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CanucksArmy Utica Comets Post-Game: Comets Get Big Games From Demko, Darcy, Goldobin, and Boucher to Drop Crunch 4-2

Utica Comets Post-Game Report

Game #42 | Saturday, January 20th, 2018

4:00 pm Pacific

Pre-Game

The sixth overall Syracuse Crunch were in town today to take on the 16th ranked Utica Comets. The two clubs had hooked up for five games already this season with the Crunch holding a three-games-to-two advantage in the season series, though one of those wins came in the shootout.

Just six points separated the two teams, with Syracuse coming into the day with 52 points to the Comets’ 46.

The Syracuse power-play was ranked 19th in the league, converting on 16.2% of their chances, while their penalty-kill sat sixth in the AHL, with an 85.8% success rate. The Comets’ power-play was sitting in 10th place with an 18.7% rate of success, while their penalty-kill sat ninth, having killed 85.2% of the penalties that they had faced.

Matthew Peca was the Crunch’s leading scorer with 31points in 41 games, while their blue-line was led by Jamie McBain with 19 points in 31 games played. Mathieu Joseph led the Syracuse rookie brigade with 26 points in 40 games this season.

Reid Boucher upped his team-leading totals to 35 points in 32 games with his goal yesterday. Boucher needs just three points to match his career high of 38 points in the AHL that he put up in the 2013/14 season with Albany. Philip Holm led the Comets blue-line with 20 points in 34 games. Zack MacEwen was the Comets rookie points leader with 20 points in 35 games played this season.

The Crunch were coming off a 4-1 loss to the Marlies, while the Comets lost 3-2 in overtime yesterday to the Wolf Pack on a Filip Chytil goal that was pretty clearly offside.

Syracuse had gone 8-1-1-0 over their previous 10 games, while the Comets had gone 6-2-1-1 over the same span. The Crunch had a record of 12-8-1-2 on the road this season, while the Comets had a home record of 7-9-2-2.

Coming into the day, Syracuse had outscored their opponents by a count of 136-109. The Comets were back to evens, having scored 117 times and given up the same.

I have had a lot of time in this space for Cole Cassels and Michael Carcone this season. Both players have impressed me with how they have stepped up in the absence of the Comets’ regular big guns for a good portion of this season. Well, it would seem that they have also caught the attention of Jeremy Davis of CanucksArmy. Jeremy has written a great piece, detailing the resurgence of Cassels, and he makes mention of Carcone as well. I invite you to give it a read, it’s worth your time as a Comets/Canucks fan.

After you have finished reading Jeremy’s piece on Cole Cassels, have a look at what he has to say about Comets’ rookie Zack MacEwen.

In other Comets’ news, Anton Cederholm has been dispatched to Kalamazoo. The Comets are getting healthier and so are the Canucks, which means that there could be more roster moves coming.

Bo Horvat will soon return to the Canucks lineup, which will likely push Michael Chaput out. Chaput requires waivers to come back to Utica, and while it isn’t likely that he would be claimed, one has to wonder if the Canucks are willing to risk it. Jake Virtanen and Brock Boeser are the only players on the Canucks roster that would not require waivers to be sent to Utica.

I think it is pretty safe to say that we won’t be seeing Brock in Utica, Jake, however, is a different story. While I don’t think it’s likely that Jake is the one sent down, I do think it is possible. The Canucks can say that they want Jake to work on his game a little more in Utica and bring him back up after the trade deadline when there may be fewer bodies on the Vancouver roster. We will know the answers to these questions soon enough.

Scratched today for the Comets were: Carter Bancks, (injured), Yan-Pavel Laplante, (injured), Jaime Sifers, (injured), Jayson Megna, (injured), Joe LaBate, (injured), Griffen Molino, (injured), Brendan Woods, (injured), Alexis D’Aoust, (injured), Evan McEneny, (injured), Danny Moynihan, Vincent Arseneau, and Brady Brassart.

Comets Starting Lines

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

24 Reid Boucher (A) – 11 Cam Darcy – 77 Nikolay Goldobin

22 David Dziurzynski – 36 Wacey Hamilton (A) – 15 Zack MacEwen

44 Adam Comrie – 27 Tony Cameranesi – 82 Andrew Cherniwchan

28 Patrick Wiercioch – 5 Jalen Chatfield

52 Philip Holm – 55 Guillaume Brisebois

6 Ashton Sauter – 8 Dylan Blujus

30 Thatcher Demko

First Period

This period was all Syracuse early, and all Utica late. Carter Verhaeghe was the first player to make something happen when he broke in with speed, taking a pass and getting a shot off from the faceoff circle, but All-Star goalie Thatcher Demko was ready with the save.

Comets’ rookie Zack MacEwen continued his strong play, getting a spinning shot away, but it was tipped wide. Defenseman-turned-forward, Adam Comrie was showing that he had more to his game than just a big shot when he made a nice defensive play in the Comets’ end and turned around to take it down the ice and out of harm’s way.

The Crunch were living up to their name in the early going, playing a heavy, physical game.

Dominik Masin had a nice shot turned aside by Demko. Thatcher wasn’t busy in the first period, by his standards anyway, but he was sharp. He made another nice save off a scramble beside his net to keep the game scoreless.

Guillaume Brisebois blocked a shot and the rookie defenseman felt it. He was able to skate it off and stay in the game.

David Dziurzynski came over the Crunch blue-line and unloaded with a clapper, but Connor Ingram turned it aside.

Carter Verhaeghe had a collision in front of the Comets net, and the forward had to leave the game, but he would be back.

Philip Holm was whistled for interference at the 6:43 mark and the Comets penalty-kill got down to work. Verhaeghe was back out for the power-play, so he didn’t miss much time.

The Comets PK kept the Crunch to just one shot on the power-play.

Boucher, Darcy and Goldobin were having a quiet period, but we would be hearing from the trio before this game would wrap up.

Reid McNeill was sent off for tripping at the 10:25 mark and the Comets would have their first power-play of the day. Thatcher Demko would have to make a shorthanded save and the Comets would go 0-1 on the power-play.

Zack MacEwen made a nice play, getting the puck to Hamilton in front of the net, a scramble ensued and Sautner ended up getting a shot away, but Ingram was ready with a save and he froze the puck.

The fourth line of Comrie, Cameranesi, and Cherniwchan had a nice shift in the Crunch zone, but they were unable to get anything to go.

Demko was up next, first stopping Anthony Cirelli, and then whipping out the mitt on a Yan Dennis offering.

Reid Boucher would put the Comets up 1-0 at the 16:58 mark with one of his patented one-knee-one-timers. The goal was Reid’s 19th of the season. Nikolay Goldobin was the set-up man for his 16th assist of the season, and Thatcher Demko picked up his first helper of the year with the stretch pass to Goldy.

The Two teams would go back and forth for the remainder of the period with the Crunch showing an 11-7 advantage on the shot clock.

Second Period

This second period was a beauty. The Comets got an early power-play when Matthew Peca was whistled for holding the stick at the 2:00-minute mark.

It took Darren Archibald just 50 seconds to put the Comets up 2-0. Goldobin took a shot that was tipped by Cam Darcy. The Darcy tip bounced off the post and Archibald pounced on the rebound. It was goal number six for Archibald. Cam Darcy picked up his 12th assist of the season on the play, while Goldobin earned his 17th.

Mathieu Joseph was looking to get his team back into this one with a shot that Demko stopped and froze for the whistle.

The line of Goldobin, Darcy, and Boucher were not nearly as quiet in this period as they were to start the first. Goldobin sent a pass to Boucher, who connected with Darcy, but his shot was tipped wide.

Jalen Chatfield would send the Comets to the penalty-kill at the 5:14 mark when he was sent off for high-sticking. It would take the Crunch less than 30 seconds to get within a goal. Jonne Tammela picked up his second goal of the season, while Michael Bournival earned his 14th helper of the season on the play. Jamie McBain was awarded the other assist, his 15th of the season.

The duo of Cassels and Carcone kept up their energetic game. Cassels broke into the Crunch zone with speed and sent a shot on net. Carcone came in hot looking for some garbage, the puck was covered by Ingram but still ended up in the net. The officials quickly indicated no goal. I would imagine that Ingram will be aware of Carcone when he’s on the ice going forward.

Thatcher Demko made a nice save on a sneaky, odd angle shot from Dennis Yan.

Jalen Chatfield is growing his game in Utica. He is making more good offensive reads of late, and I feel like a getting his first goal is only a matter of time.

Goldobin and Boucher started looking dangerous, getting back-to-back chances. First, it was Goldobin to Boucher for a shot that didn’t go, followed up by Goldobin dishing to Boucher, Boucher to Darcy, and Darcy sent his shot wide.

Adam Comrie and Daniel Walcott made acquaintances after a whistle with some pushing and shoving, but cooler heads would prevail.

This game started to get pretty physical with David Dziurzynski absolutely crumpling Mat Bodie behind the Crunch net, followed up by Cole Cassels crushing McBain. The crowd was enjoying the rattling boards.

Reid Boucher would grab a share of the league lead in goals when he ripped his 20th of the season past Ingram. Cam Darcy picked up his 13th assist of the year on the play. Philip Holm picked up the other assist, his 13th as well.

Just over two minutes later, it was Darcy’s turn, picking up his second goal of the season to put the Comets up 4-1. Ashton Sautner earned his eighth assist of the season on the play, while Goldobin picked up his 18th. Goldobin and Darcy each had three-point games today.

Demko would make another big save as the period wound down and the Comets would finish the period with a 15-11 advantage on the shot clock

Third Period

Wow, what a third period of hockey.

Syracuse swapped their goalie for the third period, leaving Ingram on the bench in favour of Nick Riopel. Riopel would not be busy.

The Crunch made quick work of getting back into this one, scoring just 29 seconds into the final frame. Michael Bournnival beat Demko for his 13th of the season after a scramble. Anthony Cirelli earned his 19th assist of the season on the play, while Alex Gallant grabbed his second.

This period was all Syracuse. Demko was busy early and often, but hey, this is Thatcher Demko that we are talking about. The kid who has rabid fans in Vancouver calling for him to come up and get a sniff, heck, some even want to hand him the reins right now.

Chill folks, let’s let this young man continue to improve and possibly dominate the AHL this year. These pesky Comets may just make the playoffs and make some noise when they get there.

Demko made back-to-back saves off of Jamie McBain, who had six shots for the day, none of which would get past Demko.

Cam Darcy was whistled for tripping at the 4:46 mark, and to make matters worse, Andrew Cherniwchan was sent off for a high-stick just one minute later. No big deal though, because…Demko. To be fair, it wasn’t all Demko as the Comets penalty-killers were doing great work to keep the shots down and clearing them as quickly as they could.  The Comets would escape the back-to-back penalties and get back to even.

Demko had a scrum break out around his net and the net ended up being dumped on top of him. This did not make for a happy Demko, as the netminder got up and gave the officials an earful.

Carter Verhaeghe, who has been dangerous in this season series, got a quick shot off, but Demko was quicker. Next up was Jonne Tammela who had his big one-timer stopped, and his dreams crushed by Demko.

The Comets would find themselves shorthanded again at the 10:57 mark when Dylan Blujus was sent off for hooking. The Comets’ kill would do what they do best and they killed the Blujus minor.

With 5:40 left on the clock, the shot clock for the period favoured Syracuse by a staggering count of 16-2…but…Demko. Are you starting to sense a theme?

Darren Archibald had removed the full-face bubble from his helmet before this game and replaced it with a normal half visor. I was a little concerned that he had taken it off a little early, but that didn’t appear to be Archibald’s opinion.

The big fella was laying the body in the third as Syracuse tried to up the physical play. He had two big, back-to-back hits in the Crunch zone and the crowd went wild with chants of “Archie…Archie.” We would hear more from Archibald before this one ended.

Patrick Wiercioch let fly with a point shot but saw it tipped wide. The Comets were starting to get some pressure, even if they weren’t getting shots on net.

Syracuse would pull the goalie with 1:20 left and call their timeout. With the net empty, Wacey Hamilton took a shot at the yawning cage but put it wide.

Demko made yet another save off of the stick of McBain and then all hell broke loose. A brouhaha erupted behind Demko’s net and that’s when we would hear from Archibald again. Mathieu Joseph made the unfortunate decision to throw down with Archibald and “The Gooch” beat the taste out of his mouth. Archbald is a bad…bad man.

This game would end with more shenanigans between Alex Gallant and Andrew Cherniwchan to lead to a penalty list that would give me carpal tunnel if I were to type it out. I will leave the boxscore below for you to decipher.

The Crunch finished with a 20-2 advantage in shots for the period and a 42-24 advantage for the game…but…Demko.

Today’s Official Boxscore

The Three Stars in the building today were:

3rd Star: Thatcher Demko. 40 saves.

2nd Star: Reid Boucher. Two goals.

1st Star: Cam Darcy. One goal, two assists.

CanucksArmy’s Three Stars

3rd Star: Reid Boucher. Boucher and his line started slowly today, but they more than made up for it. Boucher scored goals number 19 and 20 today to give him a share of first overall in goals in the AHL. He is now just one point back of his career high of 38 and he has only played in 33 games this season with the Comets.

2nd Star: Nikolay Goldobin/Cam Darcy. The other two members of the line that Boucher plays on each picked up three points today. Goldobin has been back with the Comets for four games and has picked up six assists and has scored a shootout-winning goal. He has also played well on the other side of the puck.

Darcy, for his part, joined this team at the start of the season on a PTO and has since earned an AHL deal. He has now played in 27 games and has picked up two goals and 13 assists, for 15 points and has become a top-six centerman on the team in the absence of Chaput and Bancks.

1st Star: Thatcher Demko. Let’s be serious here. This second-year pro put up another 40 save effort today, the kind of effort that has become routine for him this season in Utica. He also picked up his first assist of the season on the first Boucher goal. Thatcher keeps getting it done in Utica. It is exciting to be able to watch him grow into the future between the pipes in Vancouver.

Next Game

VS Hartford Wolf Pack

Wednesday, January 24th, 2018

4:00 pm Pacific