Well, folks, it’s a quick turnaround for the Comets! This means my favourite thing ever!
After a dominant effort against the Crunch, I expect a bit of a sleepy effort from the Comets tonight. Rochester is coming in fresh, and the last time this happened, they out-controlled their opponent but still wound up giving up six goals.
There’s a chance to surprise, but this team is young and have to temper expectations on nights like these! Let’s just hope for something fun 🙂
Before we get into the starting lineup and tonight’s game action, I wanted to quickly touch on a couple standout veterans for the Comets thus far.
I have to give a shout-out to the consummate professional, Sven Baertschi, who is working his dang butt off to remain relevant to the NHL.
After four games, Bae is second on the team in 5v5 points-per-game and second on the team in primary shot-assists.
The Comets, to the surprise of nobody except maybe a guy whose name rhymes with Bim Jenning, have the best on-ice shooting % with Baertschi on the ice at 5v5. The guy just knows when to set up his teammates or when to take shots himself. He has an on-net percentage of 72%, meaning 72% of all his individual shot-attempts wind-up on-goal.
The two players with the next-best on-net percentages, ironically, are shared by the Stevens brothers. Which is simply just adorable.
But yes, CometsHarvest has been a fan of Baertschi in the NHL and in the AHL. He’s constantly forechecking or trying to make things happen for his linemates this year. Sucks that the Canucks management gave up on him one year into his deal (brilliant move, by the way, very intelligent), but he’s been a bright spot for a Comets team that has been desperate for puck-distributors in their lineup.
Secondary shoutout to AHL short king, Sam Anas who’s casually earned two points each game (except the Syracuse loss) up until tonight.
Highest involvement %, 5v5 points-per-game, shots-on-goal, primary-assists, points… again… dude is 5’7″ 160 pounds soaking wet.
An undrafted free-agent, Anas joined Quinnipiac as a 20-year-old and was immediately a point-per-game player for three years straight. Eventually earning an “A” on his sweater in his final year before signing with the Wild.
This is why I talk about the importance of utility and penalty-killing because here’s a guy who had a fifty-assist season last year and couldn’t even manage a call-up from the Minnesota Wild.
These prospects can produce all they want, but if they can’t prove utility outside of being a goalscorer or a distributor, they won’t have value to an NHL coach.
Anas is in it tough trying to crack a recent cup contender in St. Louis. But kids like Lind, Lockwood, Focht, Gadjovich, and Jasek have a tangible opportunity to prove their worth to an organization that is desperate to try and move on from signing the likes of Roussel, Beagle, Sutter etc. to fill the special-teams void.
Also, St. Louis, if you want to trade Anas to the Canucks for Virtanen, maybe we should make that happen… because I, for one, would like to see Anas given a chance in an NHL uniform. Guy has wheels, he can distribute, and he can score. Give him a shot! Why not!? If Rocco Grimaldi can make it happen, then surely someone with Anas’ work-ethic can earn his shot too!
Stop placing such a premium on size, and recognize that skill wins games more than how hitty a bigi boi can hit!
With the praise out of the way, let’s get into tonight’s “do something!”
Tonight’s “do something” candidate might not be fair, but fuck it, it’s my show — Kole Lind!
While he’s operating at a point-per-game pace, I’d love to see a bit more off-ice puck action and net-positive events at 5v5. Three of his four goals have come on the powerplay, with his 5v5 goal-differential at a negative-two.
Wednesday night, he was fine, but fine won’t cut it if the end-goal is, “make the Vancouver Canucks.”
And for a top line that carries an NHL calibre winger and a Quad-A AHL talent, you’d expect a bit more at evens.
Tonight would be a good time to start proving your elite fringe-NHL’er line can actually be effective at 5v5: more foot-movement, takeaways, passing, and shot generation. We need to just see much more activity from Lind in his new role at center. It’s early, so I understand there are some kinks and hurdles to get over. But we need to see something at 5v5 that proves it’s a position-shift worth sticking with this season.
- Bold to go back to Gillies in a back-to-back. Especially against an Amerks team that is coming in completely fresh
- Rack Jathbone technically listed as a healthy-scratch but is in the travel/quarantine process until at least the 27th
- Corsi-for rates for lines aren’t updated yet as I still have to track last nights game four 🙂
- Shoutouts to Josh Teves for earning $700,000 of Frank the Tank’s money to ride the pine in Utica this season
Don’t feel like reading? Click here for spoilers!!
I’m aware of a bug where using dark-mode filters on Webpress causes embedded videos to not load properly — I’ll be including hyperlinks to the Utica-goal streamables for those who don’t want to turn off their dark-mode. As someone with atrocious eyesight, I get it. Hope the ease-of-access helps and enjoy the game 🙂
- Oskari Laaksonen with an early giveaway in the d-zone. Comets with an offensive-zone faceoff within the first ten seconds of the game! Not too shabby!
- Lind (#13) picks off a weak Rochester drop-pass, chips the puck along the boards, chases, and gives him and Sam Anas (#7) a great two-on-one scoring chance. Lind takes the unselfish route and passes. Unfortunately, behind Anas’ skates.
- Mitch Eliot (#52) just barely earns the icing call for Utica
- Dakota Joshua with a shot on net off of the o-zone faceoff earned by that icing call
- Jasek wins the next draw back to Nathan Walker, who whips a shot into the collarbone of Amerk goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen. Luukkonen looks a little shaken by it but shakes it out.
- Amerks with another icing — Baertschi with a shot on goal off of another won faceoff draw
- Carson Focht (#19) takes a slashing minor while he and Gadjovich (#21) forecheck.
PK1: Tucker, Santini, John Stevens, Joshua
PK2: Jasek, McGing, Wesley, Woo
- Josh Wesley goes to clear the zone from the d-zone and somehow hits a Comet and goes out of play. Refs rule in favour of an offensive-zone faceoff for Rochester. Tough bounce
- PK1 steps back on for the d-zone draw
- PK3: Nolan Stevens and Lukas Jasek come on to close out the final twenty of the Focht penalty
- Josh Wesley (#24) picks up a rebound at Gillies’ net, then springs Nolan Stevens (#17) ahead for a rush. Stevens with a shot on goal followed by a shot from Wesley on the rebound
- A couple of rapid-fire chances from Utica after Luukkonen attempts a Markstrom.
- Fourth-line pinned into their zone a bit, but eventually, Steven Santini blocks a hard shot, and the Comets effectively break out.
- John Stevens sends a shot wide of the goal from the slot.
- Sven Baertschi races down the wing into the offensive-zone and whips a wrister wide of the goal.
- Jett Woo (#22) misses the puck along the blue line and races back into the d-zone to retrieve it. Woo ties up the puck until help arrives.
- A good shift for the Comets second-line. Mitch Eliot (#52) with a one-timer chance and a solid hold along the boards to maintain possession in the offensive zone
- Steven Fogarty with a wraparound chance, and then Gillies stops a weird floater from the blue line by Jacob Bryson.
- Baertschi (#47) races into the o-zone for a board battle. Anas (#7) then sets up Baertschi for a sharp-angle shot behind the goal-line that catches Luukkonen off-guard
- Dalton Smith mishandles a pass in the neutral zone, allowing Nathan Walker (#12) to set up Nolan Stevens (#17) for the zone-entry. Stevens fights off his check, leads the entry with Jasek (#9), then toe-drags around a defender only to lose control at the last second on his shot. Great effort though
- Ryan Scarfo gets a bit of a soft interference penalty called against him. Comets to the powerplay with less than three minutes remaining
PP1: Baertschi, Reinke, Anas, Walker, Lind
- Anas (#7) walks down the right-wing off of the faceoff-win and rips a shot off the post
- PP1 out for the entire powerplay, but they generate nothing after that post-shot from Anas
- A late chance from Remi Elie goes wide of the goal.
- Time winds down, and the Comets finish a sleepy first period up in shots, fourteen to six.
- Some early pressure from the Stevens/Jasek line
- End of the Stevens/Jasek shift. Woo (#22) sends the puck up through center to Jasek (#9), who carries into the offensive zone. Jasek with a gorgeous saucer pass to Anas (#7), who settles then rips a shot into the glove of Luukkonen
- Will Lockwood (#10) eats a shoulder to keep the puck into the offensive zone with a sweep
- Comets pressuring hard and early through the opening four minutes
- Comets need to be a bit more selfish on these two-on-ones
- Lind (#13) solid defensive effort to battle along the boards and clear. His breakout gets picked off, but he retreats and ties up the F1 to prevent any rebound opportunities.
- LOL Casey Fitzgerald tries a blindside hit to the head of Baertschi — Baertschi takes him down with a Baerhug (I’m sorry), and the Comets are off to their second PK of the night
PK1: Tucker, Santini, John Stevens, Joshua
- Dakota Joshua picks off a pass in the d-zone and clears, allowing PK1 to change off for PK2.
PK2: Woo, Wesley, Jasek, Lockwood
- Wesley (#24) clears for the Comets, and Jasek (#9) and Lockwood (#10) fight for a shorthanded scoring chance
- PK1 subs back on, and they face down some frantic Rochester chances before the Baertschi penalty ends
- BY GOD! THEY KILLED HIM! THEY BROKEN LIND (#13) IN HALF!
- Jack Quinn goes wide on Woo (#22) for the tight-angle shot on Gillies
- Bunch of icings and goalie stoppages through the middle of the second frame that drastically slows the pace in this one
- Lind (#13) gains the zone on the left side, holds the puck, then turns to pass for Mitch Reinke (#28), who enters the zone for a shot on goal
- Anas (#7) fights off the hook in the neutral-zone to gain entry before play is blown dead. Comets to the powerplay
PP2: Nolan Stevens, Santini, Focht, Jasek, Gadjovich
- [GOAL – UTICA – 1-0 Comets] Lukas Jasek (#9) gets the Comets on the board with a glorious tip from the slot off a Steven Santini (#8) point-shot. PP2 cycling effectively before Focht (#19) sauces a pass to Santini on the point. Jasek with a tip so good that even AHL. Tv trackers having trouble pinpointing the goalscorer!
- LOL Matej Pekar and Dakota Joshua get into a little roughhousing before the start of the faceoff, and both go off. The game goes to 4v4 for two minutes.
- Tyler Tucker (#2) joins the rush on the 4v4 but loses the puck. Sven Baertschi (#47) pressures on the forecheck and steals the puck.
- Baertschi dishes off to a wide-open Lind (#13), who rips a one-timer into the chest of Luukkonen
- 4v4 ends, and we’re back to 5v5
- Focht (#19) gets the puck poked off of him in the neutral zone, and the Amerks get a one-timer scoring chance from Brett Murray and Dalton Smith. Gillies with a big stop.
- Tyler Tucker (#2) turns the puck over behind the net of Gillies, but Lind (#13) is perfectly positioned to lift the stick of Brett Murray and prevent a dangerous scoring chance
- ACTION in BOTH ends! Baertschi (#47) whips a wrister and looks to the ref to say it went under the bar. Rochester with a chance the opposite way, and Lind takes a slashing penalty.
- Tough break for the Comets after thinking they had increased their lead to two… now onto their third PK of the night
- Refs reconvene and come away to confirm “no goal.”
- [GOAL – ROCHESTER – 1-1 Tie] Ya hate to see it. Rochester with ‘the Horvat’ powerplay method. This time Jean-Sebastian Dea fans on his one-timer a bit but still manages to beat Gillies on his blocker side. Bit of a misread by the penalty-killers. First, Hugh McGing (#14) pushes out to take on Arttu Ruotsalainen at the top of the circle instead of letting Jasek chase. Then, Wesley (#24) turns to the outside to face Ruotsalainen’s pass, leaving Dea unattended by all three of Jasek, McGing, and Wesley. Woo (#22) gets caught puck watching and basically lets Dea take the shot unchallenged. Bit of a goof from a young PK unit.
- Wesley is the most experienced player of that group, with 135 ECHL GP and 76 AHL GP. Jasek second with 129 AHL GP. McGing and Woo both making the jump from the NCAA and WHL, respectively.
- Time winds down on a tight period.
- Comets outshot narrowly, ten to eight, but still have a considerable lead overall, 22 to 16.
- [GOAL – ROCHESTER- 2-1 Americans] Wow. Sixteen seconds into the third period, Remi Elie races onto a dump-in and rifles the puck over Gillies’ blocker-side.
- Comets caught on their heels to start the third — Woo ices the puck with 18:40 remaining. Tough goings early
- An awkward scene in the Comets zone as Tucker (#2) and Santini (#8) let Michael Mersch take a shot from the point-blank range, then a couple additional whacks at Gillies pads uncontested
- A breakaway chance for Lind, who throws the puck into the chest of Luukkonen again
- Rochester ices the puck, and the Comets finally get some consistent ice-time in the Amerks zone.
- Dalton Smith gets called for high-sticking off of a d-zone draw, and the Comets get their third powerplay of the night.
PP1: Baertschi, Reinke, Anas, Walker, Lind
- Lind wins the draw, but the Comets are forced out. Struggling for possession.
- Lind (#13) shoots through the legs and into the glove of Luukkonen off of a pass from Baertschi (#47)
PP2: Focht, Jasek, Santini, Gadjovich, Nolan Stevens
- [GOAL – UTICA – 2-2 Tie] Jonah Gadjovich ties the game at two! Jasek (#9) wins the faceoff back to Carson Focht (#19) on the blue line, who rips a slapper on Luukkonen. Luukkonen doesn’t control well, and Gadjovich (#21) taps in the rebound from the slot! PP2 with two tallies tonight!
- Comets looking refreshed after the Gadjovich tally. Passing well and maintaining possession
- Steven Santini has his stick slashed out of his hand by Dalton Smith, and he draws another penalty against Rochester. BACK to the powerplay!
- Cull recognizing the strength of PP2 and starts them first on the powerplay!
- Jasek wins the faceoff back to Santini and the Comets get an early shot on Luukkonen
- A couple of wild bounces after a pass from Nolan Stevens (#17) bounces off the skate of Jasek (#9), then off of the skate of Gadjovich at the net-front and back to Jasek for a one-timer.
- PP1 out for the following faceoff after PP2 gets several good looks
- [GOAL – UTICA – 3-2 Comets] and just like that! The Comets are back in the lead! Sam Anas (#7) with another gorgeous centering-pass from the right wall to Nathan Walker (#12), who gets his second goal in as many games from the exact same spot.
- A dangerous chance for Rochester after the Comets lose possession in the neutral zone, springing the Amerks ahead on a two-on-none. Fortunately, Steven Fogarty trips on the breakaway chance, flubbing the opportunity.
- Focht gets away with a trip in the neutral zone after almost getting stripped of the puck.
- Baertschi with a solid play at the Comet s blue line to force out a Rochester attacker and push him back into his end
- Jett Woo (#22) steps up to the red-line to dump the puck. Jasek (#9) with a funny little kick pass to Walker (#12) while under pressure
- Dakota Joshua (#11) with the entry, toe-drag, and shot off the post
- Gadjovich (#21) forces the turnover, allowing Lockwood (#10) to steal and set up Gadjovich for a tip-attempt. Focht (#19) backhands the rebound.
- Focht takes a tripping penalty with less than eight to go.
PK1: Tucker, Santini, Stevens, Joshua
- Good PK for the Comets so far as the Amerks powerplay units get forced out and fail to get set up
- [GOAL – ROCHESTER – 3-3 Tie] Unlucky, Oskari Laaksonen winds up for a bomb that gets tipped at the last second by Steven Fogarty. Once again, Comets leaving their crease unattended on the PK. Not sure if that’s intentional, but it’s a strategy that has not worked thus far tonight.
- Comets get an offensive zone faceoff after another odd bounce into the benches. Unfortunately, they lose the ensuing faceoff and are forced out.
- Both teams appearing content to play “dump and chase.”
- Some late pressure from the Comets fourth-line. Gadjovich (#21) screening at the net-front
- First-line with some late pressure — throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Luukkonen
- Dylan Blujus with a pretty blatant high-stick on Nolan Stevens, but the refs ignore it.
- Jasek gets a stick caught in his skates and goes to push off and then goes down awkwardly. Hopefully, nothing serious.
- Time winds down, and this one is going to overtime.
- Comets outshoot the Amerks badly in the final frame fifteen to nine. 38 TO 26 overall
- Anas, Lind, Santini start OT
- Lind (#13) and Baertschi (#47) combining for a chance in OT
- Rochester cycling in the Comets zone effectively – Lind caught out for over a minute and a half; absolutely gassed
- Nathan Walker hops on with Jett Woo and Lukas Jasek
- Walker goes wide and drives towards the net but loses control of the puck and knocks Luukkonen’s net off its moorings in the process
- John and Nolan Stevens out with Steven Santini for a twirl (cute)
- Steven Santini (#8) muscles down his check, then races down the ice for a scoring chance
- the Stevens brothers effect
- Joshua on the ice for a chance but holds a bit too long — gets tripped up at the Amerks goal line, but again, no call.
- Huge miscommunication as the Comets get caught with only two players on the ice as the Amerks break into the zone. Jasek races down into the d-zone and picks up the puck.
- Another huge chance for Utica in OT, as Baertschi (#47) and Jasek (#9) race on a two-on-one. Baertschi patiently waits out the defender, hooks a pass to Jasek, but Luukkonen makes a big stop on Jasek’s shot.
- Baertschi (#47) with a late block off the toe and a late chance from Jean-Sebastian Dea as time expires
- ROCHESTER – Dalton Smith – goal
- UTICA – Kole Lind – saved
- ROCHESTER – Jack Quinn – goal
- UTICA – Sam Aanas – goal
- ROCHESTER – Jean-Sebastian Dea – GOAL
Rochester Def. Utica via Shootout 4-3
- Props where it’s due, a tired Comets team pushed a rested Amerks squad to its limit. Backing them up with two goals in two minutes on the powerplay and dominating them in shots on goal. Unfortunately, the Comets penalty-killers weren’t up to snuff against an experienced veteran group led by Jean-Sebastian Dea, Steven Fogarty, and Remi Elie. Canucks can take solace that they are earning moral-victories in both organizations! They overachieved in this one.
- Getting a feeling that my “do something” section has “manifest” energies to it. Tonight both Kole Lind and Sven Baertschi were electric at 5v5. They were defensively sound and constantly creating in the offensive end. Really impressive games from both tonight.
- Notice Mitch Eliot and Will Lockwood went pretty MIA as the game tightened up in the third period. As I said in the last CH, Lockwood has many raw physical abilities and instincts, but using them to net positive results seems to be absent. Not sure if that’s an IQ thing or what. Both players had several really good looks during the game, but you could tell that Cull had considerably shortened the bench.
- Lockwood and Blues prospect, Hugh McGing, were the only two skaters to not register shots on goal tonight. McGing is kind of a mystery… he looks like he’s trying really hard and has quite decent shot-control measures, but I never see him with the puck or controlling the puck himself. Might have to pay more attention during my tracking session to see what that’s all about.
- Two penalties aside, I thought Focht had a really good game tonight. Looked much more comfortable with his shot. Need more of that. Trust your feelings.
- Steven Santini was a horse for the Comets tonight and was on the ice for 26 minutes again. Premiere penalty-killer, 5v5 minute-muncher. When Cull chops up the minutes of Woo, Wesley, and Eliot, it’s because he’s using Santini and Tucker as much as possible.
- Another strong game from Lukas Jasek on the faceoff dot. Both powerplay goals that he contributed to came because of his faceoff-wins. Always strong in puck-battles and consistent in both ends of the ice.
- Comets have earned points in four of their five games this season. It isn’t quite an eight-game win streak to start the season, but for a team this young, you’ll take moral victories like this any day of the week. Yes, you’d have liked to see Focht not take that penalty late in the third. But in all fairness, the reffing was kind of all over the place—quite a few weak calls made in favour of several blatant infractions by both sides.
- Farmies and Comets Harvest readers will remember that the Comets of last season and the season prior were absolutely awful at out-shooting their opponents. It’s quite wild to see a team that once relied heavily on opportunistic shooting and aggressive pinches from four of five skaters suddenly become a team reliant on patient defensive play and offence generation from heavy forechecking presence. Kudos to the coaching staff for overhauling their methods.
- Also, respect to the coaches for putting together an OT trio comprised of two brothers. That’s pretty cute.
- Final thoughts belong to Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, who was an absolute wall for the Amerks tonight. Stopped 35 of 38 shots and really kept his team alive in the third period, where they were getting crushed by shots on goal.
- Trade for Sam Anas and play him with Höglander
COMETS HARVEST THREE STARS:
- Lukas Jasek
- Carson Focht
- Steven Santini
HM: Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen
Next Up on the Docket:
The Comets get another week off to work out the kinks of their game. They return next Friday/Saturday for a repeat of this week, as they again take on the Syracuse Crunch and Rochester Americans in a back-to-back.
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