CanucksArmy Utica Comets Post-Game: Demko Backstops Comets to 2-0 Win over Rochester

Utica Comets Post-Game Report

Game Three | Friday, October 13th, 2017

The Utica Comets played their third straight road game of the season today, this time playing the Rochester Americans. Coming into the game today, the teams’ records were mirror opposites of each other.

The Comets, while playing well so far this season came in with a record of zero wins and two losses. The Americans, on the other hand, were sporting a record of two wins and zero loses before the game today. In eight games against Rochester, last season the Comets had a record of three wins, four regulation losses and one more loss coming in overtime. Utica managed a record of 2-2-1 in Rochester last season. Leading the Americans in points after their first two games is C.J. Smith with one goal and two helpers. Reid Boucher, with three assists after two games held the scoring title coming in for Utica.

The scratches today for Utica were: Zack MacEwen, (upper body injury, day to day), Cam Darcy, (lower body injury, day to day), Jayson Megna, Darren Archibald, Evan McEneny, Danny Moynihan and Jaime Sifers. In other Comets roster moves, the team has one less Anton on board as Anton Cederholm has been sent to the Kalamazoo Wings in the ECHL for playing time, and Brendan Woods is getting a look on a PTO. Woods is a big, 6’3″ 215 lbs forward who can play in the middle or on the wing. In his pregame interview, Comets head coach Trent Cull cited Woods’ size along with his ability to win face-offs as a reason why he is getting a look to help stabilize the Comets down the middle. Woods had been in camp with the Ottawa Senators before being released. With the above scratches, Patrick Wiercioch, Anton Rodin, Yan-Pavel Laplante and Brendan Woods all saw their first action of the season for the Comets.

Comets Starting Lines

16 LaBate – 21 Chaput – 8 Rodin

24 Boucher – 34 Bancks – 77 Goldobin

58 Carcone – 20 Woods – 17 D’Aoust

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9 LaPlante – 36 Hamilton – 13 Molino

6 Sautner – 5 Chatfield

52 Holm – 55 Brisebois

28 Wiercioch – 7 Subban

30 Demko

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The Utica lineup had a different look today with new faces sprinkled throughout. Thatcher Demko got his second start in three games, and he proved to be a good choice after making 33 saves for his first shutout of the season. Patrick Wiercioch was playing his first AHL game in three seasons and acquitted himself well with a goal and four shots on net while getting time on both special teams to go with his five on five minutes. So far this season Utica has run into penalty trouble and today was more of the same with the Comets racking up six practice sessions for their PK units while the Americans obliged with eight penalties of their own. The Rochester penalty kill was perfect coming into today, and that record came out unscathed as Utica went 0-8 with the man advantage while killing off all six chances that they gave up.

The Comets didn’t have the results in the win column thus far, but they had managed to open the scoring in their first two games. It didn’t take long for Utica’s Dynamic Duo of Reid Boucher and Nikolay Goldobin to carry that early season tradition on. It took just 46 seconds into the game for the two to hook up on the first goal of the night and Goldobin’s second of the season. The two former Sarnia Sting teammates have gotten off to good starts in Utica while they work on their 200′ games. Boucher was even being given second unit penalty killing time, but I will get to that in a bit.


The Comets had the edge in shots in the first period, putting 13 on the Rochester net while Demko saw eight shots come his way. The Americans were nice enough to give Utica two power plays to work with, although the Comets weren’t able to take advantage. Anton Rodin took the lone Comets penalty when he went off at 15:59 for a hook. Rodin had a fairly quiet game, although he did manage to put four shots on net and dished a couple of nice passes. He looks like he’s getting his feet under him and will hopefully be able to put last season behind him.

The second period saw Rochester put Utica on the man advantage just 38 seconds in when Nathan Paetsch, (yes… he’s still around) was sent off for tripping. Trent Cull used Goldobin, Michael Chaput and Alexis D’Aoust up front with Philip Holm and Boucher manning the points on the first unit while Michael Carcone, Carter Bancks and Rodin were used up front on the second unit with Wiercioch and Jordan Subban getting the call to man the points. The teams each took three turns on the power play with nary a goal to be scored with the man advantage. The Comets used the following players on their penalty killing units today, Brendan Woods, Wacey Hamilton, Bancks, Chaput and Boucher up front, and Wiercioch, Ashton Sautner, Jalen Chatfield and Guillaume Brisebois saw time on the back end. All of the scoring in the second period was done by Patrick Wiercioch with Bancks and Boucher picking up the helpers. That makes five assists in three games for Boucher.

Thatcher Demko needs to get in on the highlights today as well. Demko made 33 saves and looked big in the net. He also did a nice job of playing the puck a few times. I am personally a fan of goalies who can play the puck and Thatcher handled it well today…..now watch this save…

Demko finished the second period with 19 saves while the Comets managed ten shots on the Rochester net.

The third period saw Brendan Woods try to impress his new coach by taking on Andrew MacWilliam in a fight that was more like a Brandon Prust hug/wrestling match. Yan-Pavel Laplante spent time in the box for a slash as well as the Americans picking up two more penalties. There would be no scoring in the third, but we did see Trent Cull shift up his lines a little, with Chaput replacing captain Carter Bancks between Goldobin and Boucher. Midway through the third period the Americans had sustained pressure in the Comets end and had the Utica squad on their heels, but the Comets didn’t break and managed to keep Rochester down by a pair. With 3:13 remaining and Utica up a man, Cull loaded up his power plays with Goldobin, Bancks and Boucher up front with Wiercioch and Subban on the points and LaBate, Chaput and Rodin making up the other forward unit with Holm and Chatfield on the backend. While these units weren’t able to score, it is nice to see that Cull has options to mix and match with. One thing that also caught my eye was with Rochester looking for a goal with their net empty, Reid Boucher was sent over the boards to help defend the lead. I like this. I like that the players who were sent down by the Canucks to work on their defensive games are actually getting the opportunity to work on their defensive games. Both of Boucher and Goldobin have been holding their own on both sides of the puck, and both should be legit options for long-term call-ups at some point this season. If they keep playing the way they are they will be “nice problems to have” as the season progresses.

[Box Score]

Quick Hits

  • Shots on goal today: Americans 33 – Comets 30
  • PTO player Brendan Woods played with Joe LaBate with the U. of Wisconsin
  • Trent Cull has liked his team’s compete level so far and has been happy with his special teams, though hed like to cut back on the penalties
  • Philip Holm is being used in all situations by Cull, and it seems he will be logging a lot of minutes in Utica.
  • Jordan Subban has looked solid as well thus far.
  • Guillaume Brisebois is a work in progress. He skates well, and at times looks like he uses his body well but he will need some time to adjust to the AHL level of competition.

The Three Stars in the building tonight were:

3rd Star – Reid Boucher

2nd Star – Nikolay Goldobin

1st Star – Thatcher Demko

CanucksArmy’s Three Stars

3rd Star: Nikolay Goldobin. I have the same three stars; I just have them in a different order. Goldobin is proving that scoring at the AHL level is not an issue for him. In the Comets first three games this season Goldy has opened the scoring twice. He is also putting in the work on the other side of the puck. Goldobin is improving on his 200′ game, and hopefully for him, it won’t be too long before he is a full-timer in Vancouver. Until then I will enjoy watching him light it up in Utica

2nd Star: Reid Boucher. The other half of Utica’s Dynamic Duo. Boucher now has five assists, and you can see why. He seems to dish stretch passes on the regular and it won’t be long before he starts burying some of his scoring chances. Boucher tied Ashton Sautner for the Comets lead in shots for this game with five apiece. While the points are nice, we know those will come for Boucher. Its the extra work that he is getting on the penalty kill that will hep his cause with Vancouver and he is taking advantage of it with improved play.

1st Star: Thatcher Demko. The big second-year pro stopped everything that came his way, and he looked calm and poised while doing it. His puck handling is looking good as he was able to clear the puck out of harm’s way a couple of times tonight. Thatcher is getting off to a good start this year, and I would not be the least bit surprised to see him get into his first NHL game before this season is over.

Next Game

Saturday, October 14th

4:00 pm Pacific time vs the Syracuse Crunch

  • canuckfan

    Is there a cable channel that we can buy that carries the Comets game they would be a fun team to watch.If there is not the Canucks should look into it as the prospects need to get some recognition in the Vancouver market so that fans can get to know them before they play for the big club. Burrows, Kessler and others from that great team got their start in the farm system when the team was the Moose. We could be seeing the same happening now as we start getting more depth.
    This season is about getting the prospects to build on their game, rather than getting killed in NHL on a nightly basis they can get some success as well as build relationships with each other as they grow into an NHL role. Yes Canucks will be tough to watch, though so far they have been entertaining but will lose a lot of games by one goal. Next year is going to be the start of something special and it will not be because of a free agent signing it will be from the team they built by teaching the young talented players how to play as a team.
    With attendance down it is proof that fans will not support a rebuild. The owner has learned a hard lesson that signing a free agent who has scored in the past to big money doesn’t mean they will be able to repeat.

    • DJ_44

      To answer your question regarding viewing of the game, you can subscribe to AHL-Live. Buy individual games or for a particular team. It ain’t cheep; in fact is is more expensive then the NHL Rogers Gamecentre live.

      I won’t waste my time with the rest of your comment.

      • Break The Canuck's Curse

        The AHL should put that up on youtube live. Or maybe put time delayed games there. I would think marketing their product would be the biggest priority at this point

        • DJ_44

          I think Ryan or Jeremy had a piece that mention another free way to watch the games live (it was within the last month). I brokedown and subscribed to AHL-Live, so I can watch the 4pm weekday starts in full.

    • Dirk22

      Fans and smart won’t support a throw away season led by aging vets. Surprise, surprise.

      Whether they’d support a full on rebuild by attending more is up for debate. Would the attendance, atmosphere be that much worse though? Let’s assume the attendance issues would still be there – at least there’d be a larger base of prospects to provide hope. That ship has sailed though. This approach should have started in 2014. There are some promising prospects within the system but we all know only a couple may turn out. At this point there should be twice as many prospects the likes of Lind, Gadjovich, Palmu etc. A little foresight could have got them there pretty easily.

  • fretallack

    Good to see the top prospects having success in the AHL… I wouldn’t be surprised though if Rodin ends up being the top player on a good Comets team. SHL MVP is a pretty massive achievement. If he can regain that form he should be able to light up the AHL as well, and hopefully make a contrbution at the NHL level. Not sure if Boucher will ever improve his 2 way game enough to make the leap but am certainly hopeful for Rodin and Goldy.

  • DJ_44

    I watched the game. AHL hockey, I am finding, takes a while to get used to as it is far less structured.

    Demko looked really good; very relaxed. To my eye, Rodin and Wiercoich looked better then everyone on the Comets, with the exception perhaps of Boucher. Especially Rodin; the game slow down when he has the puck on his stick.

    Cull also used Goldobin on the PK, which is good to see as he has to read and react in the defensive zone. He works hard and is coming along.

    Subban had his moments. He is playing more physical in the D-zone. Still has a few issues with positioning and gap control. Holm is good going up the ice and on the blue line. He can turn-off sometimes in the D-zone. Holm was paired with Briesbois who was, well, mostly unnoticeable.

    I look forward to seeing MacEwen at centre. The wingers need a playmaker of sorts to pass the puck. Now it is a lot of one man efforts (the possible exception being Goldobin who can make great passes at times).

    • Whackanuck

      For a team with a lot of prospects, the Comets are pretty thin with offensive centers after Chaput. We’ll see if Brendan Woods is an answer but Carter Bancks is no second line center. Maybe a minor league trade to get a veteran scorer?

      • fretallack

        MacEwen is a center isnt he? (sidelined atm). But ya, all 3 too prospects on the wing. Next year (assuming Petterson is with the big club) i guess its more wingers for the comets, with Jonah, Lind, and maybr Dahlen playing AHL (or are the canadians too young to be elligble?)