After wrapping up their four-game road trip with two more wins and a total of five points earned, The Utica Comets returned to the Utica Memorial Auditorium last night for their third game of the season against The Rochester Americans. The teams last faced-off in November when Rochester clinched an impressive 4-7 victory at The Blue Cross Arena, and their performance Wednesday night was no less fierce as the defense on both sides played a fast-paced, evenly matched game with plenty of back-and-forth action throughout.
The crowd was unsurprisingly sparse as ongoing snowstorms and poor driving conditions kept many people home– including a dozen or so NHL scouts that were expected to attend– and the game kicked with a little less noise and excitement than usual, but it didn’t last long. Team spirit was buoyed towards the end of the first period when defensemen Bobby Sanguinetti got control of the puck, firing off a wrister past goaltender Andrey Makarov from the face-off circle to give The Comets their first goal of the night.
The Comets held onto their one point lead throughout a scoreless second period, though both teams played well and had plenty of close calls each, including several nice setups on two power plays for Utica.
Sanguinetti struck again with the eventual game-winner in the first half of the third period, right on the heels of fellow defenseman Kane Lafranchise, whose goal at 3:27 broke the 1-1 tie that Rochester had secured less than a minute earlier. Nicklas Jensen was credited with the assist on Lafranchise’s one-timer, which was his first first career AHL goal with The Utica Comets.
The two goals by Sanguinetti were his fifth and the sixth of the season, making it the third time this season he has netted the game-winning goal, the first time being back in November when Utica first faced-off with Rochester. Comets coach Travis Green praised the defenseman’s offensive instincts, citing Sanguinetti’s excellent precision and timing for the successful execution of his one-timer in the third period.
With 22 games as a Comet now under his belt, Sanguinetti has collected a total of fourteen points (six goals and eight assists). The N.J. native previously appeared in 45 NHL games with The Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers with a total of six points earned (two goals and four assists), before signing a one-year contract last July with the Vancouver Canucks.
The Comets are set to play again at 7 p.m this Friday in a home game against The Toronto Marlies, and again on Saturday for their third confrontation with The Syracuse Crunch.