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Comets explode in Flower City

By: Aiden Locke

ROCHESTER, NY--- The Amerks had a tough time slowing down the offense of North Division rival Utica. The Comets scored seven and left Rochester with a dominant 7-3 win on kids night at Blue Cross Arena.

Amerks forward #16 Justin Richards getting ready for a faceoff. Photo credit: Liam Hoffmann 89.1 The Point.

Utica had seven different goal scorers while getting all of those in the second and third periods. The Amerks have been strong defensively over the past couple of months but a slow start to the year leaves them with a deceptive 3.7 GAA through 46 games as a team. Rochester played a decent game but had multiple quality scoring chances turned away throughout the game. Poor puck management and mental errors allowed the Comets to light the lamp at will and get a big road win.

"We just didn't manage the puck, we gave them free offense," Amerks head coach Seth Appert said. "That's not to take anything away from them, they executed their offensive chances."

Amerks forward #19 Graham Slaggert during pregame warmups. Photo credit: Liam Hoffmann 89.1 The Point.

Rochester started strong taking a 1-0 lead into the first intermission. Forward Tyson Jost opened up the goal scoring off a defensive zone turnover by Utica. The puck fell into defenseman Zach Metsa's lap at the blue line with a clear passing lane to Jost who was sat in the slot for an easy back-hand goal to give Rochester a 1-0 lead.

Amerks forward #17 Tyson Jost celebrating his goal with the bench. Photo credit: Liam Hoffmann 89.1 The Point.

Both teams would see strong scoring chances in the first but Rochester goalie Devin Cooley stood strong through the first 20 minutes. Utica goaltender Erik Kallgren would also have a strong opening period outside of the one goal allowed which wasn't entirely on him. Cooley entered the game 6-5-2-0 on the season with a 3.53 GAA and a .897 save percentage. Kallgren came into the matchup 1-5-2-0 with a 4.14 GAA and a .851 save percentage.

The second period would see a lot more action, Utica would get a pair of goals within a minute of action in the first three minutes of the second period. The first coming from forward Max Willman who scored his tenth of the season. The second coming from defenseman Santeri Hatakka who netted his fourth of the season. Defenseman Jeremy Davies would strike next off a beautiful rush with forward Isak Rosen who slid a perfect pass to the back door where Davies would put it home during 4-on-4 play. Two more Comet goals would follow, then in the closing minutes of the second period Amerks forward Brett Murray would score on a second chance effort of his own shot which snuck through the five-hole of Kallgren to end the second period with a 4-3 advantage for Utica.

Amerks defensemen #4 Jermey Davies and #56 Kale Clague. Photo credit: Liam Hoffmann 89.1 The Point.

"I thought we were better in the second than we were in the third," Appert said. "We did a lot of good things tonight, we probably did enough tonight to score six."

The mental mistakes would pile up for Rochester in the third period with Utica scoring three unanswered. Rochester's powerplay struggles would also continue going 0-3 on the night, along with surrendering a goal on the penalty kill which the Utica powerplay would go 1-for-4.

The game was extremely physical on both sides throughout the night. Scrums were common after whistles and fights also broke out on multiple occasions but cooler heads would prevail with some help from the referees. The North Division rivals have seen a lot of each other lately, which only adds fuel to the interstate rivalry.

A scrum between Utica and Rochester after Amerks forward Mason Josbt was pushed into the Utica goal. Video credit: Liam Hoffmann 89.1 The Point.

"It seems like we play them (Utica) and Syracuse every other game but that's just how the schedule is in this league but it creates rivalries which is nice, maybe we'll see one of them in the playoffs," Davies said.

Although it was a tough night for the Amerks, they can't dwell on it with another busy week of games ahead of them starting on Monday in Toronto. For more on the Amerks tune in to the Flower City Sports podcast every Thursday at 11:00 p.m. or on our Spotify.

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