UTICA, N.Y.- The Utica Comets earned four of a possible six points this weekend, as they got the best of the Lake Erie Monsters, 3-2 in a shootout Sunday afternoon at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. The Comets earned the first shootout win in franchise history as Alex Grenier scored the game-winning goal in the fourth round to drown Lake Erie.
Kellan Lain and Nicklas Jensen were the Utica goal-scorers as the Comets have now won two in a row on home ice for the first time this season. Joacim Eriksson turned aside 26 of 28 shots against, along with three of four in the shootout. Jensen, Pascal Pelletier and Grenier beat Sami Aittokallio during the shootout, as the Comets closed out the victory.
The Monsters struck first just 1:12 into the game as Mark Olver got to a rebound first and slotted it past Joacim Eriksson. The Swede was equal to the task on J.T. Wyman’s original effort but could not stop Olver, who picked up his sixth goal of the season. Winger Michael Schumacher also picked up his first point of the season, an assist, on the play.
Lain drew the Comets even midway through the period after he unleashed a howitzer from the top of the circles that got past Aittokallio’s glove. Lain took a feed from Peter Andersson as he streaked through the neutral zone, and his big shot was too much for the Lake Erie netminder. Defenseman Alex Biega picked up the second assist on the play, his third of the season.
Lake Erie would regain the advantage on the power play as Stefan Elliot danced through the Utica defense, and beat Eriksson blocker side from the left circle. Karl Stollery picked up the primary assist, while Garret Meurs also picked up a point on the play.
The Comets took advantage of Meurs’ high sticking penalty midway through the second period, which put his team shorthanded for four minutes. Cal O’Reilly hit Jensen in front for his first goal in a Comets’ uniform, a big marker that knotted the score at two. Grenier also added an assist on the play, his ninth of the season, as the Comets scored their tenth power-play goal over their last eleven games played.
Neither team was able to get the upper hand during the third period. The Comets got the better of the shots on goal, with 11 as opposed to seven for the Monsters, but could not put one home. Lake Erie had the best chance of the final full period, but the right post bailed out Eriksson and the Comets.
After a scoreless overtime period, the Comets were off to the shootout for just the second time this season. After the Monsters led 1-0 following the shootout’s first round, courtesy of a Colin Smith goal, the Comets scored three consecutive times, including a beautiful one handed finish from Jensen in the third round. Eriksson turned away Paul Carey, Bryan Lerg and Stefan Elliott in consecutive fashion, before Grenier went low blocker for the game winner.