UTICA, N.Y. – The Utica Comets rode Colin Stuart’s first American Hockey League Hat Trick to their second victory on home ice, as they skated to a 5-2 victory over the Binghamton Senators at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. Colin Stuart’s Hat Trick etched is name into the Comets record book yet again, as it was the first Hat Trick in franchise history. The victory snapped a three game Comets losing streak.
In addition to Stuart’s first career three goal effort in the AHL, Cal O’Reilly and Darren Archibald each found the back of the net for Utica, while Joacim Eriksson recorded a franchise, and personal high 42 saves to earn his fifth victory of the season. The Comets, who scored five goals for the first time, picked up a total of 14 points, also a franchise best.
For just the seventh time in 23 games, the Comets scored the first goal as Colin Stuart connected with the man advantage. Darren Archibald fired an outside shot, which was denied by a screened Hammond, but Stuart was on hand in front to bury the rebound. Center Pascal Pelletier also picked up an assist on the play, his team high fourteenth of the season. The Comets were successful on the power play for the seventh time in their past nine games.
Binghamton was able to knot the score at one just past the midway point of the first, as Derek Grant deflected home a shot from Stephane Da Costa. Chris Wideman fed Da Costa at the left point, who wristed a shot towards a screened Eriksson, a deflection from Grant got past Eriksson, and into the net. Grant’s goal was his third of the season, while Da Costa’s assist tied him with Mike Hoffman for the team lead at 15.
Binghamton got the scoring started in the second period at the 3:47 mark as Mike Borowiecki ripped a one-timer past Eriksson for his first goal of the season. Winger Corey Cowick and center Wacey Hamilton picked up the assists on the play as the Senators took their first lead of the night.
The Comets took almost no time at all to respond, however, as they equalized just 25 seconds after Borowiecki’s marker. Cal O’Reilly buried his second as a Comet off of a feed from Nicklas Jensen, which was tipped by Benn Ferriero. O’Reilly picked up his first goal this season on home ice and Ferriero tied Grenier for second on the team with eight helpers on the season.
Utica took the lead with less than two minutes left in the period as Archibald notched his first of the evening. Pelletier drove hard to the net out of the corner and his rebound popped up to Archibald, who went top shelf to beat Hammond. Pelletier logged his second point of the evening, while Frankie Corrado added an assist as well.
The Comets extended their lead to 4-2 just 2:43 into the second as Stuart put a shot over Hammond’s glove hand for his second of the evening. Patrick Mullen hit the Comets captain with a long stretch pass and Stuart took care of the rest as he created space from the Binghamton defense and fired a wrist shot into the top corner. Tonight marked the eighth time in Stuart’s career where he recorded multiple goals.
Stuart completed his hat trick with just 2:06 to play in the game as an unselfish feed from O’Reilly gave the captain a gaping net, which he would not miss. A beautiful passing play saw Benn Ferriero shield off his defender and feed O’Reilly, who one-touched the puck to Stuart for the goal. The final tally gave Utica its first ever three goal win, while they hit five goals for the first time as well.
Prior to puck drop, the Comets recognized the history of their team name, as eight members of the EHL’s Clinton Comets saw their numbers raised on the stage end of The AUD. Those honored included Dave Armstrong, Archie Burton, Tim Hook, Jack Kane, Tom Mitchell, Borden Smith, Pete Prevost and the late Ian Anderson. Each of these former Comets remained in the Mohawk Valley after their careers had ended and were instrumental in the growth of hockey in the area.