CanucksArmy Utica Comets Post-Game: Comets Lose 5-2 to the Charlotte Checkers

Utica Comets Post-Game Report

Game 12 | Friday, November 10th, 2017

The Utica Comets and Charlotte Checkers met today to wrap up their four-game season series at the Adirondack Bank Center in Utica. We last saw these two teams hook up on Wednesday when the Checkers bested the Comets by a score of 5-2.

The scoring leaders for both teams remained unchanged, although a couple of their numbers have. Once again it’s Lucas Wallmark with the scoring lead for the Checkers with 15 points in 12 games. Philip Samuelsson still holds the lead on defence with five points in his first 12 games. Nikolay Goldobin checked in with 13 points in his first 11 games while another Swede named Philip held the lead on the Comets blue line as Philip Holm had piled up eight points in his first 11 games.

The Comets sat 20th overall in the league before the puck dropped in Utica today while the Checkers were sitting third overall. In their previous five games, the Checkers had four wins and one loss, while the Comets had a record of two wins and three losses in their last five contests.

Scratched today for Utica were: Darren Archibald, (injured), Wacey Hamilton, (injured), Brendan Woods, (injured), Michael Carcone, (illness), and Jordan Subban.

In other roster news, the Comets found out earlier today that Reid Boucher was heading back to Utica from his Vancouver recall along with Thatcher Demko. Neither player would be available for Trent Cull to call on today.

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The Checkers had their own bit of roster news as NHL veteran Lee Stempniak was in their lineup today while on a conditioning stint from the parent Carolina Hurricanes.

Comets Starting Lines

77 Nikolay Goldobin (A) – Carter Bancks (C) – 23 Jayson Megna

8 Anton Rodin – 21 Michael Chaput – 15 Zack MacEwen

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16 Joe LaBate – 11 Cam Darcy – 17 Alexis D’Aoust

 9 Yan-Pavel Laplante – 19 Cole Cassels – 13 Griffen Molino

4 Evan McEneny – 26 Jaime Sifers (A)

52 Philip Holm – 55 Guillaume Brisebois

6 Ashton Sautner – 5 Jalen Chatfield

32 Richard Bachman

There have been calls from Vancouver Canucks fans for Nikolay Goldobin to be rewarded for his great offensive start to the season in Utica with a recall to Vancouver. While that recall has not come for Goldy yet, he was rewarded with a letter on his jersey today in the absence of Darren Archibald. Goldobin was sporting an “A” on his chest today for the first time in the regular season.

The Comets would start with a forward line of Carter Bancks with Goldobin on his left and Jayson Megna on his right. Evan McEneny would start on defence after missing the last game with an injury. He had veteran Jaime Sifers on his right side. When Sifers is in the lineup, he generally wears an “A” on his jersey and today would be no different.

Sifers brings a steady, physical element that Trent Cull values and the veteran displayed more of that physical play early on. I would imagine that should the Comets make it into the playoffs this season that Cull will lean heavily on Sifers.

The first period saw Goldobin showing some nice work on the forecheck on a couple of occasions. With Boucher out of the lineup, Goldobin has been given some left point duty on the first unit power play as well as seeing him get some first unit penalty kill time. I like the way that both of Boucher and Goldobin have been handled so far this season by Cull. The AHL is a development league, and he looks to be all about developing players for the next level in Vancouver.

The two teams managed to make it until the 12:21 mark of the first frame before a penalty was called. Yan-Pavel Laplante was sent off for boarding, and Goldy and the Comets kill went to work. The home team would manage to kill off the Laplante penalty and would get their own chance on the power play almost immediately upon his exit from the box. Yan-Pavel got out of the box and managed to spring Anton Rodin for a solid chance, but Rodin was not able to convert. Charlotte defenseman Tyler Ganly was whistled for interference on the resulting scramble.

Unfortunately for the Comets, their power play was not only unable to take advantage of having the extra man; they gave up a shorthanded goal to Nicolas Roy when Evan McEneny and Rodin had a miscue that led to an odd-man rush the other way. Roy would pick up his second goal of the season, and Aleksi Saarela was awarded his second helper on the play.

Griffen Molino would take a slashing call at 17:47 to ensure that the Comets penalty kill would have to finish the period strongly. Utica would manage to kill the Molino penalty and finish the period down by just the one goal.

Lee Stempniak managed just one quick shift before heading off to the room for the rest of the game. The shots on goal for the first period favoured the Checkers by a tally of 16-8.

The second period was similar to the first in that we didn’t see a lot of special teams action. This time it would be the Comets and Checkers getting just two power plays each. The Comets would also score a shorthanded goal, but more on that in a minute.

Julien Gauthier would be sent off for high-sticking at 3:05 of the second period and the Comets power play got their second chance of the day. Zack MacEwen would get a nice chance but couldn’t convert. I like seeing Big Mac getting some chances on the power play. He is a big body, and he has a good shot, both attributes that should serve him well in a power play role if used properly.

Philip Holm had another strong game, dishing a couple of nice passes in the middle frame. Clark Bishop would put the visitors up by two when he scored his first of the season at 11:46 of the second period. Julien Gauthier earned his first assist on the Checkers second goal of the game, while Andrew Poturalski did the same.

The Comets power play would get another chance just 45 seconds later when Dennis Robertson was sent off for tripping. Once again the Comets suddenly cold power play came up dry. Its almost as if they could use that Boucher fellow back.

Goldobin was once again showing some “200-foot game” promise when he caused a turnover at the Charlotte blue line and quickly made his way to the net. Unfortunately. Checkers goaltender Alex Nedeljkovoc was equal to the task.

Jalen Chatfield took a seat for slashing with just 59 seconds remaining on the clock. Not the best time to take that penalty, however, Jayson Megna and Carter Bancks hooked up for a sweet shorthanded marker to bring the home team to within a goal. For Megna, it was his first goal of the season. Carter Bancks would earn his seventh helper of the season on the play while Evan McEneny continued to pick up points with his fifth assist of the season.

Michael Chaput would take a holding penalty with just two seconds remaining in the period to ensure that the Comets would start the third down by two men. The shots for the second period were 11-8 in Utica’s favour.

Charlotte opened the third period with a two-man advantage, and they would make the Comets pay. With Chatfield and Chaput in the box, Andrew Poturalski was able to put his fourth goal of the season into the opposing net. Trevor Carrick picked up his fourth assist while Phil Di Guiseppe earned his eighth helper of the year.

Ashton Sautner took roughly two minutes to put the Checkers back onto the power play when he took a cross-checking penalty. The Comets would kill the Sautner call, but seconds after the defenseman exited the box, Janne Kuokkanen would score his first of the season to put the visitors up by a score of 4-1. Trevor Carrick picked up his second assist of the game on the play while Tyler Ganly was awarded his third helper of the year.

Dennis Robertson made his second trip to the penalty box just 20 seconds later, and this time the Comets would make him feel shame. Michael Chaput fired home a Goldobin pass to get the home team back to within a goal. Goldobin and Holm each earned their eighth helper of the season on the Chaput marker. Chaput has three goals this season, all on the power play. Michael Chaput, power play specialist…who knew?

That was as close as the Comets would get, as the Checkers went back up by three goals when Clark Bishop scored his second of the game just four and a half minutes later on a breakaway. Andrew Miller would earn his eighth helper of the season on the Bishop goal. While the goal was scored on a breakaway, I would have liked to see Bachman make a timely save. Not every goal against him can be put solely on Bachman’s shoulders. However, he does need to help keep this team in games when he gets his starts. This is a blue-collar team. Sure, the Comets have a Ferrari or two in Goldobin and Demko, but for the most part, this is a team of hard-working Chevrolets, Fords, and Mopars. It will take everyone firing on all cylinders for this team to have success.

With the period coming to a close, Joe LaBate and Valentin Zykov got greasy in front of the Checkers bench, and a wrestling match ensued. While Comets radio voice Andy Zilch made it sound like a dandy of a fight, it was more of a scuffle.

That would be it for the season series between the two clubs. The Checkers dominated the Comets over the four games, outscoring Utica by a margin of 18-11. The final shots on goal today favoured Charlotte by a count of 31-26. In the four-game series, the Checkers have looked very good. The Comets will now have to wait until next season to exact revenge for the series loss.

Today’s Official Boxscore

The Three Stars in the building today were:

3rd Star: Evan McEneny. One assist.

2nd Star: Andrew Poturalski. One goal, one assist

1st Star: Clark Bishop. Two goals.

CanucksArmy’s Three Stars

3rd Star: Cole Cassels. This was a bit of a toss-up for me. I almost went with Zack MacEwen for having another strong game. However, I thought I should give Cassels a little shine today. Cole had a couple of shots on net and showed a physical element once again. Cassels has had what looked like a somewhat promising career stalled a bit by injuries. He may never again be the player who helped shut down that Connor McDavid fellow, but he may yet become a useful player in Utica.

2nd Star: Evan McEneny. McEneny picked up another assist today to bring his season points total to seven, including his two goals. He plays all situations and handles his minutes well. He can play both the left and right sides and has done so this season. McEneny seems to be upping his physical game this season as well, and with so many questions surrounding a specific physical defenseman in Vancouver going forward, maybe McEneny can carve out a place on the bubble by next season with Vancouver.

1st Star: Alexis D’Aoust. I know, some people may be wondering about giving the first star to D’aoust, but he was noticeable throughout the game. He is a good skater and uses his speed well on the forecheck. He disrupts plays and causes turnovers on a regular basis. I just find myself liking what he brings on a nightly basis, and I think that Trent Cull might feel the same. D’Aoust has played in all 12 games this season for Utica. He may yet earn a two way deal with Vancouver.

Next Game

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

VS Laval Rocket

4:30 pm Pacific

  • fretallack

    With the depth of the big club, many people (myself included) were predicting that the comets might be a powerhouse this year. Some bright spots but we haven’t really seen that yet. Injuries and callups impacting that i suppose. Dahlen being in Europe too. But still, they have 2 high end offensive producers, what should be a very strong D-corps by AHL standards, and a stellar goalie. I’d hope they can improve on .500 hockey.

    • Lemmy Kilmister

      I also though the Comits would perform better as well. Seems like players such as Subbin and Cassels are more in the category of regressing … reality too bad cause i had hopes for those too particle players