I am going to go out on a limb and declare that the Utica Comets as a playoff team this season for the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs.
You don’t get points in 15 straight games, this late on in the season, and not make the playoffs.
You don’t come into Wilkes-Barre, against one of the better teams in the Atlantic Division and scrap with a team that makes a living scrapping with other teams and walk away with the two points if you aren’t a playoff team.
The Utica Comets are a pesky team. They are in a division full of good teams with Toronto who are running away with the division, Rochester who are a surprise and Syracuse who are better than Belleville, Binghamton and Laval. Anyone is better than Belleville, Binghamton and Laval, by the way.
The Penguins had a 1-0 lead on the Comets tonight for a large part of the first half of the game. Then Utica scored three goals in a 1:02 to stun the Penguins and the crowd that braved the snow at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza and shades of last night’s throttling at the hands of the Rochester Americans were starting to creep in again.
But the Penguins used horribly undisciplined play from the Utica Comets and found themselves on three straight power plays which were unsuccessful, then a 5-on-3 for a full two minutes which kickstarted the comeback.
Garrett Wilson’s double to right gave the Penguins the lead after he batted a puck out of the air and into the net, but Utica tied it late, then as the Comets do, forced overtime.
Utica wins tonight 5-4 in overtime. My Rapid Recap said 4-3 initially, sorry about that if it confused you.
Casey DeSmith opposed Thatcher Demko
Thomas Di Pauli – J-S Dea – Reid Gardiner
Garrett Wilson – Jarrett Burton – Daniel Sprong
Adam Johnson – Greg McKegg – Joseph Cramarossa
Cody Wydo – Gage Quinney – Patrick McGrath
Kevin Spinozzi – Ethan Prow
Jeff Taylor – Kevin Czuczman
Dylan Zink – Jarred Tinordi
Casey DeSmith – Anthony Peters
Lineup Notes: The Penguins made three recalls today from Wheeling. Jeff Taylor, Dylan Zink and Kevin Schulze were recalled from the Nailers today. Taylor was a Pittsburgh assignment, Zink is on AHL contract and Schulze was signed to a PTO. Word after the game was that Frank Corrado may be the one that took the worst of the injuries Friday in Rochester according to Tyler postgame…
First Period: Joe Cramarossa jammed in a puck to give the Penguins a 1-0 early lead. He later added an assist, for three points (to go along with his assist Friday in Rochester) in two games this weekend for the Penguins. So far, so good.
Shots were 12-12 after one period. Initial impressions on the Utica Comets were they block a ton of shots and Thatcher Demo leaves rebounds all over the place.
Second Period: Penguins had two breakaway chances, but Demko stopped everything. Casey DeSmith looked sharp. But then…
This all happened in the span of 62 seconds. The wheels came off and they came off in all different directions.
The best thing to happen to the Penguins was the whistle to end the second period. Regroup, and come out for the…
Third Period: First power play came and went with nothing. Second one was the same as the first. The third one ended up as a 5-on-3 for a full two minutes. The Penguins HAD to score here.
Daniel Sprong shot, Jarrett Burton deflection. One goal game…
Pens think they score to tie it on the back end of the second power play but Demko closed the door…
But the Comets, who I said earlier block a ton of shots, blocked on in a sequence that would see Ethan Prow score to tie the game at 3-3 here…
Second assist for Cramarossa there.
Game settled for a bit, got tense, then Garrett Wilson scored to make it 4-3…
The hand / eye coordination by Wilson was exquisite. I can’t thank Taylor enough for GIFing these and allowing me to run them on this blog.
Demko stopped Wilson again on the breakaway and Hart has jokes…
Pitchers and catchers have already reported and the Mets look OK this year. Could contend for a wild card if the pitching holds up.
Utica tied it late with 2:40 left in a hack and whack similar to what Cramarossa did to open the scoring in the first.
Utica’s modus operandi is to just get the game to overtime. It worked here.
Overtime: Wilkes-Barre had one possession in the final frame, then Utica got the puck, had DeSmith all out of sorts and Patrick Wiercioch scored from the blue line to win it…
Three Stars: 3) Joseph Cramarossa (goal, assist, even) 2) Garrett Wilson (goal, assist, +2) and 1) Patrick Weircioch (game winning overtime goal, assist, +3)
Around the Division: Charlotte shuts out Syracuse 2-0. The Checkers are on the come again and are separating themselves from fifth in the Atlantic….Hershey shuts out a hapless Belleville team 3-0….Lehigh Valley coughs up a lead in the third and Hartford takes them down in a shootout 3-2….Providence beats Springfield, who is getting the 2019 All-Star Game next year, 3-2 in overtime. Bridgeport was off.
Standings: Lehigh Valley (.670 percentage points) — Penguins (.663) — Providence (.637) — Charlotte (.594) — Bridgeport (.529) — Hartford (.528) — Hershey (.462) — Springfield (.443)
Wheeling Update: Nailers game was postponed due to a flooding concern.
Pens close out the weekend Sunday afternoon in Allentown against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at 5 p.m. Gameday setup hits the blog Sunday at 1.
Let’s Go Pens!