UTICA – The Comets have demonstrated the ability to score in bursts early in the season.

That was on display Wednesday against the rival Syracuse Crunch.

The Comets turned in a dominate effort, especially in the second period in totaling three goals to secure a 6-2 home-opening win over the Crunch.

The team got help throughout the lineup. Nikolay Goldobin (three assists), Zack MacEwen (goal, assist) and Vincent Arseneau (goal, assist) each had multi-point efforts for the Comets, who overcame 1-0 and 2-1 deficits for their third consecutive win to open the season. Reid Boucher registered his team-leading fifth goal and Jonah Gadjovich, Francis Perron and Dylan Blujus also each scored their first of the season. The latter two made their season debuts for the Comets, who have home games Friday and Saturday.

“I think the biggest thing was preparing ourselves for the challenges (during a game),” said Cull, who praised many players in the win. “It is an interesting group to coach. They’re a skilled group. It is fun to watch them. I have to learn as a coach to give them a lot of leash and give them some leeway. There are some really smart hockey players and capable of some pretty amazing things.”

Rookie goalie prospect Mike DiPietro – who made his pro debut with the Vancouver Canucks last season – was solid in his first professional win. He totaled 16 saves on 18 shots and had some key stops on a strong extended Comets’ penalty kill in the third.

“I think I felt most comfortable in the third and kind of played my game. I let the puck come to me,” said the outgoing DiPietro, who wasn’t overly busy at times and noted he kept sharp by signing to himself Jason Aldean’s “Set it off.” “Obviously, it is huge to get the win and kind of set yourself up with a winning attitude. It is good to be part of the success the team has had early this season.”

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It was the first time since the 2015-16 season the Comets won their first home game. The Comets are 3-3-0-1 in home openers.

The Comets needed a span of about 3:30 in the second period to pull ahead for good, when the team had numerous chances and appeared to wear down the Crunch.

Perron broke a 2-2 game with 7:37 left in the second when he punched in the puck following a scramble in the Crunch crease. Justin Bailey started the play with a shot from the slot.

Utica extended the lead when Kole Lind forced a turnover and helped spring Boucher, whose quick release on a breakaway beat Scott Wedgewood (32 saves) with 5:37 left.

Goldobin and MacEwen capped the Comets’ outburst with a nice play on a 2-on-1 rush. On the play, Goldobin broke into the zone, quickly stopped and patiently fed MacEwen, who scored past a sprawling Wedgewood.

The team also had a four-goal second period against Binghamton on Oct. 5.

“It is nice to have that puck possession that is certainly part of the game nowadays,” Cull said. “It is a good group to see them grow.”

Syracuse showed some urgency in the third period, but the Comets were able to weather the push including during a short 5-on-3 kill. The Comets went 5-for-5 on the penalty kill.

“The thing stuck out to me was our D corps blocking shots,” DiPietro said. “Guys were sacrificing their bodies in a game that was 5-2.”

A few minutes after the Comets’ strong kill, Arseneau made it 6-2 after getting a long pass from Goldobin and then stuffing in his own rebound.

The Comets controlled much of an exciting back-and-forth opening period. And, while Syracuse capitalized on a couple of their opportunities, the Comets quickly erased deficits.

With the Comets on a power play, former Utica player Cory Conacher gave Syracuse – which didn’t register a shot in the first 10 minutes – a lead by sneaking a shot over DiPietro’s shoulder with eight minutes left in the first.

“That was ‘welcome to the pros, kid’ kind of feeling for me,” DiPietro said with a smile. “It was definitely one I want back. Credit to him for that shot.”

The Comets answered less than two minutes later. On the goal, Wacey Hamilton put the puck on net and Gadjovich redirected it past Wedgewood.

The teams traded goals with less than 20 seconds remaining in the period. Syracuse’s Chris Mueller briefly made it 2-1 when he tapped in in a rebound that appeared to get lost behind DiPietro.

The Comets were able to it, though. Goldobin found a streaking Sven Baertschi, whose shot from an odd angle popped out to Blujus who scored with 2.3 seconds remaining.

“I think the biggest goal of the game was Blu’s to tie it up,” DiPietro said. “It is a huge goal and a momentum shift for us in the game and put us in the driver’s seat for the second period.”

 

Comets 6, Crunch 2

Syracuse;2;0;0 - 2

Utica;2;3;1 - 6

1st Period-1, Syracuse, Conacher 2 (Masin, Mueller), 12:00 (SH). 2, Utica, Gadjovich 1 (Hamilton, Arseneau), 13:34. 3, Syracuse, Mueller 1 (Barre-Boulet, Schenn), 19:42. 4, Utica, Blujus 1 (Baertschi, Goldobin), 19:57. Penalties-Schenn Syr (interference), 3:05; Huntington Syr (high-sticking), 11:06; Blujus Uti (tripping), 13:52; Stephens Syr (interference), 17:05; Juolevi Uti (interference), 17:40.

2nd Period-5, Utica, Perron 1 (MacEwen, Bailey), 12:23. 6, Utica, Boucher 5 (Lind), 14:23. 7, Utica, MacEwen 1 (Goldobin, Rafferty), 15:46. Penalties-Sosunov Syr (slashing), 3:23; served by Thomas Syr (bench minor - too many men), 5:55.

3rd Period-8, Utica, Arseneau 1 (Goldobin, Teves), 13:21. Penalties-Hamilton Uti (slashing), 5:57; Boucher Uti (tripping), 7:37; Conacher Syr (unsportsmanlike conduct), 16:21; Lind Uti (unsportsmanlike conduct), 16:21; Brisebois Uti (cross-checking), 19:41.

Shots on Goal-Syracuse 8-3-7-18. Utica 12-17-9-38.

Power Play Opportunities-Syracuse 0 / 5; Utica 0 / 5.

Goalies-Syracuse, Wedgewood 1-1-0 (38 shots-32 saves). Utica, DiPietro 1-0-0 (18 shots-16 saves).

A-3,917

Referees-Casey Terreri (75), Jeremy Tufts (78).

Linesmen-Neil Frederickson (68), Adam Wood (23).