Hello all, and welcome to another edition of the Comets Harvest! Tonight’s game is a rematch of the Comets’ first blowout loss of the season. A 6-1 drubbing at the hands of the Syracuse Crunch.
Avid readers of the Harvest will remember that the Comets were at a spectacular disadvantage, playing their second game of a back-to-back against a Crunch team who were coming in completely fresh and rested.
Tonight, the Comets will get to avenge that blowout on a much more even playing field.
Both teams are coming into night’s game off of a four-night rest with the Comets looking to build upon their shootout win against Binghamton, while the Crunch look to end a two-game losing streak that followed their season-opening demolishing of the Comets.
The Crunch have a very spread-out attack. In three games, of the Crunch’s 20 skaters, EIGHTEEN have notched a point already.
The Comets, on the other hand, are very top-heavy, and by contrast, in three games, only TWELVE of 22 skaters have earned points so far.
Last season, the Comets were able to find scoring in their bottom-six quite often. It was their middle-six who found the most success against Syracuse in their first outing.
The Comets have done an admirable job controlling shot-attempts at 5v5 thus far. Despite their 1-1-0-1 record, the team has managed a +22 shot-attempt differential across three games.
For perspective, last season, the Comets were running a +23 shot-attempt differential following three straight wins. In fact, even after winning their first eight, the Comets 5v5 shot-attempt differential was at negative-17.
The Comets aren’t close to an eight-game sample size, but the early results have been promising for a team loaded with rookies making their pro debuts.
The Kids are Gonna be ok:
I spoke about this at length in the most recent episode of The Creasecast, but the early results from the Cauncks two forward prospects have been encouraging!
Carson Focht’s skating and forechecking presence have been wonderful to see. Many of my complaints about Lind, Gadjovich, and Dahlen during their rookie years were their lack of foot movement away from the puck. That doesn’t seem to be an issue with Focht, who is constantly engaging in and away from the play to make things happen for the team.
On top of hearing his first pro-career goal on Saturday, he and his linemates, Gadjovich and Lockwood, chewed up their opposition at 5v5 when on-ice together.
On the other hand, Lockwood shares a lot of the similar gameplay qualities of Focht but has struggled at converting his forechecking presence and off-puck movement into scoring opportunities.
Because of his age, I’m hoping Lockwood can put together the offensive side because his skating and edgework have been above-average. He’s one of five Comets players to not have an unforced giveaway, and his takeaways are fifth overall on the squad. Just need to see him pump up those shot-assist and offensive metrics to offset some of the gaudy on-ice goals-against metrics.
Lockwood has been on-ice for three of the Comets 5v5 goals-allowed and none for; need to turn that around. Controlling shot-attempts will take you only so far if you’re still rocking one of the worst on-ice save percentages of the team. Only Blues prospect, Tanner Kaspick, has a worse relative on-ice save at 5v5.
He’s not awful defensively by any stretch, but for someone as active with his feet as he is, you’d hope that would result in fewer goals occurring in his own end.
Because I already asked him to “do something” last week — I’ll spare him tonight, even though he remains a high-priority “do something” candidate.
Tonight, let’s say we go with Will Lockwood for all the reasons stated above. He’s doing a bunch of little things right, but he’s gotta start proving he can do more than just skate well, hit, and steal the puck.
- Curtis McKenzie is out reportedly due to “awesome news.” About 99% sure McKenzie’s wife was due with their first child, so congrats to him on a monumental weekend!
- The lineup, outside of McKenzie, remains largely unchanged from Saturday.
- Jon Gillies returns from a very brief stint on IR to act as tonight’s starting goalie.
Don’t feel like reading? Click here for spoilers!!
- Impressive duster displayed by head coach Trent Cull in tonight’s pre-game festivities. Elite push-broom/60
- audio quality is reminiscent of RedLetterMedia BOTW winner: Terror in Beverly Hills
- not great Bob
- Delay of game to start as the on-ice crew replaces a pane of glass.
- Early chance for John Stevens (#16) after a Crunch defender deliberately attempts a knee-on-knee hit in the neutral-zone
- I missed the player’s number, but the idiot takes out his own player for his efforts.
- No call made by the ref
- Kole Lind (#13) sends in Sam Anas (#7) behind the Crunch defence, but the refs inexplicably call an icing on the play. They re-convene and opt for a center-ice draw instead.
- Syracuse’s Ryan Lohin gets dinged for tripping, and the Comets get the first powerplay of the night.
PP1: Lind, Baertschi, Reinke, Walker, Anas
- A couple of good shots on net from the Comets on PP1 — but no dice, they are forced to reset from their end, and PP2 comes out.
PP2: Focht, Santini, Jasek, Gadjovich, Stevens
- Nothin much happening on PP2, and the game returns to 5v5.
- Another big hit attempt in the neutral-zone from Syracuse. Looking to play heavy and hard early against the Comets
- While forechecking, Lind (#13) ends up with a Luke Witkowski breakout pass right into his feet. Lind sets up Sam Anas (#7) with the puck, who dangles around Sam Montembeault only to throw it off of the bar and out
- Not really sure how this wasn’t ruled interference on Santini (#8), but K.
- Will Lockwood (#10) with a great solo effort to get around Ben Thomas in the neutral zone and drive towards the goal
- Peter Abbandonato receives a high flip into the Comets zone behind the last man back, Josh Wesley (#24). Abbandonato wires a shot off the outside post
- Jett Woo (#22) with some wheels to get back to prevent the breakaway. Taylor Raddysh finds himself open on the right side after Woo takes away the left side option. Fortunately, he dishes off instead of taking the shot. Would’ve liked to see Stevens (#16) effort a bit harder to get back and assist on the odd-man rush defence.
- Comets struggling to break out of their zone off of the defensive zone draw. Eventually, the Comets appear to ice the puck, but Anas races hard to beat it out. Good save from Anas
- Big tic-tac-toe opportunity for the Comets first line, but Baertschi (#47) acts a bit too unselfishly. Electing to pass instead of wire a shot from in close
- [GOAL – UTICA – 1-0 Comets] Well! Jonah Gadjovich (#21) and Will Lockwood (#10) took note of my advice to DO SOMETHING! And DO SOMETHING, they did! The most nonchalant centering pass from Lockwood off of a very fortuitous rebound from a Tyler Tucker (#2) blocked shot. Gadjovich, parked at the net-front as he’s so used to, get’s the easy tap-in goal to put the Comets up by one, with less than five to go in the opening frame!
- Aleksi Hepponiemi leaves the rink during a TV timeout… a huge loss for Syracuse this early in the game.
- A brutal shift for the Jasek line as they get pinned into their zone for quite some time; get caught icing the puck twice but eventually clear.
- LOL, Syracuse exchanges with an icing of their own
- Syracuse gets dinged for a trip with 1:50 left in the opening frame! Right off the draw
PP1: Reinke, Baertschi, Lind, Walker, Anas
- Comets lose the draw and are forced to reset
- Nathan Walker (#12) send Carson Focht (#19) into the offensive zone on the powerplay, Focht with a fantastic no-look pass to Lind (#13), who sends his shot into the body of Montembeault
- A solid shift from Focht (#19) as the powerplay winds down. Focht rifles a shot on Montembeault that rebounds out to Nolan Stevens (#17) for a secondary scoring chance. From the high-slot, Focht races to catch Stevens rebound along the end-boards then ties the puck up in the neutral-zone allowing the Comets PP1 to change.
- Period ends, and Comets finish the opening frame up in shots ten-to-seven
- An early odd-man rush chance for Syracuse. A bit too many of those happened in the first. Fortunately, the shots that came off those odd-man rushes were weak for the most part.
- Comets a bit on the back foot to start the second
- Bunch of pressure from the Comets’ second line, holding the Crunch in their end. Shift ends with a Jasek (#9) one-timer wide of the goal
- Gillies with a dicey giveaway behind his net. Fortunately, he makes up for it with an easy save
- Another strong shift from the Comets’ fourth line. Just caving the Crunch into their end each shift.
- Woo (#22) leads the zone-entry before handing the puck off to Focht (#19). Focht plays give and go before rifling a shot that gets deflect high out of play
- Comets and Crunch trading chances! Baertschi (#47) drops off for Tucker (#2) at the Crunch’s blue line, allowing Taylor Raddysh to steal for a breakaway opportunity. Raddysh’s missed shot springs Anas (#7) away on a breakaway of his own.
- Woo (#22) with a dicey breakout pass-attempt from behind the goal-line that gets picked off by the Crunch. Focht (#19) turns away just at the last second of the pass
- [GOAL – UTICA – 2-0 Comets] OOF, ya hate to see it. Steven Santini (#8) with an absolute floater from the blue line that somehow gets past Montembeault. Anas (#7) with great effort along the boards in the offensive zone to fish Santini the puck. Comets with a two-goal lead with less than ten to go in the second frame!
- Whoops, Nathan Walker called for slashing while defending in the d-zone, and the Comets are off their first PK of the night.
PK1: Santini, Tucker, Stevens, Joshua
- Stevens wins the draw and clears for Utica.
- Stevens and Joshua holding the Crunch to the neutral zone. Eventually, a puck gets deflected out of play and PK1 changes.
PK2: Jasek, Lockwood rotate in
- Jasek and Lockwood clear, and Joshua and Stevens come back on.
- Dakota Joshua (#11) draws a tripping penalty against Otto Somppi, and the Comets first PK ends about as well as a PK can
- Focht, Gadjovich, Reinke, Woo out for the first 4v4 offensive-zone draw
- Gadj gets caught up yelling at the ref on a perceived non-call in the offensive zone, allowing the Crunch to rush the opposite way for a shorthanded chance. Bit of a ding dong move
- Comets to a minute-thirty powerplay
PP1: Lind, Reinke, Anas, Walker, Baertschi
- [GOAL-UTICA-3-0 Comets] Wow…what a gorgeous pass from Sam Anas (#7) past two Crunch defenders, Ludvig and Witkowski, to set up Nathan Walker (#12) for his first of the season.
- Focht gets called for cross-checking while defending a Syracuse rush into the d-zone, and the Comets are back to the penalty-kill
- Joshua again proving to be a force on the Comets penalty kill. Just forechecking aggressively and eating away precious seconds off of the clock.
- Comets kill off another PK — really keeping the Crunch to the outside and preventing them from generating any chances.
- Focht (#19) with a breakaway chance right out of the penalty box!
- Refs call the LFG line for an intentional offside… Sir… this is the AHL…they’re not that calculated with their moves.
- Josh Wesley (#24) bowls over Jimmy Huntington off the defensive zone-entry
- Jasek with a steal in the offensive zone late but time winds down
- Comets notch two goals on four shots
- Crunch edge them in shots through the middle stanza, six-to-four
- Syracuse, with another penalty called against them early in the third
- Comets get forced to reset from their zone and somehow ice the puck while attempting a breakout.
- Mitch Reinke (#28) whips a shot into the chest of Montembeault. Walker (#12) gets pinballed around by the Crunch penalty killers, haha
- Focht (#19) zone-entry on the powerplay. Picks up the puck that bounces off of Nolan Stevens (#17) skates, then cuts over to the left circle for a shot
- Lockwood (#10) with a weak pass picked off inside the defensive zone. Fortunately, the Crunch can’t capitalize.
- Comets LFG line breaks the puck out — Gadjovich (#21) carries into the zone but doesn’t move his feet nearly enough to separate or break off from his check
- [GOAL – UTICA – 4-0 Comets] Dakota Joshua (#11) with a fantastic move off an end-to-end rush to sink one behind Montembeault. Sean Day with some omega oof-load defensive effort on this one. But, major props to Joshua for netting a goal in what has been his strongest game thus far.
PK1: Joshua, Stevens, Santini, Tucker
- Tucker (#2) with a great effort on the PK to disrupt the Crunch’s puck-movement
- [GOAL – SYRACUSE – 4-1 Comets] Jett Woo (#22) with a brutal gaffe on the penalty kill. Woo picks off a Syracuse dump-in inside the d-zone on his backhand. And he spins to the inside for the clearance. Unfortunately, as he spins to the inside he hands the puck over to Jimmy Huntington. Tough one for the rookie. Comets, fortunately, still playing with a good cushion.
- Comets really on the back foot after that Huntington goal. Struggling to maintain possession and even more to keep the puck out of the d-zone
- [GOAL – SYRACUSE – 4-2 Comets] The Syracuse pressure pays off and cuts the lead to two. Dmitry Semykin nets his first goal of the season after the Comets get caught in their own zone for a long period of time. Bit of a tough break for Gillies as a spinning Hugh McGing (#14) turns to avoid Semykin’s shot and inadvertently deflects the puck past Gillies.
- More sustained pressure from Syracuse. Comets just struggling to keep the puck off of Syracuse stick’s
- Woo (#22) gets dinged for tripping as the Comets again get caught in their d-zone. Another PK coming up
- Stuff like this is why I want to see Höglander on the Canucks PK. Look at the wheels on Lockwood (#10) to forecheck and then race back into the d-zone to set up.
- Comets successfully kill off the PK with less than four minutes remaining in the third.
- Woo (#22) faces down Semykin and forces him to the outside before physically shoving him along the boards. Anas (#7) and Baertschi (#47) collapse to break the puck out
- Syracuse pulls Montembeault with 2:20 left in the period.
- Woo with a brilliant solo effort to tie the puck along the end-wall. Woo single-handedly chews forty seconds off the clock with a strong tie-up.
- Syracuse ices the puck with one-minute left in the period while on the 6-on-5. Huge break for Utica
- Jasek, Gadjovich, and Nolan Stevens the forward line for the offensive-zone draw
- [GOAL – UTICA – 5-2 Comets] The shutdown line of *checks notes* Jasek, Gadjovich, Nolan Stevens seal this one for Utica. Gadjovich successfully ties the puck up along the d-zone boards before attempting to flip the puck out. Jasek (#9) catches the puck mid-air and kicks the puck out to Stevens (#17). Stevens spins at the blue line to hook the puck to Gadjovich, who carries the puck down the right-wing before flipping one into the empty net.
COMETS WIN 5-2 IN REGULATION
- A solid defensive effort from the Comets (ignoring the final ten minutes of the third period in which they were really put on their heels by the Crunch). Really limited the Crunch to their looks in the first two periods. Very rare to see low-event hockey in the AHL, let alone a two-goal on four-shots second period. Impressive work from a very young team!
- Had a hearty chuckle at Lockwood and Gadjovich combining on that opening goal. It’s as if they knew what my “do something” section would be about them! Who knew!?
- Props to Gadjovich, who, despite his underwhelming skating, had a pretty decent night when it came to TOI and production. Two goals on three shots and out for a closeout situation late in the period is good stuff for him!
- Baertschi with a lowkey solid game. He was hustling all over the ice, especially in the d-zone to assist with breakouts. And believe it or not… he looked like an NHL caliber talent on the powerplay and at 5v5! Who knew!?
- Shoutouts to St. Louis Blues properties, Tyler Tucker and Steven Santini, who are both chewing up defensive minutes for this team right now. Tucker especially, a rookie being trusted with upwards of 22-25 minutes a night, with the majority of those minutes exclusively coming at 5v5 or while shorthanded. Kids got a bright future if he keeps this up. Ended the night with one assist, a +3, and one shot on goal—a huge effort to close out the game.
- Bit of a quiet night for Kole Lind. Not sure if it’s the move to center or the new linemates or the responsibilities of matching up against top-competition; but, he looked off tonight. He wasn’t floating by any stretch, but more often than not, I was noticing that he wasn’t touching or controlling the puck when he was on the ice.
- I don’t know if any Canucks fans follow MMA or the UFC, but there used to be an organization called PRIDE FC in Japan. They were rad. But they had a completely different judging system to the standard American boxing method of scoring rounds 10 for the round-winner and nine or less for the round-loser. In Japan, they scored bouts by the whole. The first round was ten-minutes long, with a five-minute second round. So a fight could theoretically win the first eight minutes of the fight, but if the judges viewed that the opponent won the latter eight minutes more convincingly, they would win the fight more often than not. That’s what this game feels like when it comes to evaluation. The Comets were methodical in the way they picked the Crunch apart. For 50 minutes, they limited scoring chances and capitalized on their opportunities off of vicious forechecking. Then the final ten minutes happened…and it kind of clouds my evaluation of the team. Because they really looked brutal while on their heels.
- An ECHL call-up moving from defence to forward in Dmitri Semykin gave the LFG line considerable fits in that final ten. Not a great look.
- I’m willing to give the team the benefit of the doubt, however. Back to back, and up by three goals with ten minutes left… I get why the foot may have come off the pedal. It’s a bad lesson to learn, but I get it.
- Props to Will Lockwood on a solid game. Utilized that speed and forechecking about as effectively as you could hope for. Really slick set-up for Gadjovich on that opening goal. Promising start for him!
- Woo had that brutal giveaway on the Huntington goal, but it’s whatever; he had a great game up until that point. A learning experience for the young rookie!
- Not many takeaways for them, but more strong games from Jasek, Focht and Anas. Consistently providing quality minutes to the team at evens and while shorthanded.
Comets Harvest Three Stars:
- Jonah Gadjovich
- Tyler Tucker & Steven Santini
- Will Lockwood
HM: see the last bullet-point in the game-thoughts
Next Up on the Docket:
The Comets are back in action tomorrow night for the second half of a back-to-back.
Once again, they’ll be up against it as they take on a well-rested team in the Rochester Americans, who have been waylaid since last Friday after cruising against the Cleveland Monsters in a 7-3 rout.
Plugs and Stuff:
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