Photo Credit: Cory Hergott

CanucksArmy Utica Comets Post-Game: Comets Make It Interesting In Dying Seconds But Lose 3-1 To Bruins

Utica Comets Post-Game Report

Game #32 | Friday, December 29th, 2017

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The 21st overall Utica Comets welcomed the second overall Providence Bruins back to town after they played to a 5-4 Bruins shootout win on Wednesday.

In their last 10 games, the Bruins had gone 8-2-0-0, while the Comets had gone 3-3-3-1 over the same span.

Austin Czarnik led the way for the Bruins with eight goals and 19 assists, good for 27 points in 24 games this season. Tommy Cross was their blue-line leader with three goals and eight assists, for 11 points in 30 games this season. Michael Chaput was the active points leader for the Comets with nine goals and seven assists, for 16 points in 23 games this season. Philip Holm was still the leader on the Comets back end with four goals and 10 assists, good for 14 points in 24 games.

The Bruins power-play sat 25th overall coming into today, with a 13.7% success rate, while their penalty-kill was 20th overall with a success rate of 81.1%. The Comets penalty-kill had moved up to eighth in the league with a success rate of 85.1%, while their power-play was sitting 13th overall, having converted on 17.7% of their opportunities with the extra man.

In three the previous games this season, Michael Carcone had two goals and one assist vs Providence. The gritty winger has been playing some of his best hockey of late.

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The injury bug has been biting away at the Comets all season, and last game it took another bite out of the Comets roster. Alexis D’Aoust and Joe LaBate, who both played on Wednesday would be unable to play today due to injury. Because of this, the Comets once again went PTO shopping and this time came up with one of their former players, along with a 28-year-old veteran of 134 AHL games.

First up is Marco Roy, the 23-year-old center who picked up six points over 23 games with Utica last season. You can read more about the Roy signing in the link below.

Next up was 28-year-old right winger Andrew Cherniwchan. Cherniwchan has played in 134 AHL games between the Springfield Falcons and Providence Bruins, picking up 17 goals and 19 assists, to give him 36 points to go along with 106 penalty minutes. You can read more about the Cherniwchan signing in the link below.

The Comets now have nine players on their roster who are on PTO deals…nine. Let that sink in. With LaBate and D’Aoust now injured, only captain Carter Bancks has played in all 32 games this season. This team has been decimated by injuries this season and the voice of the Comets, Andy Zilch sent out a couple of tweets to break down what is going on in the Comets infirmary.

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That is a lengthy list of injured players. One name that is noticeably absent from that list is Darren Archibald. We found out today that the big fella would be back in the lineup for today’s game, and not a moment too soon.

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With Archibald back, the Comets will once again have to keep an eye on their use of veteran players as Ben Birnell of the Utica Observer-Dispatch has pointed out.

The Comets currently have 11 players down with injuries and have now had 13 players signed to try-out deals this season. They have also used call-ups Mackenze Stewart, Anton Cederholm, and Danny Moynihan from Kalamazoo. Add to this using rookies Jalen Chatfield, Guillaume Brisebois, Zack MacEwen, Alexis D’Aoust, and Griffen Molino in some prominent roles and I would say that Trent Cull and his coaching staff are doing a tremendous job of keeping this team focused and competitive, even if they aren’t where we would like them to be in the standings.

Scratched today for the Comets were: Wacey Hamilton, (injured), Jaime Sifers, (injured), Yan-Pavel Laplante, (injured), Brendan Woods, (injured), Cam Darcy, (injured), Jayson Megna, (injured), Griffen Molino, (injured), Brady Brassart, (injured), Vincent Arseneau, (injured), Alexis D’Aoust, (injured), Joe LaBate, (injured), Evan McEneny, (injured), Cliff Watson, and Michael Chaput.

Comets Starting Lines

25 Darren Archibald (A) – 19 Cole Cassels – 58 Michael Carcone

39 Marco Roy – 34 Carter Bancks (C) – 27 Tony Cameranesi

44 Adam Comrie – 12 Danny Moynihan – 15 Zack MacEwen

22 David Dziurzynski – 82 Andrew Cherniwchan – 2 Anton Cederholm

6 Ashton Sautner (A) – 8 Dylan Blujus

28 Patrick Wiercioch – 5 Jalen Chatfield

52 Philip Holm – 55 Guillaume Brisebois

32 Richard Bachman

The first period was one of good news and bad news. The bad news was that the period was a complete dud. The good news was that it went by fairly quickly with neither team taking any penalties.

Darren Archibald was in the starting lineup and boy did he ever get a loud round of cheers from the home crowd when his name was announced. It was good to see the big man back in the lineup. He was wearing a full visor to protect his surgically repaired face. The Comets managed just seven shots on goal in the opening frame and Archibald had two of them.

The first four minutes went back and forth, without a whole lot happening until Connor Clifton went bar down on Bachman for his second goal of the season. The goal came at the 4:53 mark. Kenny Agostino earned his 13th assist of the season on the play, while Zach Senyshyn picked up his 10th.

Bruins netminder Jordan Binnington wasn’t busy, but he was good when he needed to be in the first. Archibald had a nice chance when he spun and fired a shot from the slot, but Binnington was there with the save. Moments later, Ashton Sautner fired a point shot on net and Binnington was ready with another stop. Sautner has played well this season for Utica and he found himself with an “A” on his jersey in the absence of Michael Chaput, who was a curious late scratch.

The Comets were looking pretty flat in the opening period, it may have been because there were so many new faces in the lineup. It may also have been because so many of those faces normally play in the ECHL. The ECHL guys have been playing well for the most part, but it is hard to replace the likes of Goldobin and Boucher for this team.

Richard Bachman was a little bit busier in the Utica net, and he made a few nice saves to keep the Comets within a goal. Jalen Chatfield was showing some great stick and body-work as he tied up a Bruin player on a two on one play and kept his opponent from getting a shot off while making sure not to end up in the box.

Defenseman Adam Comrie was once again playing as a winger in today’s game and he was throwing his body around in the offensive zone, landing more than one good hit. He is not the prettiest skater though. He kinda reminds me of Adam Cracknell with the way he skates.

Bruins defenseman Rob O’Gara got a couple of nice shots off in the final minutes of the period and Bachman stood tall, kicking one away with a pad save.

The action finally started to pick up a little in the final two and a half minutes with each team getting a good scoring chance, but neither would bury one.

The shot clock for the first period favored the Bruins by a count of 10-7.

The second period wasn’t a whole lot more exciting than the first. The Comets put up eight shots in the middle frame and Archibald, once again had two of them.

One bit of excitement did come early though when Michael Carcone blew up Emil Johansson along the boards for a big hit early in the period.

Ryan Fitzgerald nearly put the Bruins up by a pair when he broke in alone, but Bachman was there with a pad save. Cole Cassels and Darren Archibald had a nice chance when Cassels dished to Archibald, but Binnington was equal to the task.

Austin Czarnik took the puck end to end and wrang the puck off the iron and the crowd breathed a sigh of relief. Newcomer Andrew Cherniwchan showed some wheels as he flew through the neutral zone and took the puck into the Bruins end before having it picked off of his stick.

Chatfield was showing, once again that he can hammer a puck when he chooses to do so. I wish he would choose to do so more often. He had a nice point shot blast that Binnington turned aside, but I feel like the goals will start to come for Jalen if he keeps putting pucks on the net.

The Bruins were all over the Comets for a good two minutes in the middle part of the period, but the Comets were doing their best to keep the visitors to one goal.

Recent PTO signee David Dziurzynski is a physical dude. He dished out a few solid hits today.

Dylan Blujus would put the Comets down a man at the 11:11 mark when he was sent off for tripping. Archibald was out there for the kill and he did some nice work. The big man looked a little slower in the middle frame than he did in the first. Tony Cameranesi was also out on the kill, and once again showed that he may be worth a longer look after his PTO runs out. The Comets would kill the Blujus minor.

Just over five minutes later, Chatfield would put the Comets back on the kill when he was whistled for slashing. The Comets would get more solid work out of their PTO guys as Blujus and Cameransi were out there killing off the Chatfield minor. The Comets excellent penalty-kill would once again come out on top.

Bachman would make a big save off of Chris Porter in the final minute, but with just 9.2 seconds left on the clock, Czarnik would beat Bachman for a goal. The Comets contested the goal as the net was off its moorings, but after the video review, the refs decided the goal was good. It was goal number nine on the year for Czarnik, while Jordan Szwarz earned his eighth helper of the year on the play and Agostino picked up his 14th.

The shots in the middle frame favored the Bruins by a count of 13-8.

The third period started with Richard Bachman making a big save early as he came across the crease to make a save on a Matt Beleskey offering. Nice work Bacher.

Bachman was having a solid game today. It would be nice to see him get some results in the win column for his efforts.

Utica had some good pressure in the Bruins zone that all started with Chatfield and his effortless skating. The rookie blueliner blazed into the Bruins zone with the puck and the Comets were able to set up and get some good zone time, although it didn’t result in a goal.

Chatfield’s wheels and good stick work were once again on display moments later when a shot block in the Bruins end resulted in a Bruins break up the ice. Chatfield closed on the Bruins player like he was standing still and swept the puck off of his stick before he could get a shot away. Yes, folks, this young man can move on the ice.

The Comets fans were pretty unhappy with the reffing in this one and they made no bones about it, raining boos down on the officials often during the game.

Archibald looked to slow down a little as the game wore on, and I will give him a pass for that. He is coming off of facial surgery and I would imagine it may take him a few games to get back up to speed. Even though his game slowed a little, he was still showing that he wasn’t going to be a shrinking violet after his injury. Indeed, Archibald was dishing some solid hits in this one and didn’t shy away from any rough going. Not that I would expect anything less from number 25.

Utica would get their first power-play at the 8:57 mark when Adam Payerl was sent off for hooking. Philip Holm hammered a one-timer early but he hit iron. Trent Cull was using PTO players Cameranesi, Dziurzynski, and Blujus on the power-play. Once again, these players on try-out deals cannot complain about a lack of opportunity from the Comets. The Comets would be unable to convert on the man advantage.

Chatfield would show off his shot-blocking abilities in this one before it would end. The rookie blueliner continues to play a steady game. He isn’t spectacular out there, aside from his skating, but he is looking like he will become a reliable two-way defenseman who can transition the puck with a crisp pass or with his speedy feet.

Trent Cull showed some stones when he pulled Bachman with 4:30 left on the clock. He was fortunate that just 19 seconds later, Fitzgerald was whistled for slashing. The Comets would send out the who’s who of who are you on a power-play littered with players on tryout contracts and unsurprisingly, they would not score.

Bachman would stay on the bench as the power-play expired and the Comets would still have a six-on-five man advantage as the clock wound down. Utica would use its timeout with 1:23 left on the clock and at the 18:51 mark, Zack MacEwen took a Cassels pass, turned and fired the puck past Binnignton, high to the glove side. It was goal number three of the season for MacEwen. Cassels earned his seventh helper of the season to continue his hot play, while Philip Holm picked up his 11th.

Just over one minute later, Anton Blidh scored into the empty net to put the game away for the Bruins. The unassisted goal was number six of the season for Blidh.

That was it for the game in Utica.

I reached out to Ben Birnell of the Utica Observer-Dispatch following the game to get his feel for why Chaput didn’t play today. He said that Cull wouldn’t comment on Chaput post-game, but he did point out to me that Cull did say in a video on the team’s Facebook page that the team was “without 12 guys injured and three guys called up.” As far as I know, only Reid Boucher and Nikolay Goldobin are currently up with the Canucks. I think it might be fairly safe to say that we will be hearing about a Chaput callup very soon.

Today’s Official Boxscore

The Three Stars in the building today were:

3rd Star: Kenny Agostino. Two assists

2nd Star: Richard Bachman. 26 saves

1st Star: Connor Clifton. One goal.

CanucksArmy’s Three Stars

3rd Star: Cole Cassels. Cole picked up another assist today to give him seven on the season. Cassels has gone from the fourth line to the first line and he has been doing a solid job of keeping his head above water. The young center is proving to be someone that the coaching staff can count on. Cassels has been on a good run and the Comets will need that to continue if they want to stay competitive. Keep bringing what you bring Cole. The points are starting to come.

2nd Star: Jalen Chatfield. Chatfield was once again playing a calm and poised game. He just never seems to look rattled on the ice. His skating impresses me more with each game. He is just so fluid. He does need to use his shot more, but his passes are crisp and on the tape. He will still need to continue to develop his game in Utica, but he does look to have a good amount of promise to one day be a staple on the Canucks back end.

1st Star: Darren Archibald: The big fella played his first game since suffering a facial fracture. He was physical, he put five shots on net and he led by example out on the ice. It’s going to likely take him a few games to get back up to speed, but it is nice to see him back out there. The Comets have missed last season’s leading scorer while he was out, and with the injury list growing, (captain Carter Bancks missed a good portion of the third period today), and Chaput possibly on his way back to Vancouver, the Comets will be leaning heavily on the big man.

Comets Next Game

VS Syracuse Crunch

Saturday, December 30th, 2017

4:00 pm Pacific