Comets Militia: Down on the Farm – January 2nd, 2015

15_0101-Rampage

Courtesy of UticaComets.com

Welcome
back to the third year of the Comets Militia weekly report, where we cover all
the action of Vancouver Canucks AHL Affiliate: the Utica Comets.  2014 was a great year to the Comets, as they
climbed to the top of the league and look to be a serious threat for the
Calder Cup.  One day and one game into
2015, things do not look so great (but that is very much the definition of a
small sample size). 

Read past
the jump to see how the last week of action has gone!

The Utica
Comets have dropped down to second place in the AHL, as the Manchester
Monarchs (LA’s affiliate) have overtaken them after a recent hot streak.  The Comets are still first in their conference with
47 points in 32 games played with a record of 21-6-5-0 however.  Utica is one point ahead of the second place team in the AHL’s Western conference and 5 points up on second place
Adirondack in their division with three games in hand.

Despite
falling to second place in the league, the Comets are still the top
possession team in the AHL with an estimated Fenwick Close of 57%.  This bodes well for them, as Manchester has
fallen down to third place.  The Comets
have out-shot their opponents 954 to 830 (+124) while outscoring their
opposition by +19 (93 to 74).

Utica’s PDO
continues to regress towards normal levels especially after the New Years Day
they suffered at the hands of the San Antonio Rampage.  The Comets have a PDO of 100.83% thanks to a 9.75% shooting percentage and a
.911 save percentage on the year.

While the
powerplay has had trouble all year, the Comets have had a lot of trouble on all of
their special teams this past week.  Their penalty kill
went 7 for 10, dropping them down to 6th in the league with an
efficiency rating of 85.95%, and their
powerplay went a mere 1 for 13 to drop them down to 20th in the
league, converting at 15.27%.

Friday’s
2-1 Win vs. Adirondack

The Utica
Comets started off the week by playing the Adirondack Flames once again, and
absolutely demolishing them on the shot clock. 
Through two periods, the Comets outshot the flames 20-10, which flattered the Flames, especially since the shots were 10-2 for the Comets in period 1.

The first
goal came at the end of the first period when Cal O’Reilly, from the blue line,
sent a pass to Frank Corrado who quickly put one past the Flame goaltender Joni
Ortio to put the Comets up 1-0.  Nearly a
period later, the Flames were able to score to tie the game up at 1. The
score stayed the way until 13 minutes were left in the 3rd
period.  In a similar sort of set up to the first goal, Ronalds Kenins sent the puck from the blue line to Frank Corrado who took a
shot on net.  Ortio stopped the first
shot, but Hunter Shinkaruk was there to put the rebound and give Utica a 2-1 lead.

That score would stand for the rest of the game, as the Comets didn’t let up in the 3rd, outshooting the Flames 14-9 in the period for a full-game total of 34-19.  The assists were officially credited to Kane
Lafranchise, Cal O’Reilly, Frank Corrado, and Ronalds Kenins.  Brendan Gaunce and Nicklas Jensen lead the
team with 4 shots on goal while Jacob Markstrom made 18 of 19 saves, which was good for
.947 save percentage on the night.  The three stars were
credited to Corrado, Shinkaruk, and Markstrom. 
The powerplay went 0 for 2 while the penalty kill went 2 for 2.  There were few penalties called in this game, but Andrey Pedan was involved in a fight.

Saturday’s
6-3 Win vs Lake Erie

On Saturday
night, the Comets played the Lake WearyErie Monsters
(affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche) on the second half of a back-to-back.  The Comets controlled the puck for most of this game
and were able to walk away as winners.

The first
goal came just over 6 minutes into the game when Brandon DeFazio, planted
between the hashmarks, received a pass from Darren Archibald and fired a shot past Monsters’ goaltender Roman Will.

The Comets
scored again just 18 seconds into the second period to put themselves up
2-0.  After a shot on net from Dustin Jeffrey,
set up by Andrey Pedan, DeFazio was right there to jam home the rebound.  Only three and a half minutes later,
DeFazio scored again, completing the natural hat trick. He broke into the offensive
zone unassisted, deked the goalie and then sent the puck past goaltender Will
blocker side.

With five minutes left in the second period, Wacey Hamilton finally broke up the DeFazio
scoring streak, scoring a goal of his own to put the Comets up 4-0. 
Hamilton was in the offensive zone in the middle of a mad scramble in the crease with
Carter Bancks and John Negrin. He found the puck and pushed it past the Monsters’
tender.  That was Will’s last period in
net as he did not return in the third period. Sami Aittokallio took over in
relief.

The Comets
found themselves up 5-0 only six minutes into the 3rd period courtesy of a powerplay
goal from Brendan Gaunce.  Wacey Hamilton
and Alex Biega were circling the puck around the offensive zone, as the second
powerplay unit, and passed the puck to Gaunce who then sniped it past Aittokallio.

That’s when
score effects took over, and the Monsters were able to score three goals in a
row, one on the powerplay.  To finish off
the period, with just over a minute left, Darren Archibald scored the final
goal of the game on the empty net to make the final score 6-3.

The
Comets won and out-shot Lake Erie 37-29. Assists were officially the
credited to Travis Erhardt, Alex Biega, John Negrin, Dustin Jeffrey (2x), Darren
Archibald, Frank Corrado, Carter Bancks, Wacey Hamilton, and Andrey Pedan.  DeFazio and Corrado led the team with 5 shots
on goal each.  Joacim Eriksson was in net
making 26 of 29 saves, good for .897 save percentage on the night.  The Comets went 1 for 7 on the powerplay and
1 for 2 on the penalty kill.  The 3 stars
of the game were credited to DeFazio, Archibald, and Jeffrey.

Thursday’s
8-4 Loss vs San Antonio

There’s no currently available video for this
game as it hurts too much to watch.

Coming into
their first game of 2015, the Utica Comets seemingly forgot to show up. Either that or
Joacim Eriksson and Jacob Markstrom had too much glogg on New Years Eve.  The Comets seemed to keep pace with the Rampage early, but things completely fell apart in the second period.

9 goals
were scored in just over 11 minutes, and in the end the Comets found themselves
on the wrong side of an 8-4 final score.  This was the Comets worst
loss since January 17th, 2014, when they allowed 8 goals against
vs Albany.

The first
Comets goal came 6 minutes into the second period when Cal O’Reilly entered the
offensive zone with Andrey Pedan and Alex Biega trailing.  O’Reilly passed to Pedan, who then sent the puck to
Biega, who quickly fired it cross-crease back to O’Reilly.  The forward finished off the nice passing play by tapping in the puck past Rampage’s netminder Dan Ellis.

Three and a
half minutes later, the Comets scored again to cut the deficit to 3-2.  It was a shorthanded goal
for Alex Biega that was created when when Brandon DeFazio and Dustin Jeffrey rushed into the
offensive zone and found Biega trailing the play.  Biega made no mistake, sending a quick wrister
past Ellis.

Two minutes
later, after the Comets gave up a goal on a 3-on-5 penalty kill, but quickly scored again to bring the score back within one at 4-3.  Wacey Hamilton and Cal O’Reilly were fighting
for the puck along the boards, won the battle, and sent the puck to Brandon
DeFazio who scored on a wrist shot.

Three more
goals were scored by the Rampage though, making it 7-3 by the end of the second
period.  Jacob Markstrom was pulled after
the 5th goal, as he allowed 5 goals on 17 shots.  Joacim Eriksson came in as relief, playing a
little less than half the game, and didn’t fare much better.  Eriksson himself let in 3 goals on 13 shots.

A little
over seven minutes into the third period, the Comets managed to score their final
goal of the game.  After winning an
offensive zone faceoff, Will Acton sent the puck back to Andrey Pedan, who fired a slap shot from the point. 
Along the way, Nicklas Jensen tipped the puck past Ellis to make the
score 7-4.

This was not
the last goal of the game though, as the Rampage scored again making the final score
8-4. Thanks to some score effects, Utica wound up outshooting the Rampage 32-30.  The Comets assists were credited to Alex Biega, Cal
O’Reilly, Dustin Jeffrey, Brandon DeFazio, Wacey Hamilton, Andrey Pedan (2x),
and Will Acton.  Utica went 0
for 6 on the powerplay and 3 for 5 on the penalty kill.  Nicklas Jensen lead the team with 5 shots on
goal while himself and Frank Corrado were a team worst -3 on the night.

Player
Statistics

Name Pos GP G A PTS +/- PIM PPG SOG SoG/G Sh%
16 Cal O’Reilly C 32 4 26 30 -1 6 0.94 44 1.38 9.09%
21 Dustin Jeffrey C 25 7 17 24 8 8 0.96 47 1.88 14.89%
24 Brandon DeFazio RW 31 13 8 21 6 31 0.68 88 2.84 14.77%
6 Bobby Sanguinetti D 27 8 9 17 16 2 0.63 54 2.00 14.81%
17 Nicklas Jensen RW 23 9 7 16 -5 10 0.70 69 3.00 13.04%
28 Alexandre Grenier RW 24 7 6 13 6 43 0.54 55 2.29 12.73%
36 Wacey Hamilton C 29 4 9 13 5 25 0.45 41 1.41 9.76%
3 Alex Biega D 28 3 10 13 7 12 0.46 55 1.96 5.45%
9 Hunter Shinkaruk LW 31 5 7 12 2 16 0.39 66 2.13 7.58%
10 Brendan Gaunce LW 31 4 8 12 2 7 0.39 57 1.84 7.02%
15 Ronalds Kenins LW 29 5 5 10 6 23 0.34 47 1.62 10.64%
25 Darren Archibald LW 28 4 6 10 6 55 0.36 50 1.79 8.00%
7 Henrik Tommernes D 22 2 8 10 -4 8 0.45 42 1.91 4.76%
8 Alex Friesen C 18 4 4 8 9 15 0.44 31 1.72 12.90%
26 Frank Corrado D 19 4 4 8 2 17 0.42 45 2.37 8.89%
41 Will Acton C 20 3 5 8 -4 7 0.40 42 2.10 7.14%
4 Kane Lafranchise D 17 1 7 8 4 4 0.47 24 1.41 4.17%
37 Andrey Pedan D 19 0 7 7 5 75 0.37 27 1.42 0.00%
34 Carter Bancks RW 27 3 2 5 3 24 0.19 40 1.48 7.50%
40 Peter Andersson D 20 2 2 4 8 12 0.20 22 1.10 9.09%
2 Travis Ehrhardt D 16 1 3 4 3 12 0.25 13 0.81 7.69%
14 Mike Zalewski LW 14 1 1 2 0 2 0.14 16 1.14 6.25%
11 John Negrin D 13 0 1 1 1 0 0.08 10 0.77 0.00%
29 Kent Huskins D 9 0 0 0 -1 2 0.00 5 0.56 0.00%

Goaltenders

Name GP Min GA SO GAA W L OT SA SVS Sv%
1 Jacob Markstrom 12 695:54:00 23 4 1.98 9 2 1 310 287 92.58%
2 Joe Cannata 1 59:00:00 2 0 2.03 0 1 0 24 22 91.67%
3 Joacim Eriksson 20 1193:15:00 48 0 2.41 12 3 4 555 507 91.35%


With the
New Years Day beatdown, Utica’s goalies have seen some regression towards the mean with their
save percentages.  Joacim Erikkson is
nothing but a league average goalie right now, while Jacob Markstrom has fallen
from the top of the league standings to 11th place in save percentage.

Transactions

  • Bobby
    Sanguinetti, who is likely one of the six best defensemen in the organization right now, was called up to the NHL to sit in the Press Box.
  • Joe Cannata
    was returned to the Ontario Reign of the ECHL with Jacob Markstrom returning
    from his one month long injury that was only supposed to last a few days.

Schedule

The Comets
only have two games this week, which unfortunately is a back-to-back-to-back
with last night’s game.  Tonight, the
Comets play against Adirondack, who are a team the Comets have dominated so far in
every meeting.  On Saturday, the Comets
return home to face the Iowa Wild and ex-Canuck and World Junior standout Jordan Schroeder.

News

  • Coach Travis Green will be coaching
    the Western Conference team at the AHL All-Star Game.
  • The Coach
    of the Eastern Conference team is Mike Stothers of
    the Manchester Monarchs.
  • Cal
    O’Reilly talks about his AHL All-Star
    memories.
  • As mentioned
    before, the Utica Comets are hosting the AHL All-Star
    Game
    .
  • AHL December Notebook: [Hockeys Future]

[Click here to read last week’s Comets Militia AHL report, for December 27th, 2014]

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