Utica Comets Post-Game Report
Game #17 | Friday, November 24th, 2017
The Comets headed back out on the road today to Laval to take on the Rocket. The two teams last met on November 15th when Laval beat Utica by a score of 5-4. In that contest, the Comets got goals from four different players as Reid Boucher, Michael Chaput, Michael Carcone, and Alexis D’Aoust would all make their mark on the scoreboard. For the Rocket, it was Daniel Carr, with a pair, Peter Holland, Jordan Boucher and Antoine Waked who would score in a winning effort.
The 26th place Comets brought their eighth place power play to the table today along with their 16th place penalty kill. The 15th place Rocket boasted the league’s fourth-best power play. Their penalty kill, however, was sitting way down at the bottom of the league in 30th place.
The Comets were coming off of two straight losses. The most recent of which, a 5-2 loss to the Marlies on Wednesday. The Rocket, for their part, has lost three straight, most recently a 3-2 shootout to Manitoba.
Broken record time. Nikolay Goldobin was still the top points getter for the Comets with 17 in 16 games, although Reid Boucher now has the goal-scoring lead with seven to Goldy’s six. The recently returned Philip Holm was still the leader on the back end with 10 points in 15 games. It was announced today that Holm was on his way back to Utica after a brief recall to Vancouver.
Canucks re-assign Philip Holm to the Utica Comets https://t.co/2DD0e6RNWg
— CanucksArmy (@CanucksArmy) November 24, 2017
For the Rocket, it was defenseman Matt Taormina who held the lead in points with 19 in 19 games. Daniel Carr was the points leader up front for Laval with 18 in 17 games.
Both teams had a couple of players tied for the rookie points leader category. For Laval, it was defenseman Stefan Lablanc with five points in 18 games tied with forward Niki Petti with the same amount of points in 16 games. For Utica, rookies Zack MacEwen and Alexis D’Aoust each had six points. D’Aoust had played in all 16 games this season while MacEwen had played in just 11 after missing the first few with an injury.
Laval would have David Schlemko in their lineup today as the parent Montreal Canadiens sent him down for a conditioning stint.
In a pregame interview with Comets radio voice, Andy Zilch, head coach Trent Cull was asked about what went wrong in the Comets last game against the Marlies. Cull thought that his team played well in the first period but got away from their structure after that. Cull firmly believes that his team needs to stay within their structure in order to have success. Cull mentioned that he has been auditioning players in different roles with the recent injuries and call-ups that the team has faced. Cam Darcy has four points in his last four games while MacEwen has three points in his last four. Both players have done a nice job stepping up. Cull also mentioned that with the blueline being banged up, that he wants his forwards to step up and help take some of the load off of the defensemen.
Scratched today for Utica were: Darren Archibald, (injured), Wacey Hamilton, (injured), Brendan Woods, (injured), Evan McEneny, (injured), Ashton Sautner, (injured), Yan-Pavel Laplante, (injured), Jaime Sifers, (injured), Brian Ward, Mackenze Stewart, and Philip Holm, (in transit).
Comets Starting Lines
58 Michael Carcone – 34 Carter Bancks (C) – 77 Nikolay Goldobin
24 Reid Boucher – 21 Michael Chaput (A) – 15 Zack MacEwen
16 Joe LaBate – 11 Cam Darcy – 23 Jayson Megna (A)
13 Griffen Molino – 19 Cole Cassels – 17 Alexis D’Aoust
28 Patrick Wiercioch – 5 Jalen Chatfield
55 Guillaume Brisebois – 3 Joe Faust
2 Anton Cederholm – 7 Jordan Subban
32 Richard Bachman
The first period started out a little sloppy for Utica with Jordan Subban and Richard Bachman getting tied up early and knocking the net off just three minutes into the game. The Comets regrouped, and the teams played some back and forth hockey. Patrick Wiercioch was showing a physical side early with a couple of hard plays along the boards in the Comets zone. Subban had a blast tipped wide by Bancks that nearly put the Comets up by one.
Bancks would then be whistled for hooking at the 5:32 mark. The Comets penalty killers got down to business as Boucher, Chaput, Subban, and Wiercioch were sent over the boards. The PK was doing well for about a minute until Wiercioch was sent off for slashing and put the Comets down five on three.
The Rocket had their chances but couldn’t beat Bachman. Once again, with the injuries to the Comets back end, Guillaume Brisebois was getting some penalty kill time and was handling himself well along with Jalen Chatfield. Both rookies saw time during the five on three. Chatfield showed a good stick, breaking up plays. Jayson Megna, the only Comet with a shorthanded goal this season, had another shorthanded chance but was unable to convert.
Daniel Audette thought that he scored, however, his goal was waived off due to a high stick.
The Comets got their own chance on the power play mid-period when Tom Parisi was whistled for delay of game when he sent the puck over the glass. The Comets had chances but couldn’t beat Rocket goaltender Michael McNiven.
At the thirteen minute mark, Alexis D’Aoust jumped ahead of fellow rookie Zack MacEwen when he picked up his fourth goal of the season. Newcomer Joe Faust earned his first assist of the season for the Comets while Griffen Molino did the same.
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) November 25, 2017
Just 36 seconds after the D’Aoust goal, Bancks was sent off for high sticking. Once again, Wiercioch must have thought Bancks looked lonely as he took a tripping penalty after being caught out on the ice too long. The Comets were able to kill the two-man advantage again. Bachman was solid in the first period and held the fort for the Comets. Cole Cassels is proving to be a useful penalty killer for the Comets this season.
That was it for the first period. The Comets were outshot 10-4 by Laval but finished the period up 1-0.
The second period saw some pretty good back and forth action for the first five minutes. Carcone was once again showing himself to be a pain to play against. Goldobin showed a bit of a physical side as well as he stood up a Rocket player along the boards. Goldy continues to add layers to his game in Utica.
The back and forth play continued, though the Comets were getting more chances early on. Goalscorer D’Aoust was bringing a physical game in the middle frame as well. The Rocket started getting more chances in the middle of the period and tied the game at the 10-minute mark when Yannick Veilleux scored his second of the season, unassisted. Veilleux took advantage of a Jalen Chatfield miscue and put the puck behind Bachman.
Wiercioch must have been missing the friendly confines of the penalty box because just 49 seconds after the Veilleux goal, the Comets defenseman was sent off for tripping… again. The Comets would be able to kill off the Wiercioch minor, thanks in part to Goldobin’s excellent work on the forecheck, pressuring the Rocket in their own end. Nice work Goldy. Brisebois was also standing out with his penalty killing work, winning board battles and clearing the puck to safety on a few occasions.
At the 12:14 mark, Niki Petti was sent off for holding. Goldobin would continue his strong play by picking up his seventh goal of the year, and 50th in the AHL, to tie Boucher for the lead in team goals. Subban earned his fourth helper of the year on the power play goal while Bancks picked up his ninth.
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) November 25, 2017
The 2-1 lead wouldn’t last long as Veilleux picked up his second goal of the game when Bachman grabbed a puck from behind his net and dished it right to Brett Lernout at the blueline. Lernout hammered the puck on net, and Veilleux tipped it past Bachman.
The teams continued back and forth for the remainder of the period with the Comets getting some chances late. Boucher was showing good hustle on the forecheck to end the period.
The shots for the second period favoured Laval by a count of 8-4.
Aside from the first period where the Rocket had the Comets on their heels a bit, this was a closely matched game. The third period continued much like the second with a relatively even flow of play until Eric Gelinas was sent off for interference just about four minutes into the final period. Megna had a one-timer go wide, and the Comets had some good pressure, but they were unable to score. Brisebois and Boucher were manning the points on the first unit power-play today. Guillaume isn’t likely to get those minutes when Holm and McEneny are back, but I like that he is getting the look there now. Maybe Cull could give Chatfield a bit more of a look on the power play as well.
Chaput continued his hot streak, picking up his sixth goal of the season and ninth point in his last eight games at the 8:06 mark. Boucher was awarded his ninth assist of the season on the Chaput goal, while MacEwen picked up his fifth, ensuring that D’Aoust’s grasp on the rookie points lead was short-lived. It is going to be fun watching the two rookies battle back and forth all season to see who wears the rookie scoring crown at the end of the season.
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) November 25, 2017
Anton Cederholm was playing a physical game today. His offence is limited, so bringing a grinding, physical element may endear him to the coaching staff. I expect Cederholm to head back to Kalamazoo as soon as the Comets blueline is healthy. However, I think Anton may be showing enough to earn another Utica recall, should they run into more injury trouble down the road.
Cull shifted his lines around a little in the third period. He swapped Carcone and D’Aoust, shifting Carcone to the fourth line RW with Cassels and Molino and rewarding D’Aoust’s solid play with a promotion to the Goldobin, Bancks line. Good for D’Aoust, he has been playing an all-around solid game since the start of the season. He may earn himself a two-way deal by the time the season is done.
Peter Holland would go off for slashing to send the Comets to their fourth and final power play of the game. Once again, the rookie Brisebois was given a first unit look. The Comets were unable to beat McNiven with the man advantage once again, finishing the day 1-4 on the power-play.
The Rocket poured it on late, and Bachman stood tall. The Comets backup goalie made a big glove save with 3:40 to go to help take the wind out of the sails of the home team. Bachman would finish the afternoon with 25 saves and gave his team the chance to win. That is the kind of goaltending that the Comets will need from him when they give Demko the night off.
The final shot clock totals favoured Laval by a 27-14 count. I think the Comets will be hoping to pour a lot more shots on net tomorrow when they play the Rocket again.
Comets win, 3-2.
The Three Stars in the building today were:
3rd Star: Yannick Veilleux. Two goals
2nd Star: Richard Bachman. 25 saves
1st Star: Michael Chaput. One goal.
CanucksArmy’s Three Stars
3rd Star: Richard Bachman. Bachman picked up his second win in his fourth game today. While it’s nice to have a workhorse like Demko who can handle a heavy workload, it is also nice to be able to count on your backup to win you a game from time to time. Bachman did just that today. Bachman’s goals against average and save percentage are pretty ghastly, but as long as he can make the saves when they count as he did in the final minutes today, I can live with it. I would expect that we will see Thatcher Demko back between the pipes tomorrow.
2nd Star: Alexis D’Aoust. I mentioned it earlier, but I can see a scenario where D’Aoust earns himself a two-way deal by the time this season ends if he continues his solid rookie season. D’Aoust now has four goals and three helpers in 17 games this season. He uses his speed well and is getting better at protecting the puck. I can’t remember seeing a game where I thought he looked like he was taking a shift off. D’Aoust works his tail off when he’s on the ice, no matter which zone he is playing in and he looks to be earning the trust of his coaching staff.
1st Star: Michael Chaput. Chaput has been bouncing between first and second line centre since the start of the season. He has been playing in all situations for the Comets and has looked pretty good. With six goals and seven assists, Chaput now has 13 points in 16 games with the Comets. Chaput has been pretty solid in the faceoff circle for the Comets this season as well, for what its worth. Mikey Chaps is on a pretty solid run right now. Keep it up Chappy.
VS Laval Rocket
Saturday, November 25th, 2017
12:00 noon Pacific