COMETS HARVEST 3.2: The Utica Cocoa Comets vs. Syracuse Peanut Butter Crunch

Tonight’s paragraph headers brought to you by Set Your Goals

Who Are You to Say What is Real?

Soak it in Canucks fans. As the great Skinny Elizabeth once said, “the Boys are in fact back in town.”

Kings of the castle, the Comets/Blues rampage look to shake off a bit more rust as they run it back against the Syracuse Crunch, a rematch of their exhibition game on February 1st that ended in a 7-5 victory for the Comets.

While there are still a ton of kinks to work out of their game, all things considered, they were impressive against Rochester.


And What is Fake?

Just like to point out that the Comets running a PK composed almost exclusively of U25 players (and Steven Santini) killed 4/5 Rochester powerplays.

That’s pretty good! Almost… too good…

In past Harvest’s, I’ve argued that the Utica Comets stand to better develop their youth by putting them into shorthanded situations more often.

The NHL is an efficiency contest; having prospects developing in your AHL system is a part of that efficiency. Having undrafted free agents and prospects joining your farm to ply their trade is meaningless if they aren’t ever going to be tested.

Jonah Gadjovich playing three PK shifts in his debut year does not count as being tested. The Canucks need to see what they’ve got in their prospects. Otherwise, they will be eternally doomed into signing overpaid veteran UFA’s specifically for penalty-killing purposes.

Last night was a step in the right direction — Will Lockwood, Carson Focht, and Jett Woo getting PK time should earn Trent Cull kudos for doing something that he otherwise wouldn’t do during a normal AHL season.

But it can’t be like Gadjovich’s rookie year. Cull needs to play these kids on the PK all year! Canucks can’t be waiting until the final year of their prospects current deals to realize they have no idea if they have the utility or ability to play shorthanded **cough** Gaudette, Virtanen, Lind **cough**

Seattle Expansion draft looms like a dark cloud over the Canucks right now — Lind looks like a very tasty pick-up option for Seattle if the Canucks cannot protect him or choose not to.

Hoping to see Lind get some shorthanded minutes this season starting tonight. Canucks need to see everything their top AHL-prospects can offer to their current NHL bottom-six.

Criticism aside, it’s good to see one special team firing for the Comets. Their powerplay was really not great looking last night.

And Who Here Matters Anyway?

Tonight’s starting lineup is mostly unchanged save for a few substitutions and promotions.


  • Will Lockwood gets bumped up to the second line with Jasek/McKenzie. Should be a good fit for him; playing with two AHL vets
  • Nathan Walker gets slid down to the Gadjovich/Focht line; looks like Cull is mostly trying to distribute the experience between all four lines.
  • Blues prospect, Tanner Kaspick, replaces fellow Blues prospect Hugh McGing, as the center to the fourth line. No real loss.
  • The defence goes largely unchanged, but Josh Wesley replaces Mitch Eliot, who didn’t look all that great yesterday.

Don’t care for the details? Click here for spoilers!!

It’s Nothing That I Haven’t Heard

1st Period:

  • Florida Panthers prospect Sam Montembault, in net for the Crunch. A reminder that the Florida teams have also amalgamated their farm teams this season
  • Early slashing penalty called after the 1st line takes a spin in the offensive zone

PP1 – Lind, Baertschi, Anas, Reinke, Walker

  • [GOAL-SYRACUSE – 1-0 Crunch] LMAO… damn, this team plays just like the Canucks! Nine seconds into the powerplay, Kole Lind (#13) loses the faceoff draw, but Sven Baertschi (#47) slides in to recover and attempt a drop pass to Sam Anas (#7). Bae’s pass ricochet’s off a skate to Gabriel Fortier, who wheels down the left-wing. Mitch Reinke (#28) attempts to get back and defend, but he misses the pass to Boris Katchouk. After Reinke turns to keep pace with the possessor, Katchouk easily backhands a pass to Fortier, who flips it over Kielly’s right pad… Brutal start.

  • PP1 gets nothing going, so PP2 comes out

PP2 – Gadjovich, Focht, Stevens, Jasek, Santini

  • A long shift for PP2, but they’re getting nothing going. Nolan Stevens looking very slow.
  • Comets register zero shots — then as the powerplay ends, Tanner Kaspick takes a hooking penalty.

PK1 – Jasek, Santini, Tucker, McKenzie

PK2 – Lockwood, Woo, Teves, Stevens

PK3 – Lind, Baertschi, Woo, Wesley

2nd Period:

PP1 – Lind, McKenzie, Baertschi, Reinke, Anas

  • Crunch with another shorthanded two-on-one opportunity, but Reinke breaks up the cross-ice pass.
  • PP1 struggling to generate offence — Crunch kill 51 seconds off the clock
  • Jasek (#9) and Santini (#8) trying to maintain the zone but can’t do it
  • Walcott out of the box — powerplay still struggling to generate chemistry
  • Comets ice the puck. Tanner Kaspick forces his check out of the zone with the puck off the ensuing draw but goes a little too ham and takes a tripping penalty.
  • Comets to the PK

PK1 – Jasek, McKenzie, Tucker, Santini

  • [GOAL – UTICA – 4-1 Crunch] Fantastic effort from Jasek (#9) to get the Comets on the board. Jasek starts it off by deflecting down a point-shot. Jasek then settles the puck and throws on the afterburners to give him and McKenzie (#81) a two-on-one opportunity. Jasek reaches around a sliding Chase Priskie with the centering feed to McKenzie (#81), who tips it past Montembeault.

  • Syracuse powerplay stifled by the Comets penalty-killers to close out the period.
  • Comets outshoot the Crunch twelve-to-nine this time around, but man, are they up against it heading into the third

3rd Period:

PK1 – Kaspick, Baertschi, Tucker, Santini

  • Cull must’ve got the note that the Canucks need someone with top-six skill who can penalty-kill…because Bae on the PK is certainly something.
  • Bae and Kaspick force the puck out of the zone and kill time off Lockwood’s penalty — allowing Teves and Wesley to step on for Tucker/Santini.

PK2 – Jasek, Stevens, Reinke, Woo

PP1 – Lind, Aanas, Baertschi, Reinke, McKenzie

  • Yeah, PP1 really is missing something — absolutely nothing to it.

PP2 – Jasek, Gadjovich, Stevens, Focht, Santini






We’re All Sellouts in Your Eyes

  • before I get in my takeaways, make sure you check out my hit with Locked On Canucks where I talk all things Jalen Chatfield and Kole Lind, with Justin Morissette


That’s No Surprise

  • Comets looked exhausted against a fresh opponent — The first-line, in particular, started hot but quickly looked gassed as the first period progressed. Don’t think it was from deployment either. Just outright exhaustion from back-to-back nights. Have to get used to it as the Comets have several more back-to-backs this season.
  • Loved Lukas Jasek’s hustle in what was essentially a lost game. He has so many solid attributes to his game, but that step to make his game work at the NHL level is such a big one. Just look at Jalen Chatfield. Game kind of worked at the AHL level, and he got absolutely embarrassed tonight by the Maple Leafs. He continues to be one of the Canucks better two-way prospects with excellent utility. But his game is so quietly solid that I don’t even think they know he’s in their system. Shame. I really enjoy watching him play.
  • Lockwood looked a little disengaged tonight. Have to wonder how much of tonight’s performance from him and others were fatigue relating to the back-to-back. Had a couple good shifts where he was on but needs to be more consistent. Not enough foot movement for me. Good edges, but he needs to move his feet way more to be effective here.
  • This Reinke/Teves pairing is just awful. Teves has wheels, but he’s just lost with the puck at most times. He and Reinke have no chemistry, and it’s constantly a battle between the two for, “who can give the puck away first?” Constantly a disaster in their own end for coverage and breaking out while under pressure.
  • Baertschi was mostly invisible tonight. Didn’t look engaged. Again, see my above point about lethargy and back-to-back play against a rested team.
  • Kole Lind looked sharp early but quickly gassed.
  • Carson Focht is someone to watch in future games — good wheels and passing. Consistently making good passes under pressure.
  • Jett Woo had himself a really good game for the Comets — he looked more comfortable than he did the other night. Consistent breakout passes and defensive coverage. Didn’t see a lot of him late in the game as Cull relied heavily on Tucker/Santini to get the team going. But, a promising improvement!
  • Gadjovich a little sleepy at 5v5 early but was noticeable on the powerplay every shift — sneaky good passing game. Hopefully, he, Focht, and Walker or whoever they put with them can generate some kind of chemistry.
  • Sam Montembeault was a hero for the Crunch tonight — likely prevented multiple goals against. Comets threw some of their best looks his way, and it wasn’t good enough. Those nights will happen. It’ll just be about how they bounce-back
  • Jake Kielly looked OK, but like the Canucks do with Holtby/Demko, he was left hung out to dry multiple times. Arguably could’ve been worse than 6-1, which is saying something.
  • Tyler Tucker had a much better game tonight. He’s not a Canucks prospect, so it’s whatever, but Blues fans should be happy knowing he didn’t look as lost as he did in game 1. Loved his hip-check late in the game, haha.
  • Comets’ powerplay just absolutely stunk tonight. Five opportunities and it was a godsend for them to just maintain the zone with possession. It was pure ass. Hopefully, it’s just an exhaustion thing and not something to expect every game… because, oh boy, that was tough to watch.
  • Really happy to see Trent Cull sticking with his youth on the PK. Woo should get all the looks possible on the PK, as should Lind, Focht, Lockwood, and Gadjovich. The latter whom has still yet to get a look on the PK for some reason.


Well, we Never Tried to Disguise Everything we Want to be

  • Sam Montembeault  (No Comet deserved first star honours tonight)
  • Lukas Jasek
  • Tyler Tucker

HM: Sam Anas for his team-leading five shots on goal

My Honest Dream

The Comets get plenty of time to work out the kinks and try something new. As they get a seven-day break between games.

They’ll be back Saturday, February 13th, against the Binghamton Devils — this is great for me as I get more time to painstakingly track stats from the past two games, haha.


Who Cares What You Have to Say?

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Cheers, everyone, for reading along! Happy to have you here, and with the Comets Harvest for the latest and greatest in Canucks AHL development!


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