Playoff return worth the wait for Comets fans

Utica fans waited 22 years for a Calder Cup Playoff game, and their patience was rewarded on Wednesday.

Darren Archibald scored 10:58 into overtime to give the host Comets a 2-1 win over Chicago in Game 3 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series at a sold-out Utica Memorial Auditorium. Utica will bring a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series into Friday’s game with a chance to close out the series.

Colin Fraser opened the scoring for the Wolves with a goal 18:31 into the first period, carrying a loose puck into the offensive zone and beating Jacob Markstrom with a shot from the right-wing circle.

Utica continued to control most of the play, and finally got the equalizer at 6:58 of the third period when Adam Clendening‘s point shot got behind Jordan Binnington for a power-play tally.

On the overtime winner, Archibald took a lead pass from Travis Ehrhardt, skated in and snapped home a wrister from the top of the circle to Binnington’s right.

Markstrom (2-1) finished with 26 saves in the win, his second overtime victory of the series. Binnington (1-2) was saddled with the hard-luck loss despite a 50-save performance in the Wolves cage.

Wednesday’s game was the first Calder Cup Playoff game played at the Aud since Apr. 22, 1993, when the Utica Devils hosted the Rochester Americans.

Western Conference Quarterfinals – Series “E” (best-of-5)
1-Utica Comets vs. 8-Chicago Wolves

Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 22 – Utica 3, CHICAGO 2 (2OT)
Game 2 – Fri., Apr. 24 – CHICAGO 2, Utica 1
Game 3 – Wed., Apr. 29 – UTICA 2, Chicago 1 (OT)
Game 4 – Fri., May 1 – Chicago at Utica, 7:00
*Game 5 – Sat., May 2 – Chicago at Utica, 7:00
   *if necessary… All times Eastern