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CanucksArmy Utica Comets Post-Game: Boucher Comes Up Big Again, Comets win 2-1 in Overtime

Utica Comets Post-Game Report

Game #19 | Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

The fifth-place Rochester Americans rolled into Utica today to take on the 23rd ranked Comets. Both teams were coming off back-to-back wins in a doubleheader series.

The Americans most recently defeated the Binghamton Senators 4-3 in overtime. However, the previous game saw Rochester crush the Sens 10-3. The Comets, for their part, were coming off back to back wins over Laval, both by scores of 3-2. The most recent victory coming in the shootout on Saturday.

The Americans and Comets, although far apart in the standings, have had a close series so far this season. In fact, Utica had the upper hand coming into today’s action, holding a record of three wins and one shootout loss. Thatcher Demko was in net for two wins and the shootout loss, while Richard Bachman was the last Comets goaltender to face the Americans, winning 3-2 in a shootout.

The Americans and Comets special teams were pretty close before the game got underway as well. Rochester sat 16th on the penalty-kill league-wide and 11th on the power-play. The Comets were ninth on the power-play and 11th on the penalty kill before puck drop.

The Americans were even in their goals for/against coming into the day with a mark of 67 goals for and against. The Comets had given up 55 goals while scoring only 52. For the Americans, C.J. Smith was their points leader with 19 points in 19 games, while Brendan Guhle led their blueline with 12 points in 19 games. The Comets still had the recently recalled Nikolay Goldobin in the lead with 19 points in 18 games with Reid Boucher right behind him with 17 points in 16 games. Philip Holm was still the blueline leader with 11 points in 16 games.

The Comets had a busy week of roster moves again. This time it was Joe Faust, who recently signed a PTO and picked up one assist in the two games he played, being released from his PTO. Nikolay Goldobin was recalled to Vancouver, and Danny Moynihan was summoned from Kalamazoo. You can find further info on the moves in the link below.

Scratched today for Utica were: Darren Archibald, (injured), Wacey Hamilton, (injured), Jaime Sifers, (injured), Evan McEneny, (injured), Yan-Pavel Laplante, (injured), Brendan Woods,(injured), Mackenze Stewart, Anton Cederholm, and Brian Ward.

Comets Starting Lines

16 Joe LaBate – 11 Cam Darcy – 23 Jayson Megna

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

34 Carter Bancks (C) – 12 Danny Moynihan – 17 Alexis D’Aoust

13 Griffen Molino – 19 Cole Cassels – 58 Michael Carcone

52 Philip Holm – 7 Jordan Subban

28 Patrick Wiercioch – 5 Jalen Chatfield

6 Ashton Sautner – 55 Guillaume Brisebois

30 Thatcher Demko

With Goldobin recalled to Vancouver, I put out a call to Comets fans before the game to ask who they thought would step up today in Goldy’s absence. I was pulling for LaBate to finally get going and pick up a goal and an assist today.

Here are some of the other guesses. Nice work was done here by @A1SportsJunkie.

 

The first period went by pretty quickly without a whole lot happening. Each team did manage ten shots on net though. Neither team took a penalty, and neither team managed a goal.

Zack MacEwen had a nice chance early on a feed from Boucher but Rochester goaltender, Linus Ullmark was ready with the glove.

The game started with callup Danny Moynihan being used on a line between Carter Bancks and Alexis D’Aoust. Moynihan and D’Aoust were teammates in Shawinigan in the 2015/16 season in the QMJHL. By mid-period, that line would be broken up, and Moynihan would be replaced in the middle by Cole Cassels.

The defensive pair of Wiercioch and Chatfield looked good together. If this defence can stay healthy, Trent Cull will have a pretty solid group. However, a healthy defence may just be a pipe dream in this organization as Philip Holm left the period mid-way through and did not return for the remainder of the frame. I did not see what happened to Holm to make him leave the ice.

Chatfield had a miscue late and had to hustle back to his end to make up for it. It was nice to see Chatfield close the gap quickly on the Americans forward to break up the play.

The Comets had at least two players on each forward line who can play centre and take faceoffs. Players who can play both centre and wing are something that the parent Canucks value.

Late in the period, we saw D’Aoust set up Bancks, but the captain couldn’t beat Ullmark. Cam Darcy also had a late chance but put the puck wide.

The shots for the first period were even at 10 for each team.

I will admit to literally breathing a sigh of relief when I saw Philip Holm come out for the second period. The last thing that the Comets need is another injury on the blueline.

After going without any special teams action in the first period, Cam Darcy sent the Comets to the penalty kill just one minute into the middle frame when he was sent off for holding. The Comets rolled out Bancks, Cassels, Wiercioch, and Chatfield on the first unit and Chaput, Boucher, Holm, and Sautner on the second unit and both sets of killers did their jobs, killing off the Darcy minor.

A minute and a half after the penalty expired, Garret Ross streaked towards the Comets net and tipped a puck past Demko for a pretty sweet goal. It would be Ross’s second goal of the season. Conor Allen and Adam Krause each earned their second assist on the play.

It was about a minute and a half after the Ross goal when LaBate sent Utica back to the penalty-kill. This time it was Chaput and Boucher up first with Wiercioch and Chatfield. Bancks, Cassels, Holm, and Sautner were out next to make sure that Rochester went 0-2 with the man advantage. Cam Darcy was out late on the kill and nearly picked up a shorthanded goal. Darcy isn’t the most talented guy out there, but he has some good hustle and can surprise opponents from time to time.

Cole Cassels thought he scored with roughly five minutes left in the period, but he put the puck off the side of the net. Utica managed to get a few more shots late in the period, but Ullmark was equal to the task. Jayson Megna tried to do his best Bo Horvat impersonation when he pulled a dandy of a toe drag past a Rochester defenceman, unfortunately, that was when he realized he was indeed Jayson Megna, and not Bo Horvat and fired the puck wide.

Michael Carcone had a nice blast late, but once again, Ullmark whipped out the mitt and made the save. The period ended with the Comets showing a 9-6 advantage in shots, for a two period total of 19-16 in favour of the Comets.

Now, I gave Megna the gears about his duffed toe drag attempt, but I have to give credit where it is due. Megna has been playing better of late, and we would hear from the man with the unnecessary “Y” jammed into the middle of his first name later in the period. More from Megna in a minute.

The line of Boucher, Chaput, and MacEwen has looked pretty good since they were put together and I would like to see them get a good run together. Trent Cull is starting to piece together some pretty good lines nearly 20 games into the season. I know that a lot of us had higher hopes for the Comets to be something of a powerhouse this season, but the fact is, the Comets are a blue-collar team in a blue-collar league. Everyone has to pull on the same end of the rope in order for this team to have success and for tonight at least, it looked like everyone knew which end of the rope was which.

I was hoping for a big game from LaBate today, and he had one…kind of. I may have jinxed the big fella because he took three straight penalties for the Comets between the second and third periods. LaBate waited a whole 27 seconds into the third before he was sent off for tripping. The Comets killed off the LaBate penalty to stay perfect on the day and help get their already solid penalty-kill back on track.

The third period was a pretty fast affair, with the teams trading chances. LaBate would become a victim of the quicker pace when he was sent off again, this time for interference.

Remember when I mentioned that we would hear from that Megna guy again? Well, this was the point of the game when that would happen. With the Comets down a man, Cam Darcy got a puck to Wiercioch, who would set up Megna for the tying goal. Nice work by the penalty-killing trio for the Comets. Megna has but three goals this season. However, two of them are shorthanded. Somewhere Willie D is smiling.

The already quick pace to the period only got quicker after the Megna goal. MacEwen and Chatfield both showed some nice physical play as well. The Comets had an extended shift in the Rochester zone with around 4:30 left. LaBate, Megna, MacEwen, Wiercioch, and Chatfield had the Americans hemmed in their own zone and managed some quality chances, but Ullmark wasn’t going down without a fight.

The home fans had a scare late as the puck wobbled its way through the Comets crease with a Rochester player poised to pop it into the empty net. Rookie defenseman Chatfield showed once again that he was cooler than the other side of the pillow as he tied up the opposing player’s stick and cleared the puck out of harm’s way. I like this Chatfield fellow.

The final minutes went back and forth, but neither team could put the other away before the horn sounded to end the third. I think Cull must have had a feeling about Boucher, as his was the first group of three over the boards. Boucher lined up with Darcy and Wiercioch to get the extra frame going. Darcy and Boucher would go off for Megna and Chaput, with Wiercioch getting stuck out there longer than he would like. I have noticed Wiercioch getting stuck out for long shifts a few times this season. By the time Wiercioch made it off the ice, Megna and Chaput were heading off with him. Once again, it was Darcy and “Rocket Man” Reid Boucher coming over the boards, this time with Ashton Sautner in tow. Sautner got the puck to Darcy, who was wiped out along the boards, but Boucher grabbed the puck and sent a rocket of a shot high over the blocker of Ullmark. Man, I bet goalies hate seeing Boucher with a clear shot on their net. For Boucher, it was goal number nine on the season. Darcy earned his sixth helper of the year on the play, while Sautner was awarded his second.

The Comets, who have relied so heavily on their power-play this season managed to go an entire game without a man advantage. I believe that is the first time this season that the Comets haven’t had a single power-play in a game.

The final shots in the game favoured the Comets by a count of 33-29.

Today’s Official Boxscore

The Three Stars in the building today were:

3rd Star: Jayson Megna. One goal.

2nd Star: Thatcher Demko. 29 saves.

1st Star. Reid Boucher. One goal.

CanucksArmy’s Three Stars

3rd Star: Cam Darcy. Darcy had a solid game today. He played the body, looked dangerous at times and was an integral part of both goals scored today. Darcy is hardly a “prospect” and is only in Utica on a professional try out at this point, but he is showing to be a useful player. As long as he isn’t getting in the way of a legitimate Canucks prospect, then I am happy to have him contributing to wins in Utica.

2nd Star: Jayson Megna. Yes, I have had as much fun as the next guy at the expense of Megna, but he has been playing well of late in Utica. He scored the tying goal, shorthanded to boot. Megna has been killing penalties and getting power-play time this season, so he is getting lots of ice time. I would like to see more points from him, but I expect they will come.

1st Star. Reid Boucher. Once again, Boucher gets the first star. This team needs goals and Boucher provides them. He also kills penalties and does that job well. Boucher has even shown that he can even handle the physical play when the going gets rough. I would like to see Reid get another shot in the NHL. Whether that will be in Vancouver is open for debate, but I do believe that Boucher can be an everyday NHL player if given a chance to show how much his game has improved.

Next Game

VS Bridgeport Sound Tigers

Friday, December 1st, 2017

4:00 pm Pacific