Utica Comets Post-Game Report
Game #33 | Saturday, December 30th, 2017
As this is my final post-game report of 2017, I would like to thank any and all of you who have taken the time to read what I write in this space. I am a rookie at this sort of thing, but I have been enjoying the whole process of covering the Utica Comets for the readers of CanucksArmy. And big thanks to JD Burke for bringing me on board.
The 21st overall Comets hit the road today to play the 14th place Syracuse Crunch for their final game of 2017. Only three points separated the two teams before puck drop. Syracuse was coming off of a 5-4 win over the Toronto Marlies, while the Comets lost 3-1 to the Providence Bruins yesterday. Utica had gone 3-3-3-1 over their previous 10 games, while the Crunch had gone 7-3-0-0 over the same span.
Defenseman Philip Holm jumped to the top of the points heap in Utica after Michael Chaput was recalled to Vancouver. More on Chaput in a minute. Holm had 15 points in 25 games going into today, while rookie Zack MacEwen was the points leader amongst active forwards with 14 in 27 games. Matthew Peca was the points leader in Syracuse with 25 in 31 games, while their blue-line was led by Jamie McBain with 15 in 29 games played.
So far this season, the Comets have been outscored by a margin of 99-88, while the Crunch had outscored their opponents by a count of 105-93.
As I mentioned in my last post-game report, the Comets have been overwhelmed with injuries, and they lost another player to injury yesterday as captain Carter Bancks did not finish the game. Ben Birnell of the Utica Observer-Dispatch asked Trent Cull about the Bancks situation but got no update.
Bancks was the last Comets player to appear in every game this season.
Archibald, Carcone only healthy forwards from opening game this season.
— O-D Comets (@OD_Comets) December 30, 2017
When Michael Chaput was a healthy scratch yesterday, I, as well as a few others speculated that he might be heading back up to Vancouver. The Comets confirmed the news today and Ryan Biech of CanucksArmy filled us in on what this means for Chaput’s waiver status going forward. Thanks, Ryan.
Canucks recall F Michael Chaput from Utica https://t.co/qok7mj7aJL
— CanucksArmy (@CanucksArmy) December 30, 2017
Scratched today for Utica 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), Alexis D’Aoust, (injured), Evan McEneny, (injured), Joe LaBate, (injured), and Cliff Watson
Comets Starting Lines
25 Darren Archibald (A) – 19 Cole Cassels (A) – 58 Michael Carcone
44 Adam Comrie – 27 Tony Cameranesi – 15 Zack MacEwen
39 Marco Roy – 82 Andrew Cherniwchan – 18 Vincent Arseneau
22 David Dziurzynski – 12 Moynihan – 2 Anton Cederholm
52 Philip Holm – 55 Guillaume Brisebois
6 Ashton Sautner (A) – 8 Dylan Blujus
28 Patrick Wiercioch – 5 Jalen Chatfield
30 Thatcher Demko
With captain Carter Bancks sitting this game out with an injury, the Comets went with three “A”s today instead of the usual two. Darren Archibald and Ashton Sautner both wore “A”s yesterday and did so as well today. It was nice to see Cole Cassels rewarded for his excellent play of late wearing the other. Cassels has really stepped up his game in the last few weeks and it is nice to see that it is being noticed by his coaching staff.
Yesterday I was calling for Jalen Chatfield to put more pucks on net and he did so early today, putting a nice point shot on Crunch netminder Connor Ingram, but the puck-stopper made the save.
Thatcher Demko was busy in the first, facing a total of 17 shots. One of those shot went off the crossbar and dropped onto the goal line, but the big netminder smothered it to stop play.
Michael Carcone and Cole Cassels were back at it today as well. Playing on the first line with Darren Archibald, two-thirds of Trent Cull’s former “Kid-Line” were looking dangerous again early. Carcone dished to Cassels and the centerman fired a shot on net but Ingram was ready with another save.
Syracuse thought they had scored in the middle of the period but the goal was called off as it was knocked in with a high stick.
They would score shortly after though as Alexander Volkov picked up his seventh of the season, beating Demko low to the glove side. Carter Verhaeghe earned his 13th assist of the season, while Reid McNeill was awarded his fifth.
Less than a minute after the goal, Archibald was sent off for tripping. The Comets penalty-kill went to work and did what they have been doing for a good portion of the season and they killed the Archibald minor. Andrew Cherniwchan sent Tony Cameranesi in for a shorthanded chance but Cameranesi’s one-timer was stopped by Ingram.
Cherniwchan had a chance of his own with the teams back at even, but his shot was also turned aside by Ingram.
Demko was sharp in the first period, making back-to-back saves off of the stick of Erik Cernak.
Michael Carcone continued his hot streak when he beat Ingram for his seventh goal of the season. The Carcone train just keeps on chugging down the tracks. The goal was scored on a nice play that featured a Guillaume Brisebois stretch pass to Archibald who then dished to Carcone, who buried it. For Archibald, it was assist number four of the season, while Brisebois earned his fifth.
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) December 31, 2017
Demko was being Demko again and came up with another big save following the Carcone goal. Thatcher always seems to make that big save when he needs to.
Vincent Arseneau was having another physical game for Utica today. The winger was really throwing his body around.
Demko had to make another big save late when Kevin Lynch broke in from right to left and Thatcher stayed with him to make the save. Much to the chagrin of Lynch, who was convinced that he scored.
The period would end with the shot clock showing a staggering 17-6 advantage for Syracuse.
Demko was quite as busy in the middle frame, but he did make some big saves. He had already made a big save on a redirected puck, and then he did….this.
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) December 31, 2017
Guillaume Brisebois was using his wheels in this one. He went end to end with ease, but couldn’t find a play to set up for a shot.
The Comets couldn’t get anything going early. It took more than seven minutes for them to get their first shot of the period. When they did get their first shot, it was Sautner, Blujus, and Cameranesi who would try to work a net-front redirect play, but they couldn’t beat Ingram.
Vincent Arseneau was once again throwing his body around. This guy likes to rattle the boards. I would imagine that the Crunch defensemen had their heads on swivels when he was out there.
The Comets would head to the penalty-kill at the 10:34 mark when David Dziurzynski was sent off for boarding. Less than a minute later, Erik Condra would be sent off for hooking and the teams would play four aside for 1:24. Demko had to make a big save on a Mathieu Joseph one-timer, and then made a splits-save on a tipped shot right after. Demko was earning his pay today for Utica. Next up was a save on a give-and-go between Carter Verhaeghe and Dominik Masin.
New/old Comet, Marco Roy put the Comets up 2-1 at the 14:15 mark when he beat Ingram low on the glove side. It was Roy’s first goal of the season with the Comets in his second game. Jalen Chatfield picked up the lone assist, his third of the season.
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) December 31, 2017
The crowd showed that there were some Comets fans in town when a “Let’s Go Comets” chant broke out after the Roy marker.
The two teams would trade chances as the clock wound down, but the period would end with the Comets up 2-1 on the scoreboard and the Crunch showing a 9-6 advantage on the shot clock.
The third period would get underway and would see Dylan Blujus get danced by Matthew Peca, only to be thwarted once again by Demko. This would be another lopsided period on the shot clock as the Crunch would put up 12 shots to Utica’s four in the third frame.
Remeber how I have told you how much Arseneau likes to hit? Well, that caught up with him when he took a boarding penalty just 2:29 into the third period. The Comets would kill the Arseneau minor, just as they had killed the previous 23 penalties that they had taken. Not bad considering a good portion of the players used on those penalty-kills were playing on tryout deals.
Alexander Volkov would score his second of the game and eighth goal of the season when he wired a shot past Demko at the 5:28 mark. Mathieu Joseph would pick up his 14th helper of the year on the play, while Anthony Cirelli earned his 16th.
Roughly 30 seconds after the Volkov goal, Marco Roy got a fighting lesson from Daniel Walcott. Marco might want to stick to goal scoring as Walcott made quick work of him and got the takedown.
Chatfield was showing his good defensive play again, to go along with those wheels of his when he broke up a scoring chance in his own end and skated the puck out of harm’s way up the ice.
Demko had his share of shots in the third and he made some nice saves off of Joseph and Verhaeghe, as well as making a save off of a wide open Cernak who had a puck squirt out to him in the slot to get a shot off.
Zack MacEwen reminded the opposition to keep their heads up when he is on the ice when he crushed Macin in the defensive zone with an open-ice hit. The big fella can drop a dude when he wants to.
Once again, Thatcher Demko was showing why Canucks fans are so excited about him. He was playing big and keeping his team in the game while being heavily outshot. This kid looks to be the real deal, and as long as the team, and fans, are patient with his development, I think he will reward them a for all of that excitement and patience.
The newly formed line of Cassels between Archibald and Carcone looks to be something worth keeping together long term if/when this team gets healthy. The trio looks to be working well together. Carcone set up Archibald in the slot for a backhand chance, but Ingram whipped out the mitt and made the save.
MacEwen must be missing the days when he was riding shotgun with Boucher and Chaput. He charged up the ice with the puck and rushed the front of the net where he left the puck for…..Adam Comrie of all people. In fairness to Comrie, he is a defenseman who is being played out of position as a winger. I can’t help but wonder how that play may have worked out with one of Boucher or Chaput on the receiving end of the MacEwen play.
Dennis Yan was sent off for elbowing at the 16:46 mark when he decked Cole Cassels in front of the Crunch net. The power-play is another area where this team is missing Boucher, Goldobin, and Chaput. When you are rolling out Arseneau, Cameranesi, and Comrie all on the same unit, it just doesn’t carry the same weight. The Crunch would kill the Yan minor.
The Yan penalty had barely expired and Archibald took a seat for a high-sticking penalty. The Comets would kill off the third period a man down and this game would be heading to overtime. The third period shot clock showed a 12-4 advantage for Syracuse. The Comets found themselves on the wrong side of a 41-17 total on the shot clock for the game.
The Comets would be outshot 3-1 in the extra frame, and it would solve nothing and we were off to the shootout.
The shootout would take 11 shooters aside to decide the game, and it was the Crunch who came out on top. Utica got shootout goals from Archibald, Holm, and Cassels, but today was not their day for a win.
That was it in Syracuse for the Comets final game of 2017. I wish for the Comets to have a healthier roster in the new year so that this team can show us what they can do with their full complement of players. We have seen that they have players who can step into bigger roles, so with a healthy roster, it’s possible that we could see this team squeak into the playoffs, and I feel like they could be sneaky good if they do so.
The Three Stars in the Building today were:
3rd Star: Ben Thomas. Shootout winner.
2nd Star: Thatcher Demko. 39 saves.
1st Star: Alexander Volkov. Two goals.
CanucksArmy’s Three Stars
3rd Star: Darren Archibald. Archibald picked up an assist and scored a goal in the shootout. He played an in your face, physical game and looked like he kept his pace up for the whole game today. Archibald can really manhandle players on the ice. It’s quite something to watch him fling a grown man across the ice as though he weighed 12 pounds. It is good to have Archibald back in the lineup.
2nd Star: Michael Carcone. Carcone picked up his seventh goal and 10th point today. That puts him two goals ahead of what he had in 61 games in Utica last season, and only eight points off of his career high of 18. All of this in 25 games this season bouncing from being a “fourth line energy guy” to a power-play and penalty-killing, first liner. I always seem to come away impressed by Carcone.
1st Star: Thatcher Demko. Thatcher made 39 saves today and many of them were on “Grade A” chances. He was once again, calm and poised in the net and he kept his game simple. He doesn’t seem to have to search for pucks very often as he is tracking them well. He gives this Comets team a chance to win every night and that’s all you can ask, but that isn’t all you get from Demko. You also get a calming influence on a young team, from a young player. I am enjoying watching Thatcher develop this year in Utica and I look forward to the day when he takes the reigns in Vancouver.
I would like to wish those of you who are reading this a safe, and happy New Years. See you in 2018.
VS Laval Rocket
Friday, January 5th, 2018
4:00 pm Pacific