Good evening Canucks Nation. It’s time for another recap of the Utica Comets! Tonight the Comets look to close out the first month of the season with an undefeated 8-0-0-0 record!
The Comets opponent tonight is their North Division rivals, the Binghamton Devils. The Devils are coming off a 3-2 Overtime Victory against the formerly undefeated, Toronto Marlies. Before their upset of the Marlies, the Devils lost to the Comets by a lopsided score of five-to-one. The Comets edge their season-series with the Devils by a combined score of nine-to-four.
Coming out of Saturday’s shootout victory over the Bears, there were two major takeaways. The First being Michael Di Pietro’s stunning 38 save performance after an exhausting five-hour midnight bus-ride from Utica to Hershey. The second was the Comet’s complete defensive collapse throughout 65 minutes of play. It was tough to evaluate Saturday’s matchup given the previously mentioned, late-night ride into town. However, combining last Saturday’s effort with the glimpses of poor defensive play against the Devils last Friday makes for a decent cause for concern.
Since getting off to their hot goal-scoring streak, the Comets have gradually devolved into individual playmaking for goals, as opposed to calculated cycling and teamwork. I believe that Saturday’s game wasn’t just a blip on the radar. The Comets hemorrhaged scoring-chances against, giving concern to what this team is if the goal-scoring dries up, or comes down-to-earth.
The team has had three full days of rest since Saturday’s shellacking against the Bears. Even head-coach Trent Cull has acknowledge the team needing to get better defensively,
Like Canucks nation saw in the game against the Capitals, sometimes all the goal-scoring in the world isn’t enough to make the difference. Even with Di Pietro and McIntyre’s stellar numbers, there will come a time where their stellar goaltending isn’t enough to win games.
Fingers crossed this Comets club was able to shore up on some of the defensive problems they’ve had over the past several games. Possibly closing out the month undefeated would be quite the turnaround, given where this club was, at the end of last season.
|Goldobin (#77)||Camper (#19)||Boucher (#24)|
|Baertschi (#47)||Perron (#27)||Lind (#13)|
|Bancks (#34)||Jasek (#(9)||Bailey (#95)|
|Arseneau (#18)||Malone (#17)||Stevenson (#26)|
|Brisebois (#55)||Rafferty (#25)|
|Juolevi (#48)||Fantenberg (#7)|
|Teves (#4)||Chatfield (#5)|
|Zane McIntyre (G)|
Couple moves since Saturday’s game, with Adam Gaudette and Ashton Sautner getting recalled to the Canucks. Replacing Sautner on the blue-line will be defenceman, Oscar Fantenberg. Fantenberg joins the Comets on a conditioning stint after missing the first month of the season due to various illnesses and injuries. Fantenberg’s label as a “conditioning stint” actually allows the Comets to go over the veteran cap for the next seven games on the Comets schedule. Joining the Comets from Kalamazoo was Mitch Eliot, who was sent down over last weekend to get some playing time in. I think his time in the AHL is mostly practicing time with the club. I don’t see him playing over Juolevi, Brisebois, Teves, LeBlanc, barring injuries/call-ups to two of those four.
MacEwen being out with an illness means the forward lines get shaken up quite a bit. Arseneau, Perron, and Bancks looked great together, wished they just kept them together – not sure I like any of the combos in the top nine. But we’ll see what they come up with tonight!
RE: INJURY REPORT
|Jonah Gadjovich(upper-body)||Tyler Graovac (knee)||Zack MacEwen (illness)|
|Stefan LeBlanc||Dylan Blujus||Wacey Hamilton (vet)||Richard Bachman||Mitch Eliot|
Comets in their home Whites
- Lukas Jasek (#9) with a nearly set-up for Carter Bancks (#34) at the front of the net
- Utica with high-tempo play through the opening two minutes, blue-liners Brogan Rafferty and Olli Juolevi take turns with blasts from the blue line, forcing the Devils to start blocking shots early
- Vinny Arseneau (#18) hot-off his three-goal weekend re-directs an Oscar Fantenberg shot on goal!, Dyson Stevenson (#26) then gets in a VERY early fight with Brandon Baddock out of nowhere
- Stevenson took a brutal shot to the jaw in that one. Quite impressed he didn’t go down
- Josh Teves (#4) with a great play break-up on the left wall to spring Reid Boucher (#24) and Lukas Jasek (#9) on a two-on-one. Devils tendy Evan Cormier makes the save on Boucher’s quick wrister
- Comets doing well setting up a cycle in the Devils end, but struggling to find space for clean shots on goal
- Fantenberg looks out of place in this game, very much an NHL D-man, babysitting the kids out here – Strong on the puck; looks good with Juolevi
- Josh Teves gets caught being too cute with the puck in his end. He hands the puck off to Chatfield who loses control of the puck – Puck gets deflected out of play giving the Devils an offensive zone faceoff draw
- Juolevi (#48) plays the puck down the ice to Nikolay Goldobin (#77) who passes to Francis Perron (#27) for a sneaky shot through a Devils defender into Cormier’s glove
- Carter Bancks (#34) with a backhand pass down to Justin Bailey (# 95)who’s in behind the defense. He attempts to crash the net but gets knocked down to the ice
- Comets call Dyson Stevenson for delay-of-game, sending the Comets off to their first PK of the night
- 1st PK Group: Juolevi, Boucher, Malone, Fantenberg
- LOL, Seamus Malone (#17) getting PK time, strips a Devils forward of the puck and gets he and Boucher (#24) a two-on-one, but he dumps the puck and peels off for a change. You can tell by Boucher’s stick drop that he’s incredulous as to the lost opportunity
- 2nd PK Group: Bancks, Jasek, Brisebois, Chatfield
- 2nd Group boxes out the Devils and clears the zone
- Perron subs onto the ice after a Comets clear, and this combination manages to hold the Devils to just one shot
- the “one-shot” in question, as a shot gets gobbled up by McIntyre, where Jalen Chatfield (#5) takes exception to Nathan Bastian’s extra chop to McIntyre’s pads
- Juolevi (#48) sets up Fantenberg (#7) for a Fatnenblast
- Juolevi (#48) with some solid d-work as he gets a takeaway, blocks a shot, then holds his man to prevent a redirect-goal
- Arseneau (#18) sets up Malone (#17) on the doorstep, but the puck misses and goes out to Brogan Rafferty ( #25) who gives the crowd a nice twirl before eventually sending a one-timer blast wide of the goal
- some miscommunication between Chatfield (#5) and Teves (#4), as the Devils Michael McLeod gets himself a breakaway through center-ice. Chatfield appears to have the speed and the angle to get a stick lift on McCleod, but he changes over to let the much slower Teves (#4) try catch-up to stop McCleod’s drive. Not too sure why Chatfield didn’t just keep on McCleod given his speed relative to Teves’.
- Fourth line, centered by Malone pressuring again
- Arseneau (#18) with shades of MacEwen (#15)in his backcheck speed
- Sven Baertschi (#47) checks the Devils Brett Seney to the ice with a solid backcheck
Score at the end of the First Period: 0-0 Tie
Not exactly the most exciting period of hockey – Few of those defensive lapses once again showing up, but several members of the forward groups, Baertschi, Boucher, and Arseneau, to name a few are showing great wheels in getting to their end on the backcheck. Utica outshot the Devils eight-to-six, but it didn’t feel like they did, haha. First time this season that the Comets have been held goal-less in the first period.
- Goldobin attempts a setup for Boucher from behind the net but his pass gets intercepted
- End-to-end play after two minutes, but zero shots on goal
- Arseneau (#18) with a tight-angle shot on net, followed by a crushing hit along the boards on a Devils defenceman
- Fourth line pressuring again. This time Arseneau (#18) takes a big hit at center-ice but keeps trucking into the offensive zone to get a backhand pass to a crashing Dyson Stevenson (#26). Stevenson turns to center a pass for Seamus Malone, but it’s just out of his reach
- Comets first-line with some crisp passing as they enter the Devils zone. Carter Camper (#19) with speed through center to gain the zone. Camper drop off for Boucher (#24) who quickly passes to Goldobin (#77). Goldobin is forced to hit the breaks and hand-off to Josh Teves (#4) who loses control of the puck driving to the Devils net
- Jalen Chatfield (#5) sends a blast high-and-wide of the net
- GOAL – UTICA – 1-0 Comets: Wow, another beauty of a rink-wide pass from Olli Juolevi (#48) to Sven Baertschi (#47). Juolevi finds Baertschi on the Devils blue line. Baertschi then wades in for a shot off Cormier’s pads. A crashing Francis Perron (#27) picks up the rebound to bury the opening goal
- That’s six straight games the Comets have opened the scoring in the game
- Brogan Rafferty (#25) leads the rush into the Devils zone to setup Dyson Stevenson (#26) for a cross-ice feed to Seamus Malone (#17 )for a one-timer into the glove of Evan Cormier
- gotta love the casual, “guess I’m leading the rush, huh?” from Rafferty on that drive
- Jalen Chatfield has the puck poked off his stick on the Devils blue line, a changing Oscar Fantenberg (#7) rushes back to the Comets end to intercept a pass – preventing the Devils scoring chance
- Goldobin (#77) with a turn in the offensive zone to set up a crashing Juolevi (#48). Juolevi, knowing he’s about to get hit, gets a quick pass to Camper (#19) who centers a pass for Reid Boucher (#24) at the front of the net
- Nice little quick play from the first line
- Fourth line pressuring again, as Dyson Stevenson sets up Seamus Malone (#17) for a one-timer wide of the goal – play continues into the Comets end, where Vinny Arseneau (#18) almost gets himself a breakaway but Cormier skates way outside his crease to prevent the opportunity
- Comets defending behind McIntyre’s net, where Olli Juolevi gets dinged for hooking – Comets off to their second penalty kill of the night
- 1st PK Group: Bancks, Chatfield, Jasek, Brisebois
- Jasek picks off a pass on the blue line in the neutral zone and almost springs Bancks ahead for a breakaway, but Bancks is a little late to take the pass – Bancks kills off some time forechecking in the Devils end before peeling off for a change
- Boucher and Fantenberg rotate onto the PK, followed by the rookie, Seamus Malone
- Malone (#17) with a shorthanded two-on-one alongside Carter Bancks (#34). Malones shot goes off Cormier and out, but the Juolevi penalty is killed off
- Brogan Rafferty (#25) with a clean zone-exit around two Devils players and then a somewhat lethargic drive to the net
- Lind (#13) with good hustle on the backcheck to prevent a Devils 3-on-1 – Baertschi (#47) with a takeaway on the Comets blueline to prevent a Devils setup
- First line set up a cycle and begin pressuring in the Devils zone, but the Devils do well to block any shot attempts – Chatfield once again gets time and space for a one-timer but sails it nowhere near the net
- Time winds down with Arseneau aggressively forechecking, but unable to set up a play as no other Comets are in the Devils zone.
The Score at the end of the 2nd Period: 1-0 Comets
Not a lot to write about that period, it was pretty meandering with a lot of chasing the puck through the neutral zone and failing to set-up a cycle in the Devils end when they finally entered. Comets again outshot the Devils, this time ten-to-seven, this time it felt like no team generated any considerable offense. The Comets still lead, so I can’t really be caught complaining. The team’s chemistry looked a bit better this past period – fourth line still the only line really going at full-steam when they’re on the ice — quiet nights from Lind after 50 minutes of play.
- three straight whistles to start the period as three shots get deflected out of play
- First line finally gets some offense going, after a couple whiffs, Reid Boucher (#24) eventually gets a shot off on Evan Cormier
- Jasek (#9) with a takeaway off the forecheck to set up Carter Bancks (#34) at the front of the net with a beauty saucer pass. The pass gets tipped by a Devils defender, disrupting Bancks one-timer attempt
- GOAL – UTICA – 2-0 Comets: Comets second line pressuring hard with terrific cycling culminating in a Kole Lind (#13) goal. Brogan Rafferty (#25) with a great pinch down the left wing to get the puck, and a beautiful pass through traffic to find Lind (#13) for the tap-in goal.
- Its as if Lind knew exactly what I was thinking, that he needs to get something going tonight
- Comets fourth line aggressive in the offensive zone – Dyson Stevenson (#26) crisscrosses with Vinny Arseneau (#18) along the left wall. Arseneau then gets a crisp pass to Fantenberg (#7) on the blue line for his second Fantenblast of the night
- Devils’ Dakota Mermis in a board battle with Reid Boucher (#24), kicks the puck out to a streaming Marian Studenic. Studenic backhands a pass to Fabian Zetterlund who’s shot goes off the pad of a diving Zane McIntyre
- Baertschi (#47) with a takeaway at center-ice to lead his line into the Devils end. Baertschi drops off for Jasek (#9) who gets a wrister through traffic into the glove of Cormier
- GOAL – BINGHAMTON – 2-1 Comets: Devils with a rather effortless entry into the Comets zone. Ben Street feeds a quick pass to Brett Seney, who rifles one over the left pad of McIntyre. It sure looks like Lind (#13) wants that one back as he did absolutely nothing to prevent Seney from getting a shot off despite being with him the whole way.
- Just realized Goldobin is wearing an “A” in the absence of Hamilton, Sautner, and MacEwen from tonight’s lineup
- speaking of, here’s good guy Goldobin (#77) as he crashes Cormier’s net trying to catch a rink-wide pass, but instead gives Cormier a snow-shower. Goldy with the wraparound to say sorry bud
- Goldobin (#77) with a blast in the Devils end as the first line pressures again. Nice centering attempt by Camper (#19), but Goldobin (#77) can’t get a stick on it
- McIntyre (G) with a huge giveaway from behind his net, fortunately, the Devils Joey Anderson fans on his shot
- Devils get themselves an offensive zone draw and start hammering McIntyre with shots
- Guillaume Brisebois (#55) with a blast on Cormier, followed by a solid defensive effort, as he gets a stick-lift and pass disrupt to negate a Devils offensive rush
- Fantneberg (#7) intercepts a Devils’ cross-ice pass, then joins the rush for a shot on goal
- Arseneau with a giveaway in the Comets end but Malone quickly recovers
- Baertschi (#47) with a great shift – solid drop pass for a Francis Perron (#27) blast on net, followed by a Baertschi takeaway on the right-side where he then centers a pass to Guillaume Brisebois (#55) for a shot that gets deflected wide of the goal
- McIntyre (G) comes up with a colossal glove-save on the Devils’ Chris Conner after all five Comets players abandon the slot
- Carter Bancks trips up Nathan Bastian after blowing a tire trying to check him – Comets off to their third penalty kill of the night
- 1st PK Group: Jasek, Boucher, Juolevi, Fantenberg
- Jasek (#9) almost gets a piece of a Devils pass, but the Devils recover for a shot into the glove of McIntyre
- Juolevi (#48) blocks a shot on the penalty kill
- Juolevi gets a stick up high to the face but no call. Juolevi then sends the puck up for Reid Boucher (#24) and changes off to get his bloody lip looked at by the athletic trainer.
- Boucher attempts a little chip-and-chase but gets bumped along the boards. Could maybe make the argument for interference, but I can’t see how far ahead the puck was
- Brisebois (#55) with a Briseblock of his own as the Comets face pressure on the PK
- GOAL – UTICA – 3-1 Comets: Evan Cormier misplays the puck behind his own net after some aggressive pressure from Lukas Jasek (#9). Reid Boucher (#24) is there to pick up the giveaway, and he buries it for his tenth of the year!
- LOL McIntyre attempts to send the puck rink-wide for an empty netter goal of his own
- Devils pressuring with the extra man but McIntyre comes up big with several glove saves
- Carter Bancks and Reid Boucher pressure late to try and sink more empty-netters but time winds down, and the Comets go undefeated through the first month of the season
- when you see it
The late pressure from the Binghamton Devils cant close the gap, as the Comets end the first month of the season undefeated. Not the most impressive game by any stretch, but can’t complain about an 8-0-0-0 start!
Final Score: 3-1 Utica Comets
|2nd||Utica||Francis Perron||Sven Baertschi||Olli Juolevi||5v5|
|3rd||Utica||Kole Lind||Brogan Rafferty||Francis Perron||5v5|
|3rd||Binghamton||Brett Seney||Ben Street||—||5v5|
|3rd||Utica||Reid Boucher||—||Evan Cormier (lol)||5v5|
- Well defensively speaking, it was better than Saturdays or Friday’s efforts – there were still a couple gaffe’s here and there, but again, eight-win start, you’d be hardpressed to see me whining that much about this teams ability to eke out a win
- Tonight’s 23 save performance from McIntyre gives him an impressive 0.956 save-percentage, I’ll have to wait for the AHL to update the stat tables, but as it stands, that would be good enough for first in the league amongst qualified goalies. Another stellar goaltending performance from the Utica duo. Given Di Pietro’s incredible numbers as well, I have to wonder what this team’s plan is for Richard Bachman.
- Brogan Rafferty had himself a bounce-back of a game. He looked solid in his end tonight while contributing well offensively on several occasions. Despite a few strange non-pass occurrences in tonight’s game, it’s quite crazy to me that the “legally blind” thing doesn’t appear to be hindering him at this level. Loved that pass from him to Lind! An absolute beauty of a pass. After his rough weekend, it was nice to see him simplify his game a bit and look terrific doing so.
- Francis Perron had himself a terrific night on a line with Baertschi and Lind. The Perron/Baertschi combo created some fantastic scoring chances. It was just the luck of the evening that they were unable to score more. Liked what I saw between Bae and Perron, wonder what MacEwen’s return will do to the lines heading into the weekend double-header.
- The coaching staff is going to have trouble finding a trio that works with Lukas Jasek. I think Jasek’s talents are being wasted at center. Jasek doesn’t appear to be strong enough to win faceoff battles routinely and has been relegated to mostly being an effective defensive center. The bulk of his offensive prowess last season came from his ability to win battles along the boards. Obviously, the organization sees Jasek’s playmaking ability as a boon to his move to center, but I just see zero chemistry between him and Bailey, whom the coaching staff have paired with Jasek for the majority of his starts at center. I liked the look of the Euroline, and I hope they do bring that trio back, but with the success of Perron/Baertschi, it’ll likely be a while before Jasek gets a shakeup to try and get him going in his new role.
- Man, can the Canucks call up Jalen Chatfield and teach him how to shoot the puck? I can’t even count the number of times he wound-up for a one-timer on the blue line and just sailed it into the boards. Offense truly dies on his stick. I would see the set-plays of the forward groups culminate with the puck ending up on Chatty’s stick, and I’d be disappointed automatically, knowing the play was about to die. I don’t want to rag on the guy, because he does play the most physical of all the Comets D-men. I don’t think the Canucks have anyone that plays like him in their system. Whether they’re in the NHL or minor leagues across the world, the Canucks aren’t exactly swimming in crash-bang defensemen. But man, the guy needs to figure out the shooting and passing aspect of the game. Otherwise, I don’t see him sticking around. Look at a player like Dylan Blujus, who’s just two years older than Chatfield, but plays physical and has a proven track record of scoring at the AHL level. I’d personally much rather have Blujus on that third pairing alongside Teves, but the whole AHL-contract versus NHL-contract thing will likely keep Blujus wasted in the press box.
Comets Three Stars
- Zane McIntyre
- Francis Perron
- Brogan Rafferty
The Comets Trajectory?
The Comets return this Friday when they start their weekend double-header facing off against the Atlantic Divisions, Providence Bruins. The PB’s sit 2nd in the AHL’s Atlantic Division, second only to the Hartford Wolf Pack.
If you want a more condensed version of Comets recaps, you can now find MORE of my writing at thesinbin.net