— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) May 12, 2021
Time …to move.
Tonight is the last home game for this Vancouver Canucks iteration of the Utica Comets.
Let’s hope they give the home crowd something to remember Vancouver by.
Their opponent over the next three games is the Rochester Americans, who recently had a bevy of tweeners join their ranks with the conclusion of Buffalo’s season.
Very Canuck-luck to play your last home game against a Rochester Americans squad that is arguably the most loaded it’s been all season.
Carson Focht is the Harvest’s choice to “do something” in tonight’s finale at the Adirondack Bank Center.
Last game, Focht was put on a very bizarre fourth-line featuring Vinny Arseneau and Shawn Cameron. The line did not get scored on, but they also didn’t generate much of anything either.
Tonight, Focht slides back onto a line with Curtis McKenzie and Hugh McGing, so hopefully, that will help him out in terms of production.
- Joel Hofer got a call-up to the Blues, so DiPietro will likely be the Comets starter for the final three games of the season.
- Glad to see Focht on a line with McKenzie again, they had good chemistry, and the decision to split that up in Monday’s game seemed odd.
- Keean Washkurak slides in for Tanner Kaspick on the Comets fourth line
- Washkurak has shown decent enough speed but has not wowed at either end of the rink.
- Tanner Kaspick coming out of the lineup for Washkurak is an odd choice. Kaspick is a 1st-out penalty killer with decent wheels.
- Comets will have to hope they stay out of the box tonight
Don’t feel like reading? Click here for spoilers!!
- Buffalo Sabres’ all-star goalie, Michael Houser, makes the first save of the evening on a shot from Lukas Jasek.
- Brett Murray with a huge shot on Dipietro; Rochester has spent the bulk of the opening three minutes inside the Comets zone.
- GOAL – UTICA – 1-0 COMETS: It could only be you! Vinny Arseneau opens the scoring off a slick setup from Shawn Cameron (#15) from behind the net of Michael Houser. Keean Washkurak picks up his first point with a relay along the half-wall to Cameron, who gives a shimmy shake to get around Patrick Polino for the centering one-timer pass to Arseneau (#18). Great shift from the Comets fourth line to generate some momentum for the Comets.
- Carson Focht attempts to clear the Comets d-zone with a high-flip but sends it over the glass. Comets to the PK with thirteen minutes left in the period.
- Rochester rocks the league’s best powerplay at a 27.7% success rate.
PK1 – Jasek, John Stevens, Tucker, Wesley
- Stevens wins the draw to Tucker, who immediately sends the puck down the ice.
- The first PK group gets caught out on the ice for a long shift; DiPietro makes one save, then Tucker makes another long clear down the ice to allow the tired PK group to change.
PK2 – Nolan Stevens, McKenzie, Teves, Eliot
- Josh Teves (#4) picks off a weak pass from Brandon Hawkins and clears the puck to kill off the remainder of Focht’s penalty.
- Dalton Smith with a dangerous breakaway chance after rookies Keean Washkurak and Nathan Staios get caught deep inside Rochester’s zone. Fortunately, Smith rips his shot wide of the goal.
- Teves (#4) gives away the puck inside the offensive zone and hands the Amerks a dangerous two-on-one breakaway. Teves hightails it to the d-zone to defend as DiPietro makes a solid shoulder block on a shot by Matthias Samuelsson.
- An unbelievable moment that will go down in Utica Comets history books as Dalton Smith desperately tries to goad Arseneau (#18) into a scrap only for Arseneau to show restraint! He draws the roughing penalty against Smith, and the Comets get their first powerplay of the night.
- Smith was looking for a “code” based fight in response to Arseneau’s boarding against Ryan Jones that earned Arseneau his four-game suspension.
- Oh, and also, there’s some Jett Woo dangles around Brendan Warren in the above clip.
PP1 – Stevens Bros, Anas, Bärtschi, and Jasek
- Comets win the faceoff draw, and Jasek sets up Bärtschi with a perfect one-timer pass, but Bärtschi flubs on the shot.
- The next faceoff isn’t as successful for Utica, as they lose out on possession and have to reset from the d-zone.
- Houser with a big save against John Stevens (#16), then a follow-up save on Nolan Stevens (#17) on the rebound.
PP2 – Cameron, McGing, McKenzie, Focht, Woo
- PP2 with not many looks in their thirty seconds as the game returns to 5-on-5
- Arseneau (#18) tees up a clapper off a zone entry, catches the Amerks clearing attempt and sets up Tucker (#2) for a wrist shot of his own.
- Sam Anas (#7) draws a hooking penalty against Brandon Hawkins after pulling off a sneaky inside-move to break the puck out of the d-zone.
- Comets off to their second powerplay of the game with 2:05 remaining in the first
PP1 – Five-Forward PP 4ever
- Nolan Stevens wades in for a shot that deflects over the glass; Amerks clear the puck off the ensuing faceoff. PP1 has to reset from the d-zone.
- PP2 hops over the boards after a clearance from the Amerks
PP2 – McKenzie, Focht, McGing, Woo, Alexandrov
- Alexandrov misses his hold on the blue line, and time winds down on the powerplay and the period
- Comets outshoot the Amerks eleven to nine over the opening twenty minutes
- Breakaway chance for Sven Bärtschi in the opening thirty seconds, but he gets muscled off his shot attempt
- Amerks get caught with too many men on the ice, and the Comets head to the powerplay.
- PP2 starts
- Focht misses two shot attempts wide of the goal, Amerks clear the zone off both missed shots.
- PP1 takes over
- Amerks clear
- Comets powerplay struggles continue; 0/3 so far this game
- Lukas Jasek (#9) closes a long shift in the offensive zone with a great defensive play on Brendan Warren in the d-zone.
- An ugly sequence of events for Utica as they get pinned into the d-zone by Rochester
- GOAL – UTICA – 2-0 COMETS: Wooooooooooooooooooooo! Jett Woo notches his third goal of the season thanks to a bizarre hop off the stick of Michael Houser. Nolan Stevens (#17) starts the sequence by quickly moving the puck out of the Comets’ d-zone onto Woo’s stick as he’s driving down the right-wing. Woo with a slick little stutter step to stagger Amerks defenceman, Griffin Luce.
- Anas (#7) backhands the puck towards the front of the Amerks net, giving John Stevens (#16) a dangerous scoring opportunity from the crease after the Amerks defenders drop the puck on Stevens’ stick.
- DiPietro faces his first real test of the period on a Remi Elie one-timer. Matej Pekar sets up the dangerous opportunity after stripping the puck off of Arseneau’s (#18) stick inside the Comets’ d-zone and setting up Elie for a one-timer.
- DiPietro with an easy blocker-save on a Rochester breakaway
- Nathan Staios (#45) heads out on an adventure to create a scoring chance at the net-front for Utica.
- Staios (#45) hands Brandon Hawkins a shot attempt off the goalpost after a giveaway inside the d-zone.
- Nolan Stevens (#17) picks off a pass inside the d-zone and races for a shot on Houser, who makes the save.
- Teves (#4) takes either Matej Pekar’s stick or his shot to the face and struggles to get up to his feet.
- Teves makes it to the bench without issue.
- Shawn Cameron (#15) sets up Keean Washkurak (#39) from the half-wall for a headhunter shot on Houser.
- Comets’ replay shows Teves (#4) taking Pekar’s stick right in the schnoz.
- A scrum erupts in DiPietro’s crease after a shot, resulting in Mitch Eliot and Matej Pekar going to the box for offsetting minors.
- Nikita Alexandrov whips a shot wide of Houser as the Comets thoroughly control the puck in the final minute of the period
- Comets outshoot Rochester twelve to nine
- The third period starts with a minute of 4-on-4
- Utica with two back-to-back saves on the Amerks after a brutal string of giveaways from Utica’s third line.
- Rochester with loads of sustained pressure inside the Comets d-zone through the first five minutes of the third period
- Patrick Polino gets called for slashing, and the Comets are off to their fourth powerplay of the game.
PP2 -Woo, Alexandrov, McGing, McKenzie, Focht
- Rochester clears the zone. While forechecking, Brendan Warren collides with the back of DiPietro’s net, which comes off its posts and hits DiPietro in the back of the head.
- DiPietro gets up eventually, but a scary moment nonetheless
- Houser makes a stop, and the five-forward PP1 hops over the boards for the ensuing faceoff
- PP1 struggling to enter the zone with speed, and the powerplay ends as Anas attempts a sharp-angle shot
- DiPietro with a huge save on a Brett Murray slapshot
- Vinny Arseneau (#18) generates an incredible two-on-one breakaway for himself and Shawn Cameron (#15). Michael Houser makes an incredible glove save on Cameron’s wrist shot.
- Jasek nearly makes it three-nothing off a one-timer that misses the net, set up by Nikita Alexandrov (#41).
- Fantastic work along the boards by Alexandrov in the neutral zone to generate the zone entry for Utica
- Tyler Tucker (#2) with a massive shot-block on a Brett Murray slapper
- The Jasek-Stevens-Alexandrov line is dominating the board-battles inside the offensive zone again, with Houser making another huge glove save to hold the Comets lead to two.
- Rochester is turning on the pressure with ten minutes remaining in the third. The Comets are doing great at deflecting shots and keeping the Amerks to the outside, but Amerks pushes to close the gap.
- A nice speedy shift from Hugh McGing gets the Comets back inside the Amerks offensive zone for the first time in a long time.
- DiPietro gloves down a shot after a Comets turnover, and a giant scrum ensues after Carson Focht (#19) one-hand shoves Brett Murray hard to the ice.
- Focht takes a roughing penalty for the shove, and the COmets are off to the penalty kill with less than five remaining.
- Amerks pull Houser for the extra attacked with less than four minutes in the third.
- John Stevens, Teves, Eliot, and Washkurak face the 6-on-4
- DiPietro makes a clutch save, and Mitch Eliot (#52) gets a little rough during the ensuing scrum. Eliot and Rochester’s Michael Mersch take offsetting minor penalties.
- Rochester continues with the 6-on-4 penalty kill.
- Remi Elie mishandles the puck on the Comets blue line, and the Amerks have to reset in the neutral zone.
- GOAL – UTICA – 3-0 COMETS: John Stevens (#16) capitalizes on the Amerks turnover at the Comets blueline to sink the empty netter. Curtis McKenzie (#81) with tremendous pressure at the blue line to force the mishandle by Rochester’s Oskari Laaksonen.
- Rochester pressuring after the faceoff
- GOAL – ROCHESTER – 3-1 COMETS: Nick DeSimone makes a hold at the Comets blue line to set up Dominic Franco for a shot on goal. DiPietro makes the initial save on Franco, but his rebound floats out to Rochester’s Brendan Warren for the tap-in goal. Jett Woo (#22) gets caught up on a long shift in the d-zone on this play that contributes to him losing the battle with Warren around the net front. Tough break for DiPietro, who was a minute away from his first shutout of the year.
- Comets content to cycle the puck around the neutral zone as time winds down on the game. The home crowd stands for their team and begins a Utica chant as time winds down.
- Sam Anas flips Trent Cull the game puck at the end of the game. Class move
- Cull and the Comets stay out on the ice and salute the crowd.
- For the last time as the affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks, the Utica Comets leave the ice.
Utica Comets def. Rochester Americans 3-1
Trent Cull on last home game in Utica: "I was jacked. I told the guys before the game this is the one I wanted. We don’t have playoffs. I just said I wanted this one and I want your best tonight. I thought they did a great job."
— Ben Birnell (@OD_Birnell) May 13, 2021
- What a way for the Utica Comets to close out their final season as the affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks. Rochester had spurts of sustained pressure in the Comets zone, but the Comets stood tall at every opportunity. DiPietro was robbed of a great moment, sadly. A shutout in his final home start at the Adirondack Bank Center would’ve been a beautiful closer to a brutal year. Frankly, DiPietro should’ve closed his 2021 season with way more than six starts out of a possible nine. The kid needed games this year, and somehow Joel Hofer got more starts last week at home than DiPietro did. DiPietro carried the 2019-20 Utica Comets last season and ought to have played every home game in his return. I doubt home/away matters to DiPietro, but the fans deserved to see one of their favourites more than they did. Shitty way to end the relationship between the city of Utica and a beloved netminder.
.@KevinisInGoal wasn't surprised by the Team Canada callup for Mikey DiPietro, however his AHL usage did surprise him.
— Sportsnet 650 (@Sportsnet650) May 13, 2021
- Kevin Woodley puts it better than I could
Trent Cull said there's some discussion that will happen with the organization regarding Mike DiPietro and joining Team Canada for worlds.
Team plays Friday and Sunday at Rochester.
Said he doesn't think Sunday's game will be an option for DiPietro as travel could be involved.
— Ben Birnell (@OD_Birnell) May 13, 2021
- Something to watch for Sunday’s game
- The above tweet would make that only five games of pro hockey played for DiPietro in a year. Just piss-poor asset management from the Canucks.
- Mikey leaving Saturday to play for Team Canada is fantastic for him and his development. However, if he can’t play Friday, then that means he’ll have only suited up for FOUR games of professional hockey in over a calendar year.
That’s enough frustration over DiPietro’s management; let’s talk about the good from tonight’s action!
- Vincent Arseneau disobeying the code and deciding to be an elite power-forward for the home crowd is fantastic stuff. Arseneau was keeping the Amerks on their toes every time the fourth line got inside the offensive zone. The mere threat of Arseneau laying a massive hit was keeping their heads up and opening up the ice for the fourth line to generate significant scoring chances and shot attempts.
- The fourth line combined for six shots on goal, a penalty draw, and one goal on the night
- Arseneau also avoided taking any stupid penalties or game misconducts; a big game for him.
- Nolan Stevens was snakebitten against Rochester tonight, as he had several glorious scoring chances turned away by Michael Houser. Stevens finished his night with the most shots on goal among Comets players with six total.
- Alexandrov falls to below a point-per-game for the first time in his AHL career. Very disappointing. I joke. Alexandrov was a monster along the boards tonight as he, Jasek and Stevens made mincemeat out of the much larger Amerks squad.
- Carson Focht didn’t end up on the score sheet, but he played with some bite tonight. I like his one-timer and creativity. As well, I think Focht has a pretty underrated two-way game. I’m hoping the Comets try him out on the penalty kill in these last few meaningless games. The team needs to find out if Focht can be a suitable replacement for Lukas Jasek, given that Jasek’s current deal expires after this season, and I’m pretty confident that the Canucks aren’t even aware he exists.
- Speaking of whom, Jasek is good. Give him an extension and see if he can be cheap, serviceable depth. He’s legitimately one of the only Canucks prospects with all of the tools in the toolshed, without the elite speed that would make him a top-six forward in the NHL. Canucks need guys who can PK, so why not!?
- With zero points tonight, his six-game point streak came to an end.
- Jett Woo had a solid game tonight, he struggled on the lone goal-against, but I chalk that up to the Comets trying to spend the final three minutes of the game-tying the puck along the boards inside the d-zone. Woo has performed admirably with a rookie d-partner who likes to adventure a lot. Woo looks pretty confident now when driving down the wing with the puck.
- Only two more games remain before Sven Bärtschi is finally free to sign elsewhere in the NHL on a contract that doesn’t suck. Production hasn’t been there for him in the post-COVID layoff, but he’s brought it every night. Still have to think with his skating and offensive IQ that he’d be an effective NHL’er on the right team.
- Tyler Tucker casually at a point-per-game pace over the last six games should be encouraging to Blues fans.
- Canucks should try to lift Nikita Alexandrov out of the St. Louis Blues organization. I don’t know how. But, if they can, they should. The dude is very fun to watch.
- Cheers to the Utica faithful who supported a Canucks farm team that rarely received the attention it needed from its own management group. Hopefully Canucks fans will meet them again in the near future in Calder Playoffs.
COMETS HARVEST THREE STARS
For the first time in three seasons recapping Utica Comets games, I agree with the three stars as selected by the AHL.
- Vincent Arseneau
- Michael DiPietro
- Jett Woo
HM: Nikita Alexandrov
Next Up on the Docket
Comets close out their season with games on Friday and Sunday against the Rochester Americans. The Amerks will be opening and closing a triple-header weekend against Utica, with a game against Syracuse on Saturday.
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