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CanucksArmy Utica Comets Post-Game: Demko and Boucher Come up Big as the Comets Beat the Rocket 3-2 in the Shoot-Out

Utica Comets Post-Game Report

Game #18 | Saturday, November 25th, 2017

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No rest for the wicked today as the Comets and Rocket got right back at it after a 3-2 Comets victory less than 24 hours ago. After the game finished yesterday, the Comets had moved into 24th overall in the AHL, while the Rocket slipped to 17th.

The leading scorers remained the same for both teams with Nikolay Goldobin and Philip Holm leading the Utica forwards and defensemen respectively, and defenseman Matt Taormina and forward Daniel Carr leading the way for Laval.

In the game yesterday, the Comets got goals from Alexis D’Aoust, Nikolay Goldobin, and Michael Chaput. Griffen Molino, Joe Faust, Jordan Subban, Carter Bancks, Reid Boucher, and Zack MacEwen all picked up assists. Goaltender Richard Bachman finished the day with 25 saves for the win.

The Comets power-play managed to go just 1-4 yesterday and would be looking to improve on that today should the opportunity arise. Their penalty-kill managed to keep the Rocket off the board in all five chances that they got.

Reid Boucher was uncharacteristically quiet on the shot clock yesterday. Boucher has been piling up the shots all season, going into yesterday with 50 shots on goal. Reid managed just one shot on goal yesterday and would be looking to get back to his big shooting ways today.

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The Rocket got two goals yesterday from Yannick Veilleux, his second and third of the season. His first goal was unassisted, while Brett Lernout earned an assist on the second goal. Goaltender Michael McNiven made just 11 saves on 14 Comets shots yesterday. McNiven was replaced today by Charlie Lindgren, who had been up with the Montreal Canadiens.

Quick Note

Before the Comets season got underway, many expected the team to be an AHL powerhouse this year. There was a reasonable amount of expectation that Utica could start with Brock Boeser, (who is currently leading the parent Canucks in scoring), Jake Virtanen, a healthy, happy Anton Rodin, Jonathan Dahlen and one or both of Reid Boucher and Nikolay Goldobin on their roster. I would imagine that the Comets might have a few more goals to their credit and at least a few more check marks in the win column with those players in the fold. That said, I feel like the coaching staff in Utica has done a pretty good job with the roster that they have and the injuries to some key players along the way.

Scratched today for the Comets 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 Joe Faust.

Trent Talk: 

In his pregame interview with Comets’ radio voice, Andy Zilch, Trent Cull said he was impressed with his team’s special teams yesterday. He said he felt that his squad played their best 60 minutes of the season yesterday. Cull singled out rookies Chatfield and Brisebois as being impressive, stepping up while others are out with injuries. He also gave some praise to his fourth line of Molino, Cassels, and D’Aoust, which he has dubbed his “kid line” as a line that has impressed him. D’Aoust was promoted to the first line in the third period yesterday and would start there today. Cull also pointed to Patrick Wiercioch as a calming influence on the blueline. Goaltender Richard Bachman was given some shine by the coach as well.

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Comets Starting Lines

77 Nikolay Goldobin – 34 Carter Bancks (C) – 17 Alexis D’Aoust

24 Reid Boucher – 21 Michael Chaput (A) – 15 Zack MacEwen

16 Joe LaBate – 11 Cam Darcy – 23 Jayson Megna (A)

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13 Griffen Molino – 19 Cole Cassels – 58 Michael Carcone

28 Patrick Wiercioch – 5 Jalen Chatfield

52 Philip Holm – 55 Guillaume Brisebois

2 Anton Cederholm – 7 Jordan Subban

30 Thatcher Demko

The two teams picked up where they left off yesterday with a fast-paced, back and forth period. The difference maker for Utica in the first was Demko. The Comets starter would face 14 shots in the first frame while the Comets would muster just three shots on Charlie Lindgren in the Laval net.

Patrick Wiercioch put a puck off the iron early for Utica, but it would be Comets rookie Alexis D’Aoust who would open the scoring when he potted his fifth goal of the season. D’Aoust opened the scoring yesterday at the seven-minute mark and he bested that by 11 seconds today when he put the puck past Lindgren at the 6:49 mark of the opening period. Goldobin earned his team-leading 12th assist on the play while Wiercioch picked up his first helper of the year.

The Comets and Rocket seem like a fairly evenly matched pair of teams. Both games coming into today were close and today was no different.

I like what Cull has done with the forward lines today. By splitting Goldy and Boucher, he can hopefully get more lines scoring. Putting D’Aoust with Goldy and Bancks looks like a good move so far. MacEwen looks to compliment Chaput and Boucher well too. It’s nice to see the pair of rookies getting more responsibility and doing well with it. D’Aoust and MacEwen each bring a physical edge to their lines but both can also keep up with their linemates and bring value to their line.

There were no penalties in the first which made for a quick period, though not with a lot of action from the Comets outside of the goal. Chaput was once again solid in the faceoff circle for Utica in the first.

The home crowd got excited as the period wound down and with less than a minute left, Subban bailed as he was coming out of his zone with the puck and coughed it up, but as we have come to expect, Demko was there to make the save.

The shot clock was heavily tilted in Laval’s favor, reading 14-3 for the home team.

The middle frame started out much the same as the previous four in this series. The two teams skated miles back and forth without a ton of quality chances. D’Aoust did set up Cassels early for a nice chance but Lindgren was equal to the task. Brisebois had a nice one-timer chance early as well, only to have Lindgren come up with another save.

Matt Taormina was sent off for delay of game at the four-minute mark but the Comets first unit power-play of Goldobin, Megna, MacEwen, Holm, and Boucher couldn’t get any traction and were unable to gain the zone. The second unit of LaBate, Chaput, Bancks, Brisebois, and Subban managed a couple of chances but was also unable to score. LaBate did look good, and tough to move in the net-front spot. Hopefully, he can start making something happen from there soon.

Shortly after the power-play ended, LaBate was injured on a Wiercioch point shot, leaving the ice in noticeable pain. Big Joe would be back on the ice not long after.

D’Aoust and Molino had one of the nicer chances of the period as D’Aoust used his speed along the boards and danced past a Rocket defender and sent a sweet backhander spin-o-rama pass across the crease to Molino who was unable to convert.

LaBate took a cross-checking penalty at the 8:18 mark and the Comets rolled out their first penalty-kill of the day. First up were Goldobin, Bancks, Wiercioch, and Chatfield. Just over a minute into the penalty, Bancks and Chaput got their signals crossed on a line change and the Comets were whistled for too-many-men on the ice. Cam Darcy served the penalty while Chaput, Holm, and Brisebois were the three men tapped with the tall task of killing off the five on three. Kill it, they did. Chaput even had a nice shorthanded chance but Lindgren was there to stop him.

Demko was looking sharp in the middle frame, but the Comets were also doing a solid job of keeping Laval to shots from the outside and low percentage areas.

There would be no more scoring in the middle frame but the Comets did get a brief man advantage as Niki Petti was sent off for holding at 19:33 of the period. The Comets couldn’t score as the clock ran down to end the period. Laval once again held the lead on the shot clock, with a second-period advantage of 12 shots to seven.

The third period got underway with the Comets still holding the man advantage for a little over a minute. Boucher had the best chance when he ripped a puck off the post. We would hear more from Boucher before the game was over, more on Reid in a minute.

I have to admit, I was a little bit surprised when Anton Cederholm played in this game ahead of Joe Faust, who was a healthy scratch after picking up a point yesterday. Let me tell you this about Cederholm….he is a bad, bad man. Anton has dished out a few hits since his call-up and today he crushed a Rocket player who was trying to come out of his own end. Cederholm was also out late in the third with the Comets on the penalty kill. Looks like Cull is taking a longer look at Cederholm than I thought he would get.

Demko was bumped early in the third by Veilleux and the Comets netminder quickly let the Rocket forward know that he wasn’t about to let that go unpunished. Demko laid a study whack on Veilleux before Subban came in and cooler heads prevailed.

The third period continued with the evenly matched play that we have come to expect from these two teams. The Rocket continued to pour shots at the Comets net while Utica started to finally get a few of their own on the Laval keeper.

Laval would even the game up at 9:09 of the third when Michael McCarron grabbed a bouncing puck off a face-off to the right of Demko and beat a surprised Thatcher high to the glove. It was McCarron’s third goal of the season. Both of Daniel Audette and Jeremy Gregoire earned their sixth helpers of the season on the play.

Just seven seconds later McCarron scored again…seven….seconds…yikes! Gregoire sent a puck in off the glass and it took a strange bounce, catching Demko out of his net and scrambling back to try to get into position. McCarron was there to flip the puck past a sprawling Demko. Gregoire and Lernout were given the assists on the back-breaking goal. It was a tough one for the Comets, but these are a resilient bunch, as Laval would find out.

Just after the second Laval goal, things looked pretty dire for the Comets as Jalen Chatfield took an unwise roughing penalty. Up first for the Comets kill would be Cassels, Megna, Wiercioch, and Brisebois. That’s right folks, the rookie looks to be earning the trust of his coach. The second unit showed another surprise when Cederholm was sent out to help kill the Chatfield penalty. The Comets were pretty well hemmed into their zone for the bulk of the time the second unit was out there, but they kept the Rocket from going up by two.

MacEwen had a nice chance with 3:15 remaining in the third but Lindgren was able to cover the puck after just making the save.

Brisebois had the coach’s trust enough to be out on the ice in the final two minutes looking to tie the game. Demko was summoned to the bench for the extra attacker with about 1:30 left in the period. The Comets got a whistle and took their timeout with 1:20 left. I’m not sure what was said in the timeout huddle, but with just 42.7 seconds remaining in the third, Boucher took a Holm pass and fired a laser beam past Lindgren. Sweet Fancy Moses that man can hammer a puck! Philip Holm picked up his ninth helper of the year on the game tieing marker, while Jayson Megna earned his fourth.

The Boucher goal would send the game to overtime.

The shot clock for the third period showed Laval with a slight 14-13 edge.

Cam Darcy thought he scored in overtime to end the game early, but the officials called it off for a high stick. The Rocket at one point had about 700 guys on the ice, (actually five) which caused Comets play by play man Andy Zilch to lose his mind. A fired up Zilch is a fun Zilch to listen to.

Things got pretty dodgy for the Comets in the late going as Subban was sent off for holding with 1:12 left in overtime. The Rocket called their timeout, perhaps hoping they had some “Boucher magic” of their own. That was not to be the case for the home team as the Comets killed off the penalty and sent the game to the shoot-out.

First up in the shoot-out would be Peter Holland for the Rocket. No dice for Pete as Demko made the save.

First up for the Comets would be Megna. Willie D’s favorite son made quick work of Lindgren, burying the puck behind him to put the Comets up by one.

Second up for Laval would be Chris Terry. Terry would beat Demko to give the home crowd just enough false hope to stay in their seats.

Next up for the Comets would be Boucher, and we know what Boucher does when given a free look at a goalie. Boucher would beat Lindgren like a rented mule and all but crush the dreams of the home fans.

It would be up to Daniel Audette to beat Demko to keep the Rocket in the game. Whatever hopes and dreams the home crowd may have had left after Boucher got through with them were stomped out by Demko when he bested Audette to end the game.

The Comets would win the game 3-2 in the shoot-out. All three games played between the two clubs this season have been decided by one goal. Should make for an interesting series as the season goes on.

The final shot count for the day was 42-25 in favor of Laval.

Today’s Official Boxscore

The Three Stars in the building today were:

3rd Star: Thatcher Demko. 40 saves.

2nd Star: Jeremy Gregoire. Two assists

1st Star: Michael McCarron. Two goals.

CanucksArmy’s Three Stars

3rd Star: Alexis D’Aoust. D’Aoust was promoted to the first line in the third period of yesterday’s game and showed well enough to start there today. D’Aoust scored the first goal of the game for the second straight day, that’s a good way to show the coach that he made the right call. Alexis finished the game with three shots on goal and showed speed and an edge to his game that compliments Bancks and Goldobin well.

2nd Star: Thatcher Demko. No big deal, just another 40 save outing for Thatcher. As a former goalie, (beer leaguer), I am truly enjoying watching Demko develop in the AHL. He just looks so calm and poised in the net. You can see how this rubs off on his defensemen. You always get the sense that the team has a chance to win when Demko is between the pipes.

1st Star: Reid Boucher. I mean come on. The three stars in the building didn’t include the dude who sent the game to overtime with 42.7 seconds to go…and scored the winning goal in the shoot-out? Seems legit. I know, I will admit that I am a bit of a Boucher truther. I may think he is better than he actually is, but the guy can score goals, and that shot…..imagine if Canucks’ opposing goaltenders had to face Boeser and Boucher ripping bombs past them on the regular….seriously? Canucks’ management types, if you somehow happen to be reading this, Give Boucher another look. He is doing everything asked of him in Utica this year.

Next Game

VS Rochester Americans

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

4:00 pm Pacific