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CanucksArmy Utica Comets Post-Game: Comets Come Up Short in Rematch With Checkers. Lose 5-2

Utica Comets Post-Game Report

Game 11 | Wednesday, November 8th, 2017

The Utica Comets kicked off their first of three games for the week today against the Charlotte Checkers. The Comets and Checkers last squared off in a weekend back to back series with each team coming away with a win. The last of which started off with a bang as Comets captain, Carter Bancks threw down with Checkers captain Patrick Brown seemingly before the puck hit the ice for the opening faceoff. Both men would get an early shower for their efforts as their nights were done after receiving game misconduct penalties.

The fifth overall Checkers were coming off of a 2-1 victory over the Belleville Senators. This Charlotte team can score goals, having outscored their opponents by a margin of 43-32 so far this season. The Comets, meanwhile, sat 17th overall in the AHL having last played to a 3-2 shootout win over the Rochester Americans. Utica, for the record, had edged their opponents by a score of 28-26 thus far this season.

Leading the way for the Checkers in points coming into today was Lucas Wallmark with 13 points in 11 games. Philip Samuelsson led the Checkers blue-line with five points. Warren Foegele was the top rookie for Charlotte with six goals and one assist for seven points.

For the Comets it was once again Nikolay Goldobin who sat atop the points board with 12. Philip Holm led all Comets blue-liners with eight points while Alexis D’Aoust was listed as the Comets rookie leader on the back of his two goals and two helpers.

CanucksArmy’s Ryan Biech posted an in-depth report on Philip Holm today and if you would like to see just what the Canucks have in Holm, I would highly recommend giving it a read.

The Comets special teams were still doing very well with their power play sitting second overall in the league, operating at 24.1% and their penalty kill sitting 5th with an 87% success rate. Coincidentally, the Comets had been on both the power play and penalty kill 54 times apiece coming into today’s action.

Goldobin came into today sitting tied for ninth overall in league scoring while Philip Holm sat tied for eighth amongst AHL defensemen in points. Thatcher Demko, who is still in Vancouver on a recall, sat second overall in save percentage with a 0.939 mark and third overall with a goals-against average of 1.85.

Scratched today for Utica were: Yan-Pavel Laplante, Wacey Hamilton, (injured), Brendan Woods, (Injured), Michael Carcone, (Injured) and Evan McEneny, (injured).

In other roster news, Jayson Megna has been returned to Utica from his recall by the Vancouver Canucks.

Reid Boucher has been recalled by the parent Canucks and Ryan Biech broke down the details.

Comets Starting Lines

25 Darren Archibald (A) – 21 Michael Chaput – 77 Nikolay Goldobin

34 Carter Bancks (C) – 11 Cam Darcy – 8 Anton Rodin

13 Griffen Molino – 19 Cole Cassels – 17 Alexis D’Aoust

16 Joe LaBate – 23 Jayson Megna – 15 Zack MacEwen

6 Ashton Sautner – 5 Jalen Chatfield

52 Philip Holm – 7 Jordan Subban

26 Jaime Sifers (A) – 55 Guillaume Brisebois

32 Richard Bachman

With Reid Boucher in Vancouver on a recall, the Utica lines some shuffling. The Comets started Darren Archibald, Michael Chaput and Nikolay Goldobin up front, while Ashton Sautner and Jalen Chatfield were the starters on the back end. Richard Bachman got his second straight start with Thatcher Demko still in Vancouver. It was interesting to note that left shot Guillaume Brisebois remained on the right side while right shot veteran Jaime Sifers played the left side.

The first period did not get off to the kind of start that the Comets had in mind. It took Andrew Miller just 26 seconds to pick up his sixth goal of the season. Phil DiGiuseppe was awarded his seventh helper of the year on the goal.

Moments later Darren Archibald would take a hard hit along the boards by 6’3″, 218 lbs Josiah Didier and would not return for the remainder of the game.

The Comets would get a chance to tie the game just under three minutes later when Carter Bancks drew a slashing penalty on Janne Kuokkanen. The Comets rolled out Bancks, Chaput and Zack MacEwen up front with Goldobin taking the left point and Holm taking the right. They were unable to capitalize on their first power play opportunity.

Three minutes later, Comets leading scorer, Nikolay Goldobin would score his sixth goal of the season. Bancks would pick up his sixth assist of the season while Jaime Sifers was awarded his first helper of the season in his 550th AHL game.

The Comets would get a chance to go up 2-1 midway through the first when Phil DiGuiseppe was whistled for hooking. Once again the Comets were unable to score. Five minutes later Joe LaBate was whistled for elbowing and it took the Checkers roughly 30 seconds to take the 2-1 lead when Valentin Zykov scored his eighth goal of the year, assisted by Miller and Lucas Wallmark.

Less than two minutes later the Comets would find themselves in a 3-1 hole when Dennis Robertson scored his first of the season. Warren Foegele and Sergey Tolchinsky earned assists on the late goal. That would be it for the scoring in the first period. The shots on goal favored the Checkers by a 10-9 tally.

The second period started much the same way as the first for the Comets. Lucas Wallmark scored his fourth goal of the season just 50 seconds into the middle frame. The quick, unassisted goal took some wind out of the crowd’s sails. The Comets would get a chance for retribution less than two minutes later when Dennis Robertson was sent off for interference. The home team was unable to get much going and would be 0-3 on the power play by the time Robertson exited the box.

Carter Bancks would take a hooking penalty shortly after the Robertson penalty ended and the Comets penalty kill went back to work. The Comets managed to kill the Bancks penalty and keep themselves in the game.

Andrew Poturalski took a slashing penalty less than six minutes later and sent the Comets back to the power play. Both of Goldobin and MacEwen would have great chances to get the home team back within two goals but were unable to beat Checkers goaltender Jeremy Smith.

The Checkers were doing a good job of clogging up the neutral zone making it difficult for the Comets to sustain much of an attack. They did have their chance though. With time winding down in the second, Philip Holm made a nice play in front to Cam Darcy but once again Smith was equal to the task.

With just 15 seconds remaining in the second period, big Zack MacEwen gave the home crowd reason to cheer as he picked up his own rebound to bury the puck behind the Checkers goalie for his second goal of the season. The goal was a nice display of the kind of second-effort that we have been seeing from MacEwen so far this season. Joe LaBate was awarded his third assist of the season on the play, while Chaput earned his fourth.

The Comets held a 12-10 edge in shots for the middle frame.

Somehow, the Comets managed to start the third period without giving up a goal in the first minute. In fact, Ashton Sautner had an early chance, but he was unable to convert. Utica was given a power play chance early when Trevor Carrick went off for slashing. Today was not the Comets day as far as the power play was concerned. The Comets weren’t able to take advantage with Carrick in the box and ended up going 0-6 on the power play for the day.

We did see more of Goldobin on the left point on the power play today and I think that had more to do with Boucher being unavailable than it was because Goldy is good there. I think I’d rather see him pulling the trigger from the hash marks.

The Comets managed some decent pressure in the Checkers zone early on and started to get a bit of flow going to their game but Smith was solid in net for the visitors. Bancks and Goldobin had a nice break but were unable to make it count. At 12:56 of the third, Goldobin drew a hooking call on Josh Wesley. Wesley, by the way, is the son of former NHL defenceman Glen Wesley. You may remember him as the player that the Boston Bruins took with that first rounder that they picked up from the Canucks in the Cam Neely deal. The Comets were unable to beat Smith on the Wesley penalty.

Head coach Trent Cull pulled out all the stops when he summoned Bachman to the bench with 3:08 remaining in the third period. Even with the extra attacker, the Comets could not mount an effective attack and with a little over two minutes left in the third, Warren Foegele cleared the puck from a scramble in his own zone, right into the Comets yawning cage. Alexis D’Aoust was whistled for hooking with less than a minute left and that would be it for the hopes of a Comets comeback. When the final horn sounded, the Comets had outshot the Checkers by a count of 14-7 in the third period and 35-24 overall for the game.

Today’s Official Boxscore

The Three Stars in the building today were:

3rd Star: Zack MacEwen. One Goal.

2nd Star: Lucas Wallmark. One goal, one assist.

1st Star: Andrew Miller. One goal, one assist.

CanucksArmy’s Three Stars

3rd Star: Nikolay Goldobin. Goldy scored another goal today, which isn’t earth-shattering news these days. Scoring has never been the problem for Nikolay. With Reid Boucher called up to Vancouver, Goldobin was given some penalty killing minutes today. I have been wanting to see this all season in Utica and he was used there sparingly in Utica’s preseason, but I would like to see this done more regularly going forward. The team wants Goldy to improve his defensive game and getting regular penalty killing minutes would help with that. He also played some left point on the power play today.

2nd Star: Jalen Chatfield. Jalen didn’t end up on the scoresheet today and he was the one wearing the goat horns on the first Charlotte goal. You may be asking yourself, why then, would I name him my second star? I thought that Chatfield did a nice job of bouncing back from that first goal. He put five shots on the Charlotte goaltender and he looked dangerous jumping into the play on a couple of occasions. Chatfield is quietly and quickly becoming one of my favorite players on the Utica blue line. I look forward to seeing him challenge for a third pairing role in Vancouver next season.

1st Star: Zack MacEwen. MacEwen is starting to get his feet under him after missing the start of the season while recovering from an injury. Zack had a nice second effort goal at the end of the second period today. Too little, too late? Maybe, but the big fella put four shots on net today and played a physical game. Its way to early to say if the Canucks have anything in MacEwen, but he hasn’t looked out of place in Utica and I can see him becoming a fan favorite there before too long.

Next Game

Friday, November 10th, 2017

VS Charlotte Checkers

4:00 pm Pacific