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Rochester hands Utica Comets lopsided loss

Ben Birnell
Sports writer
email / twitter
Posted 4/29/22

ROCHESTER — Well, that didn’t go so well for the Utica Comets. The Rochester Americans, meanwhile, got the needed result to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. A desperate Rochester team scored four …

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Rochester hands Utica Comets lopsided loss

Posted

ROCHESTER — Well, that didn’t go so well for the Utica Comets.

The Rochester Americans, meanwhile, got the needed result to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.

A desperate Rochester team scored four times over about 11 minutes in the first period and cruised to an 8-1 drubbing of the Comets on Friday to close a home-and-home series between the North Division rivals at Blue Cross Arena.

Utica had defensive lapses and played sloppy hockey through much of Friday. It was the worst loss of the season in terms of differential for the Comets. The team had a pair of setbacks in February that each ended in a four-goal margin. 

For Utica, it didn’t matter for the team in the standings. Though, it was a poor outing at an inopportune time for the team – which has already clinched the best record in the Eastern Conference – as they prepare for the postseason. 

The Comets are 42-20-8-1 overall. The team is 3-5-2-0 in the last 10 games. 

It was the final regular-season game for Rochester, which needed the win to keep from being mathematically eliminated from contention for the fifth and final North Division playoff spot. Rochester is battling with Toronto for that spot and the Marlies only need a point in their regular-season finale Saturday at Belleville. 

Rochester was all over Utica early, forcing starter Nico Daws out of the game with 4:04 remaining in the first period after the Amerks made it 4-0.

Daws finished with nine saves on 13 shots. Akira Schmid totaled 18 saves on 22 shots in relief. 

Rochester (36-29-7-3) got a power-play goal and a shorthanded goal – with 13 seconds remaining – to earn the win. Rochester was led by J.J. Peterka – named to the AHL’s All-Rookie Team this week – with a hat trick and an assist. Five others had multi-point efforts to help Rochester. Perhaps the lone downside: Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen left the game after nearly 12 minutes in the first period after Comets captain Ryan Schmelzer was pushed into him by a Rochester player. 

Utica finally broke up Rochester’s offensive onslaught late in the second period after cruising to a 7-0 lead. 

Chase De Leo scored on a nice feed from AJ Greer with 2:31 to play in the second period. It was De Leo's 54th point of the season — one shy of his career-best in the AHL.

In the third period, Greer got a misconduct for abuse of officials after a penalty call to further cap a rough night for the Comets. 

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