Fresh off their absolute destruction of the Rochester Americans, the Utica Comets are back at it again in dem white vans as they hit the road for an away game against the Syracuse Crunch!
The Comets have split the season series with the Crunch, 1-1-0-0, with both teams trading blowout victories. The Crunch are currently winning the goal-differential battle, having outscored the Comets eight to six.
The last time these two met on the heel of a back-to-back, the Comets controlled shot-attempts adequately at 5v5 — out-attempting the Crunch by +10 over 60 minutes of action.
In that game, the wheels came off at the start after the Comets gave up a shorthanded goal on their first powerplay of the night.
Discipline hasn’t been the Comets’ strong suit this season, but who can fault them? A group loaded with as many rookies as they are is bound to take penalties as they climatize to AHL hockey. They’re currently third in the league for the most times spent shorthanded while running the 24th ranked penalty-kill.
Just want to send some praise over to everyone’s favourite elderly man-child, Jonah Gadjovich, for his production to start this season.
Gadj’s three-point night last night against Rochester leapfrogged him to a tie with recently called-up Sam Anas for first on the team in scoring.
Personally, I don’t think anyone expected that.
There are some asterisks involved in that he’s a three-year AHL veteran playing on a third-line in fairly sheltered minutes that don’t require him to be an elite two-way player. Right now, he’s got Will Lockwood and Carson Focht doing most of the defensive play, breakouts, and passing, while he’s usually the dump & chase, retrieval, board-battle, and net-front guy.
I still have doubts about his defensive play and skating, but he’s been a completely reliable goal-scoring forward at the AHL level. Especially at 5v5.
I mean, look at that chart! Gadjovich currently has points on 35% of the Comets 5v5 goals. He has double the 5v5 goals than the next goalscorer, John Stevens, who picked up two in last night’s game.
I genuinely wonder if the line-blender will benefit Gadjovich and if Cull will look to slide him with Baertschi and Lind to try and get something out of those two distributors?
At the very least, it’s a promising start and fantastic production from one of the Canucks forgotten prospects.
I don’t think he’s knocking on the door for NHL time this season, but hell, anything’s possible with this dumpster fire of a team.
If he can just get passable skating consistently, maybe that call-up conversation starts happening. Until then, however, we can appreciate him for being the only consistent source of 5v5 production to this team.
You really have to wonder why the Canucks didn’t give Jack Rathbone at least one game to see what he could do.
Absolutely loved everything I saw from Rathbone in his first game of the season.
He needs to start shooting pucks, stop being fancy, and just throw shots on the net. He has a great one-timer and wrister; he needs to use it. He’s currently earned one 5v5 point in his last five games while being on-ice for only three goals at 5v5 all season.
I know the first-line matchups are tough… but I need to see something at evens from Lind.
- Looks like John Stevens remains out with injury; he left after the Comets early PK in the third period against Rochester and did not return.
- LOL, Hugh McGing had a pretty unremarkable game for Utica last night, but even with John Stevens out, the coach elects to go with seven D rather and play ‘line blender all night rather than play him. What a condemnation.
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- Comets pushed into their zone for the first 45 seconds — Kielly gloves the first shot of the night.
- Josh Teves attempts to send Jonah Gadjovich behind the defence with a rebound off the end boards, but Gadj doesn’t have the speed to beat out the icing. Fun idea though
- [GOAL – UTICA – 1-0 Comets] Eh wadaya say, it’s Vinny Fackin’ Arseneau ova ‘ere! Lukas Jasek (#9) wins the d-zone faceoff to Jett Woo (#22), who hands off to Jack Rathbone (#3) for the breakout pass. Arseneau (#18) picks up the pass in the neutral zone and casually walks in for a wrister that beats Sam Montembeault’s glove side. I can’t believe the Comets pbp guy said Arseneau doesn’t have hands. Smh. Arseneau picks up his second goal in as many nights.
- Rathbone with his fourth assists in two games. Should be an assist for Jett Woo on that one as well
- Jake Kielly, with a massive stop off of the ensuing center-ice faceoff draw
- Good scoring chances for the Comets first-line after Tyler Tucker (#2) gets away with a trip in the d-zone.
- Looks like Wesley is sliding in as the seventh defenceman actually, not as a forward as previously guessed
- Syracuse takes a faceoff violation in the d-zone, and the Comets get their first powerplay opportunity with 15:50 left in the period.
PP1: Lind, Baertschi, McKenzie, Reinke, N. Stevens
- Comets PP1 struggling to set up in the offensive zone. Eventually, they put themselves offside, and PP2 comes out.
PP2: Jackson, Focht, Gadjovich, Rathbone, Jasek
- Robby Jackson (#23) picks up a loose puck and passes to Rathbone (#3), who rifles a shot into the body of Boris Katchouk. No mercy from this kid.
- Rathbone almost picks up another assist after setting up Gadjovich at the net-front for a tap-in, but Montembeault smothers it.
- Great puck movement from PP2 in the dying seconds of the powerplay. Carson Focht (#19), Rathbone (#3), and Jasek (#9) combine for some crisp, quick passes before Jasek sets up Gadjovich (#21) for the redirect attempt at the front of the goal.
- On the continuing play, I liked Focht’s (#19) work along the boards here to strip Katchouk of the puck and maintain the zone for Utica.
- Rathbone (#3) picks off a pass in the neutral zone and just slices and dices around three Crunch defenders into the offensive zone for a shot on Montembeault.
- Jack Rathbone steps up in the neutral zone to prevent Syracuse’s break-in and draws an interference penalty. Comets get their second powerplay of the night.
PP1: Lind, Baertschi, McKenzie, Reinke, N. Stevens
- [GOAL – UTICA – 2-0 Comets] Lind picks up his first goal in four games with a nifty tip on Mitch Reinke’s point-shot (#28).
- Gadjovich (#21) and Will Lockwood (#10) capitalizing on numerous egregious turnovers by the Syracuse Crunch.
- Good effort on the shift, even if it doesn’t result in any shots on goal.
- Focht (#19), with a good look at the front of the Crunch’s net he quickly settles for a shot off of Montembeault’s shoulder before catching his own rebound to set up Jett Woo (#22) for a one-timer
- It’s a long clip, but I really wanted to highlight this great shift from Baertschi (#47), even if it didn’t result in a goal. A blocked shot into a breakout skate, fantastic reads on the Crunch’s breakout plans, stealing passes, a missed shot, and eventually a glorious chance at the front of the net. Unfortunately, he can’t settle the puck in time for a shot.
- Syracuse, with their first bit of sustained pressure in the Comets’ zone, comes with eight minutes left in the period. Good plays by Kaspick, Eliot, and Teves to prevent any tip-in attempts
- Josh Wesley (#24) steps up along the Crunch’s blue line to force a turnover to Gadjovich (#21), who turns to the slot for a shot attempt. Gadjovich must’ve read about my concerns with his skating because he looked agile AF on this shift. He has, all night, actually.
- Wow, what a night for Sven Baertschi (#47)! Baertschi blocks a shot in the Comets’ d-zone and generates a breakaway opportunity where he eventually gets taken down from behind by a backchecking Syracuse defender. Baertschi earns the penalty shot.
- Montembeault comes up big on Baertschi’s (#47) penalty shot as he gets a piece of the backhand with his glove
- [GOAL – SYRACUSE – 2-1 Comets] Syracuse cut the lead to one after Mitch Eliot (#52) is late to react to a centering pass from Gage Goncalves to Otto Somppi. Eliot will probably want that one back as it should’ve been just an easy stick-lift on his part to prevent that goal.
- Syracuse with a bit of momentum after the Somppi goal.
- Sean Day wheels around the perimeter as the Comets fumble their coverage, and Jake Kielly is forced to make a huge one-timer stop on Gabe Fortier from the crease.
- Comets continuing to be pressured by the Crunch late in the period when Jett Woo gets called for a ‘holding the stick’ minor.
PK1: Lockwood, Kaspick, Tucker, Reinke
- Digging Lockwood’s (#10) movement on the PK here. PLUS, A great block from Tucker (#2).
- PK1 caught on the ice for a long shift
- One minute and twenty-five seconds and Tucker (#2) and Lockwood (#10) combine for more blocks, but still can’t clear. The bench loves it.
- Jake Kielly makes a big stop but doesn’t control the rebound. Fortunately, Kaspick picks it up and clears for PK1 to mercifully change.
PK2: Jasek, McKenzie, Teves, Eliot
- Wow, the Woo penalty ends, and moments later, Mitch Eliot takes a boarding penalty to put the Comets back onto the PK. Trent Cull won’t like that from his d-man
PK1: Tucker, Reinke, Kaspick, N. Stevens
- Crunch spend opening 40 queuing up for a shooting lane. Eventually, Kielly gloves down a weak shot that was going wide. PK1 changes off
PK2: Jasek, Woo, Lockwood, Teves
- Teves with a block on a one-timer
- Teves (#4) with a great effort to knock Serron Noel off his feet to prevent any rebound opportunities and allow Lockwood (#10) to clear.
- LOL, Jimmy Huntington receives a pass in behind the Comets PK but falls on his ass trying to settle the puck. Pretty funny blown opportunity
- Josh Wesley and Curtis McKenzie step on to join Jasek and Tucker for the PK
- Eliot’s penalty ends, and time winds down on the period
- Syracuse, with those two late powerplays, end up out-shooting the Comets sixteen to thirteen
- Kielly looking strong tonight for the Comets
- Early aggression from the Crunch to start the middle-frame that puts the Comets’ on their heels in the defensive zone
- Lind (#13), after a bit of a yikes pass to the front of Kielly’s crease, takes a bit of a soft tripping penalty while forechecking in the offensive zone
- Comets to their third PK of the night
PK1: Kaspick, Eliot, Teves, Lockwood
- Lockwood with a couple good hits on the PK to help Teves clear
- PK1 changes, and Nolan Stevens and Curtis McKenzie hop on as the forwards
- Sam Montembeault with a giveaway to Nolan Stevens (#17), who turns to set up Curtis McKenzie (#81). McKenzie looks to the heavens after he rips his shot off of the post.
- That would’ve been a fantastic shorthanded goal for the Comets.
- Jett Woo (#22) takes a brutal shot off his hand and is very slow to get up. Woo’s a tough customer, though, as he grits out the remainder of his PK shift.
- Lind out of the box and the game returns to 5v5.
- Gadjovich (#21) lays a hit on Peter Abbandonato in the neutral zone, allowing Jasek (#9) to steal the puck. Jasek eats a hit but sends Gadjovich (#21) into the offensive zone for a breakaway. Gadjovich gets tripped after his shot-release and gives a glare to the refs for the non-call.
- Gadjovich searching for his seventh goal of the year. Rathbone (#3) joins a board battle in the offensive-zone and squeezes the puck out to Jasek (#9), who slaps a pass out to Focht (#19) at the point. Focht hands off to Eliot (#52), who threads a slap-pass to Gadjovich (#21) at the net-front for two dangerous chances.
- Robby Jackson (#23) gets stripped of the puck in the offensive zone, but Jack Rathbone (#3) races through the neutral-zone to stop the breakaway chance. Fantastic wheels on display here
- Crunch with some more pressure in the Comets zone, but Kielly still staying strong between the pipes with glove saves
- Jett Woo back out for a shift!
- Jake Kielly takes a bump as the Crunch continues to pressure. Odd non-call
- Lind (#13) with great separation in the neutral zone for a zone-entry and shot on goal
- Lockwood (#10) displaying some great wheels on his forecheck
- Tucker (#2) with a bad giveaway in the d-zone that results in a shot on Kielly.
- Lind (#13) and Baertschi (#47) forechecking. Eventually, Lind sets up Rathbone (#3) for a one-timer. Rathbone then gets on his horse to retreat to the d-zone, lickety-split.
- Great defensive play from Josh Teves (#4) to deny Otto Somppi a shot and a centering pass while on the retreat
- [GOAL – UTICA – 3-1 Comets] Eh, Woah!? Vinny Gabba-who? Vinny Arseneau dats fackin’ who! Make dat tree goals in two’s nights for da big dominooch from Les Isles De La Madeleine’s! Great celly as he pots his second of the night off an awful giveaway by Sam Montembeault to Robby Jackson’s (#23) stick. Jackson earns a point in his first game of the season.
- Crunch get a zone-entry off of another Tucker giveaway.
- Another long shift for the Comets before Curtis McKenzie mercifully carries the puck out to center-ice for a dump and change.
- Nice entry from the first-line until Baertschi’s (#47) pass goes a little too hard off Lind’s (#13) stick.
- Luke Witkowski has his shot-attempt broken up by Rathbone (#3), but a trailing Peter Abbandonato picks up the puck for a shot. Kielly kicks the rebound out to Witkowski, who forces Kielly into making a heroic diving glove save
- [GOAL – SYRACUSE – 3-2 Comets] Back within one, the Comets get caught out on a long shift resulting in Ryan Lohin earning an easy tap-in goal on another uncontrolled Kielly kick save.
- The Crunch entered the Comets zone and prepared to set-up, but Brady Keeper took a blatant slashing penalty against Curtis McKenzie. Comets to the powerplay with less than three to go in the second
- Comets with a chance to regain some momentum
PP1: Lind, Baertschi, Reinke, McKenzie, N. Stevens
- PP1 forced to reset from behind Kielly’s net
- Reinke (#28) sets up McKenzie (#81) for a tight-angle shot
- Oh, snap, Luke Witkowski sends the puck over the glass to give the Comets a 5-on-3 powerplay.
- Cull has to put out Rathbone for this.
- And he does! Rathbone swaps for McKenzie
- Reinke (#28) with a shot on goal, Nolan Stevens (#17) late to the uncontrolled rebound
- Baertschi (#47) rotates and hands off to Jack Rathbone (#3) for a blistering one-timer that goes off a Syracuse skaters’ skate.
- Rathbone (#3) defends a shorthanded rush by Taylor Raddysh adequately in a 1v1. Great work to poke the puck off of Raddysh’s stick.
- It was a tough period for the Comets, but they wind up tying the Crunch in shots ten to ten.
- Comets start the third period with a very minor twelve-second powerplay.
- And they lose the faceoff draw, killing any powerplay set-up hopes.
- What a baffling play. Tyler Tucker gets hit in the face with a high-stick…at the exact same time, Carson Focht with an errant stick to a Syracuse player’s face.
- Focht heads to the box for high-sticking… the Crunch player did not lol.
PK1: Kaspick, McKenzie, Tucker Reinke,
- Kaspick with an easy clear to kill off thirty seconds of the Focht penalty
PK2: Jasek, Woo, Teves, N. Stevens
- Woo with a chance to clear, but it goes off of Brady Keeper’s body and stays in the zone; tough break.
- Comets kill the penalty, and the Crunch ice the puck.
- Lockwood (#10) with a great spin to the outside to evade his check before breaking his own ankles along the wall. Lockwood draws a penalty against Brady Keeper on the play to put the Comets back onto the powerplay.
- Lind loses the draw, and PP1 has to reset from the Comets end.
- Good pressure from PP1 after they set up in the offensive zone; Baertschi (#47) takes out the ref with a trip. No call on the play.
- PP1 with a tonne of shot-attempts on this powerplay, finally.
- PP2 out for the final thirty seconds
- Gadjovich with a look, but Montembeault staying strong.
- Josh Wesley takes a lashing penalty way behind the play, and the Comets are back onto their fifth penalty-kill of the night.
PK1: McKenzie, Kaspick, Tucker, Reinke
- A big block from Tucker early that springs the Comets ahead for a shorthanded chance
- PK1 plays the puck around all corners of the ice to wind down the clock.
- Crunch then put themselves offside on a zone-entry
PK2: Lockwood, Jasek, Teves, Woo
- Eliot with another solid defensive effort to tie up two Crunch players at the net-front to deny any rebound opportunities
- Crunch goof on a centering pass, allowing Lockwood and Jasek to clear
- Nolan Stevens steals the puck in the dying seconds of the Crunch’s powerplay to spring Tanner Kaspick into the offensive zone as Wesley leaves the box.
- Another brutal giveaway by the Crunch. Otto Somppi gives Tanner Kaspick (#26) a freebie, who then hands off to Nolan Stevens (#17), who rips his shot wide of the goal.
- Will Lockwood (#10) with a big hit on the forecheck
- Arseneau takes an interference penalty, and the Comets are off to their sixth penalty-kill of the night with less than ten remaining.
PK1: Jasek, Kaspick, Tucker, Reinke
- Reinke with two back-to-back clears to kill off the first thirty seconds of the Crunch’s powerplay.
- Woo (#22) with a slick evasion to generate a fantastic three-on-one shorthanded rush for Utica.
- Woo (#22) catches the changing Crunch off-guard with a cross-ice feed to Nolan Stevens (#17), who leads another odd-man rush for Utica. Stevens toe-drags around a sliding Crunch defender before throwing a shot off the glove of Montembeault.
- A fantastic penalty-killing shift from Woo and Nolan Stevens
- A late powerplay chance from Syracuse, but Josh Wesley clears as the Arseneau penalty ends
- Mitch Eliot (#52) with a huge one-timer block on Taylor Raddysh
- Sam Montembeault with another brutal giveaway behind his net. Nearly own-goals himself on the play
- A long shift for the Comets as they get hemmed into their end.
- Nolan Stevens with a one-timer block
- Rathbone (#3) muscles Peter Abbandonato into the Comets end boards then lifts his stick to start the zone exit.
- Gadjovich (#21) with a fantastic effort to dump the puck from the defensive zone and beat out his own icing
- Gadj closes out his shift with a shot on Montembeault to earn the offensive-zone faceoff for the Comets.
- Refs miss a blatant icing by the Crunch.
- Ah, yes. The Crunch ice the puck seconds later anyways.
- 1:40 left in the third, and Montembeault leaves for the extra attacker
- Tucker (#2), with a poke-check, hands the puck to Boris Katchouk, who evades Rathbone (#3). Tucker was forced into a sliding block to deny a centering pass from Katchouk.
- Baertschi picks up the loose puck in the high-slot and spins for a shot at the empty net but misses for the icing instead.
- Crunch put themselves offside and are forced to reset from the neutral zone.
- [GOAL – UTICA – 4-2 Comets] So much for the reset! Lukas Jasek (#9) picks off the zone-entry pass in the neutral zone, banks the puck off the boards to Kole Lind (#13), who wades in towards the open net. With the wide-open net, Lind elects to drop off for the trailing Sven Baertschi (#47), who knocks in his second goal in as many nights. Total ‘king move’ to hand Baertschi the empty-netter.
- With less than one minute to go, the Crunch are up against it to try and tie the game.
- Comets content with moving the puck around the endboards and thwarting the Crunch’s late entry-attempts.
- Horn sounds on this one as the Comets block a boatload of shots and finish the game, having outshot the Crunch eight to four in the final frame, 31 to 30 overall.
Comets defeat Crunch 4-2 in regulation.
- Really solid effort against a well-rested Syracuse team. The Syracuse Crunch have a litany of issues: Lack of depth, messy d-core, suspect goaltending. Given last night’s third-period annihilation, I expected even the shallowest of teams to put up a tough fight. And they did. The Comets looked exhausted when they weren’t able to clear their zone effectively. A lot of shifts were spent hemmed into their zone in the latter half of this game.
- Comets again took six minor penalties tonight. Their PK groups were outstanding. Blocking shots, keeping the Crunch to the perimeter. The PK was one of the few times where the Crunch weren’t able to set up effectively.
- The decision to roll with seven defencemen and eleven forwards paid off tonight. Liked many looks that the forward trios gave in the early goings of tonight’s game. Though, due to exhaustion, they became a bit stale as the game progressed. Comets have done a good job of generating momentum for themselves. Last night, it was crucial shot-blocking from the Comets young d-core on the penalty kill. Tonight, it was the lethal goalscoring prowess of fourth-liner Vincent Arseneau that motivated the troops. Arseneau’s early goal in the first seemed to wake the Comets up a bit in the first half of the period. They ended up shooting themselves in the foot in the second half with back-to-back penalties from Jett Woo and Mitch Eliot.
- The third period was a display of clutch shot and pass blocking through the slot. Crunch still got their looks, but the Comets skaters really held the Crunch to the outside. Crunch had just one or two shots from the slot. Really great work directing traffic to the outside for shots. That extra space really helped Kielly to make clean glove saves.
- Speaking of which, Kielly was fantastic tonight! Those few shots from close to the net were unreal stops from him. Rebound control still needs work. Probably handed the Crunch a few extra opportunities than were necessary. He isn’t very active around the net either. Rarely leaves to play the puck. Montembeault, on the other hand, was constantly out of his net trying to play the puck. That activity resulted in that second Arseneau goal that really put the Comets over. I’ll take safe and reliable over whatever it was that Montembeault was trying to accomplish tonight. Great win for Kielly. Colour me impressed!
- Jonah Gadjovich didn’t end up on the scorecard, but I thought he had a fantastic game. Skating looked great. Forechecking resulted in some unruly stretches of pressure for the Comets, good hits, good shots on goal. Loved what I saw from him tonight on nearly every shift. Would love to see him get a look with Baertschi and Lind.
- Kole Lind still didn’t find the net at 5v5, but two points are two points. Was his usual self; flashy, aggressive, good skates, but I liked how much more willing he was to throw shots on the net. He finished the night with four shots on goal, tying the aforementioned Gadjovich and Sven Baertschi for the most on the team.
- Jett Woo might be salvaging his stock pretty considerably here with the way he’s played in Utica to start the year. Solid skates, good passes, love his willingness to hop in and contribute offence. He and Rathbone have been dynamite in two games. Pleasantly surprised with his utility in all areas of the ice, his willingness to hit, fight, and work on every shift.
- Will Lockwood, not on the scoreboard but another solid night of little things. Hope he can start being more confident in generating offence on his own. He has the raw tools to do it. Several times his forechecking presence forced the Crunch into losing possession of the puck, but he was reluctant to trust himself in stealing said puck to generate chances. He’s easily a top-3 skater on the team; coaching needs to let him fly and encourage him to trust his instincts. Obi-Wan style.
- Carson Focht looked good early, faded a bit as the game progressed. Wasn’t really noticeable late.
- Tyler Tucker continues to be a complete 50/50 player. Either he’s blocking shots, stealing pucks, or poking the puck off of his opponent’s sticks. Or, he’s icing the puck, turning over the puck inside the d-zone, or getting lost in his coverage. It’s bizarre. Not Canucks problem, though, lol.
- Josh Teves with another solid game even if he didn’t end up on the scoreboard. Like his speed on the penalty-kill.
- Jack Rathbone is legitimately smurfing in the AHL. I cannot believe the Canucks spent half the season sheltering Olli Juolevi when they could’ve had Rathbone on the ice. I don’t mean to poo-poo Juolevi, but Rathbone’s skating is just miles ahead of Juolevi’s. Should’ve given him at least one game. He’s currently at four points in two games played.
- Jasek with another solid night playing up and down the lineup. He had a long minute-something shift on the PK, took one shift off, then was back out with Baertschi and Lind as they dominated the offensive zone with control and shot-attempts. Kid’s a workhorse and might be useful to the Canucks should they ever sort out their cap-issues and utilize what they’ve produced internally versus what they’ve acquired through free-agency.
COMETS HARVEST THREE STARS
- Vincent Arseneau
- Jake Kielly
- Jonah Gadjovich
HM: Jett Woo, Lukas Jasek
Next Up on the Docket
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