Five wins to go.
The Utica Comets return home with a 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven series against the Grand Rapids Griffins and will have two cracks at closing out the series and punching their ticket to the AHL Final where the Manchester Monarchs are waiting.
Who will be the hero? Who knows! The Comets have seen different players step up at different times, whether it be Sven Baertschi, Alex Grenier, Brendan Gaunce or Bobby Sanguinetti, to name a few. The one constant has been goaltender Jacob Markstrom.
The 25-year-old has posted a 1.97 goals-against average and a .928 save-percentage throughout the post-season. And if the Comets do lose Game 6, the good news is, Markstrom is a perfect 7-0 coming off a loss during the playoff run and has only allowed a total of eight goals in those games.
Game 1 – Sunday, May 24th – Utica 2 – Grand Rapids 1
Game 2 – Monday, May 25th – Grand Rapids 4 – Comets 2
Game 3 – Thursday, May 28th – Utica 4 – Grand Rapids 1
Game 4 – Friday, May 29th – Grand Rapids 3 – Utica 2 (OT)
Game 5 – Sunday, May 21st – Utica 3 – Grand Rapids 2
Game 6 – Tuesday, June 2nd – 4pm PT @ Utica
**Game 7 – Wednesday, June 3rd – 4pm PT @ Utica
** If necessary
Game 3: Comets 4 – Griffins 1
- It was the Sven Baertschi show on this night, as the 22-year-old scored a natural hat-trick in the second period.
- Cory Conacher sealed the deal with 4:38 remaining, making it a 4-1 game with his second of the post-season.
- Jake Virtanen picked up his first professional point, grabbing a helper on Baertschi’s third goal of the game.
- Jacob Markstrom was stellar once again in goal, stopping 40-of-41 shots on the night.Game 4: Griffins 3 – Comets 2 (OT)
- With the Comets trailing 1-0 just before the midway mark of the middle stanza, Alex Friesen got the team on the board with a great individual effort for his fourth goal of the post-season.
- Cory Conacher took a Alexandre Grenier pass towards the end of the second period and wired the puck home for his third goal of the playoffs, giving the Comets a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes.
- The Griffins found the equalizer early in the third period and were able to prevail with the victory just 5:05 into overtime.
- Jacob Markstrom stopped 22-of-25 as the Comets held a 36-25 advantage in shots on the night.
Game 5: Comets 3 – Griffins 2
- Wacey Hamilton opened the scoring for the Comets just 2:14 into the game, tipping in a Brendan Gaunce shot from the wall for his second of the post-season.
- Hunter Shinkaruk made it a 2-1 game 6:07 into the opening frame, banging home a loose puck as Brandon DeFazio was jamming away at it as well. The goal gives Shinkaruk four playoff tallies.
- Bobby Sanguinetti made it a 3-1 game just past the midway mark of the first period as Gaunce’s shot directed right to the defenceman in the slot, who was able to bury his third of the post-season.
- Early in the second period, Jacob Markstrom made perhaps the save of the year so far, robbing Griffins defenceman Ryan Sproul with a sprawling stick save. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgblLPNFFiI
- Markstrom finished with 32 saves on the night and was named the first star of the game. He has now been named first star in two games this series, as well as named one of the three stars in four of the five games.
- Gaunce’s two helpers give him nine points (4-5-9) through 15 post-season games thus far.