16U Jr. Comets Punch Ticket to State Tournament

by Adam Pawlick

This past weekend, the Utica Jr. Comets 16U team collided with the Syracuse Nats 16U team to compete for the right to represent central section NYSAHA State Tournament. Both Syracuse and Utica held one game each in the two-game qualification series with the winner earning a spot in the State Tournament.

Game one of the series took place at Midstate Athletic Community Facility in Syracuse, NY on Saturday March 13th. The Jr. Comets fell behind early with a quick goal 57 seconds into the game. Peyton Kimball evened the score less than three and half minutes later with an assist from Luke Kurdziolek. The Jr. Comet’s Michael Blowers scored in the second period to give the Jr. Comets a 2-1 lead with six minutes remaining with an assist from Colin Johnson. The Jr. Comets held on to a 2 – 1 lead for the entire third period despite killing of six penalties. Peyton Kimball sealed the game with an empty net goal assisted by Gabe Cull. Goaltender, John Blouch was strong in net all afternoon, coming up with big saves in the third period to secure the win.

Game two of the series took place on Sunday March 14th at the Adirondack Bank Center in Utica, NY. The Jr. Comets took the early lead with a goal from Kyle Martino at 7:53 into the first period with an assist from Jason Shafer. The Nats tied the game at 1-1 with just over a minute to play in the first. The two teams skated through the entire second deadlocked until Gabe Cull scored the second goal for the Jr. Comets with assists from Peyton Kimball and Kyle Martino at 15:23 of the second period. Again, the Nats found the equalizer seven minutes into the third period but, broke the tie Jason Shafer just 15 seconds later to retake the lead for the Jr. Comets. Cull and Martino assisted on the game winning goal. Netminder, Waylon Esche was stellar in goal while making 31 saves and securing the win for Utica.

The Jr. Comets will now represent Central Section and compete for the state title over the weekend of April 16-18 in Buffalo, NY. Two other Utica Jr. Comets team will also represent Central Section the same weekend in the Midget 15 Only division and the PeeWee 12U division (2008 birth year). For more information on Jr. Comet teams and the program, please visit www.uticajrcomets.org.