Photo Credit: Cory Hergott

CanucksArmy Utica Comets Post-Game: Failure To Launch. Comets Drop Rocket 5-1 For 3rd Straight Win.

Utica Comets Post-Game Report

Game #36 | Wednesday, January 10th, 2018

The 21st overall Utica Comets rolled into Laval today to take on the 25th ranked Rocket. The two teams last played on Friday in a game that the Comets won 5-2.

The Comets 11th ranked power-play would have a chance to make hay today against the Rocket’s 28th ranked penalty-kill. The Rocket’s power-play was ranked 14th overall, while the Comets were sporting the league’s seventh-best penalty-kill.

The Comets are thrilled to have their leading scorer, Reid Boucher and his 29 points in 26 games back in their lineup. The Comets blue-line was led in points by Philip Holm with 18 points in 28 games. Zack MacEwen was the Comets rookie points leader with 16 in 30 games this season. The injured Joe LaBate was the Comets penalty minute leader with 78 minutes spent in the box.

The Rocket were led up front by Chris Terry with 40 points in 35 games played. Defenseman Matt Taormina was the blue-line leader for Laval with 29 points in 38 games. Their rookie crew were led by Niki Petti with 11 points in 35 games. The penalty minute leader for Laval was Michael McCarron with 51 minutes accumulated.

The Comets were coming off of a 5-1 win over Hartford and had gone 5-2-1-2 over their last 10 games. The Rocket, meanwhile, were coming off of a 3-1 win over Binghamton and had gone 5-4-1-0 over their previous 10 contests.

The Comets had started to close the gap on their goals for differential, having been outscored 105-100 by their opponents this season. The Rocket, for their part, had given up 132 goals this season, while scoring 114 goals of their own.

With the return of Reid Boucher and a reasonably healthy blue-line, the Comets announced this week that they had ended defenseman turned forward, Cliff Watson’s tryout with the team. Watson will head back to the ECHL where he was named to the All-Star Game.

Scratched today for the Comets were: Wacey Hamilton, (injured), Cam Darcy, (injured), Jayson Megna, (injured), Yan-Pavel Laplante, (injured), Jaime Sifers, (injured), Evan McEneny, (injured), Griffen Molino, (injured), Brady Brassart, (injured), Joe LaBate, (injured), Alexis D’Aoust, (injured), Carter Bancks, (injured), Brendan Woods, (injured), and Anton Cederholm.

Comets Starting Lines

24 Reid Boucher – 27 Tony Cameranesi – 15 Zack MacEwen

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

44 Adam Comrie – 82 Andrew Cherniwchan – 22 David Dziurzynski

18 Vincent Arseneau – 12 Danny Moynihan – 39 Marco Roy

6 Ashton Sautner – 8 Dylan Blujus

28 Patrick Wiercioch – 5 Jalen Chatfield

52 Philip Holm – 55 Guillaume Brisebois

30 Thatcher Demko

The Comets had a great early shift from the Cassels line, which resulted in extended time in the offensive zone before Philip Holm got a point shot off that Rocket goaltender Michael McNiven was forced to stop.

The first couple of minutes were all Comets in this one, and the next couple belonged to the Rocket.

Neither team had many shots early, with each team only having three in the first seven minutes.

The Reid Boucher, Tony Cameranesi combo had their moments early, one of which led to a Dylan Blujus chance. Once again, McNiven got a pad on the shot to make the save.

The Rocket would go up 1-0 at the 7:12 mark when Chris Terry sent a shot past Demko, low to the glove side. The goal was Terry’s 19th of the season. Nikita Scherback picked up his 16th assist on the play, while former Canuck, Adam Cracknell picked up his eighth. I believe Cracknell has points in each game that he has played against Utica this season.

The Laval lead would not last long though, as Marco Roy would score his second of the season just over a minute after the Terry marker. Roy tipped in a Guillaume Brisebois point shot to tie the game at one. Brisebois earned his sixth assist of the season on the play, while Vincent Arseneau picked up his first helper with the Comets.

Just over a minute later, Simon Bourque would be whistled for holding to send the Comets to the power-play. Just 11 seconds later, Philip Holm ripped a point shot past McNiven to put the Comets up by a pair. The power-play marker was Holm’s seventh goal of the season and 10th point with the man advantage. Reid Boucher earned his 14th helper of the season on the play, his 13th power-play point. Cole Cassels earned the other assist, his 10th of the season.

Thatcher Demko made a nice save off of the stick of Cracknell shortly after the Holm goal. Demko wasn’t super busy in the first period, but he was steady as always.

Vincent Arseneau was showing his feisty side again when he crushed Brett Lernout with a hit in the offensive zone. Arseneau brings a physical element that the Comets could use.

Philip Holm was showing his wheels again as he pinched in to keep a puck in the Laval zone which led to a scoring chance by Andrew Cherniwchan.

Dylan Blujus was showing well again in this one, keeping a puck in at the line and getting a shot off that led to some good Comets pressure in the Laval zone.

Yannick Veilleux was whistled for boarding at the 17:24 mark and by the 17:34 mark, the Comets were up 3-1. This time it was Adam Comrie with the quick power-play marker, his second goal with the Comets this season. Patrick Wiercioch earned his eighth helper of the year on the play, while Dylan Blujus picked up his fifth.

The period would wind down with Ashton Sautner being sent off for boarding at the 17:48 mark. The Comets would kill off the minor and finish the period with a 14-9 advantage on the shot clock.

The second period would start with the Comets adding to their lead. Andrew Cherniwchan picked up his second goal with the Comets when he caught Michael McNiven making a mistake and he took advantage to put the Comets up 4-1. Jalen Chatfield earned his fifth assist of the season on the play, while David Dziurzynski picked up his second.

Not long after the goal, Boucher nearly capitalized on a turnover in the Laval end, but his backhander was turned aside by McNiven.

The Comets defensemen have done a good job of putting up points this season, which is something that the parent Canucks could use as well. Philip Holm, Jalen Chatfield, Guillaume Brisebois, Patrick Wiercioch, and Dylan Blujus all picked up points on the first four goals of this game. Adam Comrie, who is a defenseman playing as a forward also had a point.

Thatcher Demko was busier in the second frame than he was in the first, facing 16 shots over the course of the period. He was doing a good job of swallowing up pucks to ensure there weren’t a lot of rebounds for his defensemen to deal with.

Demko was also playing the puck well today…for the most part. We would see some less than great puck handling later in the period.

Philip Holm showed his wheels again when he skated a puck down low into the Laval end before setting up David Dziurzynski for a one-timer that the winger sent wide.

Boucher showed a quick step as well when he broke in for a scoring chance, but he too shot the puck wide.

The Rocket started to pour it on, getting good pressure, but they were sending a lot of pucks wide of the net. The ones they did put on net were quickly swallowed up or smothered by Demko.

Marco Roy would be whistled for slashing at the 15:31 mark and the Comets would head to the penalty-kill. Nikita Scherback had a shot go through Demko’s legs, only to see it squirt out the other side and wide of the net.

Demko showed some less than great puck skills when he fired a puck over the glass while trying to clear it out of the zone. Michael Carcone would serve the Demko delay of game penalty and join Roy in the box to see the Rocket with a two-man advantage for 13 seconds.

Jalen Chatfield showed his blazing speed again in the dying seconds of the period when Chris Terry looked to have a step on him for a clear break to Demko. Chatfield closed on Terry and poked the puck off of his stick before he could get a shot off.

The Comets would kill off both penalties to finish the period up 4-1. The second-period shot clock showed Laval with a 16-6 advantage for the middle frame.

The third period kicked off with David Dziurzynski nearly banking a puck in off of McNiven. The Laval netminder certainly had his shaky moments during this game.

Thatcher Demko, however, was not shaky. Eric Gelinas has an absolute bomb of a shot and he sent five of those bombs Demko’s way in this game, but the big second-year netminder turned all five of them aside.

The Rocket were really taking it to the Comets in the first five minutes of the third period, but Demko was doing his best to keep them at bay.

The Boucher, Cameranesi, MacEwen line was doing some excellent work in the Laval zone, getting some extra time which ultimately led to Reid Boucher drawing a hooking penalty on Gelinas at the 6:29 mark.

Michael Carcone had a nice chance, but it was turned aside by McNiven. Philip Holm had some trouble in his own end when the 6’6″, 230lbs giant, Michael McCarron, had him tied up on the boards and killed off some of the Comets power-play time.

Tony Cameranesi was having another solid outing today. He had a nice chance on the power-play that was turned aside. He has some decent wheels and can skate his way into some scoring chances.

Zack MacEwen was whistled for holding the stick at the 8:18 mark and the Comets penalty-kill got down to work. Demko made an alert save with his shoulder off of the red-hot stick of Chris Terry during the kill.

Jalen Chatfield was showing some great defensive zone awareness in this one. He has his head on a swivel in his own end and always seems to be looking for the next play to set up or to shut down.

MacEwen was showing that while he may not be the most graceful skater, he can still move out on the ice. The big fella charged down the right side at a pretty good clip, pulling off a sweet toe-drag that would make Bo Horvat proud, only to be dumped in the corner by Cracknell. The former Canuck did not look happy about being down 4-1.

Cracknell and MacEwen would both be sent off, MacEwen for cross-checking, and Cracknell for slashing. With the two teams playing with four skaters aside, Daniel Audette flew down the wing on Demko’s right and got a quick shot off. Demko covered up the puck and a scrum ensued. Cassels and Audette were jawing at each other pretty good, but it would be Audette who would be sent to the box for roughing.

Boucher ripped a shot on net during the power-play, but McNiven flashed the leather to make the save.

Chris Terry was looking for a chance at a shorthanded goal as he skated into the Comets’ zone, but Darren Archibald had other ideas. Archibald absolutely blew up Terry with a clean, crushing hit along the boards. What remained of Terry was seen being helped down the tunnel to the room.

With the Comets still on the power-play, Cole Cassels continued his strong play when he picked up his third goal of the season. Cassels doesn’t normally see much time on the power-play when this team is healthy, so it is nice to see him taking advantage of his opportunities. Patrick Wiercioch was awarded his ninth helper of the season on the play, while Adam Comrie earned his third.

Comrie, who is normally a defenseman, has played in six games this season for Utica, all as a forward, and he has a goal and an assist for his efforts.

David Broll wasn’t a fan of being down 5-1, and he showed it by mouthing off from the bench. The officials decided that they had heard enough, and at the 17:21 mark, Broll was issued a 10-minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to ensure that he would be hitting the showers ahead of his teammates.

At the 18:52 mark, a scrum broke out between Brisebois and Cracknell. More players started to join the fray and before long we would hear another gem from the mouth of Andy Zilch. Zilch caught sight of Brett Lernout waving his stick around at Brisebois, and the voice of the Comets said, “Lernout is skating around like he’s going to use his stick as a weapon…seriously…Dr. Hook.” Zilch has been known to come out with some great lines this season, and can often be one of the more enjoyable parts of watching a Comets game.

Brisebois would somehow be the only player assessed a penalty after the mele when he was sent off for slashing.

Demko would be forced into making one more save off of the stick of Gelinas, but that was it in Laval. The Comets finished the game with a 5-1 win, though they were outshot by a count of 37-30.

Today’s Official Boxscore

The Three Stars in the building today were:

3rd Star: Marco Roy. One goal.

2nd Star: Philip Holm. One goal.

1st Star: Thatcher Demko. 36 saves

CanucksArmy’s Three Stars

3rd Star: Philip Holm. Holm finished the game today having picked up his seventh goal of the season. The goal was his 10th point on the power-play this season. Holm is adjusting well to the North American game and there are fans and media in Vancouver calling for him to be called up so they can see what he can do at the NHL level. I would imagine it would take the trades of two defensemen before we see that happen. Either that or a trade and an injury. Either way, when Holm does get his chance, I believe that he will show well, after a period of adjustment to the NHL game.

2nd Star: Cole Cassels. 11 points. That is what Cole Cassels had after playing in 66 games with the Comets last season. He now has 13 after a two-point effort in his 30th game this season. Cassels is making hay while he is getting his chance. It may not sound impressive, 13 points in 30 games, but Cassels has been more than pulling his share of the weight in Utica this season.

1st Star: Thatcher Demko: Ho-hum, another 36 save effort from the number-one goalie in Utica this season. Demko was sharp, especially in the middle frame when the Comets were outshot 16-6. Thatcher just continues to impress in Utica. There are also some fans in Vancouver wondering if the Canucks should call Demko up. That would be a hard pass for me, at least right now. Demko is doing excellent work in Utica, but he is also still growing his game and getting comfortable with the workload of a number one goalie at the pro level. People need to be patient with Thatcher, he will be in Vancouver soon enough. Give him a cup of coffee with the big club down the stretch for a game or three..unless he is busy taking the Comets to the playoffs.

Comets Next Game

VS Syracuse Crunch

Friday, January 12th, 2018

4:00 pm Pacific