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CanucksArmy Utica Comets Post-Game: Comets Score Five in Game Five of Their Fifth Season, Drop Rochester 5-1

Utica Comets Post-Game Report

Game Five | Saturday, October 21st, 2017

The Utica Comets rolled into Rochester today for the second time in just over a week. We last saw the Americans one Friday ago, when Thatcher Demko picked up his first shutout of the season, and the Comets defeated the home team by a score of 2-0.

The Americans were coming off a 5-2 loss to the Charlotte Checkers that saw them use both of their goaltenders. More of the same would happen today. The Comets were looking to continue their momentum, coming off back to back wins after dropping their first two games of the season to the Toronto Marlies.

Last season, the Comets had a record of three wins, four losses and one overtime loss against the Americans who held a record of 2-2-1 in Rochester. The Comets held a 1-0 advantage in the season series this year. The Comets are now up 2-0 in the season series, but Rochester will get six more tries in the regular season to change their fortunes against Utica before the season is done.

The leading scorers for Rochester before today were the recently recalled Zack Redmond with three points in four games and C.J. Smith with the same totals. Leading the way for the Comets were Reid Boucher who came in tied for fourth in the AHL with six assists in his first four games and Nikolay Goldobin who was one point shy of 100 in the AHL before puck drop, but more on that in a bit. Philip Holm was leading the points race on the back end for Utica with three points in his first four games of the season.

The scratches listed for Utica today were: Jordan Subban, Anton Rodin, Michael Carcone and Zack MacEwen. Carcone and MacEwen are listed as day-to-day, although MacEwen did take the pregame skate so expect him to make his Comets debut soon, possibly next game. Rodin sat as the vet again while Subban sat to make room for another as the 34-year-old right shot defenceman Jaime Sifers got into his first action of the season on the Utica blue line.

In other lineup news for the Comets, earlier in the week, Danny Moynihan was dispatched to Kalamazoo to get playing time with the ECHL Wings. Michael Chaput was called up to the big club in Vancouver for some press box duty, and that fine NHL life, after Loui Eriksson went down with an injury and Brandon Sutter was deemed questionable. Sutter played so I would expect Chaput to be swapped out for one of the more offensive Boucher or Goldobin if the big club is looking for scoring over faceoffs and penalty killing duty. Patrick Wiercioch was also recalled and returned by the Canucks during the Erik Gudbranson one-game suspension. Wiercioch did not play while with Vancouver.

Comets Starting Lines

77 Nikolay Goldobin – 34 Carter Bancks (C) – 24 Reid Boucher

25 Darren Archibald – 20 Brendan Woods – 17 Alexis D’Aoust

16 Joe LaBate – 11 Cam Darcy – 23 Jayson Megna

13 Griffen Molino – 36 Wacey Hamilton (A) – 9 Yan-Pavel Laplante

4 Evan McEneny – 26 Jaime Sifers (A)

6 Ashton Sautner – 5 Jalen Chatfield

52 Philip Holm – 55 Guillaume Brisebois

30 Thatcher Demko

Starting the game today for Utica were Goldobin, Boucher and Carter Bancks up front with Evan McEneny and Jaime Sifers getting the nod from head coach Trent Cull on the back end. Coming off back-to-back wins, Thatcher Demko was allowed to keep rolling, getting the start between the pipes.

The Rochester penalty kill was perfect on the season coming into today’s game, and Garret Ross sent the Americans to the kill just 2:01 into the game. A personal milestone was achieved only 41 seconds later as Goldobin picked up his 100th point in the AHL in his 123rd game in that league when he collected an assist along with Bancks on Darren Archibald’s first goal of the season. So much for that perfect PK record, Rochester… and the day was just getting started.

Adam Krause took a delay of game penalty just two minutes later, but Utica couldn’t capitalize with the man advantage. It was then Utica’s turn to give the other team a leg up as they took the next four penalties. The Comets penalty kill was perfect in the first with the Americans going 0-4. Things got worse for Rochester as the period wound down with Adam Krause and Stuart Percy both took slashing penalties within 40 seconds of each other with 3 minutes left in the 3rd. Reid Boucher made them pay on both occasions.

Boucher put home his first with Goldobin picking up the helper and less than two minutes later Boucher buried his second of the year, this time Alexis D’Aoust and Archibald picked up the assists. Demko was terrific in the first frame, stopping all 22 Rochester shots that he faced. With the Comets scoring three goals on just six shots, the night was over for Americans goaltender Adam Wilcox who replaced Linus Ullmark in their previous game against Charlotte as the Checkers chased him from the game.

The second period saw the Americans start in a similar way to the first when Andrew MacWilliam was whistled for tripping just 1:26 into the middle frame. This time it was Joe LaBate who was able to tarnish again that perfect PK record that Rochester brought with them into the game. LaBate picked up his second goal of the season with Jayson Megna picking up his first point of the season with an assist. Philp Holm with his third helper of the season picked up the other.

Just under five minutes later Guillaume Brisebois picked up his first pro point and first AHL goal when he beat Ullmark for Utica’s only five on five goals of the day. Philip Holm picked up assist number four while Yan-Pavel Laplante got the other for his first point of the season.

Canucks management seems fairly excited about Brisebois by all accounts, and he kind of reminds me of another defenceman that they were higher on than most, Luca Sbisa. That isn’t to say that Guillaume is serving up pizzas on the regular, just that from my eye at least, he plays a similar game. He tries to use his body and can be physical at times, and he skates well, but I wouldn’t expect a pile of points from him at this stage. I do think that if he keeps his game simple that he could have at the very least some AHL success. Time will tell if that will apply to the NHL level.

That Demko fellow was also seen doing those Demko things in this game. I know its early in his career, but its difficult to not be excited about the thought of Thatcher suiting up in Vancouver colours on a full-time basis one day, especially when he is doing things like this on a nightly basis.

It took well into the third period, 13:49 in fact for the Americans to put a puck past Demko. C.J. Smith took a pass from Steve Moses and buried a beauty past Thatcher for the only goal that Rochester would manage for the day. The other assist went to Brendan Guhle. There were stretches of the third period that looked like they might get ugly. Down by that many goals generally doesn’t sit well with hockey players and the physical side of the game picked up a bit. It was nice to see that Utica can handle themselves when the games get a little more on the greasy side. I was impressed early in the game with how many Utica players were finishing their checks, and they continued it throughout the game when needed.

The Comets won the game 5-1 largely on the backs of their special teams with the PK going 6-0 and their PP going 4-8 and Thatcher Demko’s 40 save effort. With special teams being such a massive part of today’s game, it is good to see the Comets got off to such a good start in those departments. That said, they may not want to continue pushing their luck by giving up so many power play opportunities.

[The Box Score]

Quick Hits

  • Zack MacEwen took the pregame skate and could make his Comets debut next Saturday when Utica travels to Charlotte to take on the Checkers.
  • I haven’t been very impressed thus far with Megna. It’s early, but I expected more from him at the AHL level. He does get used in all situations, so he gets his share of ice time. The points may start to come for him but until they do its possible that he begins to lose some of his minutes to other players that might do better with them… cough … Rodin… cough…
  • A great quote during the game came when Utica got burned for a shorthanded chance and Demko once again made a big save and Comets play by play voice Andy Zilch casually said into the mic…”Boy……Thatcher is good, huh?” My thoughts exactly Mr Zilch. Pretty good indeed. Thatcher has played in four games this season and has been named one of the three stars in the building in each of those games. Did I mention that all of these games have come on the road?
  • Evan McEneny put five shots on net tonight. He is playing a solid if unspectacular game so far this season. I have hopes that he can continue to improve on his solid second half last season and get his foot in the door as an injury call up to get a few NHL games in this season. Jim Benning may not have much in the way of high-end defencemen in the system yet, but he does seem to have the bottom pairing type guy covered fairly well.

The Three Stars in the building tonight were:

3rd Star: Darren Archibald

2nd Star: Reid Boucher

1st Star: Thatcher Demko

CanucksArmy’s Three Stars

3rd Star: Joe Labate. Big Joe picked up his second goal of the season tonight on the power play and also put six shots on the Rochester net. LaBate has played a physical game all season while also getting power play time. He has been earning those minutes each game. Today LaBate showed the side of his game that should translate well the next time he gets a chance in Vancouver. He finished his checks along the boards buy also rocked Steve Moses with a solid mid-ice hit that sent the Rochester player to the ice.

2nd Star: Reid Boucher. Boucher came into the game leading the team in points with six assists. He added two goals to that points total today while also firing six shots on net. If Boucher keeps improving on his defensive game the way he has been thus far, and keeps on putting up points the way he is, he is going to make someone take notice. Whether that is in Vancouver, or another team looking to add scoring on the cheap and is willing to make room for him at the NHL level.

1st Star: Thatcher Demko. I know, this is getting repetitive with Demko earning the first star, the thing is, with 40 saves overall and 22 in the first when the Americans were all over the Comets… he EARNED it… again. I have found myself genuinely impressed with Demko in each of his games this season. I look forward to watching this young man grow into the number one goalie that Vancouver hopes he will be.

Next Game

Saturday, October 28th, 2017

3:00 pm Pacific time vs the Charlotte Checkers