Comets Militia: Down on the Farm – December 19th, 2014


Angry Joacim Eriksson – Courtesy @CometsInGame

The Utica
Comets are back for the weekly Comets Militia report on all the activities
relating to the Canucks American Hockey League affiliate.  It has not been the best week for the Comets;
despite controlling both games and looking like they would walk away with 4
points, their opponents were able to beat them at the last second. 

Read past
the jump to see what has happened this week.

Despite the
rough week, the Comets are still at the top of the league, though
barely.  With a record of 17-5-5-0, good
for 39 points in 27 games, Utica is currently sitting in first in
their division, the Western Conference, and the league.  The Comets are tied with second place the
Rockford IceHogs in terms of points, but the Comets have two games in hand.  In the East, the Manchester Monarchs have
jumped to the top of the conference, but are still 1 point behind the Comets
with 1 game in hand.

The Comets have outscored their opponents 74
to 59 (+15), while out-shooting them 795 to 702 (+92). Having won the possession battle in both
games, the Comets saw their Estimated Fenwick Close rise to 57.36%, meaning that they are
sitting first in the fancystats standings

The PDO for the Comets continues to regress as the team sits
well within the normal range.  Sitting at
100.92% the Comet’s PDO split into its relative parts see them posting a 9.31%
shooting percentage (above average) with a .917 team save percentage (above
average).These numbers are likely to
continue through the season.

The special teams did quite well this week with the penalty
kill having gone a perfect 6 for 6 while the powerplay scored a goal in one of
their 5 attempts.  Respectively the team
is sitting in 6th and 14th place for their special teams, which are converting at rates of 86.27% and 16.67%.

Friday’s OT
Loss vs Toronto

The Comets
started off their week by playing the Toronto Marlies (affiliate of the Toronto
Maple Leafs), the last ranked team in AHL possession statistics.  The Comets absolutely destroyed the Marlies
on teh shot clock, outshooting them 15-7 and 14-5 in the first two periods, with the
final shot count at 49-18, a record high for the Comets.  Despite that, the Comets ended up blowing a
3-1 lead and lost in overtime.

The game
started off with a Toronto goal halfway through the second period.  8 minutes later, with only 12 seconds
remaining, the Comets tied it up with a power play goal from Nicklas
Jensen.  Cal O’Reilly passed Jensen the
puck from the boards who took a quick shot at the Marlies goaltender Antoine
Bibeau, beating him far side.

2 minutes
into the third period, the Comets scored again when Alex Friesen grabbed the
puck from behind the net, set up the play by sending the puck to Wacey Hamilton
who then passed it to Bobby Sanguinetti at the point taking a hard shot from
the slot right past the Marlies goaltender.  4 minutes later, the Comets scored again when
Sanguinetti sent a slapshot from the left point to the net and Jensen and
Brendan Gaunce fought in the crease to jam the puck passed Bibeau.

With the
Comets leading 3-1 halfway through the third period, they only had to
hold on for a few minutes.  They were not
able to do so as the Marlies scored twice more in the period to send the game
into overtime.  Just seconds after switching to 3-on-3, the Marlies scored again
snatching victory out of the Comets’ hands.

were credited to Bobby Sanguinetti, Hunter Shinkaruk, Brendan Gaunce, Cal
O’Reilly,Dustin Jeffrey and Wacey Hamilton. 
Hunter Shinkaruk lead the team with 5 shots on goal while Joacim
Eriksson was only able to stop 14 of 18 shots good for a .780 sv% on the
night.  The penalty kill went 2 for 2
while the powerplay went 1 for 2.  For
his two goal effort of the year, Nicklas Jensen earned the second star of the night.

1-2 OT Loss vs Syracuse

Joe Cananta
was not a great goaltender in the AHL last year, posting a slightly below average .907 save percentage.  Since playing in
the ECHL for the first few months of this season he has been absolutely
dominant.  This year in the AHL, in his
one game, Cannata had a .917 sv% which is currently comparable to Joacim
Eriksson, granted this is a tiny sample. 
For whatever reason, Comets fans are fairly vocal against Cannata, and
management does not seem to want to play him. Whether it is because they wish to ride
the “hot hand” or Travis Green does not trust him isn’t clear.  This has been a common trend the last two
seasons with the Comets despite the fact a goaltender on a
back-to-back is about as good as a replacement level
goaltender (.885 sv%).

That being
said, with tonight being a back-to-back it is no surprise the Utica Comets
played Joacim Eriksson again.

Facing the
Syracuse Crunch (affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning) the Comets out-shot the Crunch for most of the night, but it was not until there were 5 minutes left
in the game that the Comets were able to finally get on the board.  With the Comets having won an offensive zone
faceoff, Henrik Tommernes passed the puck to Brandon DeFazio who sent the puck
past the Crunch goaltender. Bobby Sanguinetti earned the second assist.

With the
Comets looking like they would win, the script from the previous night played
out again as the Crunch scored against the Comets with only two minutes left
into the game.  Following up in overtime
during the 3-on-3 portion, the Crunch scored once more, taking away the extra point from the Comets.

Utica lost
the game 2-1 and lost the shot count 31-29. 
Bobby Sanguinetti lead the team with 4 shots on goal while Joacim
Eriksson made 29 of 31 saves, good for a bounce-back .935 on the night.  The penalty kill and powerplay went 4 for 4
and 0 for 4 respectively, and Eriksson earned the 3rd star of the


Name Pos GP G A PTS +/- PIM PPG SoG SoG/G Sh%
16 Cal O’Reilly C 27 3 23 26 -1 6 0.96 37 1.37 8.11%
21 Dustin Jeffrey C 20 6 14 20 4 8 1 38 1.90 15.79%
6 Bobby Sanguinetti D 24 7 9 16 13 2 0.67 46 1.92 15.22%
24 Brandon DeFazio RW 26 9 6 15 1 21 0.58 72 2.77 12.50%
17 Nicklas Jensen RW 18 8 6 14 0 10 0.78 52 2.89 15.38%
28 Alexandre Grenier RW 23 7 6 13 5 37 0.57 53 2.30 13.21%
9 Hunter Shinkaruk LW 26 4 6 10 3 16 0.38 57 2.19 7.02%
3 Alex Biega D 25 2 8 10 7 12 0.4 52 2.08 3.85%
15 Ronalds Kenins LW 25 5 4 9 7 19 0.36 42 1.68 11.90%
7 Henrik Tommernes D 20 2 7 9 -5 6 0.45 39 1.95 5.13%
10 Brendan Gaunce LW 26 1 8 9 2 5 0.35 44 1.69 2.27%
25 Darren Archibald LW 23 3 5 8 2 55 0.35 41 1.78 7.32%
36 Wacey Hamilton C 24 2 6 8 3 25 0.33 35 1.46 5.71%
8 Alex Friesen C 13 3 4 7 6 6 0.54 27 2.08 11.11%
41 Will Acton C 9 2 3 5 0 0 0.56 18 2.00 11.11%
4 Kane Lafranchise D 12 1 4 5 3 0 0.42 17 1.42 5.88%
34 Carter Bancks RW 22 3 1 4 1 20 0.18 33 1.50 9.09%
40 Peter Andersson D 19 2 2 4 8 12 0.21 21 1.11 9.52%
26 Frank Corrado D 14 2 1 3 1 13 0.21 28 2.00 7.14%
2 Travis Ehrhardt D 13 1 2 3 1 12 0.23 11 0.85 9.09%
37 Andrey Pedan D 8 0 0 0 1 13 0 13 1.63 0.00%
14 Mike Zalewski LW 14 1 1 2 0 2 0.14 16 1.14 6.25%
29 Kent Huskins D 8 0 0 0 1 2 0 4 0.50 0.00%


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 17 1044:31:00 40 0 2.3 10 3 4 488 448 0.918

been no new news on Jacob Markstrom.  The
initial reports was that it was a slightly injury and would only last the
weekend, but that was three weeks ago.  Jason
Botchford did assert that Markstrom had broken his hand, and that looks to be a likely diagnosis.


  • Alex Biega
    was called up to the NHL for the first time. 
    When Jim Benning was in Utica, he made comments about Biega standing out
    in a good way.  Hopefully he will
    actually get to play as Beiga has been a standout since last year.
  • Tom Sestito
    has been recalled to the NHL in a move that will help the Utica Comets.
  • Mitch
    Holmberg has been sent to the ECHL on loan to Elmira where he exploded with a 4
    point night in his first game, including a hat-trick.


schedule for the upcoming week is fairly light with Utica facing Texas on
Friday and then traveling to Adirondack on Saturday.  Against these two teams this year, Utica is
currently 1-1-0-0 against Willie Desjardins’ old team, the Texas Stars, while
having won all three games against Adirondack.

Other News

  • Mediocre Beer for a Mediocre Powerplay

[Click here to read last week’s Comets Militia AHL report, for December 12th, 2014.]

[If you want to know more about Vancouver’s prospects, click here to see our summer Prospect Profiles series.]

  • Fred-65

    Here’s a question, why do we never hear any thing about Cal O’Reilly. Seems like a play making centre he’s been top of the Comets points all season 6/190 LH. You talk call ups why doesn’t this guy get a sniff

  • Fred-65

    Good to see Edmonton Oilers Bob Green’s step son ex-Spokane Chiefs Mitch Holmberg in his first game back from injury got 3 goals and 1 assist with the Elmira Jackals. Mitch won the scoring race in the WHL last year with 62G-56A-118PTS. Good Job!

  • LibrarianMike

    Yeah, not sure why Cal O, Dustin Jeffrey, Sanguinetti, Grenier, DeFazio and Jensen barely get a sniff.

    I’m thinking Willy D doesn’t trust the younger players too much. Who knows. Kassian can’t even say power play or top 6 anymore.

  • Fred-65

    What’s with Hunter’s goal total? Is this kid still hurt or just getting his timing back? And Gaunce is awful statistically. You could rationalize those numbers, but those are not very encouraging.

    • Fred-65

      Hunter and Gaunce are still pretty raw. They should spend the season in Utica. Develop them slowly. I am not concerned with any of the Utica rookies at all. I am fatigued with the Canucks and the same old core that you know cannot compete for a Cup but they refuse to make significant moves.

      Yes, Kes was dealt but that was forced. I know Benning just got on the scene but it’s frustrating, as a fan, because it has been a few years of playoff blundering and finally missing the playoffs.

      I hope Benning makes some big moves around the deadline if not before.

      • Larionov18

        I agree. Canucks need to trade Burrows and Higgins. If they eat half of Burrows contract he will be tradeable. Bieksa is a 6th dman now at best. Canucks need a number 3 and 4 dman with speed.

        • Larionov18

          I don’t agree with the trade possibilities, unless you can get something for them. Higgins has pulled this disappearing act his entire career, that is why he hasn’t been a steady Top 6 guy.

          Burrows can play on any line and be effective, but his salary dictates he play a top 6 role. If I was Willie, I would drop Higgins down and try and speed up the second line with Burr and Hansen. Bonino can pass the puck well so speed might put some pressure on the Flames.

          Bottom line is the Canucks are getting chances, they just are going in the back of the net! How many breaks can you get in a game and still not score. Something tells me this is as much mental as physical. I think back to Bonino getting stopped point blank by Price in MTL. The camera showed him sitting on the bench shaking his head. Seems like the whole team is doing that.

          The defense needs to stop trying to do so much! You can’t play defense and winger all in the same shift.., JUICE! If you are trying to do two jobs you are doing none. Hammy will be back sooner than later, so the team needs to hold the fort and just win. 2-1 3-2… Whatever it takes.last game was an example… 1 GA and 3 break always…, not good enough.

          Start a new streak tonight. Play tough and disciplines.

  • Fred-65

    Its not like O’Reilly is young and totally green, he is 28 and has played 107 NHL games and another 370 professional games in the AHL. He has put up decent numbers throughout his AHL career with the Admirals, Penguins, and Comets. He is a pretty seasoned professional. I too find it strange that he has not seen more NHL time the last couple of years with the Canucks.

  • Larionov18

    I really enjoy streaming comets games. Brendan Burke is a first rate play by play/ colour guy. Bobby S has been great for the Comets on D. Jensen and Gaunce have been noticeable. Rarely here Hunter’s name spoken though. Hope he picks it up