This was a wild and crazy night of hockey.
The Utica Comets, with four first period goals, paved the rest of the way to a 7-4 victory over the Binghamton Devils at The Floyd on Saturday. Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood, in a surprise start, was not his vintage self as he gave up three goals on the first three shots with the first only 17 seconds into the contest.
Binghamton mounted a comeback to pull within one in the third period, but the damage was already done and they couldn’t pull it off. With the loss, the Devils (10-13-3-0) fell closer to the bottom of the North Division with their third straight defeat.
Comets jumped to an early 2-0 lead with goals by Reid Boucher and Jonathan Dahlen within the first three minutes of the night. But the Devils responded as John Quenneville scored his seventh of the season on a nice effort down the middle amongst four Utica players as his low shot beat netminder Richard Bachman.
However, the Comets pulled ahead 3-1 less than a minute later as Ashton Sautner’s slapper from the blueline slithered by Blackwood for his second of the season. Darren Archibald made it 4-1 as Blackwood, with a careless poke of the puck in front, simply chipped it into the twine corner side, top shelf.
Michael McLeod pounced on the puck near the crease and Binghamton started to find their groove at the start of the second period with the next three out of four goals coming to the Devils. After a Jaime Sifers tally for Utica, a tip-in by Nathan Bastian good for a power play mark made it 5-3 Comets.
In the final twenty minutes, the BDevils cut the deficit to one on another PP opportunity as a bomb was unloaded off a one-timer from defenseman Colton White for his fourth. But that would be it for any late night heroics as Utica scored the next two. An ugly turnover from a bad clearing attempt from Colby Sissons in front to Eric Gryba on a stick being lifted by Tanner MacMaster led to a Devils’ turnover as MacMaster spun around and hit the mark past Blackwood with 10:32 left in the final period.
Zack MacEwen added an empty-netter to help seal the win for the Comets by a final score of 7-4. Shots ended up in favor of Utica 31-23.
Line-Up, Game #26
Forwards: Tangradi - McLeod - Bastian, Quenneville - Schmelzer - Studenic, Pietila - Rooney - Lappin, Gignac - Speers - Gabriel
Defensemen: Sissons - Gryba, Kapla - Ramage, White - Jacobs
In Goal: Mackenzie Blackwood, Cam Johnson
Scratches: Brian Strait, Eddie Lack, Tariq Hammond, Brandon Baddock and Egor Sharangovich
Post Game Notes
- Obviously, Blackwood had his struggles as he didn’t have his legs in the opening twenty minutes, but neither did the players in front of him. Cam Johnson was fresh and instead will play against Springfield on Sunday. But for Blackwood to give up 3 goals on the first 3 shots he saw, it raises a concern as his recovery time was limited after Friday’s work load in the loss to Syracuse. It should have been Johnson instead with Blackwood fully rested for Springfield. No more back-to-backs should be the lesson learned in this one.
- I very rarely call out officiating for any reason, but one of the referees is a 40/40 guy, 40 games in the NHL, 40 games at the AHL level. Some of the calls were plain awful or blatantly missed for a referee of his caliber. At one point, it appeared the fans were the ones making the calls in response to the crowd’s reactions.
- It was a bizarre 1st period, to say the least, as it took nearly an hour to play. Regardless of five goals scored, it was Teddy Bear Toss Night and the Devils’ 1st goal was called back with a (legit) interference penalty accessed to Kevin Rooney in front. But fans reacted anyways and tossed the stuffed toys in response to the apparent goal. After some delay with the clean-up, Binghamton would get on the board soon after with JQ’s play and additional teddy bears were tossed once again. It was indeed a crazy night.
- Ashton Sautner took a butt end of the stick by Eric Tangradi to the jaw and fell face first into the boards withered in pain. After a 5-minute break, he was helped off the ice with a possible broken jaw. As a result, Tangradi received a 5 minute major for boarding but it should have been a 5 minute match penalty for intent to injure as it was the butt-end of his stick the ref missed with his back to the play. Look for a (2 game) AHL suspension coming up for Tangradi once the league reviews the video sent in by Utica.
- A non-call from a mauling of Colton White with a hit on the back by Cam Darcy near center ice that sent the crowd into a frenzy, and as a result, a 10-minute misconduct was handed down to Gryba for suggesting how bad the referees missed it, one of 2 abuse of officials called against the Devils.
- McLeod (1g, 1a) looked great and continues to play hard despite the lack of ice time in his recent call-up for NJ. Love his enthusiasm after reaching the back of the net.
- BDevils are now 2 points of cellar dweller’s Laval Rocket with this recent skid. Ouch!
#1. Reid Boucher (1g, 1a), #2. Colton White (1g, 1a), #3. Tanner MacMaster (1g, 1a)
Available on Sunday
The weekend concludes for the BDevils on Sunday in Springfield for the first of four meetings with the Thunderbirds.