Utica Comets Post-Game Report
Game Two | Sunday, October 8th, 2017
Today’s game saw the Utica Comets trying to exact revenge upon the same Toronto Marlies squad that defeated them in their season debut. This was the Comets second game of the season and the second of seven straight on the road to open their fifth season. This game also marked the 77th consecutive regular season game played by Darren Archibald, the only player on the Comets roster to have played in each of the Comets five seasons in the league. I have a couple of corrections from the last game. The assist credited to Alexis D’Aoust last game has since changed to Carter Bancks. I also had mistakenly listed Cam Darcy as being on an ATO instead of a PTO.
Scratched for Utica today were: Zack MacEwen, (upper body injury, day to day), Anton Cederholm, Yan-Pavel Laplante, Danny Moynihan, Jaime Sifers, Patrick Wiercioch and Anton Rodin. Comets head coach Trent Cull revealed in an interview before today’s game that he wanted Rodin to get some practices in with the Comets before playing in games. Cull went on to cite the importance of special teams and how he wanted Rodin to be more familiar with the systems that go into them.
Comets Starting Lines
24 Boucher – 34 Bancks – 77 Goldobin
16 LaBate – 21 Chaput – 23 Megna
13 Molino – 11 Darcy – 17 D’Aoust
25 Archibald – 58 Carcone – 36 Hamilton
4 McEneny – 7 Subban
6 Sautner – 5 Chatfield
52 Holm – 55 Brisebois
Cull shuffled his lines a touch from yesterday. The starters for the Comets today were Bancks between Reid Boucher and Nikolay Goldobin with the defence pairing of Evan McEneny and Jordan Subban. Richard Bachman got the start between the pipes, giving Thatcher Demko the night off.
Once again the Comets new head coach got a good look at his penalty killing units as Michael Carcone was whistled for hooking just 58 seconds into the game. The Comets killed that penalty but gave up three more in the opening frame, giving up goals to Kerby Rychel and Timothy Liljegren (his first in the AHL) while killing off the other. This game saw Cull use several players on the penalty kill as his team found themselves shorthanded no less than seven times.
Forwards Darren Archibald, Wacey Hamilton, Griffen Molino, Carter Bancks and Jason Megna all spent time on the penalty kill along with Philip Holm, Guillaume Brisebois, Evan McEneny, Ashton Sautner and Jalen Chatfield on the back end. I wasn’t surprised to find most of these players on the penalty kill. However, the additions of Goldobin and Boucher on separate units near the end of the game caught my eye — more on that later.
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) October 8, 2017
The Comets opened the scoring 3:30 into the game on a goal scored by Bancks. Boucher and Goldobin picked up the assists on the captain’s first marker of the season. It took the Marlies just under a minute to even the score as Joe LaBate was in the box for slashing when Rychel put a power play goal past Richard Bachman. Andreas Johnsson and Andrew Nielsen grabbed the assists on Rychel’s second goal in as many games against the Comets. Liljegren finished the scoring in the first period with his first AHL goal, this time while Comets defenceman Ashton Sautner was doing time in the box for a slash.
In the second period, it was the Marlies who were on the wrong side of the special teams competition, as Toronto took four penalties to the Comets one. LaBate was able to even the game at one while Marlies defenceman Rinat Valiev was in the box for tripping. Subban and Michael Chaput picked up the helpers on big Joe’s first of the year. It took roughly five minutes before Ben Smith put the Marlies back up by a goal with an even-strength tally of his own though. Justin Holl was credited with the lone helper. Alexis D’Aoust finished the scoring in the second when he picked the corner with a nice shot. The helpers on D’Aoust’s goal went to Boucher, his third, and goalie Richard Bachman.
Alexis D'Aoust picks the corner to tie the game at 3#Canucks
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) October 8, 2017
The Comets power play units were more or less the same as yesterday with LaBate, Chaput, Megna, Bancks, Goldobin, D’Aoust used up front along with Holm, McEneny, Subban and Boucher getting the call to man the points.
The third period saw Evan McEneny take a seat in the box just 15 seconds in for a delay of game minor. The Comets were able to kill that penalty. However, Andreas Johnsson did net the game-winner 4:12 into the final frame. Ben Smith and Nikita Soshnikov had the assists.
- Shots on goal today: Marlies 34 – Comets 33
- The Comets will be rotating the “A”s this season. Thus far Darren Archibald and Wacey Hamilton have been the two players to wear the letters.
- Alexis D’Aoust can be a slippery player. He has squeezed his way past players along the boards a few times in this young season.
- Neither Comets game so far have been very physical. It will be interesting to see how this team handles some rough going when the games get a bit heavier.
- The defence that Trent Cull has used thus far is pretty green, and they will make their share of mistakes. That said, they move the puck very well, and as first-year AHL players like Holm, Chatfield and Brisebois get used to the AHL pace, the size of the ice and their new partners and systems things should settle in, and the Comets should have a backend that can put up points.
- PTO player Cam Darcy is an interesting player. He plays C as well as wing and just seems to come out of nowhere once or twice a game with a great scoring chance or setting up a play with a slick pass. Darcy asked out of his deal with the Lightning, and one wonders if that had to do with opportunity or lack thereof with the influx of good young players in the Tampa system. He may just earn a deal with Utica. With seven minutes left and down a goal, head coach Trent Cull sent Goldobin and Boucher over the boards and instead of Bancks going with them, Cull tapped Darcy’s shoulder with the hopes of generating a tying goal. Trent Cull seems to like Darcy… I think I am getting on that train too… for Utica anyway.
The Three Stars in the building tonight were:
3rd Star – Joe LaBate
2nd Star – Timothy Liljegren
1st Star – Ben Smith
Canucks Army’s Three Stars:
3rd Star: Alexis D’Aoust. D’Aoust was credited with his first AHL assist yesterday only to have it taken away and given to Carter Bancks. I don’t think he will be all that disappointed to be able to point to the goal that he scored today instead. D’Aoust has a pretty good shot, and he used it well on his goal.
2nd Star: He was the third star in the building but with six shots on goal and his first tally of the season Big Joe was my second star tonight. LaBate is getting opportunities from Trent Cull, and so far he is taking advantage of them… he is also taking a few penalties along the way so he may want to tidy that up a bit to keep getting those opportunities.
1st Star: Trent Cull. Yes… Trent Cull. When Griffen Molino took a double minor with less than five minutes to go, Cull switched up his penalty killing units. I was pretty thrilled when I saw Goldobin on one of the kill units and Boucher on the other. As someone who has spent the last few seasons watching the Canucks seemingly trying to play it safe when down a goal or two and just trying not to get scored on again, it was refreshing to see Cull send two of his best snipers over the boards on a kill. These are two players who have been taken to task over their defensive games and Cull sent them over the boards to try to create a shorthanded chance. Its a far cry from what we saw in Vancouver last season and I’m hoping it is an organization-wide philosophy going forward. Outscore the other team rather than out-defend them.
Friday, October 13th
4:05 Pacific Time vs the Rochester Americans