Photo Credit: Cory Hergott

CanucksArmy Utica Comets Post-Game: Comets Get Back In The Win Column With 2-1 Win Over Devils

Utica Comets Post-Game Report

Game #26 | Friday, December 15th, 2017

The 23rd overall Utica Comets were back home in the friendly confines of the Adirondack Bank Center to take on the visiting 29th place Binghamton Devils today in a battle of bottom 10 teams.

Once again, the Comets found themselves an even match when it came to special teams. Utica brought their 9th ranked power-play today to go up against the Devils 10th ranked group, while the Comets sat 14th on the penalty-kill with the Devils sitting 15th.

Reid Boucher was still the Comets leader in points with 24 in 23 games. Philip Holm, who was back in the lineup today after missing the previous five games with an injury, was still the Comets blueline leader with 11 points in 18 games.

Defenseman Jacob MacDonald was the points leader for Binghamton with 22 points in 24 games, while Spencer Abbott was the Devils leader up front with 20 points in 17 games.

The Devils had gone 2-5-2-1 in their previous 10 games while the Comets had a record of 4-3-3-0 in their last 10 outings. Binghamton’s last game was a 4-3 shoot-out loss to the Belleville Sens, while the Comets last game was a 3-1 loss to the Rochester Americans.

The Comets have made a few moves in the last week. First, as we reported in our last post-game report, Defenseman Dylan Blujus was signed to a pro try-out contract.

We found out yesterday why that move was needed, as defenseman Ashton Sautner was recalled to Vancouver by the parent Canucks. Sautner was recalled as Canucks defenseman Chris Tanev is sidelined with a groin injury. Tanev is expected to be out 2-3 weeks, however, the Canucks expect to get Erik Gudbranson back soon.

Sautner has been having a steady season for the Comets. He has just three points in 21 games this season, however, that doesn’t tell the whole story when it comes to Ashton’s game. Sautner has been a rock for head coach Trent Cull as the Comets have been hit hard by the injury bug this season. He has been logging big minutes in five on five situations and has been integral on the penalty-kill. Whether or not Sautner gets into any games in Vancouver during this recall remains to be seen, but it is nice to see the young man get rewarded with an NHL paycheck, if only briefly, just in time for Christmas. As a side note, I found out through Sautner’s uncle that Ashton and current Canucks defenseman, Derrick Pouliot, were a defense pair through Bantam and their first year of Midget hockey. I always find it interesting how small the hockey world can be at times.

Those weren’t the only roster moves being made by the Comets this week. The Comets went back to the ECHL again to sign another forward to a PTO. The latest player to get a look is Tony Cameranesi. Cameranesi is a 5’10”, 190lbs center iceman who was drafted 130th overall in the 5th round by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2011 draft. You can read more about Cameranesi in the link provided below.

Scratched today for the Comets were: Darren Archibald, (injured), Jaime Sifers, (injured), Yan-Pavel Laplante, (injured), Evan McEneny, (injured), Wacey Hamilton (injured), Mackenze Stewart, Tony Cameranesi, and Anton Cederholm

Comets Starting Lines

16 Joe LaBate – 20 Brendan Woods – 17 Alexis D’Aoust

24 Reid Boucher (A) – 11 Cam Darcy – 23 Jayson Megna (A)

34 Carter Bancks (C) – 14 Brady Brassart – 15 Zack MacEwen

13 Griffen Molino- 19 Cole Cassels – 58 Michael Carcone

52 – Philip Holm – 55 Guillaume Brisebois

28 Patrick Wiercicoh – 5 Jalen Chatfield

29 Cliff Watson – 8 Dylan Blujus

30 Thatcher Demko

Before I get started on the day’s action, I need to disclose that I could not view the first four minutes of this game as the AHL Live package was once again lacking in their value for money department. There was no video feed at all for the first four minutes and I had to listen to the game through the Devils audio feed for the first eight minutes or so.

Due to call-ups and injuries, the Comets had Dylan Blujus, Cliff Watson, and Brady Brassart in the lineup today. All three men are with the Comets on pro try-out contracts. If you add Brendan Woods and Cam Darcy, who both earned AHL deals off of PTO’s to those three, you have an entire forward line and two defensemen who weren’t locked in to be on the team at the start of the season. Trent Cull is doing good work to keep this team even remotely competitive, all things considered.

Reid Boucher was once again looking like a man possessed on the forecheck today, (that’s a little Kyle Wellwood reference for those who are playing along at home). Boucher was doing work again today.

Zack MacEwen and Michael Carcone were both showing their physical sides again today. MacEwen with a couple of heavy hits, and Carcone with some hard play along the boards to disrupt his opponents.

This game went back and forth with the Comets having the edge in play in the first period. Thatcher Demko wasn’t super busy, but he was sharp when tested, as seen with this save.

MacEwen had his feet moving today, making an end to end rush, stuffing the puck towards the crease where Carter Bancks and Brady Brassart jammed away at it but couldn’t squeeze the puck past netminder Ken Appleby.

We didn`t see any penalties until the 15:19 mark, and then we saw two in quick succession. First up it was Nathan Bastian going off for hooking. Less than a minute later, John Quenneville was sent off for tripping.

With the Comets up five on three, it didn`t take long for Philip Holm to score his third goal of the season. Welcome back, Philip. Holm scored the goal on a set up by Boucher, who earned his 12th helper of the season on the play. Zack MacEwen picked up the other assist, his ninth of the season.

That was it for the first period. The shot clock favored the Comets by a 13-5 margin.

The second period would start out similar to the way the first period looked in the final five minutes with the Devils taking back to back penalties. First, it was Tim Kennedy being sent off for boarding just 12 seconds into the period. Blake Speers would join him in the box at the 1:49 mark.

The Comets would take their time-out when the second penalty was called. MacEwen got in alone and fired a puck high and wide. Zack seems to fire high and wide a fair bit, but the big fella will start finding the target more regularly soon, I`m sure. Holm had a nice look as well but Appleby got a glove on the shot.

The Comets were unable to score with the two-man advantage. Not only that, LaBate would put the teams four on four when he took a roughing penalty at the 2:12 mark.

Megna, Darcy, Wiercioch, and Chatfield were sent out for the four on four. Woods and Cassels would be the next forwards up, with Cassels showing some physical work along the boards, and Woods heading to the box for holding. Woods would make up for that penalty later in the game.

The first four minutes were a flurry of penalties and neither team could take advantage with the extra man. The trio of Bancks, Wiercioch, and Chatfield did some great work on the brief five on three to keep the Comets up by a goal.

The Devils hit a post just as LaBate was getting out of the box. Cole Cassels was having another solid game in a penalty-killing/defensive role today. Woods, LaBate, and D’Aoust were playing an effective, grinding game as line as well.

Josh Jacobs tied the game at the 8:34 mark of the second. It was the first professional goal for Jacobs. It almost seems as if someone scores their first pro goal against the Comets every game lately. Kevin Rooney picked up his fifth helper of the season on the play, while Kevin Morris earned his first.

Less than two minutes after the tieing marker, LaBate labeled Ben Thomson with a solid hit along the boards and the two men threw down, each landing a couple of shots in the draw.

The Devils were getting their chances in the second but Demko was holding the fort with saves like this one.

Chatfield was having a pretty good period and showed some silky smooth skating as he made his way into the Devils zone and got a shot off with Appleby making another save. The Comets had pretty good pressure late in the period but the game would remain tied as the horn sounded to end the middle frame.

That was it for the middle frame. The teams kept the shots close with the Devils having a 9-8 advantage.

The Comets would get a power-play early in the third when Thatcher Demko was tripped up by Kevin Morris. With Morris in the box for tripping, it looked like the Comets were looking for a net-front tip-in goal. Twice we saw Boucher set up in the “Henrik Sedin” spot on the wall and fire pucks on the net where MacEwen tipped them wide. Those goals will come once MacEwen gets more accustomed to his role. Megna had a chance as well but put the puck high and wide. High and wide was a theme today for Utica.

At the 5:09 mark of the third, Brendan Woods made up for his earlier penalty when he streaked in and picked up a puck from Cassels and beat Appleby top shelf. It was just the second goal of the season for Woods, but he has been playing well of late. His line with LaBate and D’Aoust have been noticeable in the last couple of games. All three men create their own kind of havoc when they are out there.

Cole Cassels continued his strong play of late, picking up an assist on the Woods marker. For Cole, it was his third point of the season, all assists. Cassels has had a solid handful of games lately. Newcomer Cliff Watson earned the second assist on the Woods goal for his first point with the Comets.

Following the Woods goal, the Comets got some very strong shifts back to back from the LaBate, Woods, D’Aoust unit and then the Molino, Cassels, Carcone line. With the Comets missing big point getters and minute munchers Chaput and Goldobin up front, these two lines are showing their value to the team as they can grind the opposition down to help keep the Comets in low scoring affairs.

Molino is finally starting to show some value after getting off to a slow start. We have to remember that Molino is a rookie as well, and he is still getting his feet under him at the AHL level. He seems to play well with Cassels in an energy role/defensive role.

Boucher had a chance and ripped the puck off the post. Apparently, he did the same in the first period during those first four minutes that AHL Live didn’t want to show me.

LaBate and Wiercioch had back to back chances but Appleby was having a strong game for the Devils and was equal to the task.

With about five minutes remaining in the third, it looked like the Devils might tie the game. They had a full minute of sustained pressure in the Comets zone. Cassels, Bancks, MacEwen, Wiercioch, and Chatfield were hemmed in their zone and looked exhausted. They ended up icing the puck and had to stay out even longer.

When the Comets finally managed their line change, Boucher came over the boards and got a scoring chance. Unfortunately, he fired the puck right into the crest on the front of Appleby’s jersey.

The Devils pulled Appleby for the extra attacker with about a minute to go, got a whistle and called their timeout. They managed some chances but Demko and the Comets would not yield today.

The Comets would get back into the win column in this one with a 2-1 decision. The shots in the third period favored Utica by a count of 11-7, for a three-period advantage of 32-21.

Today’s Official Boxscore

The Three Stars in the building today were:

3rd Star: Griffen Molino. No points, but an overall strong game.

2nd Star: Thatcher Demko. 20 saves.

1st Star: Brendan Woods. Game-winning goal.

CanucksArmy’s Three Stars

3rd Star: Cole Cassels. It was another strong game today from Cole. He looks to be finding his groove as this team’s 4C and he is doing great work on the penalty-kill. He picked up his second assist in as many games, though I don’t expect him to be a big point producer. He is earning his ice time with a strong work ethic and his attention to details on the defensive side of the puck.

2nd Star: Joe LaBate. Big Joe was having a game today. He had a fight which resulted from a thunderous, but clean hit and he put five shots on net. His line was buzzing all game, creating havoc in the neutral and offensive zones. He gets his chances every game and hopefully, he can start picking up a few more points as a result of his efforts.

1st Star: Philip Holm. Holm returned after a five-game absence due to injury. He picked up right where he left off, scoring the first goal of the game. Philip was out there in all situations again and didn’t look to be suffering any lingering effects from his injury. Holm’s goal today gave him 12 points in 19 games played this season. With any kind of luck, the smooth-skating Swede will get a look in Vancouver before the season is done so we can see what he can do at the NHL level.

Next Game

VS Rochester Americans

Saturday, December 16th, 2017

4:00 pm Pacific















    • Cory Hergott

      Holm looks to be a solid defense “prospect”
      He is a little “old” to be considered a prospect by most, but as he is new to the North American game, I will lump him in with the Canucks prospects. He is still adjusting to the North American sized ice, and game, so I would like to see him spend the bulk of the season in Utica while he works some of those growing pains out of his game. A late season call up shouldn’t be out of the question though, in my opinion.