Utica Comets Scouting Report – October 12th, 2014


Courtesy of UticaComets.com

On Sunday, October 12th, I was in Toronto and was
able to be granted Media Access to the Toronto Marlies game where I was able to
scout the Comets play their second regular season game (Quick shout out to the
Marlies for being very east to work with!). 
I was joined by a number of other people from Hockey Twitter including
Jeff Veillette from the Leafs Nation, Timo Seppa and Ryan Wagman of Hockey
Prospectus, and Gus Katsaros from McKeen’s hockey.

I was able to get a bit of scouting coaching from Gus
Katsaros who taught me a few things to look out for.

I also learned a few of his opinions on
Canuck’s prospects which include:

  • Frank Corrado: a very intelligent player who is
    always working on things in the warm up, primarily his skating technique,
    stop/starts, quick cuts and directional changes, shows he knows to use his
    limited ice time to work on deficiencies.
  • Hunter Shinkaruk: Seemed very keen on this
    player, has skills that translate well to the NHL, with solid footwork and pace.
  • Nicklas Jensen: has lots of good attributes, particularly
    skating and solid footwork, but needs to work on his stick handling and some puck
    skills where his hands catch up with his feet
  • Brendan Gaunce: likely to be a utility player in
    the NHL.

Here’s what I took away from this game:

Alex Friesen left before the start of the 3rd period
in the Comets’ previous game, and in his place was Mike Zalewski, starting his first AHL
game.  Lain was hurt in training camp and
is not playing.  The lineup for this
game was: 

Shinkaruk – O’Reilly – DeFazio

Archibald – Jeffrey – Grenier

Kenins – Zalewski – Jensen

Gaunce – Hamilton – Bancks

On defence, the pairings were:




Joacim Eriksson was in net.

The System

The forecheck lead to a 1-2-2 formation.  Gus Katsaros pointed out that the Comets had likely
pre-scouted the Marlies and noticed that when the Comets had the puck in their
defensive zone setting up a break out play the Marlies would passively stand in
the neutral zone.  This allowed the
Comets to send the F1 to dump the puck where F2 on the opposite wing would be
streaking into the offensive zone to pick up the lose puck undefended. 

The powerplay typically used a 1-3-1 formation and shifted to
an overload formation when trying to retrieve the puck in the offensive zone.

On the PK, the Comets seem to use a diamond with 2
defencemen back with varying amount of intensity of chasing the puck
holder.  They try get the puck along the
board where the 2 players, puck side, try and squeeze the opponent to get the
puck back.  The opposite side defencemen
then goes to the front of the net to provide coverage.

In overtime, all players got a chance to play, whether it was
3-on-3 or 4-on-4.  Shifts were kept quite
short and even when it was 3-on-3 Green would keep at least one defencemen on
the ice.

The Players

Hunter Shinkaruk – Very good player in all situations, smart and
making intelligent plays.  Was being used
in all situations including the powerplay. 
Second assist on the first goal by winning the puck and passing to
Grenier.  Noticeable the entire play to
set up the first goal.  Was put on the
ice for the start of overtime alone with Cal O’Reilly and Jensen.

Cal O’Reilly  – Very smart
and knows how to be best situated.  Would
try and defend a 4-on-1 zone entry into the neutral zone by the Marlies on
their breakout.  Had some power play

Brendan DeFazio – Scored the second goal as he followed Gaunce into
the offensive zone on the forecheck in support. 
Marlies goalie did not see him coming on the opposite side of the ice
and DeFazio was able to steal the puck and put it in the empty net.  Blocked many shots and took an
unsportsmanlike penalty. 

Darren Archibald – Did not have as great of a game as he was bumped
down to the fourth line swapping places with Gaunce.  Aggressive on the forecheck.

Dustin Jeffrey – Jeffrey was offensively noticeable all game, was
able to fight for the puck in the defensive zone and then carry it into the
offensive zone.

Alex Grenier – Bumped up in the line up to the first line who set
up the first Comets goal after a cross-ice pass.  Seen a few times setting up Jeffrey for
offensive scoring chances. 

Ronalds Kenins – Had some moments where he was dangling around
players in the offensive zone, looks to be adjusting to the North American
ice.  Received limited ice time towards
the end of the game. 

Mike Zalewski – Noticed him early on strong on the forecheck but
he was not noticeable later in the game. 
This seems to be more pointed at Travis Green who likes to use his top
two lines towards the last half of the game.  
Strong in support on the forecheck, good positioning.  Received limited ice time towards the end of
the game.

Nicklas Jensen – Worked well with his line mates in battling
opponents away from the puck.  Tried to
dangle the puck through two standing Marlies in the offensive zone but was
knocked around.

Brendan Gaunce  – Worked well
with Corrado in physically preventing an opponent from entering the zone with
possession.  Was bumped up in the lines
later in the game.  Set up the second
goal by leading the forecheck on the left side of the ice; as the Marlie’s
goaltender was going to clear the puck he was not aware of DeFazio coming in
support on the other side.

Wacey Hamilton – Would try and rush the puck into the offensive
zone but was cut off by players.  
Aggressive on the boards in the offensive zone to battle for the puck.

Carter Bancks – Fairly quiet on the ice, didn’t stand out as a
player.  Tried to make it up by being
more physical out-of-action by willing to fight players who hit Archibald.  Aggressive on the boards in the offensive
zone to battle for the puck.  Supported
Archibald in the forecheck when he was dropped down the line up.  Set up one of the few OT chances for the
Comets by carrying the puck off the board. 

Kent Huskins – Willing to block shots all game.  Would work in front of the net for a big body
presence on the PK.

Frank Corrado – Good at keeping with his man when trying to
prevent a zone entry.  Almost scored his
first goal by crashing the net and pushing the puck in.

Peter Andersson – Much like Tommernes, was quiet in this game, but
they are known to be quiet defencemen. 
Made a few errors in stick handling the puck to keep it in the offensive

Bobby Sanguinetti – I tried to look out for him as I realized I
had little notes on Sanguinetti.  He
didn’t stand out on his own.  The best
note I took was that he was on the point and broke his stick from a slap
shot.   Started on the ice in overtime
during the 4 on 4.

Henrik Tommernes – Willing to tie up players physically on the
board.  Played the point on the second
powerplay unit.  Was standing still on
the second Marlies goal, to tie up the game, as he watched the puck go by
leaving the Marlies undefended.

Alex Biega – Always offensively noticeable, willing to jump in
the play, stood out as a player in good way as he was always active in the
play.  Much more of an offensive
defencemen at this level. 

Joacim Eriksson – Seemed a big sluggish, especially when trying to
handle the puck with his glove.  Good at
tracking and keeping the body angle towards the play.

It’s going to be difficult to cover as many games of the
Utica Comets as I had intended this year. 
The Utica Comets as an organization appear to be the only AHL team who
do not wish to work with bloggers in the media.    Game posts and scouting reports will continue
this season to the best of my ability, but likely at a rate much lower than I
had hoped.