Utica Comets Post-Game Report
Game #50 | Wednesday, February 14th, 2018
4:00 pm Pacific
The ninth-place Syracuse Crunch, (Tampa Bay affiliate), rolled into Utica today to take on the seventh overall Comets for game number 50 of the Comets’ season. The teams were tied with 61 points apiece, but the Comets’ winning percentage put them ahead in the standings.
Syracuse came into today’s action with the AHL’s 25th ranked power play, going 15.1% with the man advantage, while their penalty kill sat eighth overall with an 84.0% success rate. The Comets had the league’s third-best power play and penalty kill. Their power play was operating at 21.1%, while their penalty kill had an 85.8% success rate.
Anthony Cirelli was the Crunch’s leading scorer with 33 points in 44 games, while Jamie McBain led their back end with 24 points in 48 games. Rookie Zack MacEwen was now the Comets’ leading scorer amongst active players with 25 points in 44 games, while Patrick Wiercioch led the Utica blue line’s active players with 18 points in 33 games this season.
Syracuse was coming off a 3-2 win over Bridgeport, while the Comets last played to a 4-3 win over Belleville. The Crunch had gone 4-5-0-1 over their last 10 games, while the Comets had gone 8-0-2-0 over the same span.
The Comets had a record of 11-9-3-2 at home this season, while Syracuse had gone 14-10-1-2 on the road. Syracuse had outscored their opponents by a count of 160-136 this season, while the Comets had outscored their opponents 143-133 this year.
The two teams had faced off in eight games previously this season with the Comets holding a five-games-to-three advantage in the series, with one of the Syracuse wins coming via the shootout.
In other Comets’ news, there have been some roster moves since the Comets last played. After seeing Nikolay Goldobin called up before their last game, the Comets have since seen defenseman Philip Holm tapped by the parent club for a visit to Vancouver.
Canucks Announce They’ve Recalled Philip Holm From the Utica Comets https://t.co/L8ZbxjoENT
— CanucksArmy (@CanucksArmy) February 13, 2018
With Holm recalled to Vancouver, the Comets decided they needed to add to their back end. They did so by signing right shot defenseman Frankie Simonelli to a PTO deal. Simonelli has previously played with Comets Brendan Woods and Joe LaBate in Wisconsin, as well as with fellow PTO signee, Andrew Cherniwchan this season with the South Carolina Sting Rays of the ECHL.
Utica Comets Sign Defenseman Frankie Simonelli To PTO https://t.co/aH0pO6n7j0
— CanucksArmy (@CanucksArmy) February 13, 2018
Scratched today for the Comets were: Carter Bancks, (injured), Yan-Pavel Laplante, (injured), Jayson Megna, (injured), Brendan Woods, (injured), Griffen Molino, (injured), Jalen Chatfield, (injured), Evan McEneny, (injured), and Frankie Simonelli.
Comets Starting Lines
14 Justin Taylor – 36 Wacey Hamilton (A) – 15 Zack MacEwen
58 Michael Carcone – 21 Michael Chaput (A) – 17 Alexis D’Aoust
16 Joe LaBate – 11 Cam Darcy – 82 Andrew Cherniwchan
22 David Dziurzynski – 19 Cole Cassels – 27 Tony Cameranesi
28 Patrick Wiercioch – 55 Guillaume Brisebois
6 Ashton Sautner – 8 Dylan Blujus
44 Adam Comrie – 26 Jaime Sifers (A)
30 Thatcher Demko
The first period was not the Comets’ best work of the season. They managed to outshoot the Crunch but ended up on the wrong side of the score clock by the time the period ended.
Dylan Blujus got things going with an early chance for the Comets, getting a point shot away that Crunch netminder Eddie Pasquale blockered away to the corner.
Carter Verhaeghe would get the first shot on Thatcher Demko and he would make it count, beating Demko glove side high to put the visitors up 1-0 at the 1:57 mark. The goal was Verhaeghe’s ninth of the season, while Mat Bodie grabbed his 19th assist of the year on the opening marker and Anthony Cirelli nabbed his 23rd.
Patrick Wiercioch tried to tie it up quickly with a point shot that was gloved down by Pasquale. The two teams would have some good back and forth before Ashton Sautner uncorked a wrist shot and Pasquale held on for the whistle.
Dominik Masin would put Syracuse up 2-0 at the 6:15 mark when he beat Demko for the second goal of the game. If you are keeping track at home, that was two goals on two shots for the Crunch. The goal was Masin’s eighth of the season while Mitchell Stephens picked up his 15th helper of the year on the play and Mathieu Joseph grabbed his 25th.
Michael Chaput was doing his best to pick up the physical play, dishing a good hit in the Comets’ zone to cause a turnover and send the Comets the other way.
Demko made a save and saw a crowd forming around his crease and wisely held on for a whistle for his first save of the game.
At the other end of the ice, Cole Cassels wheeled behind the Crunch net and sent a pass out front for David Dziurzynski, who saw his quick shot turned aside.
The Comets would find themselves shorthanded at the 10:27 mark when they were whistled for having too many men on the ice. Michael Carcone would serve the bench minor.
Michael Chaput would manage a nice shorthanded chance before Demko was forced to make a save off the stick of Mathieu Joseph. Dylan Blujus came up with a big shot block as this penalty wound down. The Comets would come up with a good kill.
Guillaume Brisebois sent Alexis D’aoust in with a heady pass but D’Aoust saw his shot stopped by Pasquale. I am looking for D’Aoust, MacEwen, and Carcone to up their games in the absence of Archibald, Boucher, and Goldobin up front.
Jonne Tammela tried to step up on Dylan Blujus in the neutral zone, but the Comets’ defenseman stood him up instead while making a pass, and the Crunch forward found himself on the seat of his pants.
Newcomer Justin Taylor unloaded a hot shot and Pasquale had to come up with a diving save.
Dylan Blujus let fly with a point shot and had Wacey Hamilton looking for a rebound, but the Comets’ forward couldn’t get it to go.
Michael Carcone had his wheels on display again when he beat the Crunch to a puck that they had won on a faceoff, but was unable to find a clean pass to a teammate for a play.
Zack MacEwen came up with a nice defensive play to knock a Crunch player off the puck in the neutral zone for a turnover and followed that up with a heavy hit along the boards.
Erik Condra sent a shot on net and Demko made the save. Mitchell Stephens was up next with a shot from in close that Demko turned aside.
Guillaume Brisebois was using his body well in the defensive zone, separating a Crunch player from the puck for a turnover.
The Comets would finish the period with the man advantage when Michael Bournival was sent off for slashing. Brisebois had a pair of late chances but that would be it for the first period. Utica showed a 13-8 advantage on the shot clock for the opening period.
The Comets would start the middle frame on the power play and Guillaume Brisebois would show some nice skating as he grabbed a puck in the neutral zone and weaved his way through a couple of Crunch players before losing the puck. The Comets would be unable to make this power play count.
Cole Cassels was still playing his physical game with a nice board-rattling hit on Ben Thomas. The two would have a chat a little later in the period.
Reid McNeill let fly with a heavy shot and Demko whipped out the mitt to say no. Dennis Yan unloaded a shot from the circle and Demko turned it aside, sending the rebound to Jamie McBain, who forced Demko into another save.
Cassels and Thomas would drop the mitts at the 5:38 mark for what turned out to be a pretty even bout. Both men would be sent off for fighting.
During the ensuing play, another melee broke out that resulted in Cam Darcy and Reid McNeill receiving roughing penalties, while Andrew Cherniwchan was given a high-sticking penalty.
With the Comets down a man, Wacey Hamilton showed why Trent Cull is eager to send him over the boards for penalty killing duty. All the man does is kill time and get shorthanded chances. Hamilton would do just that on this one, getting in for a chance but he was unable to convert. The Comets would kill off the man advantage, but not before Adam Comrie joined Cherniwcan in the box. Comrie was whistled for delay of game when he sent the puck over the glass.
Mathieu Joseph would get off a one-timer, but Demko said no. Hamilton and Carcone were doing great work on this kill, spending a good amount of time in the Syracuse zone before Hamilton sent a shorthanded chance wide of the net.
Thomas would unload with a point shot that Demko swallowed up for a whistle.
At the other end of the ice, Zack MacEwen used a nice dangle in the Syracuse zone but was unable to beat Pasquale.
Demko was being Demko again in this one. This kid just keeps on impressing.
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) February 15, 2018
David Dziurzynski followed up that Demko gem with a big hit coming out of the Comets’ end. Dziurzynski wasn’t done there as he went down the ice and found himself picking up his first goal with the Comets. Adam Comrie picked up his seventh helper of the season on the Dziurzynski marker, while Cole Cassels added his 13th.
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) February 15, 2018
Patrick Wiercicoh followed up the Dziurzynski goal with back-to-back chances of his own that were denied by Pasquale. The Comets got a push from that Dziurzynski goal. Carcone used his speed and edge work to cut hard to the net, nearly tying the game in the process, but Pasquale was ready with another save.
Dylan Blujus unloaded a bomb from the point and Pasquale denied him. A fight broke out between David Dziurzynski and Reid McNeill after the save, but it wasn’t much to speak of. Both men would head to the box for five minutes.
Moments later, all hell broke loose after Andrew Cherniwchan unleashed a big hit behind the Syracuse net. Joe LaBate laid a beat down on Erik Condra, making quick work of him, while Cam Darcy made sure that Olivier Archambeault would not enjoy combing his hair for the next week or so.
When there are a minimum of 4 fights going on at once 😲 pic.twitter.com/u3oX5wnqSa
— Lucas Frankel (@lucasfrankel) February 15, 2018
That donnybrook would result in a list of penalties longer than Joe Thornton’s beard. I will leave the boxscore below for you to decipher as it was complete gibberish at the time of this writing.
After the gloves and sticks were cleared from the ice, the two teams got back down to playing hockey.
Thatcher Demko was called into action to make a save off a quick Mat Bodie shot, and then it was Ashton Sautner ringing the puck off the iron at the other end.
Michael Chaput and Dominik Masin apparently didn’t have the fisticuffs out of their systems yet as the two threw down for a pretty even bout.
Zack MacEwen would draw a penalty on Mat Bodie when the big winger came over the Syracuse blue line and pulled a spin-a-rama to get past Bodie, who took the big fella down with a trip.
Michael Carcone would get a late chance on the power play, but time ran out on the period and the Comets would have to pick this one up in the third. The middle frame ended with a 10-9 advantage for the Comets on the shot clock.
The Comets would come out ready to make hay on their power play as Adam Comrie got a quick wrist shot off, but Pasquale denied him. The Comets were unable to make it count while up a man, they did, however, tie the game at two just after the Bodie penalty expired.
Patrick Wiercioch picked up his sixth goal of the season when he beat Pasquale high to the glove side. Tony Cameranesi earned his third helper of the season on the play, while Wacey Hamilton picked up his seventh. *Edit, the Wacey Hamilton assist has since been credited to Alexis D’Aoust, who now has 10 helpers on the season.
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) February 15, 2018
Michael Carcone was looking to put the Comets up by a goal when he came in hot on Pasquale, but the netminder was ready with a save. Cam Darcy was lost for the game after his fight, which put the Comets lines into the blender for the rest of the game. The trio of LaBate, Cassels, and D’Aoust had a couple of heavy shifts, crashing and banging and making life miserable for the Syracuse players.
Demko showed some quick legs, making a save off a Daniel Walcott offering. At the other end of the ice, Tony Cameranesi let fly with a quick shot right off a faceoff win, but Pasquale was equal to the task with an alert save.
Demko showed that he was wide awake as well, tracking down a point shot that was tipped in front of him to make the save. The two teams showed some good battle back and forth in a game where it was clear that there was no love lost between them.
Wiercioch tried another point shot, which was tipped along the way, but Pasquale said no once again. Adam Comrie sent a wrist shot on net that Pasquale got a piece of before Justin Taylor grabbed the rebound and was stymied as well.
Jamie McBain sent a point shot through traffic that looked like it might give Demko trouble, but the Comets’ netminder tracked the shot and made the save. Anthony Cirelli followed that chance up with a pair of his own from in close, both of which were turned aside by Demko.
Dylan Blujus would get another point shot at the other end which was denied, before Alexander Volkov and Mitchell Stephens would both be stopped by Demko to force this game to overtime. The Comets showed a 12-8 advantage in shots for the third period.
The overtime saw Thatcher Demko stand on his head to get the Comets to the shootout as Syracuse outshot them 7-0 in the extra frame. Thatcher made a huge save on Mitchell Stephens, followed by chances from McBain, and a pair from Joseph before Mitchell was robbed for the second time. Volkov also had a Grade-A chance turned aside by Demko. This one would need the shootout.
The Comets could have used Reid Boucher for this one as Boucher has gone 4-5 in the shootout this season.This one would take seven shooters aside before Jamie McBain beat Demko to win it for the Crunch. That was it in Utica as the Crunch beat the Comets 3-2 in the shootout.