Welcome to the Comets Harvest where, tonight, the Comets look to make it three straight to start the season. Despite what their current record says, the Comets had quite the rough outing in their last game. After two clutch early goals from Reid Boucher, the Penguins rallied with three unanswered goals in the second and third periods to almost seal the Comets fate. Were it not for some late-game heroics from their Captain, Carter Bancks, the ledge for the Comets might look a little differently.
Against a strong Syracuse Crunch team, the Comets will have to shore upon their ability to control the puck through the neutral zone and in transition. The Crunch are on an entirely different level when it comes to firepower. If the Comets wilt against them the way they did against the Penguins, then we could be looking at a very LONG game for the farm team.
Since we last met, the Comets have had a few changes to the roster. Goaltender Zane McIntyre was called up to play backup for Thatcher Demko while Markstrom was on a personal leave. Defenceman Ashton Sautner was called up to the Canucks for their upcoming road trip, due to illness to Oscar Fantenberg. Joining Tyler Graovac on the injured list was Comets Captain Carter Bancks, who picked up an upper-body injury in Saturday’s game against the Penguins.
Yesterday, I read someone on Twitter saying that Sautner was being called up so the team could trade Troy Stecher. First off, how dare you? Secondly, don’t you dare invoke that kind of cosmic juju on our boy Tony (from Richmond).##Starting Lineup
|Boucher (#24)||Camper (#19)||Lind (#13)|
|Goldobin (#77)||Jasek (#9)||Baertschi (#47)|
|Bailey (#95)||Perron (#27)||MacEwen (#15)|
|Gadjovich (#21)||Hamilton (#36)||Arseneau (#18)|
|Brisebois (#55)||Rafferty (#25)|
|Juolevi (#48)||Chatfield (#5)|
|Teves (#4)||Blujus (#8)|
|Michael DiPietro (G)|
Honestly, that Juolevi/Chatfield pairing gives me the heebie-jeebies. This pairing was atrocious last year, and Trent Cull was quick to split them up after just a few games. Juolevi’s foot speed in his own end is still a massive work in progress, and Chatfield tends to play overly aggressive in the offensive zone. This requires Juolevi to have a d-partner who can skate fast and bail him out on back-checking when Juolevi’s aggressive play backfires. Juolevi is NOT that kind of partner for Chatfield, nor is Chatfield that kind of partner for Juolevi. I would’ve preferred Juolevi/Blujus and Teves/Chatfield to remain the same. Blujus has the speed and is much more sound in his own end than most Comets d-men in the lineup.
On the bright side, the kid, Michael Di Pietro, gets his first AHL start! Hypeeee! Also really digging that skill line of Goldy/Jasek/Baertschi. Plus, the debut of Francis Perron! Should make this at the very least a competitive one against a tough Syracuse Crunch team.
RE: INJURY REPORT
|Seamus Malone (arm))||Tyler Graovac (knee)||Carter Bancks (upper body)|
|Stefan LeBlanc||Mitch Eliot||Dyson Stevenson|
Comets in White
- Canucks Legend, Luke Schenn on the Crunch’ starting line
- Jalen Chatfield (#5) flips a puck to a Crunch player, and Olli Juolevi (#48) can’t catch him behind the net
- Kole Lind (#13) finds Reid Boucher (#24) cross-ice, and he drives down the wing to register the Comets first shot on goal
- Vincent Arseneau (#18) with a freebie off the refs skate to set-up Wacey Hamilton (#36) for as hot on goal. Play continues with aggression from the fourth line until the puck pops out of the zone. A changing Chatfield attempts a dump-in, but it lands in the glove of Crunch goalie Scott Wedgewood.
- Luke Schenn takes a pretty blatant holding penalty and the Comets are off to their first powerplay of the night
- 1st Powerplay Group: Juolevi, Goldobin, Lind, Boucher, MacEwen,
- Juolevi gets a quick blast on Wedgewood through traffic
- OJ48 attempts another shot, but it gets deflected up into the crowd and PP2 comes out off the next faceoff draw
- 2nd PP Group: Baertschi, Bailey, Rafferty, Perron, Camper,
- Brogan Rafferty (#25) with quite the entry on the powerplay into a shot on goal
- Powerplay ends with
- 4th line with some solid aggressive forechecking almost forces the turnover in the Crunch zone
- Bit to digest on this one; Josh Teves (#4) loses the puck on a drive to the net, putting Lukas Jasek (#9) in defender mode, the Crunch’s Mitchell Stephens collides with a backchecking Sven Baertschi (#47), sending both crashing into the net. Bae appears to check on Stephens then gives him a facewash when Stephens gives him some grief over the collision.
- Weird seeing Baer get chippy… also terrifying seeing him crash to the ice like that
- Guillaume Brisebois (#55) overthinks his break-out attempt, almost leading to an awful giveaway to a Crunch player in front of MDP
- Justin Bailey (#95) with some outrageous speed to negate the icing
- Bailey’s icing denial leads to a shot on goal from Brogan Rafferty and an offensive zone faceoff for the Comets
- Bailey (#95) with some good aggressive forechecking to force the turnover and set up MacEwen (#15), Mac displays some wicked puck control while being shoved to the ice and tripped up in the offensive zone en route to dumping the puck for a Comets change
- Sven Baertschi with an aggressive check behind the Crunch’ net nearly leads to a huge scoring chance for Lukas Jasek. Camera angle was terrible though
- Crunch kind-of get a scoring opportunity, but the goal was set-up off a blatantly high-stick as the net flew off its moorings so I wouldn’t exactly say the Crunch had a real shot
- DiPietro (G) with his first shot-against of the game
- Lind (#13) with a cute play after the draw to keep possession for the Comets
- Carter Camper (#19) with the moves in the offensive zone to draw a penalty and put the Comets on their second powerplay of the night
- Looks like PP2 comes out to start: Camper, Perron, Bailey, Rafferty, Baertschi,
- GOAL – SYRACUSE – 1-0: Zack MacEwen loses the puck driving into the offensive zone, and Cory Conacher capitalizes for a shorthanded goal. Juolevi (#48) with neither the speed nor the strength to prevent Conacher’s drive.
- Lind gets a shot on goal – but the Comets look a little lost in the waning time of the powerplay just endlessly shooting wide of the net off of entering the zone
- powerplay ends, and the fourth line comes out and gain the zone off of a speedy entry from Wacey Hamilton
- GOAL – UTICA – 1-1 Tie: The fourth line’s hard work pays off finally, as Vincent Arseneau (#18) pokes the puck off a Crunch stick to Wacey Hamilton (#36) who’s turning shot on goal gets tipped in front of the net by Jonah Gadjovich (#21) for his first of the year!
- Immediately after the goal, Dylan Blujus picks up a tripping penalty and the Comets are off to their first penalty kill of the night
- 1st PK Group: Jasek, Chatfield, Hamilton, Juolevi
- Jasek gets the puck out and eats some time for the pk groups to get a chance- but a pass attempt up ice gets redirected off the body of Gemel Smith, and he’s forced to race back to defend
- On the ensuing play, Jasek (#9) blocks a shot leading to a shorthanded rush for he and MacEwen (#15). Mac attempts to repeat their overtime winner setup from Saturday’s game, but unfortunately, Crunch tendy Scott Wedgewood comes up huge
- MacEwen (#15) with a solid poke-check on Alex Barre-Boulet which leads to a pass to Justin Bailey (#95) who drives end-to-end for a shorthanded chance of his own, Bailey, Brisebois (#55) and Hamilton (#36) work together to kill time on the PK
- Comets kill off the penalty quite impressively
- Goldobin (#77) with some slick vision to set up Rafferty (#25) entering the zone, Rafferty sets up the trailing Baertschi (#47) for his first shot on net of the game
- Comets lose possession in the offensive after Boucher gets blatantly tripped on the wing, but refs don’t call it
- Seconds later Lind races to catch a dump-in from Josh Teves (#4) and draws an interference penalty from Mitchell Stephens to give the Comets their third powerplay of the period
- Juolevi (#48) not wanting to give up his second shorthanded goal of the night, runs interference on Cory Conacher to put the game at 4-on-4
- Juolevi completely froze there on the play, didn’t even move his skates until Conacher touched the puck
- Comets on the 4-on-4, Rafferty (#25) pinching along the boards with Brisebois (#55) only to come away from the scrum and get a takeaway off the stick of Dominik Masin who was driving alone to the goal
- Bailey (#95) and Perron (#27) combine for a beauty give-and-go at the Crunch’s blue line for a scoring chance
- Blujus (#8) with a huge pass breakup during a Crunch 2-on-1, then DiPietro (G) comes up with a huge sprawling glove save
- GOAL – SYRACUSE – 2-1 Crunch: Crunch capitalizes on the powerplay, as MDP thinks he’s blockered aside a blast from Alex Barre-Boulet only for it to have been deflected down to his crease where Chris Mueller gets the easy tap-in goal to regain the lead
- GOAL – UTICA – 2-2 tie: Wow, 9 seconds left in the period, and the Comets tie the game again. 2.3 seconds left in the game, and Goldobin (#77) sends a shot on goal from below the goal-line, where the rebound comes off Wedgewood’s pads to a crashing Dylan Blujus (#8) who buries it.
Score at the end of the first period: 2-2 Tie
Messy, but exciting as hell. Some pretty huge defensive lapses from Juolevi gave the Crunch two goals that period. However, like the last game against the Penguins, the Comets showed off their resolve, as they battle back twice to tie the game. Love the compete of this fourth line and the NHL line of Bae/Jazzy/Goldy. MacEwen is doing everything he can to get his mojo going again. Hopefully, he can make it work in the next period. Mac had several offensive rushes last period, but each time, the Crunch were quick to pounce on him to deny him the space to generate offense.
- 2nd line with a strong showing to start the second period – Brogan Rafferty displaying great line control, all over the ice without ever looking like he’s chasing the play
- Lind (#13) and Baertschi (#47) combining for some nice moves on a scoring attempt. Really slick through-the-legs pass to himself on the blue-line from Bae
- Jasek (#9) with a pretty slick backhander to Goldobin (#77 )to sneak past the defender into the Crunch zone
- Vinny Arseneau (#18) and the fourth line once again combine for some great pressure to gain the Crunch zone and draw a penalty to put the Comets on the powerplay
- 1st PP Group: Goldobin, Juolevi, Boucher, MacEwen, Lind
- yeesh, once again OJ48 on the powerplay gets beat to the puck and needs two Comets to help him muscle the puck back to Comet control
- I know its early, but OJ48 might be a liability on the Comets powerplay
- Coaching staff recognizes this too, as OJ is the ONLY person subbed out, as the Comets drive to gain the zone for another try
- Rafferty (#25) out with the first powerplay group gets a shot off on net, then holds the zone to set up another scoring try for the Comets
- powerplay ends, and the fourth line gets the offensive draw after a stoppage in play in the Crunch end
- haha, Crunch pull a Canucks and get caught with too many men on the ice and the fourth line once again gets a minor credit for drawing ANOTHER penalty
- 2nd PP group out to start: Bailey, Perron, Baertschi, Camper out with Rafferty
- PP2 with several good looks but Crunch do well to deflect the three or so shots sent their way
- the waning minutes of the too-many-men penalty – Cull throws Juolevi out WITH Chatfield to close out the powerplay
- Chatfield (#5) springs an exhausted MacEwen (#15) for a drive on theCrunch’s net but muffins his shot
- Jasek (#9) with some slick sauce to Baertschi (#47) who tries the wraparound on Wedgewood
- fourth line once again gains the zone and pressures – really good work from them tonight
- GOAL – UTICA – 3-2 Comets: Chaos in the Crunch end! Josh Teves (#4) drops to a knee to hold the zone for the Comets – some absolute chaos ensues off a shot from Justin Bailey (#95) where the puck bounces off Wedgewood’s pads to Francis Perron (#27) where his shot then looks to have bounced off MacEwen (#15) and trickles past Wedgewood.
- Comets outshooting the Crunch this period 14-to-3 after 13 minutes
- Official call in the arena is Perron from MacEwen and Bailey
- Rafferty (#25) overskates a loose puck in the neutral zone leading to a rush for the Crunch, but he and Brisebois (#55) do well to defend and break-up the shooting chance
- Lind dances through the offensive zone and pretty clearly gets interfered with/tripped, leading to a shorthanded rush for the Crunch, but no call is made
- GOAL – UTICA – 4-2 Comets: undeterred after that last non-call, Lind (#13) springs the puck to Boucher (# 24) who’s in all alone behind the Crunch defense, and he goes five-hole on Wedgewood to double the Comets lead
- GOAL – UTICA – 5-2 Comets: Brogan Rafferty (#25) continuing with his strong night gets a cross-ice feed to Goldobin (#77 )in behind the Crunch defense. Goldy with some beautiful patience on the two-on-one to set up MacEwen (#15 )for the one-timer past Wedgewood
- Comets outshooting the Crunch 17 to 3 with three minutes remaining in the second
- Lind (#13) with a shot-block into a near odd-man-rush for he and Boucher (#24)
- The euro line pressures hard to close out the period but don’t manage any shots
The Score at the end of the 2nd period: 5-2 Comets
Pure domination from the Comets throughout the second period, outshooting the Crunch 17-to-3 and scoring three unanswered. The powerplay leaves a lot to be desired as the Comets went 0-for-2 in the second, and have gone 0-for-5 on the night. However, at even-strength, this team is buzzing, so it’s hard to really complain about their ability to score on the man-advantage. Really strong periods from Brogan Rafferty, Kole Lind, and Nikolay Goldobin; all three were consistently noticeable on every shift. Some concern that the Comets might crash from exhaustion, but they’ve shown strong resolve these past three games, so they might be just fine!
- Off a Josh Teves (#4) giveaway, the Crunch’s Cory Conacher does his best attempt to regain momentum for his team. Blujus (#8) with a shot block to deny Conacher the chance to cut the Comets lead
- Francis Perron (#27) with a pass interception in the Crunch zone to set up Justin Bailey ( #95) for a quick one-timer
- Blujus (#8) with a pass interception at the Crunch blueline to give Lind (#13) a drive on net
- Comets fourth line pressuring around the Syracuse net, and Wacey Hamilton (#36) somehow ends up with a slashing penalty
- Joe Roberts on the mic confirms Jonah Gadjovich has left the game due to an undisclosed injury
- 1st PK Group: MacEwen, Jasek, Juolevi, Chatfield
- PK Group clears off the draw and Jasek and MacEwen pressure the Crunch in their end to eat some time off the clock
- Boucher (#24) on the PK hands off to Bailey (#95), who turns on the jets out of nowhere to get another shorthanded drive on Wedgewood
- Final 20 seconds of the man-advantage and Reid Boucher takes a tripping minor to put the Comets on a brief 5-on-3
- Brisebois (#55) attempts to send the puck around the boards, but it takes an odd bounce – MDP makes a huge stop on a Cory Conacher one-timer on the ensuing play
- Back to the 5-on-4, and Juolevi does a good job to disrupt a Crunch drive on net, and clears the zone for the Comets
- Juolevi (#48) with a shot-block and clear on the PK
- Juolevi, please…save your knees…
- some end-to-end play but no shots on net for a couple minutes. Crunch throwing pucks at MDP but most all are sailing high and wide of the goal
- With Gadjovich out for the night – Cull rolls out Wacey Hamilton, Vincent Arseneau and Nikolay Goldobin haha…what a trio!
- GOAL – UTICA – 6-2 Comets: The trio pays off haha! After a long shift for the bizarro-fourth line, Goldobin (#77) finds Arseneau (#18) cross-ice, way behind the Crunch defense where Big Vin catches his own rebound off Wedgewood’s pads to go top corner, and push the Comets lead to 4
- Lind getting pretty chippy with Cory Conacher with 4 minutes left in the period
- After a whistle, Lind tries to goad Conacher, and Arseneau tries to provoke the 6’8” Oleg Sosunov into a scrap. The boys are firing on all cylinders tonight
- Lind and Conacher pick up unsportsmanlike minors, and the game is off to 4-on-4 for two minutes
- Brisebois gets a nice poke-check up to Carter Camper, who goes cross-ice to Boucher for a one-timer but Bouch absolutely obliterates his stick on the attempt. Probably for the best because if that connected, I think it may have blown up Wedgewood, Scanners style
- 30 seconds remaining in the period and the Brisebois gets dinged for cross-checking
Final Score: 6-2 Utica Comets
|1st||Utica||Reid Boucher||Carter Camper||—||5v5|
|1st||Syracuse||Cory Conacher||Dominik Masin||Chris Mueller||shg|
|1st||Utica||Jonah Gadjovich||Wacey Hamilton||Vincent Arseneau||5v5|
|1st||Syracuse||Chris Mueller||Alex Barre-Boulet||Luke Schenn||5v5|
|1st||Utica||Dylan Blujus||Sven Baertschi||Nikolay Goldobin||5v5|
|2nd||Utica||Francis Perron||Zack MacEwen||Justin Bailey||5v5|
|2nd||Utica||Reid Boucher||Kole Lind||—||5v5|
|2nd||Utica||Zack MacEwen||Nikolay Goldobin||Brogan Rafferty||5v5|
|3rd||Utica||Vincent Arseneau||Nikolay Goldobin||Josh Teves||5v5|
- Despite going 0-for-5 on the powerplay while giving up one short-handed, the Comets managed to absolutely dominate the Syracuse Crunch to make it three in a row. Amazingly, just five players from the Comets roster tonight failed to wind up on the scoresheet, and only one ended up with a big-fat-bagel for a scoreline in Carter Camper. Camper was actually a zone-entry machine tonight, and despite being on the ice for one goal for, he somehow stayed off the scoresheet tonight.
- The in-house three stars were a bit of a joke lol. Nikolay Goldobin should’ve been first star with his three-assist performance tonight, followed by Zack MacEwen and his 1g 1a with five shots performance. Third star should’ve gone to the French unit, Vinny Arseneau, who was a force alongside Gadjovich and Hamilton.
- MDP looked pretty good all things considered! He genuinely didn’t get tested often in this game. The first goal was a blown coverage by Juolevi, and the second was an unfortunate redirect of the puck off his blocker. He definitely didn’t look out of place tonight as an AHL goaltender and faced quite a multitude of hard shots from a stacked Syracuse offensive group. Seriously, rewatch that blast from Conacher; MDP takes the shot up high and is quick to pounce on the loose puck to prevent any follow-up.
- I really hope Juolevi is still rehabbing his knee or something, because oh boy he looked pretty bad tonight. He was directly responsible for the shorthanded goal against and took a penalty to deny a second sure-fire shorthanded attempt. He just doesn’t have the skate speed to hold the blue-line on the powerplay. I’m glad Cull recognized it and swapped him for Rafferty. But for a player that the Canucks are hoping can be a powerplay specialist…he HAS to somehow get better on his feet. Otherwise, I don’t think he even cuts it as a powerplay specialist at the AHL level, let alone the NHL. One of my significant concerns coming into tonight’s game was how the Chatfield/Juolevi pairing would do, and honestly, Chatfield was the difference-maker in the pairing. Chatty’s no-regard for his body on defensive back-checks were the difference between pucks being cleared out of the Comets end and pucks ending up in the back of the net. Big yikes all around for #48 tonight, again…I said it last game, it’s still VERY early in the season… but this is another tick in the concern column.
- Glad to see Lind, Baertschi and Goldobin have much better games tonight than they did in Wilkes-Barre. The three were dangerous in the neutral zone and created an insane amount of high-danger scoring chances for the Comets tonight.
- Check out this shot map from tonight’s game I’m not joking when I say they dominated.
Comets Three Stars
- Nikolay Goldobin
- Zack MacEwen
- Vinny Arseneau
HM: Justin Bailey and Dylan Blujus
The Comets Trajectory?
The Comets are back in action this Friday for the 2nd of a four-game home-stand, when they take on the reigning Calder Cup Champion Charlotte Checkers. With a rookie goalie between the pipes and all lines firing on all cylinders, the Comets looked dominant against a strong divisional rival. Hopefully, they can make it four in a row to start the season, and we can officially erase all the awful memories we have of last season.