Comets Militia: Down on the Farm – December 5th, 2014

 14_1203-TEX

Courtesy of UticaComets.com

Welcome
back to this weeks’ edition of the Comets Militia Report, where we take a look at all the activities down on the farm.  Despite a successful week, things are
not looking too good for the Comets in the short term. Their defence corps has been absolutely
obliterated with key players such as Bobby Sanguinetti, Henrik Tommernes, Peter
Andersson, Frank Corrado, Kent Huskins, and Travis Ehrhardt all having experienced
injuries or a call ups to the NHL. 

You know
your team is in trouble when you have Kane Lafranchise, John Negrin and Jeremie
Blain all in your top-4.  Combined with a
(seemingly) dried up offense and an injured Jacob Markstrom, things aren’t the
most positive for the Comets right now.  Of course when you’re starting the season looking like an elite team, any imperfection can be viewed as a big step back.

Continue
past the jump to read more how the last week has gone.

Thanks to a
bit of good fortune the Utica Comets are back in 1st place within
their division.  Through 23 games the
Comets have 33 points and a 15-5-3-0 record. 
In the Western Conference, the Comets sit at the top just one point ahead
of Rockford IceHogs (affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks) who have 1 game in
hand.  When looking to the East, the
Comets have more points than the first place Springfield Falcons
(affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets). 

With the
Utica Comets having played 23 games, they have outscored their opponents 62 to
48 (+14) and outshot them 717 to 654 (+63). 
Their Estimated Fenwick Close has dropped by nearly 2% this week to
56.83%, speaking partially to the decimation of their defensive corps as well as
how volatile numbers can be in the short term. 
We have been expecting their possession numbers to drop to something more normal for a while, but the Comets still cling to first place in the analytical
standings.

The PDO of
the team continues to stay above average as the team posts a 101.31% mainly
thanks to the excellent goaltending they have received (.927), while their below average shooting percentages are not helping them.

This offensive issue
carries over to their special teams where the Comets’ power play seems to be
the weakest part of their game. 
Currently ranked at 20th place with a 15.79% efficiency the
Comets went 2 for 13 this week on the power play after the
offense seemingly all dried up.  The penalty kill
makes up for their offensive weakness as they went 2 for 12 this week (85.56%
efficiency, 101.35% on Special Teams Index) good for 8th in the
league.

Friday’s
2-1 Win vs. Adirondack

The Utica
Comets started off their week with a game against the Adirondack Flames
(affiliate of the Calgary Flames) where they traded chances back and forth
between periods.  Cal O’Reilly was the
first to get the Comets on the board, only three and a half minutes into the
first period, when he sent a wrist shot past goaltender Joni Ortio after a quick
feed from Dustin Jeffrey. 

Towards the
end of the first period, Flames prospect Emile Poirier was able to skate up the
ice and around Andrey Pedan to send the puck high on the glove side to tie the game up.  The Comets’ game-winning goal then came only 2:40 into the
second period after Henrik Tommernes took a shot from the point, Mike Zalewski
got the tip and then Wacey Hamilton was able to bury the rebound.

The final
score was 2-1 with the shots in favour of Adirondack 27-24.  Utica assists were credited to: Henrik
Tommernes, Mike Zalewski, Dustin Jeffrey and Alexandre Grenier.  Wacey Hamilton lead the team with 3 shots on
goal.  Joacim Eriksson made 26 for 27
saves earning the first star on the night with the 2nd going to
Hamilton and the third to O’Reilly.  The
powerplay went 0 for 3 while the penalty-kill went 2 for 2.  Alex Biega also laid out this nice hip check.

Saturday’s
1-2 Loss @ Albany


Saturday
night the Comets traveled to Albany, a two hour drive to the East with
schedule loss in their back pocket, to face the Albany Devils (affiliate of the
New Jersey Devils).  The Comets were
controlling possession the entire game but it was not enough to emerge the
victors.  Albany scored first, at the end
of the 2nd period, when an offensive zone rush allowed the Devils to
put one past Cannata.

The Comets
answered right back less than a minute later when Brandon DeFazio set up Will
Acton who put it on net and eventually in after pinball-ing off the back
of the Devils netminder Keith Kinkaid’s glove. 
Albany then went on to score the game-winning goal on the powerplay in
the third period to win it.

The Comets
lost 1-2 but won the shot battle 29-24.  There were no official assists credited to
the Acton goal who now has 3x as many points as Kellan Lain (currently
injured) in a third as many games; I think the Comets have won that trade.  Henrik Tommernes lead the Comets in shots
with 5 on goal.  Joe Cananta was in net,
his first AHL start of the year, stopping 22 of 24 shots.  The powerplay went 0 for 2 while the
penalty-kill was 80% efficient over 5 attempts.  Darren Archibald was penalized for a late hit and was later suspended for three games.

 

Tuesday’s
0-1 OT Loss @ Oklahoma City

The Utica
Comets traveled all the way to Oklahoma City to face the Barons (affiliate of
the Edmonton Oilers) – a trip of such a large distance it would upset most NHL
Eastern teams.  The game evolved into
“Goalies” because neither team were able to score a single goal in regular time
despite the large number of shots.

It was not
till 4:33 into overtime, when the teams were playing 3 on 3, when the Baron’s
winger Curtis Hamilton was able to carry the puck down the ice, setting up Jason
Williams who put a quick shot through Joacim Eriksson’s legs to win it.

The final
score was 0-1 but the OT loss gave the Comets a point.  The Comets lost the shot count 35-34 and were
thoroughly dominated for most of the game. 
They did see a big push at the end of the third period, while the game was close, but it did
not help them.  Brandon DeFazio lead the
team with 6 shots on goal while Eriksson made 34 of 35 saves earning him the
third star of the night.  The powerplay
went 0 for 3 and the penalty kill went 2 for 2.

Wednesday’s
4-3 OT Win @ Texas

The Utica
Comets were heading into Wednesday’s game with seemingly everything going
against them.  The Comets had never beaten Willie Desjardins’ old team, the Texas Stars (affiliate of the
Dallas Stars), they had never won a game in overtime this year (0-3 prior to
this game), the team was coming off a game the night before for a potential schedule
loss, and team management made the “bright” decision to play Joacim Eriksson in
back-to-back games.

So how did
this game go?  Within the first 9 minutes
the Comets were trailing 0-2.  Two and a
half minutes later, Will Acton carried the puck into the offensive zone and from the scramble around the net for the looking for rebound, Alex Friesen was able to put the
puck in the net to get the Comets on the board.

A little
over halfway through the 2nd period, the Texas Stars were able to
score again, this time on the power-play, to re-take a 2 goal lead.  It was not until the third period when things
started to look up for the Comets, as Will Acton was once again involved in
setting up a goal by Bobby Sanguinetti to bring the deficit to one.  A minute and a half later, with Utica on the
power play, the Comets were set up in the offensive zone and Sanguinetti was
able to send one past the Star’s netminder Jack Campbell to tie up the game.

The game
stayed tied and eventually went into overtime. 
2:37 into OT with the teams still 4 on 4, the Comets managed to defy the
odds as Cal O’Reilly was able to score the winning goal, after a cross-crease
pass from Dustin Jeffrey, and win the game.

The final
score was an OT win 4-3 with shots heavily in Texas’ favour.  The Comets were manhandled in possession,
pointing to the hurt defence corps and from playing the night before.  Thanks to the victory, the Comets once again have the most points in the
AHL and can look down from the top of the standings.  Assists were credited to Kane
Lafranchise, Bobby Sanguinetti (2x), Brendan Gaunce, Cal O’Reilly, Dustin
Jeffrey, Brandon DeFazio and Will Acton. 
Alex Friesen lead the team in shots with 5 while Eriksson made 38 of 41
saves on the night.  The power play went
2 for 5 while the penalty kill went 4 for 5. 
O’Reilly earned the first star on the night.

Player
Statistics

Name Pos GP G A PTS +/- PIM PPG SOG SoG/G Sh%
16 Cal O’Reilly C 23 3 17 20 1 6 0.87 34 1.48 8.82%
21 Dustin Jeffrey C 16 5 9 14 3 8 0.88 32 2.00 15.63%
24 Brandon DeFazio RW 22 8 5 13 3 21 0.59 61 2.77 13.11%
28 Alexandre Grenier RW 20 6 6 12 5 35 0.6 50 2.50 12.00%
17 Nicklas Jensen RW 15 6 5 11 1 8 0.73 44 2.93 13.64%
6 Bobby Sanguinetti D 20 3 8 11 11 2 0.55 32 1.60 9.38%
9 Hunter Shinkaruk LW 23 4 5 9 3 12 0.39 49 2.13 8.16%
15 Ronalds Kenins LW 21 4 4 8 6 19 0.38 31 1.48 12.90%
25 Darren Archibald LW 21 3 5 8 2 55 0.38 37 1.76 8.11%
7 Henrik Tommernes D 18 2 6 8 -4 6 0.44 36 2.00 5.56%
3 Alex Biega D 23 1 7 8 6 10 0.35 46 2.00 2.17%
10 Brendan Gaunce LW 23 1 7 8 3 5 0.35 36 1.57 2.78%
41 Will Acton C 5 2 3 5 2 0 1 10 2.00 20.00%
36 Wacey Hamilton C 21 2 5 7 2 23 0.33 32 1.52 6.25%
8 Alex Friesen C 9 3 2 5 3 6 0.56 22 2.44 13.64%
34 Carter Bancks RW 19 3 1 4 0 12 0.21 26 1.37 11.54%
40 Peter Andersson D 19 2 2 4 8 12 0.21 21 1.11 9.52%
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 0.3 10 1.00 10.00%
37 Andrey Pedan D 5 0 0 0 1 13 0 8 1.60 0.00%
14 Mike Zalewski LW 14 1 1 2 0 2 0.14 16 1.14 6.25%
4 Kane Lafranchise D 8 0 2 2 -1 0 0.25 7 0.88 0.00%
18 Patrick Kennedy RW 3 0 0 0 1 0 0 6 2.00 0.00%
5 Jeremie Blain D 6 0 0 0 -4 2 0 6 1.00 0.00%
29 Kent Huskins D 8 0 0 0 1 2 0 4 0.50 0.00%
11 John Negrin D 9 0 0 0 -2 0 0 7 0.78 0.00%


Through the first 23 games, here are the team’s even-strength Relative GoalsFor%:

Name Pos GP ES On-Ice GF ES On-Ice GA ES On-Ice Gf% ES Off-Ice GF ES Off-Ice GA ES Off-Ice Gf% ES Gf% Diff
Kennedy, Patrick RW 3 1 0 100.00% 3 4 42.86% 57.14%
Friesen, Alex C 9 5 2 71.43% 9 15 37.50% 33.93%
Kenins, Ronalds LW 21 7 2 77.78% 27 28 49.09% 28.69%
Acton, Will C 5 5 3 62.50% 3 5 37.50% 25.00%
Sanguinetti, Bobby D 20 18 8 69.23% 16 18 47.06% 22.17%
Pedan, Andrey D 5 4 3 57.14% 4 5 44.44% 12.70%
Andersson, Peter D 19 16 9 64.00% 19 18 51.35% 12.65%
Hamilton, Wacey C 21 9 5 64.29% 29 26 52.73% 11.56%
Grenier, Alexandre RW 20 15 9 62.50% 23 21 52.27% 10.23%
Gaunce, Brendan LW 23 10 6 62.50% 30 26 53.57% 8.93%
Shinkaruk, Hunter LW 23 9 6 60.00% 31 26 54.39% 5.61%
Bancks, Carter RW 19 7 5 58.33% 26 21 55.32% 3.01%
Corrado, Frank D 11 7 4 63.64% 15 9 62.50% 1.14%
Jeffrey, Dustin C 16 7 6 53.85% 17 15 53.13% 0.72%
Valk, Curtis C 1 0 0 0.00% 0 1 0.00% 0.00%
Tuzzolino, Nick D 1 0 0 0.00% 0 1 0.00% 0.00%
Lafranchise, Kane D 8 3 4 42.86% 11 13 45.83% -2.97%
Biega, Alex D 23 15 13 53.57% 25 19 56.82% -3.25%
Jensen, Nicklas RW 15 11 10 52.38% 17 12 58.62% -6.24%
Ehrhardt, Travis D 10 6 4 60.00% 12 6 66.67% -6.67%
OReilly, Cal C 23 12 12 50.00% 28 20 58.33% -8.33%
Archibald, Darren LW 21 8 8 50.00% 30 21 58.82% -8.82%
Zalewski, Mike LW 14 3 3 50.00% 20 14 58.82% -8.82%
DeFazio, Brandon RW 22 9 10 47.37% 31 21 59.62% -12.25%
Lain, Kellan C 10 2 2 50.00% 19 11 63.33% -13.33%
Tommernes, Henrik D 18 9 12 42.86% 24 15 61.54% -18.68%
Blain, Jeremie D 5 2 4 33.33% 6 4 60.00% -26.67%
Negrin, John D 9 0 2 0.00% 14 14 50.00% -50.00%
Horvat, Bo C 5 0 0 0.00% 9 4 69.23% -69.23%
Huskins, Kent D 8 0 1 0.00% 12 5 70.59% -70.59%
Jones, Ryan LW 5 0 2 0.00% 8 2 80.00% -80.00%

Goaltenders

Name GP Min GA SO GAA W L OT SA SVS SAV%
1 Jacob Markstrom 9 543:30:00 16 4 1.77 7 1 1 254 238 0.937
2 Joe Cannata 1 59:00:00 2 0 2.03 0 1 0 24 22 0.917
3 Joacim Eriksson 13 792:10:00 29 0 2.2 8 3 2 375 346 0.923

Transactions

  • Nicklas
    Jensen
    was recalled to Vancouver, but has not yet played.
  • Patrick Kennedy
    has been recalled to Utica from Kalamazoo.

Schedule

The Comets
have a much lighter week coming up, giving them an opportunity to recover.  They start off tonight by ending their road trip in San Antonio where the Comets currently lead this year’s series
2-0-0-0 over the Rampage.  The Comets don’t play at home
until Wednesday when the Rochester Americans head to Utica, where the Comets
have won and lost a game against the Americans so far this year.

Other News

  • Watch young Bo Horvat play.
  • Trevor Linden and gang visit beautiful Utica. 
    Linden seems to like the location of the Canucks prospects being able to
    play in upstate New York.
  • ex-Canuck Brent Sopel is going to be skating
    in his
    1,000th professional game.
  • Not Canucks related, but in the WHL there was a goalie fight!
  • In Jason Botchford’s Provies he covers some interesting tidbits that
    relates to the Comets:

On
Markstrom:

I’ve seen Jacob Markstrom’s injury called
a minor one. I have my doubts. Pretty sure something is broken. Like a hand.

On Nicklas Jensen

I’m going to guess that
Hard-J gets in the lineup sooner than later. If he doesn’t, he’ll be sent back
to Utica, an option the Canucks have already discussed.

Why is he here now?

Because he’d going to “be here”
and “be here” for a while. The Canucks want to take opportunities to
acclimatize him to the NHL any time opportunities present themselves.

Now, if he goes too long without
playing, the acclimatizing becomes counter-productive. That’s when they’ll send
him down and bring up a body.

That could happen. But my guess
is he plays here and plays soon.

Comets are going
to miss him this year if they go on a Calder Cup run. 

To end the post, here is Comet’s Ray Kaunisto after his ECHL game this week: