The offensive starved Devils were without two of their top players along with a veteran defenseman, but goaltender Ken Appleby was able to hold the fort with a strong performance in net once again in his second straight start giving Binghamton (5-2-1-0) a narrow 2-1 victory over the Utica Comets at Adirondack Bank Center.
Binghamton, with injuries to John Quenneville (who will remain out for a while recovering from a concussion) Tim Kennedy and Brian Strait, were able to pull it together for the team’s fifth win in eight games behind Appleby’s 25 saves, 16 in the final period alone. Utica (4-4-0-1) made it close in the end but were unable to tie the game despite a two man advantage in the final 36.7 seconds of the third.
Nathan Bastian scored his third goal in eight games late in the first period on a shot from a tough angle near the goal line that squeaked by Comets’ netminder Thatcher Demko inside the post for a 1-0 Devils lead. Demko would end the night with 18 saves.
The two teams played a back and forth sequence throughout most of the middle frame without recording a goal.
However in the third, Binghamton increased their lead to two which ended up as the game winner, as Blake Pietila punched the puck past Demko’s glove side and into the back of the net for his third of the season with four minutes left, as the primary assist was handed out to defenseman Jacob MacDonald with his shot from the blueline with traffic in front.
Comets would close the gap to one soon after when Evan McEneny got one past Appleby to end the shutout bid with 18:38 with Demko pulled for the extra attacker. Utica would then call a TO and was given a golden opportunity for the number one ranked power play when Bracken Kearns inadvertently closed the puck with his hand on a faceoff which sent him to the sin-bin with 36 seconds left.
Appleby came through with pressure from the Comets and held on for Binghamton’s road win in a tough barn to play in Utica.
Forwards; Gignac-Kearns-Lappin, Blandisi-Pietila-Speers, Baddock-Cangelosi-Bastian, Thomson-Rooney-Kujawinski. Defensemen; Kapla-Jacobs, White-Loov, MacDonald-Dyblenko. In Goal; Ken Appleby. Back Up: Mackenzie Blackwood. Scratches; Tim Kennedy (inj.), John Quenneville (inj), Brian Strait (inj.) Jan Mandat (1gm suspension) Tim Erixon (released from PTO). Kearns, Loov and Rooney with the A’s.
Post Game Notes
- Binghamton is last in the league in shots and 12th for goals, having scored just four in the last two. With JQ out recovering their is a gaping hole to fill, same can said on the defense with Strait out. So far, goaltending has been leading the way but for how long? Shots tonight in favor of the Comets 26-20.
- Appleby (2-0-0-0, 1.00 GAA, 0.964 SV%) once again with Star of the Game honors, and deserving so with the Comets buzzing in the third period. I’m going to assume Blackwood will get the nod on Saturday but it’s reassuring Applebly hasn’t lost any form and is focused. Something we haven’t seen much of here in Binghamton over the course of the last several seasons.
- Ryan Kujawinski made his season debut for Binghamton and quickly made his presence felt with Cole Cassels in a first period fight, which didn’t mount to much despite a wrestling match.
- Penalties still a hot topic with five calls against the Devils, three in the final period. One word, lucky. As I was going over some pre-game notes, one thing that jumped out was Utica with the number one ranked PP in the league entering the game, and their PK ranked 6th. In comparison, Devils are 12th and 22nd respectively.
- Devils’ defenseman with three costly turnovers early in the third with some sloppy play as Strait was clearly missed with rookie Colton White taking his spot in the first pairing with Josh Jacobs.
- On a good note, I like what Austin Cangelosi brings with speed and his overall on ice awareness, with a nice defensive recovery breaking up a Utica shorthanded rush in the second period. Solid centerman in his rookie campaign with Bastian and Baddock on the wings tonight.
#1 Appleby (25 saves), #2 Demko (18 saves), #3 Pietila (1g).
The high flying Lehigh Valley Phantoms will make their second appearance of the season in Binghamton on Saturday.