Comets Militia: Down on the Farm – January 9th, 2015

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Courtesy: UticaComets.com

The Comets
Militia Weekly Report has returned as we look back at the weekly activities of our favourite AHL club, the Utica
Comets.  The results of the week were not
as good as they have been so far this year, but the underlying process still remains
positive.  Ultimately that’s what we care
about and preach here at Canucks Army; the sustainability of success due to the
correct on-ice decisions over results in a small sample size.  In the words of Alain Vigneault, “stick to the process.”

So let’s read
past the jump to see what went down!

The Summary

It was not
a great week for the Comets due to a number of reasons, including being fatigued from
a back-to-back-to-back series and the team missing key members due to injuries and call ups. 
The Comets have fallen to second place within their Conference with a
record of 22-7-5-0, earning 49 points in 34 games.  Ranked above them are the Oklahoma City Barons, who
have 1 more point and have played 1 more game. 
Over in the Eastern Conference, both the Springfield Falcons and Manchester Monarchs
have jumped the Comets in the standings with 50 points in 36 games and 52
points in 36 games respectively.

The
consolation prize is that the Comets are still leading the league, by a fair
margin, in the possession statistics. 
The Comets are currently at 57% for estimated FenClose, while teams ahead of them, such as Oklahoma
City, are under 50% with high PDO of 102%. 
It is likely that over the remainder of the season the Comets will be
able to re-take first place, or at least pass the Barons once again.  So far, the
Comets have outshot their opponents 997 to 891 (+106) and outscored them 96
to 77 (+19).

The team’s PDO has
slightly increased this week as a result of the excellent goaltending performance of Jacob
Markstrom (who is tied for first place in the league in save percentage).  The Comets’ PDO of 100.99% is a result of a 9.63%
shooting percentage and a .914 save percentage.

Utica’s special
teams continue to be excellent on the penalty kill but terrible on the
powerplay – similar to their parent club. 
The Comets went 4 for 4 this week on the penalty kill and are ranked 5th
in the league with an efficiency of 86.4%. 
The powerplay has fallen 3 spots, to 23rd, thanks to having
scored 0 goals in 6 attempts this week while converting at 14.60%.  Like father, like son.

Friday’s
2-1 Win @ Adirondack

To put this
game into perspective, this was the second game for the Comets in a back-to-back-to-back series while having lost 8-4 to San Antonio the previous night.  In the previous game, Jacob Markstrom was pulled, but he started on this night once again.

The game
was much less eventful despite the fact that Comets were outplayed and outshot
nearly 3 to 1.  Adirondack was the first
to score, halfway through the first period, but their lead did not last long.  Two minutes later, a quick give and go set up
by Ronalds Kenins to Kane Lafranchise, sent the puck past the Flames’ goaltender Joni Ortio
to create the equalizer.

The game
winning goal came 4 minutes into the second period when Cal O’Reilly shot the
puck at Ortio and Henrik Tommernes was there in the crease to jam the puck in. 

The Comets
won the game 2-1, but were outshot 44-15. 
The assists were credited to Alex Biega, Ronalds Kenins (2x), and Cal
O’Reilly.  Will Acton lead the team in
shots with 4 on goal while Jacob Markstrom made 43 of 44 saves, good for a .978
save percentage on the night.  The
powerplay went 0 for 5, while the penalty kill went 4 for 4.  Markstrom and Kenins earned the first and
second stars of the night. 

Saturday’s
1-2 Loss vs Iowa

The next
night, and third game in as many days, the Comets played against the Iowa Wild
(affiliate of the Minnesota Wild) featuring ex-Canuck Jordan Schroeder.  This game felt the complete opposite as the previous game as it was the Comets who dominated in shots but ended up
losing 2-1.

Schroeder
put the Wild on the board first, a mere one minute into the 2nd
period.  Schroeder then assisted Zack
Mitchell on the Wild’s second goal as well. 
It was not until over half way through the 3rd period when the Comets broke the shutout, as Hunter Shinkaruk and Alex Friesen worked to get the puck
to the net and in midst of the goal crease scramble, and Will Acton was able to tap the garbage goal into the net.

The Comets
lost this game 1-2 but controlled play and won the shot
count 28-17.  Joacim Eriksson started the
game making 15 of 17 saves, good for a a .882 save percentage on the night.  Peter Andersson led Utica with 5 shots on net.  The powerplay went
0 for 1 while the penalty kill was never utilized.  Will Acton was awarded the 3rd star of the
night. 

Skaters

Name Pos GP G A PTS +/- PIM PPG SOG SoG/G Sh%
16 Cal O’Reilly C 34 4 26 30 -1 6 0.88 45 1.32 8.89%
21 Dustin Jeffrey C 27 7 17 24 7 8 0.89 48 1.78 14.58%
24 Brandon DeFazio RW 33 13 8 21 6 33 0.64 90 2.73 14.44%
6 Bobby Sanguinetti D 27 8 9 17 16 2 0.63 54 2.00 14.81%
17 Nicklas Jensen RW 24 9 7 16 -5 10 0.67 70 2.92 12.86%
3 Alex Biega D 30 3 11 14 7 12 0.47 58 1.93 5.17%
28 Alexandre Grenier RW 25 7 6 13 4 43 0.52 56 2.24 12.50%
9 Hunter Shinkaruk LW 33 5 8 13 3 16 0.39 69 2.09 7.25%
36 Wacey Hamilton C 31 4 9 13 4 25 0.42 42 1.35 9.52%
10 Brendan Gaunce LW 33 4 9 13 3 7 0.39 60 1.82 6.67%
15 Ronalds Kenins LW 31 5 7 12 6 23 0.39 50 1.61 10.00%
7 Henrik Tommernes D 23 3 8 11 -3 8 0.48 43 1.87 6.98%
25 Darren Archibald LW 30 4 6 10 6 55 0.33 52 1.73 7.69%
8 Alex Friesen C 20 4 5 9 11 15 0.45 32 1.60 12.50%
41 Will Acton C 16 3 4 7 0 7 0.44 27 1.69 11.11%
4 Kane Lafranchise D 18 2 7 9 5 4 0.5 25 1.39 8.00%
26 Frank Corrado D 21 4 4 8 3 17 0.38 50 2.38 8.00%
37 Andrey Pedan D 14 0 4 4 2 24 0.29 22 1.57 0.00%
34 Carter Bancks RW 27 3 2 5 3 24 0.19 40 1.48 7.50%
40 Peter Andersson D 21 2 2 4 7 12 0.19 27 1.29 7.41%
2 Travis Ehrhardt D 18 1 3 4 1 14 0.22 16 0.89 6.25%
14 Mike Zalewski LW 16 1 1 2 -1 4 0.12 16 1.00 6.25%
11 John Negrin D 14 0 1 1 2 0 0.07 10 0.71 0.00%
27 Tom Sestito LW 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 1.33 0.00%
29 Kent Huskins D 10 0 0 0 -2 2 0 5 0.50 0.00%

Goaltenders

Name GP Min GA SO GAA W L OT SA SVS Sv%
1 Jacob Markstrom 13 755:41:00 24 4 1.91 10 2 1 354 330 0.932
2 Joe Cannata 1 59:00:00 2 0 2.03 0 1 0 24 22 0.917
3 Joacim Eriksson 21 1251:48:00 50 0 2.4 12 4 4 572 522 0.913

Transactions

  • Tom Sestito
    has been returned to Utica on what seems to be a permanent basis.  Obviously the Canucks
    are intent on hurting the Comets’ Calder Cup chances.
  • Bobby
    Sanguinetti has been returned to Utica from Vancouver’s press box.
  • Frank
    Corrado has been recalled to Vancouver’s press box – This time he might get a
    chance to play, though.  We can only hope.

Upcoming Schedule

The Utica
Comets have three games this week, starting tonight.  Utica off to Southern Ontario where they are
facing the Hamilton Bulldogs (affiliate of Montreal) before returning home to
face Adirondack on Saturday.  Against Hamilton
this season, the Comets are 1-0-0-0, while last season, the series between the two teams went 2-1-0-1 in favour of the Comets.  Against Adirondack, the Comets
are currently perfect on the year, with a record of 6-0-0-0.  Utica
then has a few days off until Wednesday, when Grand Rapids (affiliate of
Detroit) comes to town, a team the Comets have never faced in their short franchise history.

Comets News

  • Henrik Tommernes was put on unconditional waivers for the purposes of buying out his contract.  Rhys covered this story in detail yesterday.  My gut instinct is that he wants to go play in Europe as he realizes he likely does not have a chance of cracking an NHL roster.  Currently, Tommernes is 10th or 11th on the Canucks depth chart. He’s behind the 7 defencemen already in the NHL, as well as Alex Biega, Bobby Sanguinetti, Frank Corrado, and possibly Andrey Pedan too, given that Pedan is a Jim Benning guy.  Tommernes has also been a healthy scratch fairly frequently, as Peter Andersson, Travis Ehrhardt and Kane LaFranchise have provided similar or better play.  This move doesn’t appear to will hurt the Comets defence corps too badly, but we will see over the next few weeks to be sure.
  • Jacob Markstrom, Bobby Sanguinetti and Cal O’Reilly have all been named to the AHL All-Star Roster.
  • Nolan Baumgartner talks about his time in the All-Star Game.
  • You may have heard some rumours that the AHL is creating a “Pacific Division” which will see teams move their AHL clubs to California.  Ryan Pike at FlamesNation wrote more about this move, and he’s pretty spot-on for what is publicly known and assumed.  It’s a little bit surprising to see Adirondack will be moving after only one season in Glens Falls.  They are only an hour East of Utica and I do not see Utica moving in the next year or so.  With teams moving west, this will open up a spot or two in the Eastern Conference which will make Utica’s location even better.  In the Eastern Conference, the Comets would be playing more teams that are a mere bus ride away, rather than a plan ride, allowing for much more practice and development time.
  • Apparently, St. John’s will also be moving next season to Thunder Bay – the AHL is going to see a large shake up.
  • Of course not everyone is happy about this change such as the local fans of the local clubs – I do not blame them for being furious.