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Utica Comets split pair of AHL games at Laval Rocket

Posted 3/20/23

The Utica Comets split a pair of American Hockey League road games against the Laval Rocket this past weekend.

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Utica Comets split pair of AHL games at Laval Rocket


The Utica Comets split a pair of American Hockey League road games against the Laval Rocket this past weekend.

Utica had lost the two games before traveling to Laval.

On Friday, the Comets held the hosts at bay all game in a 3-2 win to keep the team in second place in the North Division.

The Comets got a goal on their first shot of the game when Alexander Holtz rung the puck off the pipe and in. The shot was initially ruled no goal but a replay confirmed Holtz’s sixth goal of the season at 3:25. Captain Ryan Schmelzer earned his 24th assist for his part. It was Schmelzer’s return to the ice after missing the last game with an injury.

Just over halfway through the period the hosts tied the game at 1-1. Mitchell Stephens tipped the puck past Isaac Poulter on a centering pass by Gabriel Bourque as he cut to the net.

But with three minutes left the Comets regained the advantage when Brian Halonen cut from the left side wall to the net and looped a shot around Cayden Primeau as he crossed the goal mouth. Graeme Clarke and Aarne Talvitie got assists on Halonen’s 16th goal of the season. Clarke got his team-leading 27th helper of the season and it was Talvitie’s 10th.

Utica pushed its lead to two just under two minutes into the second. Sam Laberge lead a breakaway with Talvitie trailing. Laberge went right then sent a pass to Talvitie on the left side, who finished the play to make it 3-1. It was Talvitie’s third goal of the season and Laberge and Reilly Walsh earned assists. Walsh tied Clarke for the team lead with 27. It was Laberge’s seventh.

Just over five minutes into the third, the Rocket again crept to within a goal, this time on a score similar to Talvitie’s. Pierrick Dubé followed Xavier Simoneau to the net and took pass across the goal before beating Poulter to get the score to 3-2.

Poulter picked up the win with a 31-save performance. That included a flurry of saves during a frantic final three minutes when Laval had the goalie out for an extra attacker.

On Saturday afternoon, in the Place Bell, the two division rivals played for the final time in the regular season.

The Comets gave up three goals in the first period and were unable to mount a comeback in a 4-1 loss.

Laval struck for the first two goals of the contest. The first was a shot by Brandon Gignac that just rolled behind goalie Jake Theut at 2:41. The second was a point shot by defenseman Tory Dello at 3:38 that rang off the post and in on Theut’s blocker side for a 2-0 advantage. The Rocket added a goal by Nolan Yaremko at 15:46 when he deflected the puck into the Comets net. The period ended with Utica trailing 3-0.

The Comets got onto the scoreboard in the second period on a one-timer by Walsh past Primeau at 8:07. The goal was Walsh’s fifth of the season and it was assisted by Halonen and Simon Nemec. Laval scored another goal on a bullet of a shot by Stephens that found the back of the net at 9:41. 

Utica is now to 30-23-6-2 this season.

The Comets sit in second place with 11 games left in the regular season. Their 68 points are two more than the Syracuse Crunch in third. But the Crunch have played two fewer games so far.

The Comets’ next game is at 7 p.m. Friday at home against Syracuse.


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