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2023 Calder Cup Playoffs

Comets Cancel Marlies in Game Two

Comets Cancel Marlies in Game Two

TORONTO – Game two for the Utica Comets may well have been the closest thing to an elimination game that you’ll play without playing one. Game one was a close battle for the Comets, and going into game two, they kept things close on the shot clock but not close on the scoreboard, separating themselves from the Marlies defense for a 7-2 win.

Much like game one of the series, the Comets were first on the board. Brian Halonen and Alexander Holtz worked together to make an excellent zone entry, making passes back and forth. Holtz became the quarterback, running the puck into the trapezoid. With the puck down low, Holtz made the pass through traffic across the crease to Halonen to open things up.

The Comets continued by scoring another one. They were looking for something similar to their first goal; this time, it was Aarne Talvitie as the QB. The pass came out in front, but instead of someone receiving the pass, it ricocheted off Marshall Rifai‘s skate for the insurance goal lead.

Similar to game one, Toronto scored in a continuous fashion. The Comets forfeited their two-goal lead (plus) to the Marlies for the second game in a row. Both goals to tie the game in the first were at the hands of Toronto’s power play, which was second in the league in the regular season.

Semyon Der-Arguchintsev received a pass from Joseph Blandisi, who scored from across the crease. The power play, short in stature, had good looks as well, which carried over into their next opportunity.

Ryan Schmelzer took an unnecessary penalty, delivering a high cross-check in the faceoff dot, resulting in the second power-play marker for the Baby Buds. Kyle Clifford had a shot from close range, labelled for the top of the net, to tie the game.

Going into the intermission, I think Utica needed to settle down with the penalties. Emotions were running high on the team that clearly had a bee in the bonnet from game one. 

Far more settled, Utica was first to the score sheet in the middle frame. This was the first of three bad defensive plays by the Marlies. 

Toronto let Simon Nemec waltz in for a backhand shot, which opened the doors for a rebound. Bodies were swelling around the net, but nobody was covering the rebound, or Nolan Stevens, who scored his first of the playoffs.

Later a turnover by Nick Abruzzese set up a two-on-one for Utica. Tyler Wotherspoon took the shot, but the juicy rebound was put on a silver platter for Schmelzer to tap in the 4-2 marker.

To make it 5-2, you gotta look to Xavier Parent. Nobody was on Brian Pinho when he received the pass from Jayce Hawryluk. From the open slot to the side of the cage, the pass went to Parent, who didn’t have a blue sweater in sight when he smacked it in.

The fifth marker is a complete defensive mess. It outlined what the Marlies had from homework in the intermission and possibly for game three. Poor defense let them allow five goals on 17 shots. 

Utica added another—in the third period, with the first of the two coming from Graeme Clark. The pass from Riley Walsh took no time on Clark’s stick before fooling Keith Petruzzelli.

Later playing four-on-four, Pinho came roaring down the near-side boards. His backhand would be the end of Petruzzelli‘s afternoon.

The Marlies finished the game lifeless, and the Comets coasted to the finish. For Utica, it was a well-rounded game, where the Comets kept the Marlies to the outside, and the defense held the line.

Toronto will now take game three to Utica’s barn, in an arena destined to be loud, on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m.


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    Zack Power covers the Toronto Marlies for Field Pass Hockey. Follow and interact with him on Twitter @FPHMarlies.

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