Well, the Comets are off to quite the insane start! Last night the Comets defeated the Binghamton Devils, 5-1, to win their sixth straight game. After Friday’s victory, the Comets now lead the AHL in goals-for.
Last night was a quiet one for the team’s star players. Gaudette had some flashes of speed and a couple shots on net, but otherwise remained pretty invisible. Fairly reasonable, for him to be a little rusty, given how much time he’s spent sitting on the bench in Vancouver. Jasek had himself a really good defensive game, but offensively his line was denied repeatedly by Evan Cormier’s impressive goaltending.
As I wrote last night, the Comets really succeeded off the work their fourth line was putting in with their aggressive forechecking. The Devils did not have an answer for that line, and it paid dividends for the Comets scoresheet. Hershey is the 2nd best team in the AHL’s Atlantic division, so this could be the first real litmus test for the Comets.
That being said, I thought the Syracuse and Charlotte games were going to be the real litmus tests, and those two games were complete blowouts in favor of the Comets, so who knows! Over the past several games, the Comets have had lapses in defensive coverage only to be bailed out by stellar goaltending, The Comets will eventually have to shore up on that area of their game. It works now, but consistency with goaltending isn’t something a farm team should ever rely on. Look at what happened with the team just last season when their tandem for the better part of the season was a near-retiree and a steady rotation of ECHL PTO’s.
Until that “come-down to earth” moment happens, I’m going to keep appreciating this iteration of the Comet’s ability to score at an outrageous clip to win games in dominating, exciting fashion.
Speaking of winning games! Let’s get into tonight’s matchup and see if the boys on the farm can make it seven straight to start the season!
|Boucher (#24)||Camper (#19)||Goldobin (#77)|
|Lind (#13)||Gaudette(#88)||Baertschi (#47)|
|Bailey (#95)||Jasek(#9)||MacEwen (#15)|
|Arseneau (#18)||Perron (#27)||Bancks (#34)|
|Brisebois (#55)||Rafferty (#25)|
|Juolevi (#48)||Sautner (#6)|
|Teves (#4)||Chatfield (#5)|
After last night, I didn’t expect too much line-shuffling. The coaches, however, want to get Gaudette going, and what better way than by reuniting Gaudette with Sven Baertschi, and Kole Lind. If you remember, Lind and Gaudette had some incredible chemistry to start last season, before Gaudette was called up.
Jasek now returns to a line with the speed-demons in Bailey and MacEwen. Jasek, as always, was great defensively in last night’s game against Binghamton but struggled to contribute offensively from center-ice. Last season, Jasek was at his best playing along the wings, due to his fantastic puck-control along the boards. As a center, there isn’t a way for him to utilize that highly underrated aspect of his game. He’s still got a great two-way game, and he needs to find some consistent offense as a playmaker from the center.
RE: INJURY REPORT
|Jonah Gadjovich(upper-body)||Tyler Graovac (knee)||Carter Bancks (upper body)|
|Stefan LeBlanc||Dyson Stevenson||Dylan Blujus|
Comets in Blue
- After there dominant game last night, Perron, Arseneau, and Bancks get the opening draw of the game
- Michael DiPietro (G) gets tripped up in his crease by a Bears’ player, but no reaction from the team
- Adam Gaudette (#88) gets a little too fancy with the puck behind his net, his giveaway lets the Bears’ set up in the Comets end for a shot attempt
- Zack MacEwen (#15) leads a rush down the wing to play chip-and-chase, a puck gets poked back to Lukas Jasek (#9) who wrists a shot on Bears’ tendy Vitek Vanecek
- fun fact: Vitek Vanecek has the best name to say in full in the AHL
- Comets get pushed out of the zone, but Justin Bailey re-gains the zone with a speedy drive down the left-wing for a scoring chance
- Reid Boucher (#24) picks off a rink-wide pass for a zone-entry, but his cross-ice pass gets deflect out of the zone
- Gaudette (#88) with some slick moves along the boards to evade a check. He gets off a great centering feed to Ashton Sautner (#6) in the high-slot, but Sautner throws the puck away with a questionable pass
- Hershey with a huge scoring opportunity, as Brett Leason finds Liam O’Brien all alone on the Comets doorstep. Fortunately, Zack MacEwen (#15) is there with a quick stick placement to disrupt the pass and the easy tap-in goal
- Garet Pilon with the spin move to evade Guillaume Brisebois (#55) for a cross-ice feed to Colby Williams, but MacEwen (#15) is there again to take away the pass
- For his efforts after the takeaway, Liam O’brien hammers MacEwen (#15) in the neutral-zone with a shoulder check
- Carter Bancks (#34) gets tripped hard in the Comets end, but he later manages to flip the puck ahead to Francis Perron (#27) for a speedy zone-entry for the fourth line, Jalen Chatfield (#5) closes the sequence with a bomb of a shot that goes off the ankle of a Bears defender
- Bears playing very chippy hockey, so the fourth line ends there shift with some pushing and shoving after a scoring chance on Vanecek
- LOL, Josh Teves (#4) attempts to move the puck out of the Comets end, but he gets a stick shoved into his skate and gets tripped. No call gets made
- Things are getting very chippy early
- Olli Juolevi (#48) takes exception to the Bears Kale Kessy and steps in, to muscle him down
- alternate angle showing Juolevi (#48) give Kessy a fantastic Bulldog choke
- whats the Finnish word for Bulldog? …
- Game off to 4-on-4 after Kessy and Juolevi pick up roughing minors
- First 4v4 group: Baertschi, Gaudette, Rafferty, Brisebois
- GOAL – UTICA – 1-0 Comets: Wow, Gaudette, and Baertschi criss-cross through center-ice where Baertschi lands a beautiful saucer pass on the tape of Gaudette’s stick. Gaudette skates down the left-wing and rifles a shot over the left shoulder of Vanecek to give the Comets a 1-nothing lead.
- Second 4v4 group: Bailey, Sautner, Chatfield, Jasek
- Second group with stable pressure on their shift; cycling well in the Bears end, crisp passing from Sautner and Bailey almost leads to a scoring chance for Jasek
- sound gone
- Nikolay Goldobin (#77) with good hustle down the left-wing for a shot, and then a beauty of a backhander to Reid Boucher (#24) for a rocket of a one-timer on Vanecek
- Goldobin takes an egregious whack from Erik Burgdoerfer, so he gives one in return. Burgdoerfer then gives Goldy a whack to the spine, and both go off for slashing
- Refs appear to be trying to reign in the chippiness early with back to back coincidental minors
- 1st 4v4 group: Rafferty, Brisebois, Gaudette, Baertschi
- 1st group controlling the puck early but fail to set-up in the Bears zone
- 2nd group: Bailey, Lind, Chatfield, Teves
- Josh Teves (#4) goes on an adventure around the rink. Teves displays some crisp skating, but a collision with Kole Lind (#13) prevents any scoring chances from being set-up
- The coincidental minors ends and the game returns to 5-on-5
- The Bears almost equalize after Brogan Rafferty (#25) has the puck poked off his stick by Brett Leason. Rafferty appears to stop skating, thinking Brisebois has him covered. He’s wrong, though, as Liam O’Brien retains control of the puck to set-up a crashing Leason for a dangerous scoring chance on MDP.
- Pretty bad idea from Rafferty to stop skating on that play. MDP comes up huge with the glove stop
- [MDP once again relied on to make a huge stop. This time, a cross-ice feed goes past Ashton Sautner (#6 ) on the right side to give the Bears a two-on-one rush. Vincent Arseneau (#18) with a terrific effort to get back in time to disrupt the cross-ice pass to Brett Leason, and better effort by MDP to stop the rebound from Liam O’Brien
- Lind gets struck along the boards in the Comets end, allowing the Bears to get a takeaway. Lind follows up the play to prevent any shots on goal
- The Bears Beck Malenstyn, with speed, gets around Brogan Rafferty (#25) for a shot off the mask of MDP
- Gaudette (#88) with the moves through center to get a shot on the pads of Vanecek
- First line with a huge scoring chance as Carter Camper (#19) carries the puck out of the Comets zone for a pass to Nikolay Goldobin (#77) who goes cross-ice to Reid Boucher (#24) on a breakaway. Boucher was well behind the defense but gets hauled down on his way to the net. Amazingly no penalty shot is awarded despite Boucher being behind the defense and almost assured a scoring opportunity.
- Comets nonetheless get the powerplay
- 1st PP Unit: Goldobin, MacEwen, Boucher, Lind, Juolevi
- Off the draw, the Comets retrieve the puck out to Goldobin (#77), who sends a wrister to the front of the net. Kole Lind (#13) catches the rebound but gets the puck whacked away before he can attempt a backhand. Lind visibly frustrated on the play
- First unit with some crisp passing from Goldy and Juolevi on the blue line to set up MacEwen for a chance at the front of the net
- Comets 2nd unit powerplay: Gaudette, Perron, Baertschi, Bailey, Rafferty
- Gaudette oh my god, what is this pass? Gaudette (#88) wheels around the end boards to then send a blind, backhand, cross-ice pass to the tape of Baertschi’s stick. For whatever reason, Baertschi elects to redirect the picture-perfect pass to Bailey (#95) instead of rattling off a one-timer.
- Time winds down on the powerplay and the period ends
Score at the end of the First Period: 1-0 Comets
Comets lead, but the problems that were beginning to show in the game against Binghamton were made more apparent against this aggressive Hershey team. Too often, the team has been caught playing way too far up neutral-ice. The blue-liners have missed multiple cross-ice passes, resulting in poor defensive coverage in their end. The numerous drives from Bears players’ has resulted in many Comets’ looking lost while chasing the play in their end. Fortunately, Di Pietro has been solid tonight as he stopped seven of seven dangerous shots. The Comets are likely exhausted from their midnight bus-ride to Hershey. So, I don’t know if (moving into the second period) the team will be able to sustain the same kind of offensive prowess that they’ve had in previous efforts. One thing is for sure, they will need to shore up on these defensive lapses if they intend to remain undefeated.
- 30 seconds into the period, and in a battle at the front of the Bears’ net, Carter Bancks takes a high-sticking minor penalty
- 1st PK Group: Chatfield, Juolevi, Jasek, Boucher
- Phillippe Mailet rips a shot off the bar of MDP’s net – Brisebois changes on for Juolevi after they clear
- Brisebois (#55) with a clutch shot-block and clear on the PK
- 2nd PK Group has MacEwen and Bailey change on for Jasek/Boucher
- Fehravary wheels down the left-wing for a wrister into the right shoulder of MDP as the Bears powerplay ends
- Comets struggling to clear their zone
- Rafferty ( #25) sends a rink-wide feed to Carter Camper (#19) who weaves enters the zone with some slick skating to then set-up Reid Boucher (#24) for the one-timer on Vanecek
- Goldobin (#77) with his second high-danger turnover in the Comets end, this time after getting a little too cheeky with the puck in front of MDP
- MacEwen takes a hard hit in an attempt to enter the Bears’ zone, he has words for the offending player but continues his shift with a backcheck
- Lind (#13) picks up a pretty blatant tripping penalty in an attempt to defend a Garret Pilon drive on goal
- 1st PK Group: Sautner, Boucher, Bancks, Juolevi
- A shot from Christian Djoos gets blocked by Bancks and Boucher is there to clear
- Bears are doing well cycling, forcing the Comets to move, but the Comets are doing great blocking shots from getting through onto MDP
- This Comets pk group have been on the ice for the entire PK, MDP makes a huge block on a one-timer and fortunately for him the rebound shot-attempt sails wide of the goal
- Comets just struggling to catch these cross-ice feeds. This time Brogan Rafferty (#25) has the feed bounce off his stick to a Bears player resulting in some hectic coverage in the Comets end
- Even more chaos in front of Di Pietro. poor communication from Teves (#4) and Chatfield (#5) required MDP to come up with more clutch saves
- MDP AGAIN required to come up huge to stop a Bears tic-tac-toe setup
- Long shifts for the Comets players as they continue to get hemmed into their zone. Even after getting the puck up ice to allow for a change, just seconds later they are back where they began, stuck in their zone
- 7 minutes remaining and the Comets appear to be settling things down
- I lied, 6:15 in the period and MDP comes up huge with a blocker save on a one-timer
- MDP drops down way too early on another Bears try and is forced to glove down a loose puck in his crease
- Teves ( #4) gets tripped up on the Bears blueline, allowing Joe Snively a breakaway opportunity, but the rink-wide pass goes over his stick.
- Carter Camper gets dinged for tripping the Bears Shane Gersich, so the Comets are back onto the penalty kill in the final 4:22 of the period
- 1st pk group: Bancks, Sautner, Jasek, Juolevi
- First group clears, with Jasek and Bancks able to sub-out for Boucher and MacEwen.
- Please forward this to your local MP. Reid Boucher (#24) gets a takeaway in neutral-ice to spring he and MacEwen (#15) on a shorthanded rush. Boucher gets clearly held on the play, in full view of two referees. Amazingly, no call is made
- Comets recover to clear the zone as Jasek, Chatfield, Brisebois and Bancks shift-on to close out the PK
- Juolevi (#48) with a huge shot-block on another Bears drive
- Comets spend the remaining minute of the period hemmed into their end
The Score at the end of the 2nd Period: 1-0 Comets
Pretty awful period for the Comets forwards group. Michael Di Pietro bailed them out repeatedly in this period. Comets outshot 14-to-4 after twenty minutes. Not much to say about this period…it was not good. Shades of last season with the abysmal defensive coverage displayed. Not sure if they’ll be able to find that extra gear in the third, but here’s hoping, because MDP deserves a win with this performance.
- MDP with an early save on Garett Pilon. Had to use replay as the original camera-angle feed didn’t cover the entire play
- Comets are giving up several shots against again after three minutes of play.
- MDP with another, save on a Bears odd-man-rush. Comets again caught with too many players playing up the ice
- Arseneau (#18) with a massive hit on Martin Fehravary, which results in some old school hockey as he and Kale Kessy drop the helmets to throw-down after
- alternate angle of the massive hit
- Both Kessy and Arseneau sit for fighting, and Francis Perron and Steve Whitney are sent to the box to serve minors for the two removing their helmets before the fight
- Boucher nearly gets a takeaway but the Bears recover only to put themselves offside attempting to enter the Comets zone
- MDP with a huge glove-save on Garrett Pilon who was weaving around the entire Comets team
- Game returns to 5-on-5 after the removing-the-helmet minor penalties are served. Arseneau and Kessy still in the box for fighting
- GOAL – HERSHEY – 1-1 Tie:
- Once again, the forward groups are incredibly slow to backcheck. MDP got a piece of Maillet’s shot, but it wasn’t enough to keep the puck out. Tough break for the kid.
- Apparently, Reid Boucher had a huge chance on a wide-open net. But the Cameraman was busy filming center-ice, instead of, you know, the play.
- boy this isn’t pretty…Bears are controlling play for the majority of this period. Comets stuck in their zone, unable to land a clean pass to one another.
- Comets get an offensive-zone draw for the first time in ages, but Goldobin (#77) overhandles the puck driving to the net, allowing the Bears to get a two-man-rush into the Comets zone
- Justin Bailey (#95) with a slick takeaway of a Bears pass, then skates to the right-side half-circle to receive a beauty rink-wide pass from Zack MacEwen (#15). Too bad his shot goes off a stick and up into the netting
- with 8:52 remaining in the third, Carter Camper registers the Comets second shot of the period. Yes, you read that right, second.
- Jalen Chatfield (#5) steps up to attempt to disrupt a Bears pass, but it turns into another Bears rush on net
- Arseneau and Kessy finally leave the box for their fighting penalties
- a short-pass to Jasek (#9) see’s the puck taken off his stick for another Bears offensive drive, culminating in MDP coming up with another save
- Brogan Rafferty (#25) leads the Comets on a rush up the ice, but he blows a tire allowing the Bears to steal and get a rush of their own
- The Comets fourth line gets some legitimate sustained pressure in the Bears zone, but are unable to get any clean shots off on Vanecek
- Jasek (#9) with a bomb on Vanecek off the face-off draw
- MDP closes up the pads for another huge save
- One minute remaining and the Comets get a couple entries off the Gaudette line, but they’re unable to generate any shots
- Juolevi ( #48)attempts to clear, but the puck redirects out to Beck Malenstyn who turns for a slapper on MDP, but the shot goes off the outside of the goalpost and wide
Fourth line out to close the final 15 seconds says it all. This team just absolutely barraged over 40 minutes of play. Nothing much to say. No clue how they do in Overtime as the team looks completely gassed.
- Sautner, Boucher, Camper out to start
- Brian Pinho with a burst of speed to weave around the Comets trio for a drive on Di Pietro, but he doesn’t have control of the puck for a shot
- Sautner and Boucher caught out for a minute of play on the penalty kill
- MDP dangerously gloves the puck down in front of a Bears player. The risky play allows Goldobin to send a rink-wide pass to Boucher for a breakaway chance. Once again, however, the cameraman is nowhere near the play
- Juolevi (#48) with a great effort to deny a breakaway drive from Axel Jonsson-Fjallby
- Comets in a defensive draw: Trio is Jasek, Rafferty, Baertschi
- Comets lose the draw, but a solid effort from Baertschi allows the Comets to control and enter the Bears zone for a chance
- Jasek (#9) with a beauty through-the-legs pass to himself for a scoring chance, but his shot deflects wide of the goal
- MDP with a huge glove stop on Phillippe Maillet
- MDP up to 35 saves
- Lind on the ice for a nice set-up pass for a trailing Ashton Sautner, but Sautner takes one too many moves, and his shot gets blocked, leading to a rush for the Bears
- Off the rush, Lind (#13) breaks up a pass from Brian Pinho, but MDP is once again forced into heroics to stop the follow-up try from Beck Malenstyn
- MDP with a glove stop as the buzzer sounds to end Overtime
One shot on goal in overtime. MDP with six saves. It’s genuinely incredible the Comets are getting any points out of this game — brutal effort from the Comets over 45 minutes. Comets outshot 39-to-20 over the full 65.
- Bears shooting first
- Matt Moulson – SAVE
- Sven Baertschi – SAVE
- Christian Djoos – SAVE
- Justin Bailey – SAVE – Vanecek barely got a skate on Baileys shot
- Axel Jonsson-Fjallby – SAVE
- Reid Boucher – SCORES
It took the ringer, Reid Boucher, to win it in the shootout. Comets swarm MDP after this one because they know he’s the reason they earned any points tonight. Trent Cull should consider himself lucky the Bears didn’t put out Pilon or Maillet in the shootout as they were dynamite in tonight’s action for the Bears. The Comets will take the freebie, though.
Final Score: 2-1 Utica Comets
|1st||Utica||Adam Gaudette||Sven Baertschi||Guillaume Brisebois||5v5|
|3rd||Hershey||Phillippe Maillet||Steve Whitney||Alex Alexeyev||5v5|
- Not much to write about in this one. The concerns I had about the team’s defensive coverage were brought to light in a significant way in tonight’s game. After the first period, the team’s forward groups displayed atrocious back-checking through the remaining 45 minutes of play. Defensive pairings did no better as they were just horrific at controlling the puck and clearing the zone with safe passes. Looked like everyone tonight was trying to be the hero instead of playing as a team. I get that the Comets are hyped to be off to such a stellar start, but the goalscoring has come from effective playmaking as a group, not playing selfishly.
- Michael Di Pietro had a remarkable game playing behind an atrocious Comets group. The AHL doesn’t track it, but I’m willing to bet that at least 55-75% of the Comets shots-against were considered “high-danger” chances. This was the kind of performance that leads to goalie controversy, and I loved every minute of it. The game itself was an absolute slog to watch, don’t get me wrong, but MDP’s performance; save, after save, after save was a treat to watch. I was impressed with his finesse in tracking the puck tonight. He still tends to overplay on his saves, but he’s a showman, and the acrobatics made his performance tonight the most compelling thing about the game. He was certainly robbed of a shutout performance. The Comets should count themselves lucky to have come out of tonight’s game with any points at all.
- I don’t even know if it’s worth getting into who did good and who did bad, because, on the whole, the team, collectively did pretty terrible. Wasn’t much to like from anyone, although I would argue that Zack MacEwen and Reid Boucher had the best performances from the forward groups, but it wasn’t pretty.
- Despite the team’s lethargic play tonight, I still think this team is really good. Like I said, the team had a midnight bus-ride from Utica to Hershey in preparation for the game, so I have to think their efforts from last night, combined with a brutal sleep schedule played a major factor in tonight’s result. and hey, they still won! so I mean, quit complaining THRILLHOIAF right?
Comets Three Stars
- Michael Di Pietro
HM: Zack MacEwen or Reid Boucher, I guess?
The Comets Trajectory?
The Comets return home next Wednesday for the third of eight matches against the Binghamton Devils. The Devils play the other undefeated AHL team, the Toronto Marlies tonight at home.
If you want a more condensed version of Comets recaps, you can now find MORE of my writing at thesinbin.net