Utica Comets Post-Game Report
Game # 22 | Wednesday, December 6th, 2017
The 18th place Syracuse Crunch rolled into Utica today to take on the 16th place Comets for the second time this season. The two teams last faced off against each other on October 14th in Syracuse when Michael Chaput scored the game-winning goal in a 3-2 Comets victory.
Syracuse had been on a red hot streak of late, having won six straight. Their last win came Saturday, a 5-4 shoot-out win over Belleville. The Comets, meanwhile, were fresh off of a 2-1 shoot-out win over Bridgeport, also on Saturday.
The scoring leaders for the Crunch were former Comet, Cory Conacher with 15 points in 18 games. Conacher is currently up with the parent Lightning, so next up was forward Matthew Peca with 13 points in 22 games. Leading the blueline for the Crunch was Jamie McBain, also up with the Bolts, with 11 points in 21 games. Ben Thomas was leading the way amongst active blueliners with nine points in 22 games. Anthony Cirelli was their leader amongst rookies with 12 points in 22 games. Alex Gallant was their penalty minutes leader, having amassed 45 minutes in the box through nine games.
Reid Boucher was the leader up front for Utica with 22 points in 19 games. Michael Chaput is starting to close the gap, having picked up 15 points over 20 games this season. The Comets former points leader, Nikolay Goldobin, played for the Canucks last night and picked up his first goal of the season. Goldy now has one goal and one helper in three games played for the Canucks this season.
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) December 6, 2017
Oh, and you may have heard that former Comets netminder Jacob Markstrom picked up his first NHL shutout in the same game. Congrats Marky, you earned it.
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) December 6, 2017
Philip Holm was still the blueline leader with 11 points in 18 games. With Holm injured and day to day, it is possible that Patrick Wiercioch could close the gap quickly. Wiercioch only has six points, but they have come in eight games. Wiercioch is currently riding the league’s third-best shooting percentage with three goals on 16 shots in eight games, good enough for 18.8%.
Leading the way for the rookie crop in Utica was Zack MacEwen with nine points in 16 games. Joe LaBate led the way in penalty minutes with 65 minutes accumulated in 21 games. That penalty minute total had him sitting third overall in the AHL.
Thatcher Demko came into the day sitting third overall in the league in minutes played with 913.22 minutes over 15 games.
So let’s see… LaBate, third overall in PIMs, Wiercioch, third overall in shooting percentage, Demko, third overall in minutes played. Anyone care to guess where Reid Boucher sat league-wide in shoot-out goals?… That’s right; he sat first overall with three.
The Crunch came into today with some pretty lacklustre special teams. Their power-play was 28th overall, operating at 12.9%, while their penalty-kill was 18th overall at 81.7%. The Comets sat seventh in the league on the power-play with a 19.6% effective rate, while their penalty-kill sat 16th with an 82.7% rate.
The Comets were 5-4-1-0 in their previous ten games while the Crunch were 7-3-0-0.
The Comets were somewhat busy again this week, making a few minor roster moves. First, it was reported that Evan McEneny would be lost for six months after having surgery on his knee.
Evan McEneny undergoes knee surgery – expected to be out 6 months https://t.co/85R3cuNPu2
— CanucksArmy (@CanucksArmy) December 4, 2017
Next up we would find out that Brian Ward had been released from his PTO with the Comets.
Comets Release Brian Ward From PTO https://t.co/Gq0SfNup3B
— CanucksArmy (@CanucksArmy) December 4, 2017
We would then find out that the Comets had added two more players to tryout deals. Forward Brady Brassart and defenseman Cliff Watson are the newest players to throw on a Comets jersey this season. More info on the newest Comets in the link below.
Comets Add Two Players On PTOs https://t.co/PjOQ2GbrxG
— CanucksArmy (@CanucksArmy) December 5, 2017
The voice of the Comets, Andy Zilch even had the new numbers that the two players would wear.
Watson will wear number 29 and Brassart will wear number 14.
— Andy Zilch (@Andy_Zilch) December 6, 2017
Scratched for the Comets today were: Darren Archibald, (injured), Wacey Hamilton, (injured), Yan-Pavel Laplante, (injured), Jaime Sifers, (injured), Evan McEneny, (injured), Brendan Woods, (injured), Philip Holm, (injured), Jordan Subban, (injured), Michael Chaput, Cliff Watson, and Thatcher Demko.
Comets Starting Lines
16 Joe LaBate – 11 Cam Darcy – 23 Jayson Megna (A)
24 Reid Boucher – 34 Carter Bancks (C) – 15 Zack MacEwen
58 Michael Carcone – 19 Cole Cassels – 17 Alexis D’Aoust
13 Griffen Molino – 12 Danny Moynihan – 14 Brady Brassart
28 Patrick Wiercioch – 5 Jalen Chatfield
6 Ashton Sautner – 55 Guillaume Brisebois
57 Mackenze Stewart – 2 Anton Cederholm
32 Richard Bachman
Michael Garteig was the backup goalie for this one, and it became clear why after the game when Thatcher Demko and Michael Chaput were recalled to Vancouver. Chaput is likely up as insurance for the Horvat injury, and as CanucksArmy’s Ryan Biech explains, Demko is probably up for salary cap purposes again.
Andy Zilch just mentioned that Demko and Chaput were late scratches – Dorsett is not currently on LTIR, so it maybe another recall for Demko to get as close to the cap ceiling as possible to maximize the LTIR space created#Canucks
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) December 7, 2017
The first period today was a good one. The Comets started the period taking it to the Crunch. Big rookie Zack MacEwen levelled Michael Bournival with a big hit early.
At the 3:22 mark, Matthew Peca was sent off for tripping. The Comets rolled out a power-play unit of Boucher, Bancks, MacEwen, Brisebois, and Carcone. They were unable to get a puck past netminder Louis Domingue.
Roughly two minutes later, Ashton Sautner would take his first of back to back hooking penalties. The Comets would be able to kill both penalties off, thanks in large part to Richard Bachman. Bachman was sharp in the first and was giving his team a chance to win. Chatfield and Cederholm were sent out as a pair of penalty killers, and the duo kept things simple and looked good.
Just before the second penalty ended, Cam Darcy got a puck to Jayson Megna, and he and Weircioch were off to the races. Megna got the puck to Wiercioch, who beat Domingue for his fourth goal of the season. For Megna, it would be assist number seven on the season. Darcy picked up his ninth point of the year, all assists on the shorthanded marker.
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) December 7, 2017
Anton Cederholm once again showed a bomb of a shot when he was set up by Boucher, but the big Swede wasn’t able to convert.
At 17:57, Adam Erne was able to get a puck past Bachman to tie the game at one. For Erne, it was goal number four on the season. Kevin Lynch picked up his seventh helper of the year on the play. We would be hearing from Erne again later in the game.
Guillaume Brisebois was about to get whistled for tripping, but while waiting for the delayed penalty to be called, Darcy got into it with Erik Cernak, and all three men were sent off for two minutes. The Comets would finish the period on the penalty-kill.
The final shot total for the first period favoured Utica by a count of 9-8.
The Comets started the second period with Brisebois still in the box, and Syracuse was all over the Comets with the extra man. The Comets would manage to kill off the Brisebois penalty, only to have Carter Bancks head off for slashing at the 2:36 mark. The Comets would once again kill off the penalty, but all of the man down action was starting to take its toll on the team.
The Comets did manage some good pressure for a couple of shifts, but the Crunch quickly turned things around when Carter Verhaeghe scored his first of two quick goals at the 9:55 mark. It was Verhaeghe’s fourth goal of the season, assisted by Dominik Maisin, with his third helper, and Erik Cernak with his fourth.
Barely a minute later, Verhaeghe was at it again, picking up his fifth goal of the season. Michael Bournival was awarded his sixth assist of the season on the goal.
The Comets would get a chance to get back within one when Bournival was sent off for slashing less than a minute later. The Comets couldn’t get things going and would be unable to take advantage.
Anton Cederholm was caught flat-footed when Anthony Cirelli was sent in, and the ref blew the whistle and pointed to centre ice. Bachman would have to face a penalty shot. Cirelli would end up running out of room on his chance and put the puck wide.
The Comets were guilty of some pretty sloppy play in the final minutes of the middle frame, but it would be Ben Thomas who would be sent off for cross-checking with just over a minute to play. MacEwen had a nice chance late, playing the net front role, but he couldn’t stuff the puck past Domingue.
The shots in the second period were 12-7 in favour of Syracuse.
The Comets started the third period in a 3-1 hole, and things didn’t get any better for them. Wiercioch was sent off for hooking just 1:13 into the final frame. Luckily for him, Anthony Cirelli also took a hooking penalty just 13 seconds later.
D’Aoust was showing some good hustle on the forecheck while the teams were skating four on four. The rookie was using his speed and tenacity well today. Cam Darcy nearly scored on a wraparound chance, but Domingue got his big toe on it to keep the Crunch up by a pair. Darcy was noticeable on the ice against his former team today.
Richard Bachman was doing his best to keep his team in this game, but the wheels would soon start to fall off the wagon for the Comets.
Matthew Spencer put the Crunch up 4-1 at the 7:54 mark when he beat Bachman for his first professional goal off a turnover and scramble in front of Bachman. Cirelli was awarded his 10th helper of the year on the play, while Erne picked up his ninth.
Just under three minutes later the Crunch would go up 5-1 on Erne’s second goal of the game. Mat Bodie was credited with his seventh helper of the year, while Cirelli picked up his 11th.
The fans were starting to leave the building at this point as the Comets were looking pretty flat.
Just over a minute after Erne’s second goal, LaBate was sent off for tripping and Erne would pick up his third goal of the night to cap off his hat-trick. Erne came into the game with just three goals on the season but would finish the night with six for the year. Mathieu Joseph was awarded his sixth assist on the play, while Cirelli earned his 12th. It was a big night on the scoreboard for Erne and Cirelli.
The Comets would get one more chance on the power-play when Dominik Masin was sent off for holding. LaBate had the best chance on the power play, but Domingue kicked out his leg to make the save. Cederholm had a miscue at the Crunch blueline which led to a break for a Crunch player, but MacEwen showed some nice defensive effort and some wheels to break up the play before Bachman saw a shot.
That would be it for the game. The Comets started strong but were overcome by the Crunch before the game was over.
The final shot count favoured Syracuse by a count of 28-25.
The Three Stars in the building today were:
3rd Star: Mathieu Joseph. One goal.
2nd Star: Carter Verhaeghe. Two goals.
1st Star: Adam Erne. Three goals, one assist.
CanucksArmy’s Three Stars
3rd Star: Zack MacEwen. There wasn’t a lot to pick from today when it comes to stars for the Comets, but MacEwen once again showed promise. He had a couple of nice chances today and dished out a couple of nice hits. MacEwen’s defensive play is also encouraging, as evidenced by his play to break up a shorthanded chance in a game that was already long out of reach. MacEwen continues to impress me on a game to game basis.
2nd Star: Joe LaBate. LaBate has been playing better of late and with Goldobin, and now Chaput called up to Vancouver, he will need to step up even more. LaBate put six shots on net today, and he had a nice chance on the power-play while setting up in the net-front position. Once LaBate scores on a couple of those, I feel like they will start to come more regularly. There may be room for big Joe in Vancouver if he can continue to play the way he has in his last handful of games.
1st Star: Patrick Wiercioch. Wiercioch has played in nine games now and has four goals and three assists for seven points. He regularly jumps up into the play, and he can skate pretty well. Every successful team needs offence from the back end, and Wiercioch has been providing that for the Comets. He has proven to be a pretty solid depth signing for the Canucks organization and might not even look too bad in Vancouver if given a chance at some point.
VS Providence Bruins
Saturday, December 9th, 2017
4:05 pm Pacific