropped its third consecutive game (0-2-1) for the second time since mid-March. The winless stretch matches the team’s longest of the season. 

It was part of a rough night for the Comets, who were without forwards A.J. Greer and Fabian Zetterlund as well as defenseman Kevin Bahl, who was called up by the New Jersey Devils ahead of Friday’s game. Key forward Frederik Gauthier (lower-body injury) missed his third consecutive game. 

The crowd had barely settled in Friday when Belleville’s Andrew Agozzino and Maxence Guenette scored 21 seconds apart past Mareks Mitens that equaled a deficit the Comets couldn’t overcome. 

Less than five minutes into the game, Mitens tried to dive on a puck that trickled through his arms and ended up knocking the puck in. That closed the book on his night with three saves on six shots. He is 7-7-2 overall this season. 

Akira Schmid came on in relief – he allowed a goal about three minutes later – and finished with 22 saves on 23 shots. 

Utica broke up the shutout in the second period when Tyler Irvine – who was recalled from ECHL Adirondack on Thursday – scored for the Comets after a miscue by the Senators' defense behind the net. 

The teams meet once more next Saturday in Utica. That is scheduled to be Utica’s penultimate home game of the regular-season.

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