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CanucksArmy Utica Comets Post-Game: Comets Taken Down By Wolf Pack, Lose 4-1

Utica Comets Post-Game Report

Game #15 | Saturday, November 18th, 2017

Quick Notes

  • Thatcher Demko came into today sitting fourth overall in the league in both goals-against average and save percentage. (2.01 and 0.932 respectively).
  • The Comets power play got a bump up the standings yesterday, bringing the team into fourth overall with a 22.4% effective rate.
  • The penalty kill coming into today was operating at 83.8%, which had the team sitting 11th overall in that category.
  • Michael Chaput was riding a hot streak with three goals and four helpers in his last five games.
  • The Comets could use a few more goals from everyone as they have edged their competition on the scoreboard by the slimmest of margins. Utica has outscored their opponents 43-42 so far this season.
  • Michael Chaput currently leads the Comets with four power-play goals this season. Nikolay Goldobin leads the club with five power-play assists and eight power-play points thus far this season.

The Comets were looking to keep the momentum going today when the Hartford Wolf Pack rolled into town. The 24th place Wolf Pack were coming off a 4-2 loss at the hands of the Rochester Americans yesterday, while the 21st place Comets were feeling pretty good after bringing down a 7-1 thumping on the Belleville Senators yesterday.

Forward Cole Schneider led the Pack in scoring with 13 points through his first 17 games. Ryan Sproule meanwhile had compiled 10 points through 15 games played between the Wolf Pack and the Grand Rapids Griffins this season to lead the Hartford defence.

The Comets leaders remain the same, although the top of the heap is getting more crowded. Goldobin was still the points leader with 16 in 14 games. Right behind him sat Reid Boucher with 14 points in 12 games and Chaput with 11 points in 13. Philip Holm added to his defence leading totals yesterday and was now sitting with 10 points in 14 games.

Joe LaBate was the penalty minute leader for the Comets coming into today’s action with 43 minutes spent in the sin bin. Alexis D’Aoust was still the rookie leader for the Comets with three goals and three assists in 14 games this season. Big Zack MacEwen was hot on his heels with two goals and three helpers through his first nine games.

Scratched today for Utica were: Darren Archibald, (injured), Wacey Hamilton, (injured), Anton Rodin, (injured), Brendan Woods, (injured), Evan, McEneny, (injured), Ashton Sautner, (injured) and Yan-Pavel Laplante.

Anton Cederholm would make his 2017/18 Comets debut today wearing Travis Ehrhardt’s old number 2.

Comets Starting  Lines

16 Joe LaBate – 21 Michael Chaput (A) – 23 Jayson Megna

24 Reid Boucher – 11 Cam Darcy – 15 Zack MacEwen

58 Michael Carcone – 34 Carter Bancks (C) – 77 Nikolay Goldobin

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

55 Guillaume Brisebois – 26 Jaime Sifers (A)

52 Philip Holm – 7 Jordan Subban

2 Anton Cederholm – 5 Jalen Chatfield

30 Thatcher Demko

Utica Comets head coach Trent Cull went back to what worked so well for him yesterday, leaving the lines untouched to start the game. The only change to the roster was Anton Cederholm stepping in for the injured Ashton Sautner on the Comets blue line.

The first shot of this game came off the stick of none other than former Canuck, Adam Cracknell. No dice for Cracks as Thatcher Demko was equal to the task. The period got off to a quick start with some end to end action. Philip Holm would become a victim of the fast pace as he took a slashing penalty four minutes into the game.

The Wolf Pack came into the game with the league’s second-best power-play, but the Comets penalty kill was able to keep them off of the scoreboard for the Holm infraction. Goldobin was once again paired up with Bancks to form one of the forward groups on the kill. The pair makes for a dangerous duo on the penalty kill and Goldy is looking like he is figuring out this penalty killing thing. Boucher was also very strong on the first kill, showing good hustle as the kill wound down, getting in on the forecheck.

Comets captain, Bancks would open the scoring on a sweet play from Goldobin and Chatfield. For Bancks, it was goal number two on the season. Goldy picked up his 11th helper of the season while rookie Jalen Chatfield earned his first professional point with the other assist.

Zack MacEwen made a nice play just ahead of that goal with good pressure to cause the turnover in the Hartford end. Boucher was also having a solid first period. Not only is Reid improving his defensive game, but he is also upping his physical play. For a “small” player the man can handle himself against bigger opponents.

With about six minutes remaining in the first, Cracknell ripped a puck at Demko and once again Thatcher made the save. Seconds later, Filip Chytil beat Demko to even the score at one. It was Chytil’s fourth goal of the season. Cole Schneider picked up his 10th assist of the season while Vini Lettieri earned his fourth.

Less than a minute after the Chytil goal, LaBate and Neal Pionk threw down for a decent little go ’round. I will be a homer and give the decision to LaBate… (it was a draw).

Cole Cassels would head off for a holding call at 16:47 and less than a minute later Chytil would have his second goal of the game. Lettieri earned his second helper of the game on the power-play marker.

MacEwen was sent off for high-sticking with just under a minute remaining in the opening frame, and Ryan Sproul took his team off the man advantage right at the buzzer with a hooking penalty. The Wolf Pack poured it on in the late stages of the first and Demko kept his team in the game. The shots in the first period favoured Hartford by a 15-6 count.

With the two late-period penalties to finish the first, it meant the two teams would start the second frame four on four. The extra space made for a near goal for the Comets when Chaput sent Brisebois in alone but the rookie couldn’t convert.

Vinni Lettieri beat Demko for the Pack’s third goal of the game. If you’ve been following along, that leaves him just a fight away from the Gordie Howe hat-trick. More on that in a minute. For Lettieri, it was his eighth goal of the season, and it was unassisted.

With the Comets down 3-1, Cull shuffled up his lines and pairs a bit. I finally got to see Holm and Chatfield paired together, and I would like to see more of it. Cull shifted Cederholm to Subban’s left side. That pair was a bit more of an adventure. Cederholm did fire a few nice bombs at the Hartford net today though. Goldobin, Bancks, and Boucher were reunited as well. Cull also rolled out a gritty line of Molino, Darcy, and Cassels and they had a chance with a goalmouth scramble.

The second period was more physical than the first was.  The Comets would get a chance on the power-play with roughly six minutes to play in the second frame when Dan Catenacci was sent off for slashing. Goldobin had the best opportunity early but couldn’t bury it. Chris Nell had a strong game in the pipes for Hartford. Steven Fogarty was sent off two minutes later, and once again the Hartford penalty-kill would best the Comets power-play.

The Comets were putting a lot of rubber on the Hartford net, but couldn’t beat the Wolf Pack goalie.

Two minutes after that, Lettieri completed his Gordie Howe hat-trick when he dropped the gloves with Cam Darcy. Darcy managed some solid blows, and the crowd at “The Bank” showed their appreciation. Darcy and Lettieri would each get five minutes for fighting. Lettieri was also assessed an extra two minutes for the slash that started the dust-up.

The shot clock for the second period read 17-4 in favour of Utica.

The Comets started the third period with the extra man, but they were unable to beat Nell. Hartford took it to the home team for the first half of the final frame and at 4:54 of the period, Gabriel Fontaine beat a sprawling Demko to put the visitors up 4-1 for their third unanswered goal. It was the first professional goal for Fontaine. Cracknell was awarded his first assist of the season, while John Gilmour earned his fifth on the play.

The Comets started to take the period over midway through and had their chances, but again, Nell had their number. Neither team took a penalty in the final frame which made for some good flow. All the more frustrating that the Comets weren’t able to score a goal to get themselves back into the game. Carcone fed a nice pass to Chaput for the one-timer, but Chaput fanned on it. That was the theme today for Utica. They got their chances but could not capitalize. When the final horn sounded, the final shot clock read 32-29 in favour of Utica.

[Today’s Official Boxscore]

The Three Stars in the building today were:

3rd Star: Chris Nell. 31 saves.

2nd Star: Vinni Lettieri. One goal, one assist, one Brouhaha.

1st Star: Filip Chytil. Two goals.

CanucksArmy’s Three Stars

3rd Star: Jordan Subban. Picking stars in a losing effort can sometimes be difficult. However, some positives can be taken away even in a 4-1 loss. Jordan made some nice passes today to spring forwards out of the zone. He put six shots on the Hartford net, and he had a revolving door on his left side. Cull shuffled the D up a fair bit today, but Subban managed to finish the 4-1 game even.

2nd Star: Carter Bancks. The captain was a workhorse tonight, as he is most nights. He picked up the Comets lone goal of the day and also put six shots on goal. Bancks doesn’t get a lot of talk in Vancouver, as he is on an AHL only deal, however, I would like to give him some shine from time to time. Bancks may not be the most talented player on the ice, but he is rarely outworked. That is the kind of player that you want your prospects learning from as they develop into pros.

1st Star: Jalen Chatfield. I am a big fan of Chatfield, so I was delighted to see him pick up his first pro point on the Bancks goal. Jalen has been one of the players who has rotated in and out of the lineup when Cull wants to make a change on the blueline. Getting into a rhythm can be hard for a young player when they are in and out like that. However, Chatfield seems to be taking it in stride. He rarely looks rattled, and although it hasn’t shown up on the scoreboard much this year, he can be counted on to make an exciting rush nearly every game that he plays. Expect to hear more from the rookie as the season goes on.

Next Game

VS Toronto Marlies

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017

4:00 pm Pacific