NEWARK, NJ – Can’t win ‘em all, but oh so close.
It was a chippy contest for the two rivals that was settled in a shootout as the Utica Comets defeated the Binghamton Devils by a score of 6-5 in a wild one on Saturday afternoon. However, the BDevils (2-0-0-1) would notch another point in the standings and remain in first place in the North Division.
Micheal Vukojevic (1g) and Nikita Okhotiuk (1g) each scored their first pro goals while Mikhail Maltsev (1g, 1a) tallied in his first game back and netminder Aaron Dell finished with 26 saves in the first game of his conditioning stint since being sent to Binghamton. Jake Kielly saved his best for OT as he stopped all six shots he saw and ended up with 29 overall.
The two clubs exchanged power-play goals early in the first period with Utica Comets (2-1-0-0) jumping out in front first with Kole Lind for his first of two on the night but Ben Street tied it with a tip-in from the crease area on his first of a three-point outing. But Utica would regain the lead and padded onto it with goals from Carson Focht and Lind, also on the PP.
Devils would answer back in the middle frame when Marian Studenic found Maltsev alone in front for his first of the season followed by a wrister from Michael Vukojevic with his fourth point in three games. After the Comets regained the lead once again on a shorthanded odd-man rush, Okhotiuk skated from the blueline to the goal line and potted the puck top shelf far side past Kielly on a nice individual effort.
In the third period, both clubs would wound up exchanging goals once again with Utica’s Nolan Stevens and on an extended man advantage by Binghamton with Street connecting for his second of the game.
It took OT for the third straight game of the season to settle the score but Binghamton failed to light the lamp on the three-on-three play with many missed ops to win it and a little luck on Kielly’s side as well. Mitch Reinke eventually scored the go-ahead goal in the shootout that left Brett Seney an opportunity to tie and advance into the next round but was denied instead for the loss.
Shots ended up in favor of Bingo 34-32.
LINE-UP, GAME #3
Seney – Street – Foote, St. Denis – Maltsev – Studenic, Thomson – Darcy – Zetterlund, Martel – Schmelzer – Schnarr
White/ Groleau – Okhotiuk/Bahl – Vukojevic/Walsh
Dell – Cormier
Sissons, Rivera, Irvine, Quenneville, Koules, Gignac, Clarke & Brodeur
Gilles Senn was recalled to the NJ taxi squad while Dell was sent down for a conditioning stint. Nolan Foote and Kevin Bahl were sent down along with Maltsev.
- Special teams a killer for Binghamton as they were victims of two PP goals and one shorty as Utica went 2/5 while Binghamton 2/7. The PP still needs work as the first unit consisted of Street, Maltsev, Seney with Foote and Walsh at the point.
- Chippy contest as there were several dustups after the whistle and plenty of penalities to go around. Unfortunately, the two clubs only face ane another twice this shortened season.
- Dell was a little rusty from the start but coming up with some nice saves and settled in as the game wore on.
- Devils had missed chances in the OT session as one, in particular, had Seney on a breakaway that was stopped as the puck bounced around the slot and Street missed the easy tap in.
- The lone goal for the Devils was on a wicked slap shot from the slot by Fabian Zetterlund in the second round as he had one of his best games finishing with an assist while on the third line with Thomson and Darcy.
- Okhotiuk played well and looks to be gaining confidence, the same can be said regarding Foote. Cam Darcy and Danick Martel stood out while Studenic (2a) and Maltsev (1g, 1a) were reunited on the second line (with Travis St. Denis (1a), as the combo has been really solid dating back to last year.
1st – Kole Lind (2g), 2nd – Ben Street (2g, 1a), 3rd – Sam Anas (2a)