Utica, NY - Justin Bailey scored a hat trick for a second straight game for the Utica Comets Friday night at the Adirondack Bank Center at the Utica Memorial Auditorium, as the Comets defeated the Hartford Wolf Pack, 6-3, in the second of a pair of games between the two teams this week in Utica.
The Comets prevailed 6-5 in overtime on Wednesday night in the first of the two contests.
Shawn McBride scored his first pro goal for the Wolf Pack Friday, and Nick Jones and Vinni Lettieri also scored Hartford goals, but Kole Lind added a goal and two assists for Utica, and Olli Juolevi had a goal and an assist.
After having spotted the Comets a 5-0 lead in the first period in Wednesday’s game, the Wolf Pack jumped out to a 2-0 lead in Friday’s first period.
Jones opened the scoring at the 8:36 mark. Covering the right point, Jones took a feed from the opposite point from Libor Hajek and wristed a shot towards the net. With Tim Gettinger screening Utica starting goaltender Zane McIntyre, the puck slid underneath McIntyre and into the net.
Lettieri, the Wolf Pack’s scoring leader, made it a two-goal Hartford lead with a power-play strike at 11:50, after Lind took a double-minor for high-sticking at 9:20. Danny O’Regan passed the puck off of the right-wing boards to Vincent LoVerde at the middle of the blue line, and he set Lettieri up in the left circle. His one-timer clearly beat McIntyre, for Lettieri’s 18th goal of the season.
Utica changed goaltenders at that point, inserting Michael DiPietro after McIntyre made five saves, and the Comets would get the next three goals of the game.
Lind got Utica on the board with 1:16 remaining in the first, firing a shot from the right-wing side up under the crossbar, on the glove side of Wolf Pack starting goaltender Tom McCollum. That was after Bailey forced a turnover in the neutral zone.
Juolevi tied the score at 7:37 of the second period. Patrick Newell had a pass picked off in the Utica end by Nikolay Goldobin, and he sent a lead to Reid Boucher on right wing. He stopped up inside the Wolf Pack zone and dropped the puck off to Juolevi in the high slot, and his hard shot beat McCollum to the stick side.
Bailey then scored his 20th of the season at 12:32, to give the Comets their first lead of the night. Lind pushed the puck to the right-wing corner, and Bailey picked it up there and moved towards the middle. He had the puck knocked away, but got it back, and turned to his forehand to rip a snap shot that found some room on the glove side of McCollum.
Forty seconds later, at 13:12, the Wolf Pack made a goaltending change of their own, replacing McCollum (nine saves) with Adam Huska, and 19 seconds after that, at 13:31, McBride scored to bring Hartford back into a tie.
Ryan Gropp intercepted a pass in the neutral zone and moved into the Comet end, before unloading a shot that went off of DiPietro’s catching glove. The rebound went right to McBride at the left side of the slot, and he banged it into the net before DiPietro could recover.
Bailey put Utica in front for good, though, at 16:16, with an unassisted goal. After Huska stopped an initial Bailey bid, the puck came to the Wolf Pack’s Vitali Kravtsov in the corner to Huska’s left. Bailey broke up Kravtsov’s pass attempt and shot the puck through the pads of Huska (13 saves) from the right side of the slot.
The Wolf Pack could never recover from that, and the Comets tacked on a pair of empty-net goals in the final 2:26 of the third period.
Carter Camper made it a 5-3 Utica lead at 17:34. Juolevi blocked a Mason Geertsen shot from the left point, and it deflected to Camper, who wristed it all the way down into the open cage.
Bailey then completed his hat trick, and finished the scoring, with 1:06 left. A Boo Nieves pass from the left point in the Utica zone eluded Yegor Rykov and deflected to Lind, who carried the puck up the right side. He dished across to Bailey after moving over the Wolf Pack line, and Bailey put it into the open net.
The Wolf Pack finish a stretch of four straight road games Saturday night in Hershey, with a 7:00 game against the Bears. The next home game for the Wolf Pack is next Friday, January 24 vs. the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, with faceoff at 7:15. That is “Pucks and Paws Night” at the XL Center, and all Friday-night Wolf Pack home games feature $1 hot dogs and $2 beers through the start of the second period, presented by Nomads Adventure Quest.
Tickets for all 2019-20 Wolf Pack home games are on sale now at the Sunwave Gas & Power Ticket Office at the XL Center, on-line at www.hartfordwolfpack.com and by phone at (877) 522-8499. Tickets purchased in advance for kids 12 or younger start at just $10 each, and all tickets will have a $3 day-of-game increase.
To speak with a Wolf Pack representative about season or group tickets, or any of the Wolf Pack’s many ticketing options, call (860) 722-9425, or click here to request more info. To visit the Wolf Pack on line, go to www.hartfordwolfpack.com.
Hartford Wolf Pack 3 at Utica Comets 6
Friday, January 17, 2020 - Adirondack Bank Center
Hartford 2 1 0 - 3
Utica 1 3 2 - 6
1st Period-1, Hartford, Jones 5 (Hajek), 8:36. 2, Hartford, Lettieri 18 (LoVerde, O'Regan), 11:50 (PP). 3, Utica, Lind 11 (Bailey), 18:44. Penalties-Lind Uti (double minor - high-sticking), 9:20; Malone Uti (hooking), 15:14.