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Utica Comets snap losing streak with overtime win over Laval

The Utica Comets snapped their eight-game losing streak with an intense 6-5 victory over the Rocket in Laval on Wednesday night.

The Utica Comets entered Wednesday night’s game at Laval looking for a break. There hasn’t been a lot that has gone right for the team over the past few weeks, as they were mired in an eight-game losing streak. Recalls to New Jersey have rocked Utica and some terrible luck in the shootout, as that is where three of the losses have come. As a result, the Comets have plunged into last place in the North Division. They entered the game five points behind the Rocket for sixth place.

The Rocket found out on Wednesday morning they would have some roster alterations as well. The team announced Sean Farrell, Nathan Legare, and Gabriel Bourque will be out with multiple weeks of absences. Regardless, they were 8-2-0 in their last ten games.

The Comets got on the scoreboard first at the 9:16 mark of the first period. After Utica goaltender Isaac Poulter made a big stop on Ryan Kidney, his teammates charged back into the Laval end. 2024 All-Star Graeme Clarke sent a pass from the right side boards to Justin Dowling, who snapped a shot into the top of the Rocket net from the right circle for his first goal of the game.

Graeme Clarke of the Utica Comets to play in the 2024 All-Star Classic

Exactly eight minutes later, the home team responded with a goal of their own. Laval’s Philippe Maillet won a puck battle against Tyler Wotherspoon behind the Utica net and centered a pass to Joshua Roy. The rookie did the rest, firing a one-timer past Poulter to tie the game with his first goal of the game.

With the score tied at one going into the second period, the Comets nearly took the lead less than a minute in. Dowling got in all alone on Rocket goaltender Jakub Dobeš but the netminder made the save.

A little over six minutes later, Dowling would get his second goal of the game and it would come on the power play. Arnaud Durandeau sent a beauty of a pass from the left side to Dowling for a tap-in goal on the right side of the Laval crease. Although still last overall in the AHL on the power play, this marked the Comet’s seventh straight game with a least on goal with the man advantage.

Fifty-one seconds later, the Rocket responded with a goal of their own. Roy took the puck off a turnover in the neutral zone, burst into the Utica zone, and wired a shot past Poulter to tie the game. It was Roy’s second marker of the contest.

The Rocket took the lead with 6:06 remaining in the middle stanza. Jared Davidson sent a pass from the left circle to the right, where Tobie Bisson hammered a one-timer past Poulter and in. The Rocket did not have that lead for long, as the Comets answered forty seconds later. Kyle Criscuolo scooped up a loose puck in the Laval zone and slid a backhander between Dobeš legs to tie the game.

Utica took a 4-3 lead with twenty-seven seconds left in the period as their power play came through once again. After Dobeš robbed Graeme Clarke, an errant clearing attempt went right to Brian Halonen – who fired a laser shot into the top of the net. The Comets took that one-goal lead into the second intermission.

The home team knotted the score at the 6:27 mark of the third period against the AHL’s best penalty-killing unit. Roy sent a pass from the right corner to the slot to Lias Andersson who sent the puck to Philippe Maillet in a tic-tac-toe play. Maillet roofed a shot past Poulter to even the score at four. It was the first power-play goal the Comets had given up in three games.

Utica took the lead with 2:32 remaining in the third period. A hard forecheck by Ryan Schmelzer ended up causing a loose puck in front of the Laval net. Brian Halonen banged the puck past Dobeš and into the back of the net to give his team a 5-4 lead.

Laval pulled Dobeš with two minutes to go and it paid off. With 1:40 left, Lias Andersson beat Poulter to tie the game to a roaring home crowd’s delight. With the score tied at five after sixty minutes of play, the Comets and Rocket headed to overtime for the third consecutive game.

It looked as though the game would head to the shootout, but fate was on the Comet’s side on this net. With twenty-one seconds remaining in the overtime, alternate captain Joe Gambardella played the hero role. He drove into the slot on his backhand, then snapped a wrist shot over Dobeš and in to seal the 6-5 victory for his team. The win snapped the eight-game losing streak that had haunted the Comets since December.

The Comets return home for a pair of games this weekend. On Friday night they host the Cleveland Monsters, and on Saturday night the Springfield Thunderbirds come to town. For more information about Utica Comets hockey, including ticketing and schedules, visit https://uticacomets.com.

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