Utica Comets Post-Game Report
Game #27 | Saturday, December 16th, 2017
The 20th place Comets were right back at it today, welcoming the fourth place Rochester Americans back to town. The Comets were fresh off a 2-1 victory over the Binghamton Devils yesterday, while the Amerks were coming off of a 3-2 loss to the Toronto Marlies.
The Americans were 6-1-2-2 in their last 10 games while the Comets had gone 5-2-3-0 over the same span.
Once again, the two teams were reasonably close in special teams play. The Americans and Comets sat eighth and ninth respectively on the power-play. Rochester had a leg up on the penalty-kill as well, sitting 10th in the league while the Comets were in 13th place overall.
The Americans were led in scoring by rookie forward C.J. Smith, who had nine goals and 18 assists on the season to give him 27 points in 27 games. Their leader on the blueline was Zach Redmond with six goals and 10 assists in 19 games to give him a total of 16 points.
The Comets rookie race so far this season has focused on Zack MacEwen and Alexis D’Aoust. So far, MacEwen had accumulated two goals and nine helpers, for 11 points in 21 games. D’Aoust, for his part, had six goals and three assists in 26 games to give him nine points on the season.
Philip Holm still led the Comets blueliners with three goals and nine assists, good for 12 points in 19 games. Reid Boucher was still the leader in points overall for the Comets with 13 goals and 12 assists, good for 25 points in 24 games this season.
A little more on Boucher and a few other Comets. Boucher came into the game sitting first in the league with three shootout goals, tied for fifth in the AHL with 13 goals, and 12th in the league with 25 points.
Joe LaBate was tied for first in the league in major penalties and was third in both minor penalties and total penalty minutes.
Thatcher Demko sat second in saves this season with 522, as well as second overall in minutes played with 1092.50 total for the year.
Patrick Wiercioch was first overall for defensemen in the league with two shorthanded goals this season. He was also third, league-wide, for defensemen in shooting percentage with a 16% rate off of his four goals on 25 shots this season. Wiercioch has accomplished these feats in just 13 games this season.
Scratched today for the Comets were: Darren Archibald, (injured), Even McEneny, (injured), Yan-Pavel Laplante, (injured), Wacey Hamilton, (injured), Mackenze Stewart, Brady Brassart, 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) – 27 Tony Cameranesi – 15 Zack MacEwen
13 Griffen Molino – 19 Cole Cassels – 58 Michael Carcone
52 Philip Holm – 55 Guillaume Brisebois
28 Patrick Wiercioch – 5 Jalen Chatfield
29 Cliff Watson – 8 Dylan Blujus
32 Richard Bachman
This first period was a pretty even affair. There was some good pace as the teams were rolling their lines quickly. We saw three different forward lines come over the boards for the Comets in the first two minutes.
Richard Bachman got the start today and he was sharp in the first. He was forced to make a save early on a nice rush from Colin Blackwell. He also had to make two saves in quick succession as newcomer Dylan Blujus twice couldn’t clear the puck and Bachman bailed him out both times.
Jalen Chatfield was showing some good stickwork along the boards in his own zone to cause a Rochester turnover. Jalen put in a solid first period of work.
Boucher was fed a stretch pass and got a nice shot off, low, glove side, but Rochester goaltender Adam Wilcox was there to make the save. Seconds later, Boucher sent Megna in with a slick pass but Megna lost his footing and bailed into Wilcox.
The Molino, Cassels, Carcone line was once again shining in an energy role. All three players were doing great work on the forecheck in the opening frame.
Chatfield let loose with a clapper from the point, forcing Wilcox to make a big save. Jalen needs to use that shot more often. His game is very similar to Chris Tanev’s game, but I’m hoping that he will be able to add more of an offensive element to his game as the season goes on.
Both teams were doing a good job in the first of keeping their opponents to the outside for the most part. It was a very even period of play.
The Comets would get the first power-play of the game at the 10:07 mark when Zach Redmond was sent off for interference. Boucher looked like he might put the home team up by a goal when he skated into the Rochester zone and blew through two Amerks’ defenders and got a shot off. Unfortunately, Wilcox was once again there with the glove to make the save.
The Comets would go 0-1 on the power-play in the first.
Richard Bachman better check his shorts for horseshoes as he had quite an adventure trying to play the puck. Not sure how this one didn’t go in.
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) December 17, 2017
That was the only gaffe that Bachman would make in the first though, and fortunately, it didn’t end up in the net. Bachman would swallow up a Brendan Guhle shot shortly after this play as well, to keep the game knotted at zero.
Michael Carcone was sent off for high-sticking at the 16:20 mark and the Comets kill would get down to work. Newcomer Dylan Blujus even saw some time on the PK. The Comets would kill off the Carcone penalty.
The period would end with the Comets showing an advantage on the shot clock of 11-9.
The second period was an entertaining period of hockey. These two teams are pretty closely matched for being so far apart in the standings.
Dylan Blujus would send the Comets to the penalty-kill just 1:34 into the middle frame when he was whistled for hooking. The Comets penalty killers would once again get the job done.
Wiercioch was getting pucks on the net again today, ripping a point shot on net early, but Wilcox was there for the save. Griffen Molino had a nice chance early as well, but once again, Wilcox was equal to the task.
Newcomer Tony Cameranesi was looking decent in his first game with the Comets. He dished a couple of nice passes and did some solid work along the boards with both his stick and his body.
Brendan Woods, who got the game-winner for the Comets yesterday was bringing it again today. Woods had back to back chances, with Wilcox making the save on the first shot and the second going off the bar.
Jayson Megna continued with his improved play of late, getting a nice backhand chance in close but Wilcox was ready with another save.
The Comets had three really good shifts in a row and built some momentum in their favor.
The line of Cassels, Molino, and Carcone have really been coming on of late. They have been very good defensively and they bring the energy when they are out on the ice.
Carcone would open the scoring at the 7:16 mark with what is becoming typical of a “Kid Line” shift. Carcone charged the front of the net with the puck and willed it past Wilcox. For Carcone it was goal number four on the year. Cole Cassels picked up his third helper in as many games. Keep it coming, Cole. Patrick Wiercicoh picked up the other helper, his fifth of the year and ninth point in 14 games.
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) December 17, 2017
Bachman was forced into action, making a big save right after the Carcone goal to keep his team up by one. Once again, Bacher was having a solid period.
At the 10:08 mark, Stuart Percy would be sent off for holding, putting the Comets onto the power-play. Once again, Bachman was forced to make a big save, this time shorthanded, as the first unit couldn’t get any traction.
Newcomer Cliff Watson would put the Comets on the penalty-kill at the 13:19 mark when he was sent off for tripping.
Bachman came up with a couple of nice saves and Chatfield made a couple of nice clears to keep the home team up a goal. Dylan Blujus was once again seeing some penalty kill time for the Comets.
Bachman was busy in the second and he kept his team afloat with big saves on Sean Malone and Matt Tennyson.
Zack MacEwen came up big with some great hustle on the backcheck to foil a Rochester chance as the period was coming to a close.
The final shots in the second period were 10-9 in favor of Utica.
Reid Boucher didn’t get off to a good start in the third period, taking a slashing call just 49 seconds in. I am a Boucher fan, and I’d like to see him get a look at the NHL level again, but he hasn’t looked like himself in the last two games. He looks frustrated to my eye. Here’s hoping he can shake off whatever it is that seems to be getting in his way these last two games.
Cassels continued his strong play on the kill, getting a shorthanded break, but put his shot wide of the net. We would be hearing from Cole again before the period would end.
Seth Griffith, perhaps the only man who has changed teams via waivers as often as Boucher in the last couple of seasons, took his team off the power-play at the 1:18 mark when he was sent off for hooking.
Neither team would be able to get anything going on their brief power-plays.
Cole Cassels has been catching my eye of late with his hard work and gritty, get-it-done style of play. He has been getting leaned on by Trent Cull to take a good amount of defensive zone faceoffs, and he wins his share of them.
Goals are not one of Cole’s calling cards, but he would bury one today on a nice feed from Griffen Molino. Cassels put this one top shelf, where mom keeps the peanut butter. For Cole, it was goal number one on the season, but it was his fourth point in his last three games. Keep it coming, Cole. Molino earned his second helper of the season on the play, while Carcone picked up the other assist, earning his second point of the game.
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) December 17, 2017
Once again, Bachman was called upon to make a big save right after a goal. Bachman had a mad scramble in his crease but somehow managed to track and cover the puck.
Chatfield took a boarding penalty at the 7:45 mark and the Comets penalty-killers had to go back to work and killed the minor off. The Comets were doing a good job of keeping the shots to the outside again, but Bachman would have to make a couple of saves in close.
The Comets newest PTO signee, Tony Cameranesi showed a nice shot, but Wilcox was there with the mitt to deny him.
Cole Cassels was sent off for slashing at the 12:36 mark and the Comets penalty-killers had to try to get the job done without one of their most effective players.
With Cassels in the box, the penalty-kill would not remain perfect for the night, as Sahir Gill scored his seventh goal of the season to pull the Americans to within one. C.J. Smith would pick up his 19th assist of the season on the play. Smith is a 23-year-old rookie, who would have 30 points in 28 games by the time this one would end. Pick up the phone Jimbo…see if this guy is available. Stuart Percy picked up the other assist, his 14th of the season.
Brendan Woods was active today. The man shoots the puck, a lot. He also misses the net, a lot. That said, his line with LaBate and D’Aoust were once again being pesky and physical, hounding pucks and getting in hard on the forecheck. Between the “Kid Line” and this Woods line, Cull has a couple of units that can grind an opponent down.
I’m not sure what, if anything happened to Molino, but Carter Bancks took his place on the Cassels line in the late going.
Nicolas Baptiste would even the game at two when he scored his fifth goal of the season. It was a scramble beside the net that led to the goal. It was scored from a strange angle and I find it pretty hard to fault Bachman on that one. Smith picked up his 20th assist of the season, and his second point of the game on the goal, while Kyle Criscuolo earned his eighth.
With the game winding down in the final seconds, the Comets had a chance with a scramble in the Rochester zone but they were unable to convert.
The third period would end with the game tied at two and we would be off to overtime. The final shots in the third period favored Utica by a count of 12-11 for a three period total of 33-29 in favor of the Comets.
The Americans would get just one more shot in this game and that would be all it would take. Just 17 seconds into the extra frame, that C.J. Smith fellow capped off a good night with his third point when he scored his 10th goal of the season. Criscuolo earned his ninth assist of the season on the play while Brendan Guhle was credited with his 11th.
That was it in Utica for the day. Final shots were 33-30 in favor of the Comets.
The Three Stars in the building today were:
3rd Star: Adam Wilcox. 31 saves.
2nd Star: Cole Cassels. One goal, one assist.
1st Star: C.J. Smith. One goal, two assists.
CanucksArmy’s Three Stars
3rd Star: Richard Bachman. I’m not going to hang this loss on Bachman. He made his share of game-saving stops today. He made 27 saves and was very sharp early when the Americans had some quality chances. Bachman’s numbers this season are not exactly stellar, but he is a quality goaltender who has had a few tough bounces this season.
2nd Star: Michael Carcone. Carcone’s goal today exemplifies the type of player he is. It was gritty, a little dirty, and all hustle. I hope this goal is the start of good things for Carcone, who along with Cole Cassels has really been playing well of late. Carcone has moved up and down the lineup this season but seems to have found a tailor-made role on Cassels’ wing on an energy line.
1st Star: Cole Cassels. For those of you following along at home, Cole has become a regular in the three stars section over the last three games. Cassels has found his niche on this team and he is starting to thrive in his role as the fourth line center. Cassels is taking a lot of defensive zone draws, whether it is his line on the ice or not. He goes out and wins the draw and heads to the bench to change up for the line’s regular middleman. Cassels now has one goal and four helpers on the season in 21 games. Cole’s best season offensively to date in Utica was last season when he put up just 11 points in 66 games. If things keep going the way they have been lately, the 22-year-old pivot may end up having a career season in points.
vs Toronto Marlies
Wednesday, December 20th, 2017
4:00 pm Pacific