Comets Militia: Down on the Farm – November 28th, 2014

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Courtesy: UticaComets.com

I won’t lie
to you; it has not been a good week for the Utica Comets.  

Vancouver’s upstart American Hockey League affiliate are coming off of their first series of back-to-back
losses
of the season, and this week won only 2 out of a 6 possible points.  As a result of their struggles the Comets have slightly fallen in the standings,
but like we preach ad
nauseam here at Canucks Army: it is the process and not the results
that matter.
  

So continue past the jump
to read how the Comets have performed beyond the win/loss record.

Thankfully
the Comets still have a hold on first place in the North Division but their lead has
shrunk to only a 3 points, ahead of the Adirondack Flames who have played the same
number of games.  The Comets are now
sitting on a record of 15-4-0-1, good for 31 points in 19 games and second place in the conference (and the league). 


The Rockford IceHogs are sitting one place ahead of
the Comets with three more points, though the Comets have a game in hand. This shouldn’t worry Comets fans. Rockford has posted an Estimated Fenwick Close roughly five percent lower than what the Comets have managed, and they’re riding an inflated 102.46 PDO. Rockford isn’t likely to prove a credible threat to finish at the top-of-the-table over the balance of the AHL season.


The Comets
have out-scored their opposition 55 to 41, good for a +14 differential while out-shooting them 600 to 527 (+73).  Their
Est. Fenwick Close continues to dominate the league, as they sit in first at
58.50% though one should still expect that number to fall.

Their
losses this week are a result of the team’s PDO regressing to the norm,
especially on the save-percentage portion. 
The Comets’ PDO is now down to 101.39% thanks to a 9.17% shooting
percentage, which is about league average, and a .922 Sv% which is in the upper
echelon of the AHL.

The Special
Teams fared reasonably well this week, with the power-play going 4 for 15,
increasing their efficiency to 15.85 percent.  Their penalty-kill continues
to drop as they have gone 10 for 13 on the week, dropping the Comets to an 85.53 percent kill rate on the year.

Friday’s
4-7 Loss @ Rochester


The Utica
Comets started their week off, two hours to the west, against the Rochester
Americans (affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres). 
While benefitting from “score effects” on the shot clock, if not on the scoreboard, the Comets controlled possession in the game, but it was not nearly enough as the Comets lost 4-7.

The
Americans were quick to score 3 times in the first period and it was not until a
power play in the second period, when the Comets scored their first goal.  While fighting in the crease, both Dustin Jeffrey and
Hunter Shinkaruk helped get the puck to Brandon DeFazio who buried it into the empty net.  You knew that this one wasn’t going in their favour when the Americans quickly scored a shorthanded goal.  DeFazio cut the goal deficit again as he
streaked through the Amerks defense on the power play, and put his own rebound in the
net.

At the
start of the third period none other than Alex Friesen received a pass from Ronalds
Kenins to score and cut the Amerks lead to one.  This did nothing as Rochester was able to
score another two goals on the power-play (with an empty net) and an
even-strength goal followed by a final goal with 00:00.1 seconds left.  Jeffrey managed to score as well with 36 seconds left after converting a pass from Alexandre Grenier.

Assists
were credited to Henrik Tommernes, Shinkaruk, Kenins (2x), Jeffrey, Grenier and Peter Andersson.  Jensen led the team with 5
Shots on goal while the power play went 2 for 7 and the penalty kill went 2 for
4.  Markstrom saw some major regression making only 26 of 32 saves, a really bad start, good for a .813 save percentage on the night.  

At least DeFazio earned the third star of the night
for his efforts? Hey, it’s something!

Saturday’s
1-2 Loss @ Syracuse


The next
night the Comets were in Syracuse to face the Syracuse Crunch (affiliate of Tampa Bay) for the Frozen Dome
Classic. The game set records for having the
highest attendance for any indoor hockey game at over
30,000, but
the Comets were likely to incur a 
schedule loss with this set of road back-to-backs and they did.

Friesen
came right out of the gates scoring the first goal of the game for the Comets and
giving them a lead.  Friesen and Kenins
entered the offensive zone on a 2-on-1 rush. Kenins passed Friesen the puck
and he scored on a quick wrist shot. 
This turned out to be the lone Comets goal. Though the team managed to control possession throughout, bluechip Lightning goaltending prospect Andrei Vasilevskiy shut the door.  The Comets lost 1-2 in their first
back-to-back loss of the season, but they still won the shot clock
27-23. 

The assists
were credited to Ronalds Kenins and Nicklas Jensen (who also led the team in
shots at 4).  Eriksson played in net much
to the surprise of fans (who wanted to see Markstrom); Joacim made 21 of 23 shots.  No special teams goals were scored and the
Comets earned no stars on the game. 

Wednesday’s
5-4 Win vs. Syracuse

Licking their wounds following a loss to the Crunch at the Frozen Dome Classic, the
Comets were given their rematch. 

The
defence corps has been decimated with the losses of Frank Corrado (recalled) and Bobby Sanguinetti (injured) following the Rochester game.  Scratches in this
game were: Travis Ehrhardt, John Negrin, Mike Zalewski, Mitch Holmberg, Kent
Huskins, and Carter Bancks. The first period was an all-out slug-fest and
shooting gallery.  The Comets threw 18 shots on net while permitting only five against, and there were two fights with Brandon DeFazio taking on Mike
Angelidis and Alex Grenier going
tête-à-tête with Tanner Richard. 
Despite all the action, the score was still 0-0 at the end.

The second
period was every bit as exciting. The Crunch were first on the board when
Yanni Gourde pushed a rebound past Eriksson for his ninth goal of the
season.  Four and a half minutes later
DeFazio battled along the boards, fought his way through the Crunch defence and
managed to snipe the first Comets goal of the night past Vasilevskiy (who
also started in the Frozen Dome Classic).  

The Comets scored again shortly thereafter, with DeFazio fighting his way
from behind the net and passing to Archibald who tucked in the goal.  Alex Biega extended the Comets lead further four minutes later when he took a slapshot off of a Jensen
pass and Grenier slipped the rebound past Vasilevskiy on the power play.

Syracuse
answered right back when a Philippe Paradis slapshot was deflected and bounced
past Eriksson.  The second period had a goal left in it yet though, as the Comets scored again with a minute and a
half remaining in the frame. Shinkaruk started the scoring sequence by sending a slick pass to Tommernes, who relayed it to Kenins for a quick wrist shot that scored top shelf. The score was 4-2 at the end of the second frame.

With
score-effects pushing their sails, the Crunch managed a third-period comeback by scoring with 9 minutes left in the game after some bush-league play where
Eriksson was interfered with and could not recover in time to prevent Jonathan
Marchessault from putting one past the Comets goaltender.  No penalties were called on that play.  The Crunch managed to score the equalizer a
minute later after a few rebound shots were taken at Eriksson.  

It remained tied until Darren Archibald was set up by Jensen and Will Acton with four minutes left in regulation. Archibald took a dirty shot from
the right faceoff circle, scored, and the Comets won the game 5-4. 

The Galaxy
Cup
standings are tied at 2 points even for both teams.  The Comets won the shot battle 35-26 while
Grenier and new Comet Andrey Pedan led with 4 shots each.  

Assists were credited to: Biega, Tommernes, Shinkaruk, Jensen (2x), DeFazio, Archibald and Acton (2x).  Joacim
Eriksson was in net making 22 of 26 saves on the night, which resulted in his Save Percentage
on the year dropping to a .912.  The penalty
kill went 3 for 4 while the power-play went 2 for 5.  Will Acton earned the 3rd star,
Brandon DeFazio earned the 2nd and the first star went to Darren
Archibald.

Player
Statistics

Name Pos GP G A PTS +/- PIM PPG SOG SOG/G Sh%
16 Cal O’Reilly C 19 1 16 17 1 6 0.89 27 1.42 3.70%
24 Brandon DeFazio RW 18 8 4 12 1 19 0.67 54 3.00 14.81%
21 Dustin Jeffrey C 12 5 7 12 2 6 1.00 26 2.17 19.23%
17 Nicklas Jensen RW 15 6 5 11 1 8 0.73 44 2.93 13.64%
28 Alexandre Grenier RW 16 6 5 11 5 28 0.69 39 2.44 15.38%
9 Hunter Shinkaruk LW 19 4 5 9 3 10 0.47 42 2.21 9.52%
15 Ronalds Kenins LW 17 4 4 8 6 19 0.47 26 1.53 15.38%
25 Darren Archibald LW 19 3 5 8 2 40 0.42 36 1.89 8.33%
6 Bobby Sanguinetti D 16 2 6 8 11 0 0.50 28 1.75 7.14%
3 Alex Biega D 19 1 7 8 5 8 0.42 38 2.00 2.63%
7 Henrik Tommernes D 16 2 5 7 -4 6 0.44 30 1.88 6.67%
10 Brendan Gaunce LW 19 1 6 7 4 0 0.37 33 1.74 3.03%
36 Wacey Hamilton C 17 1 5 6 4 23 0.35 23 1.35 4.35%
34 Carter Bancks RW 17 3 1 4 2 7 0.24 24 1.41 12.50%
8 Alex Friesen C 5 2 2 4 2 2 0.80 11 2.20 18.18%
40 Peter Andersson D 19 2 2 4 8 12 0.21 21 1.11 9.52%
41 Will Acton C 7 1 3 4 -3 2 0.57 22 3.14 4.55%
26 Frank Corrado D 11 2 1 3 3 13 0.27 21 1.91 9.52%
2 Travis Ehrhardt D 10 1 2 3 5 10 0.30 10 1.00 10.00%
37 Andrey Pedan D 1 0 0 0 1 0 0.00 4 4.00 0.00%
14 Mike Zalewski LW 10 1 0 1 0 2 0.10 11 1.10 9.09%
4 Kane Lafranchise D 5 0 1 1 -1 0 0.20 3 0.60 0.00%
5 Jeremie Blain D 2 0 0 0 -4 2 0.00 1 0.50 0.00%
11 John Negrin D 6 0 0 0 -2 0 0.00 4 0.67 0.00%
29 Kent Huskins D 8 0 0 0 1 2 0.00 4 0.50 0.00%

Goaltenders

Name GP Min GA SO GAA W L OT SA SVS SAV%
1 Jacob Markstrom 9 543:30 16 4 1.77 7 1 1 254 238 0.937
2 Joacim Eriksson 10 605:00 24 0 2.38 6 3 1 272 248 0.912

Transactions

  • Will
    Acton has been added to the roster
  • Frank
    Corrado has been recalled to Vancouver due to the injury of Dan Hamhuis
  • Patrick
    Kennedy has been returned to the ECHL (Evansville)
  • Jeremie
    Blain has been recalled again to Utica, he’s really racking up the frequent
    flier miles
  • Mitch Holmberg is off the Injured-Reserve list and currently on the Comets
    roster, but was a healthy scratch in his first game.  Will he stay in the AHL?  Only time will tell.
  • Andrey
    Pedan was added to the roster after the trade
    for Mallet
    , fits the Boston Model, big defencemen category quite well.  This should give the Comets defence a boost
    pushing Negrin or Lafranchise back down and continues to suggest the Canucks are working to help for a long Calder Cup push.
  • With Zack Kassian out for 2-3 weeks, the Canucks should be expected to call up a forward shortly.
  • Cannata was recalled
    to Utica
    because of a small injury that happened to Markstrom during
    practice. 

Schedule

The Utica
Comets have a very heavy schedule his week with four games in the next 6
days.  They’ll face the Adirondack Flames for the third meeting of the season between these teams (the Comets have won both previous contests). On Saturday night, the Comets head a few
hours down the road to face the Albany Devils, where last year the Comets lost all four
games.  On Tuesday, the
Comets head down to Oklahoma City for the first time this season to play an Oklahoma City Barons club that they
went 1-0-1-0 against last season. Finally on Wednesday, the Comets will face Willie Desjardins’ old team,
the Texas Stars, a team the Comets have never defeated in three visits.

Other Media

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 12.53.03 AM
  • Comet
    Tales
    with Brendan Gaunce
  • How the Canucks equipment manager packs for a long road trip.  Interesting to see the giant trunk of every AHLer with their Canucks jersey ready to go – most of them will never even put one on.  (Pictured above) It looks like there might be a Sestito jersey in there too.
  • Melanson makes his mark
    on Markstrom
  • Brendan DeFazio
    was spotted bullying
    kids
    at a local school (not really)
  • Hunter
    Shinkaruk misses
    his best friend
    Bo Horvat
  • Some
    interesting information on
    Benning
    , his trades and the prospects
  • New
    Comets jerseys
  • Cale

    The process in the AHL is very important since you are creating the NHL players” hopefully” of the future.

    Winning a Calder Cup doesn’t matter if your the Oilers! Comets were in last place last year and have turned it around because of guys like Markstrom Corrado and Shinkaruk. Corrado being in Van hurts, but hopefully when Hammy is back he will be there to continue playing top mins.

  • Cale

    It seems he’s been sort of swept under the rug by all drafting done in the last two years but how tantalizing is Jensen? He always starts slow but is again heating up… he has the size, speed, shot and shot generation that teams covet and the organization has done well to not rush his development.

    I know it’s hard as canucks fans but imagine the excitement if he actually pans out as a 20something goal scorer while everyone is intently focused on shinkaruk/horvat/vey/kassian

    • Cale

      I’d also like to see Grenier get a shot at some point. DeFazio seems to be turning into a player and might still be something at the NHL level even if he is a bit older. I’m hoping Gaunce gets rolling too. Sanguenetti leades the team in +\- as well so another interesting case.