Photo Credit: Cory Hergott

CanucksArmy Utica Comets Post-Game: Comets Hang On For 5-4 Win Over Belleville

Utica Comets Post-Game Report

Game #53 | Monday, February 19th, 2018

12:00-noon Pacific


The sixth overall Utica Comets rolled into Belleville, (Ottawa affiliate), today to take on the 28th ranked Senators. The Comets had 66 points coming into the game today, while the Sens had 46.

Utica had the AHL’s third-best power play, operating at 20.8%, while their penalty kill had moved into second place in the league with an 86.1% success rate. The Sens, for their part, had the 29th ranked power play in the league, running at 13.5%, while their penalty kill sat 28th with a success rate of 77.6%.

Reid Boucher was back with the Comets and as such, has taken back the points lead for the team with 41 in 38 games. Zack MacEwen led all Comets’ rookies with 27 points in 47 games, while Patrick Wiercioch was the Comets active points leader on the blueline with 22 in 36 games.

The Comets have used 15 defensemen this season through the team’s first 52 games. That group has put up 32 goals and 127 assists, to give the team 159 points from their blueline this far this season.

The Sens were led in scoring by Jim O’Brien with 27 points in 52 games, while newcomer Ville Pokka was their blueline leader with 22 points in 48 games split between Rockford and Belleville. Their rookie leader was Filip Chlapik with 21 points in 39 games this season.

The Comets were coming off a 5-4 overtime win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, while the Sens last played to a 3-0 loss to Hershey. The Sens had a home record of 12-13-1-0, while the Comets had a road record of 15-5-3-1 this season.

Utica had gone 8-0-1-1 over their previous 10 games, while Belleville had gone 3-6-1-0 over the same span. The Comets had scored 153 goals this season while giving up 141. The Sens had given up 195 goals while scoring 132.

With four games this week and Jamie Sifers banged up, the Comets have signed another defenseman to a PTO. The team announced that Mathieu Brodeur had been signed to a pro tryout. Brodeur has played under Trent Cull previously in Syracuse. You can read more about the Brodeur signing in the link provided below.

In other roster news, The team announced that forward Andrew Cherniwchan was given another PTO today. Cherniwchan has played in 17 games this season for the Comets, picking up three goals and 20 penalty minutes along the way. He has been a useful piece for Trent Cull, playing a bottom six role while getting some time on the penalty kill as well.

Scratched today for the Comets were: Carter Bancks, (injured), Yan-Pavel Laplante, (injured), Jayson Megna, (injured), Brendan Woods, (injured), Evan McEneny, (injured), Jalen Chatfield, (injured), Jaime Sifers, (injured), Andrew Cherniwchan, Justin Taylor, and Frankie Simonelli.

Comets Staring Lines

13 Griffen Molino – 36 Wacey Hamilton (A) – 15 Zack MacEwen

58 Micahel Carcone – 21 Michael Chaput (A) – 24 Reid Boucher

16 Joe LaBate – 11 Cam Darcy – 17 Alexis D’Aoust

22 David Dziurzynski – 19 Cole Cassels – 27 Tony Cameranesi

6 Ashton Sautner – 8 Dylan Blujus

28 Patrick Wiercioch (A) – 55 Guillaume Brisebois

44 Adam Comrie – 57 Mathieu Brodeur

32 Richard Bachman

First Period

Zack MacEwen would start this game off with a solid hit on Patrick Sieloff to set the tone early for the Comets. The big fella can bring it with the physicality when he wants to. I’d like to see him bring it a little more.

Richard Bachman got the start in this one and he was solid once again. He’s been on a nice little run of late, giving the Comets a heck of a one-two punch with Thatcher Demko. Bachman came up with a save on an early chance from Ben Sexton.

Alexis D’Aoust sent Joe LaBate in with a nice pass and the big winger sent a quick shot on net that was turned aside by Sens’ netminder Danny Taylor.

At the other end of the ice, Bachman came up with another save and held for the whistle.

Patrick Wiercioch has been hot of late and he was looking to keep that going with a shot from the faceoff circle, but Taylor denied him. Reid Boucher was back in the lineup and looking to make his presence felt, getting a wrist shot away that Taylor turned aside.

Ashton Sautner lobbed a shot on net and a scramble broke out. The Comets weren’t able to take advantage and the puck ended up heading the other way.

Wacey Hamilton has been playing very well in recent weeks, and he kept that up today. He got a shot off that Taylor was ready for, but Hamilton would be heard from before the game would end. Boucher followed up the Hamilton chance with one of his patented one-timers, but Taylor flashed the leather and said no.

Michael Carcone continued to play like he is 6’5″ and 230lbs. This kid has all kinds of heart as he came in with a big hit on Patrick Sieloff.

The Comets would go up 1-0 when Tony Cameranesi beat Taylor for his second goal of the season. Cole Cassels earned the lone assist on the play, his 15th of the season. Cole is on a nice little run of four points in his last four games.

Bachman would have to come up with a quick save following the goal and he would hold for a whistle.

Cam Darcy would send the Comets to the penalty kill when he was sent off for holding at the 11:05 mark and the Comets’ PK would get down to work. Bachman had to make a big save on a net-side chance, but the Comets would come up with a good kill.

Bachman made another save off Mike Blunden and Alexis D’Aoust quickly headed the other way with the puck.

Zack MacEwen picked up his sixth point in his last six games when he put the Comets up 2-0 with his ninth goal of the season. The big fella just keeps on rolling. Adam Comrie earned his eighth helper of the year on the play, while Wacey Hamilton picked up his ninth.

Filip Chlapik had a chance after the MacEwen goal, breaking into the Comets’ zone and getting a low wrist shot off, but he sent it wide of the net. Max Reinhart followed that chance up with one of his own, but Bachman shut the door.

Reid Boucher put the Comets up 3-0 a little under four minutes later, scoring his 23rd of the season to tie the Comets’ single-season record set last season by Darren Archibald. Michael Carcone earned his 10th helper of the year on the play, while Michael Chaput picked up his 14th.

The Comets would finish the period with penalty trouble as David Dziurzynski was sent off for hooking at the 19:26 mark and Ashton Sautner followed up with a cross-checking penalty just 22 seconds later.

The Comets would finish the period with a two-man disadvantage on the ice, and a 13-12 advantage on the shot clock.

Second Period

The Comets chased goaltender Danny Taylor as the Sens would start the middle frame with Marcus Hogberg between the pipes, but it would be the Sens who would strike early. Ben Sexton scored just 29 seconds into the period to get the Sens within two. The goal was Sexton’s fifth of the season, while Ville Pokka picked up his 19th assist on the play and Colin White earned his 10th.

Unfortunately, the Sens weren’t done there as Nick Paul picked up his seventh goal of the season just 44 seconds later. White picked up his 11th assist of the season and second of the game, while Ben Sexton earned his fourth helper.

The Sens came out with a quick start and ended up with a pair of power-play goals.

Wacey Hamilton would put a damper on the excitement of the home crowd when he put the Comets back up by a pair just a minute and 18 seconds later. Hamilton earned his fourth goal of the season and fourth point in his last game and a half. Zack MacEwen earned his 20th helper, and second point of the game on the play, while Guillaume Brisebois picked up his ninth assist.

Alexis D’Aoust followed up the Hamilton goal with a shot that Hogberg turned aside and the two teams would have some good back and forth until the 6:42 mark when Adam Comrie was sent off for a cross-check. The Comets were not doing themselves any favours by racking up frequent trips to the penalty box.

Wacey Hamilton was once again a penalty killing machine for the Comets and he, along with the rest of the Comets’ killers, would make sure the Sens didn’t pick up another goal.

Zack MacEwen hit Michael Carcone with a nice drop pass and the Comets winger let fly with a shot, but Hogberg was ready with the save and held on for a faceoff. Hogberg would do that a lot today, make the save and hold for the whistle. There were not a lot of rebound chances to be had for the Comets with him in net.

Chaput followed up the Carcone chance, sending a shot on net with Boucher hovering for a rebound, but there would be no rebound to be had as Hogberg swallowed up the puck.

David Dziurzynski crushed a Sens’ player and Tyler Randell took exception, retaliating and ending up with a roughing penalty. The Comets would head to the power play.

Wiercioch uncorked a one-time shot but Hogberg said no. Wiercioch then sent a puck to Boucher for a shot, but Hogberg was ready with the save and held on with a crowd forming in front of his net. Carcone unloaded a hot one-timer and yet another save was made. The Comets would be unable to get anything to go with the man advantage.

Tony Cameranesi came looking for his second goal of the game, sending a shot on net as he skated over the Sens’ blueline, but he too was thwarted by Hogberg.

David Dziurzynski would put the Comets up 5-2 at the 13:37 mark when he beat Hogberg, low to the blocker side, for his second goal of the season. Ashton Sautner earned his ninth assist of the season on the play, while Cam Darcy picked up his 16th.

Adam Comrie came looking for more with a big shot, but Hogberg said no.

Michael Carcone was in Patrick Sieloff’s face for the entire game and the Sens’ rearguard had enough, trying to unload on Carcone with a big hit, but Carcone used his impressive skating to dodge the hit and literally laughed all the way to the bench as Sieloff found himself on the seat of his pants.

D’Aoust set up Ashton Sautner for a one-timer and the shot was turned aside. Cam Darcy found Reid Boucher with a pass and the Comets’ sniper tried to beat Hogberg with a backhander that was denied.

Nick Paul had a chance at the other end, but Richard Bachman had the answer. A brief melee broke out when Reid Boucher got a little too friendly with his stick and ended up with a slashing penalty at the 18:52 mark.

Filip Chlapik got a shot off, but Dylan Blujus did what Dylan Blujus does and he came up with a shot block. Perhaps inspired by Blujus, Cole Cassels came up with a block of his own on a Ville Pokka offering and that would be it for the middle frame. The Comets finished with a 19-7 advantage in shots for the second period.

Third Period

The final frame started out with some good back and forth before Carcone was dumped. He wasn’t happy about it and got up and blasted Macoy Erkamps with a cross-check that dropped him. Erkamps was not the player who dumped Carcone, he just happened to be the first Sens player that the Comets forward saw. Colin White would end up with a hooking penalty, while the Carcone cross-check went unpunished.

With the Comets on the power play, that meant that they would grab another goal, right? Well, not exactly, in fact, Ben Sexton scored a shorthanded goal just 10 seconds into the Comets’ man advantage. The goal was Sexton’s sixth of the season, and second of the game. Mike Blunden picked up the lone assist on the Sexton marker, his eighth of the season.

Zack MacEwen took an uncharacteristically bad penalty just 15 seconds later when he was sent off for slashing. With the two teams playing four aside, Carcone used his wheels, blowing down the right side boards and into the Belleville zone, but he was only able to send a shot trickling on the net.

Richard Bachman came up with a handful of dandy saves in this game, and this was one of them. The man is a battler, to be sure.

Bachman followed that save up with another one off the stick of Maxime Lajoie, and then he got a pad on a one-timer from Jim O’Brien. The Comets would kill off the MacEwen minor, but the Sens were starting to come on.

Carcone used his speed, again, to split the Belleville defence but he ran out of real estate before he could get a decent shot off.

The Sens thought that they had gotten within a goal when they scored, but it was clear that Nick Paul was interfering with Bachman and the goal was waived off.

Cole Cassels dished a nice pass to MacEwen who sent a shot low, to the glove side, but Hogberg snatched it up. At the other end of the ice, Bachman made a save on a high, hard shot and then followed up with a save on an O’Brien blast.

Joe LaBate was nowhere to be seen in the final frame. I did not see what happened to him, so at this time I can only assume that he sustained some sort of injury.

Maxime Lajoie unleashed a hot shot from the point and Bachman gobbled it up and held for a whistle. Ben Sexton was looking to set up Colin White, but the shot was tipped wide of the net.

The Sens pulled out all the stops, and their goalie, with 3:25 left on the clock, summoning Hogberg to the bench for the extra attacker. Carcone would be whistled for a boarding penalty at the 16:38 mark and the Comets were back to the penalty kill.

It took Ben Sexton less than a minute to make the hats rain down in Belleville when he picked up his third goal of the game at the 17:30 mark. The goal was Sexton’s seventh, while Filip Chlapik earned his 15th helper of the year, and Nick Paul grabbed his eighth.

Cam Darcy didn’t make things any easier for the Comets when he was whistled for slashing 28 seconds after the Sexton goal. The Comets would hang on for the win and finish the game with a 38-34 advantage on the shot clock. The Sens finished the third period having outshot the Comets by a 15-6 count, but Bachman wasn’t going to let them get a win, not today.

This win gave the Comets 16 straight games with at least a point, it was also Richard Bachman’s sixth straight win and 10th straight without a regulation loss. Solid work Bacher, keep it up.

Today’s Official Boxscore

The Three Stars in the building today were:

3rd Star: Wacey Hamilton. One goal, one assist.

2nd Star: Zack MacEwen. One goal, one assist.

1st Star: Ben Sexton. Three goals, one assist.

CanucksArmy’s Three Stars

3rd Star: Wacey Hamilton. Hamilton picked up a goal and an assist today to give him four points in his last two games. That is some solid production from a solid veteran. Hamilton has killed it on the penalty kill all season long and gives the Comets’ youngsters a solid role model to learn from.

Reid Boucher: Boucher picked up his 23rd goal of the season today to bring his points total to 42 in 39 games. The goal also tied the Comets’ single-season record of 23 that Archibald set last season. The fact that Boucher scores a lot might have something to do with how often he shoots. The man put eight pucks on the net today.

1st Star: Zack MacEwen. He just keeps rolling. The big fella put up another goal and an assist today to bring his season totals to nine goals and 20 assists to give him 29 points in 48 games. He is now sitting with a points-per-game of 0.60. There are other rookies who are putting up bigger points around the AHL, but Zack is a player who was undrafted, both in junior and pro. He has worked for every inch of ice that he has gotten in his hockey career, and he is putting himself on the radar as a player to watch for Canucks fans. Keep your expectations realistic, and I think that you will be pleasantly surprised when Big. Zack. MacEwen. gets his first chance in Vancouver, probably sometime in the late going next season. Until then, he will continue to grow his game and become an even bigger piece of the Utica puzzle.

Next Game

VS Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Wednesday, February 21st, 2018

4:00 pm Pacific




  • NeverWas

    First off, great recap as always Corey. Super well done!

    Second, what the heck is going on with the comets? Are they like super good or something? Wasn’t it just like 2 months ago they were 23rd in the league and below 500… now they seem to win or pick up a point in almost every game. It’s not like they have a star studded line up and the canucks keep calling up there best players due to injury… How are they still consistly posted dubs? Are they playoff bound??

    • Cory Hergott

      Sorry, I’m late to answer this. It has been a busy week for me. The Comets are just getting great work done from the top down. Whether that is Robert Esche mining the ECHL for potential players for PTO deals during injuries/call-ups, or Ryan Johnson communicating with the parent club, or Trent Cull and his staff squeezing every ounce out of each player they have on the roster. The players on the ice have done a pretty great job of seizing opportunities when they get them as well. There have been two forwards, Brendan Woods and Cam Darcy, and two defensemen, Adam Comrie and Dylan Blujus who have earned AHL deals after coming in on PTOs. Rookies Zack MacEwen, Alexis D’Aoust, Guillaume Brisebois, Jalen Chatfield, and Griffen Molino have shown well for the most part as well, with MacEwen slowly becoming something of a diamond in the rough. There hasn’t been any magic pill here, it has just been a full buy-in from the top down. The coaching staff are doing the best with the players that they have, and the players that they have are buying what the coaching staff is selling.

  • Rodeobill

    If Big Zac makes it up to the bigs, it probably won’t be as a top 6er, which means his best chance is roleplayer/bottom 6er. He can hit. that’s good. He looks like he can put the puck on net, but how is he on PK or a checking line, does he have “grit and balls”? Can he play a game similar to Gaunce or Archiblad?

    • Cory Hergott

      MacEwen hasn’t seen any penalty killing time yet this season, but I am hoping that the team will give him the Boucher/Goldy treatment and get him some PK time either down the stretch, or add that to his responsibilities next season. I think it will help his overall defensive awareness even when he is playing five on five. I agree that if he becomes an NHL player that it will most likely be in a bottom six role, and I think there is nothing wrong with that. He has played the middle for his entire career before coming to Utica, so he has been learning the right wing all season and has done a solid job of it. He still takes draws on a fairly regular basis as well. I think he still has work to do to round out his game but the more I see him play, the more I am seeing a guy who could make the jump after another year in the AHL.