TORONTO – Erik Källgren stopped 45 shots and Dryden Hunt scored the game-winning goal midway through the third period as the Toronto Marlies defeated the Utica Comets 2-1 on Wednesday afternoon in American Hockey League action.
Hunt scored over the blocker of Schmid off of a turnaround pass from Alex Steeves to give the Marlies the lead that they never relinquished.
Bobby McMann also scored for the Marlies (33-12-2-1) who have now won three straight games.
Mason Geertsen scored the only goal for the Comets (23-18-5-2) as they have now lost back-to-back games and five of their last six.
The game was the first school day event of the season in Toronto with an 11:05 AM start time and the play matched the energy of the young crowd early on as both teams found space to skate down the ice freely and make quick passes.
Midway through the first period, Toronto’s Joseph Bladisi got held on a breakaway which gave him a penalty shot but he missed the shot over the net.
The Marlies got on the scoreboard first after Comets’ forward Nolan Foote took a high sticking penalty at 16:29 of the first period and McMann turned and fired a shot right past Comets goaltender Akira Schmid to give the Marlies the 1-0 lead.
Most of the second period continued to be free-flowing like the first until the end of the second, the Comets answered when Geertsen put a slap-shot past Källgren to tie the game at one goal apiece.
The Comets were pushing hard to tie the game and pulled their goaltender for the 6 on 5 man advantage near the end of the game but a holding penalty by Foote forced Utica to put their goalie back in net and end their man advantage.
Schmid stopped 25 of the 27 shots he had for the Comets.
Next game for the Marlies is in Rochester against the Americans on Friday. After that, the next six games for Toronto are at home.
The Comets will now head back home to face off against the Syracuse Crunch on Saturday.
NOTES: Marlies made a donation pregame of $20,000 to the Toronto District School Board, Marlies now take sole possession of the eastern conference’s top seed, Both Toronto and Utica are top two in the North Division, Toronto has won all four matchups this season between the two teams, The two teams last met on January 3rd when the Marlies won 5-4 in overtime, Utica went 0/3 on the power play, Graeme Clarke leads the way for the Comets with 36 points (16 goals, 20 assists) while Logan Shaw leads the Marlies with 55 points (17 goals, 38 assists).
Shots through 1: 15 for the Comets, 7 for the Marlies
Shots through 2: 16 for the Comets, 10 for the Marlies
Shots through 3: 15 for the Comets, 10 for the Marlies
Total shots: 46 for the Comets, 27 for the Marlies