Utica Comets Post-Game Report
Game #25 | Wednesday, December 13th, 2017
Utica wrapped up their brief three-game road-trip today in Rochester. The 20th place Comets were in town to take on the fifth overall Americans for the sixth time this season. To date, the Comets have held the advantage in the season series, having won four games and losing the other 4-3 in a shoot-out. The Comets have outscored the Americans by a margin of 15-8 over the previous five contests.
The Americans have gone 5-1-2-2 over their previous ten games, while the Comets have a record of 4-3-3-0 over their last ten.
The two teams were about as evenly matched as they could be in the special teams departments coming into today’s game. The Comets were eighth overall on the power play, with an 18.6% effective rate, while the Americans were seventh, with an 18.8% rate. Their penalty killing numbers were just as close, with Utica having an 83.7% rate of effectiveness, while Rochester had gone 83.6% on the kill, leaving the two teams sitting 13th and 14th respectively.
Reid Boucher was still the Comets leader in points with 24 in 22 games. Injured Philip Holm was the points leader on defence with 11 in 18 games. It sounds like Holm could be coming back soon-ish for Utica. I’m sure he will be welcomed back with open arms.
Patrick Wiercioch will be doing his best to continue closing the gap on Holm until he gets back. Wiercioch now has four goals and four assists, good for eight points in just 11 games this season. With the parent Canucks having scoring issues up top, especially on the back end. I find it curious that the team used up every last bit of Wiercioch’s “waiver free” status when they had him called up for a month, yet didn’t get him into any games to see what he could do.
The Americans were led in points up front by C.J. Smith, with 25 points in 25 games. Zach Redmond was their points leader on the blueline with 15 in 17 games.
The Americans last game was a 4-1 win over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, while the Comets were coming off of a 4-3 overtime loss to the Providence Bruins.
Not unlike the Canucks, the Comets could use some more goals from the blueline. To date, Utica has just ten goals from defensemen this season. I feel like it will only be a matter of time before Jalen Chatfield breaks through for some goals and I think Guillaume Brisebois may pot a couple more before the season is done.
It looks like the Comets made another roster move ahead of the game today as the ECHL Transactions page showed defenseman Dylan Blujus as having been loaned to Utica. You can find more information about the signing linked below.
Comets Add Defenseman Dylan Blujus On PTO https://t.co/BjoxDH8bvK
— CanucksArmy (@CanucksArmy) December 13, 2017
Cam Darcy came into the game today riding a six-game point streak, during which, he has racked up one goal and six helpers. Darcy has been a good story this season, and he has proven to be a useful player and a good signing.
Scratched today for the Comets were: Darren Archibald, (injured), Jaime Sifers, (injured), Yan-Pavel Laplante, (injured), Evan McEneny, (injured), Philip Holm, (injured), Mackenze Stewart, and Brady Brassart.
Comets Starting Lines
24 Reid Boucher – 11 Cam Darcy – 23 Jayson Megna (A)
36 Wacey Hamilton (A) – 19 Cole Cassels – 58 Michael Carcone
16 Joe LaBate – 20 Brendan Woods – 17 Alexis D’Aoust
13 Griffen Molino – 34 Carter Bancks (C) – 15 Zack MacEwen
6 Ashton Sautner – 55 Guillaume Brisebois
23 Patrick Wiercioch – 5 Jalen Chatfield
2 Anton Cederholm – 29 Cliff Watson
30 Thatcher Demko
The first period was a pretty solid period of hockey. The two teams would manage to stay out of the box, which helped keep all the players in the game and both teams looked to be rolling four lines.
Thatcher Demko was once again showing why so many Canucks fans are excited about him. The big goaltender was making saves and making them early. He had a nice shoulder save nearly as soon as the puck had dropped.
It would be Michael Carcone who would open the scoring though. The agitating forward put his team up 1-0 at the 1:27 mark of the period when he pulled a puck from behind the net and jammed it in past Linus Ullmark. It was some gritty work on the play to earn Carcone his third goal of the season. Wacey Hamilton was credited with his fourth helper of the year on the play, while Cole Cassels picked up his second. Cassels isn’t putting up much in the way of points this season, but he has been a solid contributor on the defensive side of the puck.
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) December 14, 2017
Demko was forced to make another big save right after the Carcone goal. The two teams would go back and forth, with the Americans putting more pucks in Demko’s direction than the Comets could manage to get on Ullmark. Thatcher came to play in the first and kept his team in it early.
Boucher was robbed on a one-timer by Ullmark on a really nice cross-ice pass from Megna. Megna had a slow start in Utica, but his play has been stronger of late.
Wiercioch and Chatfield are starting to look comfortable as a tandem. When this defence gets healthy, Trent Cull will have some good pairs that he will be able to roll out. Of course, a healthy defence in this organization may just be a dream.
Brisebois managed to make a between his legs, backhanded pass in his own end that looked pretty great. It is also the type of play that would likely result in some time in the press box if it didn’t work. Keep it simple Guillaume… keep it simple. Brisebois is starting to get more pucks through to the net though, and if he keeps that up, maybe the coach will live with the odd risky play in his own end.
With about two minutes and 20 seconds left in the opening frame, Demko made a big glove save. On the resulting faceoff, the Americans evened the score at one. Steve Moses took a pass in the high slot and ripped a one-timer past, Demko. It was goal number seven for Moses. Sahir Gill earned his 12th assist of the season on the goal, while Casey Nelson picked up his eighth.
The shots in the first period favoured Rochester by a count of 12-8.
The second period was similar to the first in that there were no penalties called on either team. No penalties, however, did not mean that there were no whistles. I’m not sure when I last saw a game with so many offside and icing calls in one period.
Demko was once again making the big saves early. The Americans were taking it to the Comets concerning shots on net, and Demko was there to hold the fort.
Griffen Molino and Zack MacEwen worked a nice chance, but MacEwen ripped the puck wide of the net.
The Comets were looking pretty tired after an extended shift and Demko made sure to freeze the puck to get his mates a line change as soon as he had the chance. Thatcher also had an awkward moment when he tried to play the puck and tripped over backward. Luckily, the puck was cleared out of harm’s way. Trent Cull talked on TSN 1040 yesterday with Halford and Brough about how Demko is getting good at playing the puck and how it is helping his team. I’m going to guess that the coach wasn’t so keen on that play though.
Thatcher wouldn’t stop everything that came his way in the second period though. At the 6:50 mark, Stuart Percy picked up his third goal of the season when he beat Demko top shelf. C.J. Smith earned his 18th helper of the year on the play, while Nicholas Baptiste picked up his eighth.
MacEwen was throwing his body around today, creating turnovers in the offensive zone. The big fella was having another strong game.
Demko was doing his best to give his team a chance today, making a nice save on Baptiste, hugging the post to keep the puck out. Moments later, Anton Cederholm would have his stick explode on a clearing attempt, (maybe he gets his sticks from Edler’s guy?), forcing Demko to come up big again.
Cassels fed a quick pass from behind the Rochester net to Hamilton who was parked at the top of the crease. Hamilton got the shot off, but Ullmark kicked the puck aside, Carcone ended up with the puck and got a shot off but was also thwarted.
The back end of this period seemed to take forever to wrap up. All of the icing calls were killing any flow to the play.
Demko took a puck in the mask right off of a faceoff to his right, but the goaltender shook it off and stayed in the game.
Darcy had a nice backhand/forehand chance in close but once again, Ullmark was equal to the task. The Boucher, Megna, Darcy line was getting their chances in this one.
Demko was also forced to make a save late on Alex Nylander as the period came to a close. Chatfield was seen skating off the ice hunched over and in pain as the period ended.
The shot clock for the second period favoured Rochester by a count of 16-10.
The third period did not get off to the start that the Comets would have liked. Ashton Sautner was sent off for high-sticking just 40 seconds into the final frame. It took C.J. Smith just over a minute to put the home team up 3-1. For Smith, it was goal number nine on the season. Seth Griffith earned his fourth helper of the year on the power-play marker, while Zach Redmond picked up his 10th.
The good news for Comets fans was that Chatfield was out on the ice for the third period. The rookie blueliner is having a pretty solid campaign so far and I’d hate to see him get derailed by an injury.
Cassels had a nice chance at the side of the net but wasn’t able to stuff the puck past Ullmark. I’d have to say that this was one of Cole’s better games of the season. Playing him with Wacey Hamilton seems to have lit a bit of a spark in the oft-injured centerman. His defensive game is pretty sound, maybe if he can finally stay healthy, and pick up a few things from Hamilton along the way, there might be a 4th liner/13th forward in there yet.
Boucher was showing his physical game again in the third, in fact, a few Comets could be seen picking up their physical play in the third. Boucher was working Colin Blackwell along the boards pretty hard on one shift, creating a turnover in the Comets zone. LaBate, Bancks, Carcone, and MacEwen were all throwing their bodies around and trying to create some energy for the Comets.
The Comets seemed to be trying to set up a bang-bang play from behind the Rochester net more than a few times in this game. Carcone set up MacEwen from that spot, and once again the big winger fired the puck wide.
Demko made a nice save on a Kyle Criscuolo shot late in the period. Thatcher had a strong game and I think it would be pretty hard to hang any of the goals that got past him on his shoulders.
The Comets would get a chance on the power-play with just under four minutes remaining in the game when Steve Moses was sent off for tripping. Trent Cull would summon Demko to the bench to give his team a six on four man advantage for the entire power-play. Having two extra attackers didn’t seem to help the Comets much as they just couldn’t get any traction.
Boucher had a chance late but was once again stoned by Ullmark. The Comets finished the game giving up a handful of empty net chances but managed to keep the Americans from upping the score.
The Comets managed to outshoot the Americans in the third period by a count of 12-6. However, Rochester held the advantage for the game by a 34-30 margin.
That was it in Rochester. Onward and upward Comets fans.
The Three Stars in the building today were:
3rd Star: Stuart Percy. One goal.
2nd Star: Linus Ullmark. 29 saves.
1st Star: C.J. Smith. One goal, one assist.
CanucksArmy’s Three Stars
3rd Star: Cam Darcy. For today, I am going to focus on a few “lunchpail” type players. Darcy just shows up every game and works his tail off. He seems to get one or two quality scoring chances each game and he plays hard. Today he managed to put five shots on the Rochester net and was active throughout the game.
2nd Star: Michael Carcone. Carcone is an agitator out on the ice. He plays the game bigger than his size would suggest and seems to enjoy getting under the skin of his opponents. He finished the game with the Comets’ only goal to go along with four shots on net. His motor is always running when he’s on the ice, and he does some great work along the boards.
1st Star: Cole Cassels. I know, maybe Thatcher Demko should be on this list after making 31 saves, and a few of them of the “big” variety, but I thought that Cole stood out enough today to warrant some praise. Cassels had another hard working game today. He picked up an assist on the Carcone goal, and he put four shots on the Rochester net. What Cassels does on the ice won’t likely bring him the glory that scoring piles of goals would, however, what he does bring will earn him the trust of his coaching staff to be out late in games protecting a lead as well as picking up some shut down minutes against opponents better players. Cassels seems to be thriving with Wacey Hamilton on his left side; perhaps he’s picking up a few pointers from the veteran player along the way.
VS Binghamton Devils
4:00 pm Pacific