ROCHESTER — The Utica Comets held off the Rochester Americans 3-2 on the road Friday night to open the AHL season with a win. Kole Lind scored twice for Utica.
The first line for the Comets opened the scoring. Sam Anas passed from the right side to Sven Baertschi, who backhanded it to Lind on the left side. Lind snapped off a shot across the face of goalie Dustin Tokarski that went high over his glove and in just under the crossbar to make it 1-0 Utica 9:43 into the game and into the season.
The hosts would even things at 1-1 with 26 seconds left in the first period. Dominic Franco put the initial shot on goal. Jon Gillies made the stop but the puck sat in the crease as he slid to the left. Patrick McGrath was on the doorstep and dove to push the puck over the line.
Though the Americans were the aggressors much of the first period, it was Utica that came out and controlled the tempo early in the second. They got the lone goal of the period when Lucas Jasek centered a puck from behind the goal to Jonah Gadjovich at the top of the goal crease. He put it home for to give Utica the 2-1 lead with 10:34 left in the middle frame.
The teams traded goals in the third period as well, first when Utica pushed its lead to 3-1 then when Rochester fought back with one of their own.
Lind scored his second of the game on the power play almost seven minutes into the third. He took a cross ice feed from Anas, and from the left faceoff circle he sent a one-timer past Tokarski. Anas and Mitch Reinke earned assists on the tally.
The Amerks trimmed the Comet lead to one goal with a power play goal of their own with just over 11 minutes left in regulation, a one-timer by Arttu Ruotsalainen. But the Comets clamped down on defense, killing off two more power plays (though one was only five seconds long because it came as their own penalty overlapping).
The hosts pulled their goalie for an extra attacker late in the game but Utica held them off.
The Comets killed off four of five Rochester power play opportunities. Their own power play had a similar night, converting once in six chances (including one that was five seconds long).
Gillies stopped 27 of 29 shots on goal to earn the win in his Utica debut. Tokarski stopped 31 of 34 shots by the Comets.
The Comets had no captain in their opener but went instead with three alternate captain’s “A” — Baertschi, Steve Santini and Curtis McKenzie.
The Comets will travel to Syracuse to play the Crunch Saturday night at 7.