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CanucksArmy Utica Comets Post-Game: Comets Drop Home Opener 4-3 in 8th Round Shootout Loss

Utica Comets Post-Game Report

Game 8 | Wednesday, November1st, 2017

The Utica Comets finally got to play a home game today in front of the hockey-hungry crowd at the Adirondack Bank Center at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. Yes, that is the new name of “The Aud” now, and it definitely ups the word count for this post.

The Comets came into today with a record of 4-3-0-0 after a 5-1 win over the Charlotte Checkers with whom they split last weekend’s back to back games. Their opponents, the Rochester Americans last played on Saturday when they lost 3-2 to the Syracuse Crunch, bringing their record to 4-4-0-0. In two previous meetings, this season the Comets have dominated the Americans, winning both games by scoring seven goals while giving up just 1.

Coming into today’s action, the Americans were led in scoring up front by Kyle Criscuolo with three goals and three assists for six points which tied him with C.J. Smith, who had two goals and four helpers. On the back-end, Zach Redmond still holds the points lead with one goal and two assists. For the Comets, Nikolay Goldobin was the points leader with ten thanks to his four goals and six helpers while Reid Boucher is right behind him with nine points with his three goals and six assists. Philip Holm is still the leader on the blue line with one goal and five helpers.

Scratched today for Utica were: Yan-Pavel Laplante, Cam Darcy, (week to week), Griffen Molino, Guillaume Brisebois and Michael Carcone. In other roster news, Jayson Megna, Patrick Wiercioch and the recently recalled Anton Rodin are all up with Vancouver.

Congratulations also go out to Thatcher Demko for being named AHL Goaltender of the Month for October. Demko was lights out in October for the Comets.

Comets Starting Lines

77 Nikolay Goldobin – 21 Michael Chaput – 24 Reid Boucher

10 Brendan Gaunce – 34 Carter Bancks (C) – 15 Zack MacEwen

25 Darren Archibald – 36 Wacey Hamilton (A) – 17 Alexis D’Aoust

16 Joe LaBate – 19 Cole Cassels – 20 Brendan Woods

4 Evan McEneny – 26 Jaime Sifers (A)

52 Philip Holm – 7 Jordan Subban

6 Ashton Sautner – 5 Jalen Chatfield

30 Thatcher Demko

In their first home game of the season, head coach Trent Cull elected to start Nikolay Goldobin and Reid Boucher flanking Michael Chaput up front while Evan McEneny and Jaime Sifers got the start on the blue line. Thatcher Demko was the natural choice in net, and that is exactly who was between the pipes for the Comets when the puck dropped for the opening face-off.

The Comets got off to an unfamiliar start as Rochester’s Hudson Fasching scored his first goal of the season just 14 seconds into the game. Stuart Percy picked up his first assist of the season on the Fasching marker while C.J. Smith picked up his fifth. Just under two minutes later, Utica’s Brendan Woods and Rochester’s Dalton Smith dropped their gloves and got acquainted. After what was more of a wrestling match, both players took a seat for 5 minutes in the box for fighting. Less than a minute later Smith took a tripping penalty, sending the Comets to their first of four power plays in the first period. Michael Chaput made Smith pay, scoring his 2nd goal of the season. Reid Boucher was awarded his seventh assist of the season while Philip Holm continued to add to his point totals by picking up his sixth helper of the year.

The Comets were playing with pretty good pace in what was a fairly fast period of hockey. Garret Ross of the Americans took a slashing call shortly after the Chaput goal, but the Comets were only able to capitalize on the one penalty in the opening frame. The Chaput goal, however, wasn’t the only Comets goal in the first. Darren Archibald also picked up his second goal of the season as he buried an Evan McEneny rebound. McEneny picked up his fourth assist of the season while Alexis D’Aoust was awarded his second helper of the year.

Rochester captain Kevin Porter would tie the game at two with Jalen Chatfield in the box after getting whistled for slashing. Brendan Guhle picked up his fourth assist on the period closing goal with just 14 seconds remaining. Utica out-shot Rochester 17-11 in the opening frame.

The second period saw Reid Boucher get whistled for slashing at 3:51, putting the Comets back onto the penalty kill. The Comets were able to kill off the Boucher penalty but wouldn’t be so lucky later in the period. More on that in a minute. Alexis D’Aoust would put the Comets back up by one with his second of the season. The assists on the D’Aoust goal would go to Wacey Hamilton and Darren Archibald each earning their 3rd helper of the season. The goal would not have happened had it not been for Evan McEneny creating a turn over with a hit and making the breakout pass up the ice. McEneny was looking good again today.

The Comets were putting a lot of pucks on the net again today with another 17 in the second. D’Aoust and Subban had five and four shots respectively through the first two periods. Americans goaltender Linus Ullmark looked very good in the first two frames. Once again, Brendan Gaunce was working hard. He was hustling in on the fore-check to beat out icing calls, he was aggressive on the penalty kill and was getting greasy in the net front area as though he had no worries whatsoever about his previously injured shoulder.

Brendan Woods found himself in the box for tripping at 14:20 of the second and Steve Moses said thank you by scoring his second goal of the season. Kyle Cricuolo earned his fifth assist of the season on the play with C.J. Smith picking up his sixth of the season and second of the game. The Comets had killed 22 of 23 penalties in their previous five games but took a bit of a hit today, giving up two in the first two periods. Jordan Subban and Carter Bancks would take back to back penalties to finish the period with Bancks taking a high sticking penalty with 0.02 seconds left in the middle frame. The Shots on goal for the second period were 17-11 in Utica’s favour.

Reid Boucher started the third period off in much the same way as the second when he took a hooking penalty just 2:45 after the puck was dropped on the final frame. Brendan Gaunce looked excellent on the kill, getting a short-handed chance but he couldn’t capitalize on it. Goldobin and McEneny both had chances hit iron, but Ullmark was also playing very well in the Rochester net. Much of the third period was spent with the teams trading chances back and forth, but both goaltenders and their defencemen kept the game knotted at three. The Comets really poured it on with around five minutes left in the period but were unable to beat Ullmark. Gaunce, Chaput and Goldobin had some great hustle late to force a turnover but couldn’t bury the puck. The third period came to a close with the teams still tied at three and the teams were off to overtime. Rochester came into the game with an overtime record of 2-0, while the Comets had yet to be taken to the extra frame this season. The shot total for regulation favoured the Comets by a count of 45-30.

The three on three overtime saw Archibald, Hamilton and Holm come over the boards, followed by the trio of Boucher, Goldobin and McEneny. Gaunce, Chaput and Subban were next up, followed by Bancks, D’Aoust and Holm. Holm looked very good in the three on three formats. He could really wheel around with all of that room, but no goals were to be had by either side in the overtime period. Rochester managed two shots on Demko in overtime while the Comets put three on the Rochester net. Overtime would solve nothing, so we were off to the Comets first shootout of the season. It would take eight rounds of the shootout to end the game with the Comets coming out on the losing side. Boucher managed to beat Ullmark with a beauty. However, both of Kevin Porter and Eric Cornel would manage to put the puck past Thatcher Demko. While a win would have been much more preferable, the Comets did put on an entertaining game for their home opener. Final: 4-3 shootout loss for the Comets… oh… and Boucher and Demko had this interesting play in overtime…

Today’s Official Boxscore

Quick Hits

  • Brendan Gaunce was held off the score sheet today, but he was a standout to my eyes. He was once again playing a physical game, he was hustling in all three zones and worked the opposing net front in a way that Vancouver needs somebody to do. Gaunce got dumped in front of the Rochester net at one point, and he got up looking for payback. I’ve never been overly excited by Gaunce, but I can definitely see a place for him in Vancouver if he can carry this play over when he heads back up from his conditioning stint.
  • Evan McEneny does a good job along the boards of separating forwards from pucks. He is also pretty good at using his body to protect the puck. I have been impressed by his all-around, no-nonsense game. There are a lot of bodies on the Canucks depth chart on the blue line, and it may take a number of injuries in Vancouver before McEneny gets another shot in the NHL, but he is looking more ready for the challenge should he get that opportunity than he did during his last time around… at least to my eye.
  • I had mentioned in one of my previous posts that I would like to see Trent Cull take a look at a pairing of Holm and Chatfield. I would still like to see that pairing tried. However, I am starting to like what I see from the Sautner/Chatfield pair. The two seem to be learning how the other plays and they are reading off of each other better in the last few games… that said… a Holm/Chatfield pair “could” be pretty great.
  • Comets fans are the real deal. The building was packed, and it was loud. Fans were out tailgating in the rain before game time.

The Three Stars in the building today were:

3rd Star: C.J. Smith. two assists

2nd Star: Alexis D’Aoust. one goal, one assist

1st Star: Darren Archibald. one goal, two assists

CanucksArmy’s Three Stars 

3rd Star: Darren Archibald. The big man was the first star in the building today and the 3rd star on my list. He was physical, played the power play, the penalty kill, and he was moving out there today. Arch picked up three points today with his goal and two assists, and he brings it every time he steps on the ice.

2nd Star: Philip Holm. Holm had another solid game. He comes to work every game, and he looks better as each game passes. Holm really looked good in the three on three overtime. His skating and vision put him into openings to make plays. He continues to log all situations minutes, and he seems to be thriving with those minutes. I’d like to see some more goals from him, but I believe that they will come in time.

1st Star: Brendan Gaunce. I had to go back to Gaunce for my first star even though he was held pointless today. As I mentioned earlier, I am actually kind of excited to see what he looks like when he gets back into Vancouver’s lineup. He somehow looks a little faster than he did last season. He’s no burner, but he does look a little quicker to me. I really do think that he would look good with Sutter and Dorsett which would free up Granlund for some more offensive opportunities. Time will tell, but it’s possible that Gaunce is finally coming into his own and finding his fit as a solid bottom six left winger.

Next Game

VS Binghamton Devils

Friday, November 3rd, 2017

4:00 pm Pacific