UTICA, N.Y.- The Utica Comets were able to pick up a hard earned point courtesy of the first third period comeback in franchise history, but were unable to complete the win in the shootout, falling 4-3 to the Hamilton Bulldogs.
The Comets and Bulldogs skated in front of the second consecutive sold out Utica Memorial Auditorium as a capacity crowd of 3,815 was on hand for the third shootout contest of the season in the Mohawk Valley.
Alexandre Grenier, Darren Archibald and Henrik Tommernes each scored for the Comets, as Tommernes’ late third period goal sent the game to overtime. Joe Cannata, who was named the game’s third star, made 37 saves in defeat. Nicklas Jensen and Grenier scored in the shootout for the Comets, the second of the season for each.
The Comets used a late first period goal to head into the locker rooms with a 1-0 lead. After a hooking minor by Jerred Tinordi with 21 seconds left in the frame, Grenier beat Dustin Tokarski just 10 seconds into the man advantage to put Utica in front. Henrik Tommernes and Benn Ferriero had assists on the goal, which was the third in three periods for Grenier.
Joe Cannata stole the show in the first period as he put together an impressive sixteen save performance to keep Hamilton off the board. Cannata was one save away from tying his season high for saves in a period, which he set with 17 saves in the second period against Adirondack on Dec. 7.
Hamilton leveled the score at one just 27 seconds into the second period. Gabriel Dumont collected a loose puck in the offensive zone and fired past Cannata. Dumont’s tally, which was unassisted, was his fifth of the season.
The two teams traded chances for the majority of the second, with just a 12-10 shots on goal advantage for the Bulldogs, before Louis Leblanc put Hamilton ahead 2-1 as a ricocheted shot got past Cannata. Leblanc’s goal was a team leading ninth of the season. Maxime Macenauer picked up his third point in three games against the Comets and Darren Dietz also added an assist.
The Bulldogs added what at the time appeared to be an insurance goal as Greg Pateryn beat Cannata with a slapshot from the point, 47 seconds into the third. Dumont picked up his second point of the game on the play with the primary assist while Mike Blunden added an assist of his own.
Darren Archibald cut the deficit in half on a superb individual effort at the 4:27 mark of the third period. The power forward collected the puck near the right point, beat three Hamilton defenders and fired a wrist shot past Tokarski. The goal, the second in as many nights for Archibald, gave the Comets life with 15:33 to play in the final full period.
In a dramatic finish to regulation, Tommernes unloaded on a one timer from the point to tie the game with just 1:04 on the clock. After a hooking minor from Sven Andrighetto put the Comets a man up, Ferriero dished the puck into Tommernes’ wheelhouse and the Swedish defenseman would not miss as he put a howitzer past Tokarski.
After a scoreless five minutes of overtime, Macenauer scored the first shootout goal in round three as he slotted one past Cannata. Nicklas Jensen opened the scoring for Utica in the third round as he replicated his one handed drag move from Utica’s win over Lake Erie 13 days ago.
After Grenier scored for the Comets in round four and Martin St. Pierre equalized for the Bulldogs in round five, defenseman Nathan Beaulieu beat Cannata to give Hamilton a 3-2 advantage. Colin Stuart could not convert on his attempt and the Comets fell to 1-2 in the shootout this season.
The loss dropped Utica to 3-1-0-1 on their current seven game home stand. The Comets were, however, able to pick up their first point of the season in a game where they trailed after two periods of play. Utica had previously been 0-13-0-0 in those situations.