Utica Comets Post-Game Report
Game #61 | Saturday, March 10th, 2018
4:05 pm Pacific
The 13th overall Utica Comets rolled into Springfield today for the back half of their home and home series with the 24th ranked Thunderbirds, (Florida affiliate), for game number 61 of the Comets season. Yesterday, the Comets got back in the win column with a 3-2 overtime victory and they would be looking to keep the good times rolling with another win today. The Comets were sitting with 70 points coming into the day, while the Thunderbirds had 59.
The Comets edged their power play back up the standings a little bit yesterday when they went 2/5 with the man advantage, bumping them into sixth in the AHL with a 19.1% effective rate. Their penalty kill was still sitting third in the league, operating at 86.4%. The Thunderbirds, for their part, had the league’s 27th ranked power play, operating at 14.4%, while their penalty kill sat in 11th spot with an 83.5% effective rate.
The Comets top three active scorers coming into today were: Rookie winger, Zack MacEwen with nine goals and 22 assists to give him 31 points in 55 games, Michael Chaput with 12 goals and 18 helpers to give him 30 points in 41 games, and finally, Patrick Wiercioch with eight goals and 20 assists to give him 28 points in 44 games this season.
For the Thunderbirds, their top three scorers were: Curtis Valk with 15 goals and 30 assists to give him 45 points in 57 games, followed by Anthony Greco with 23 goals and 19 helpers, good for 42 points in 59 games, while Alex Grenier sat third with 15 goals and 23 assists to give him 38 points in 60 games this year.
The Comets had gone 4-6-0-0 over their previous 10 contests, while the Thunderbirds had a record of 5-2-3-0 over the same span. Utica had a road record of 17-7-3-1 coming into the game, while the Thunderbirds were showing a home record of 17-12-2-1.
The Comets had been outscored by their opponents 172-171 coming into today, while the Thunderbirds were on the wrong side of a 188-170 margin on their end.
The two clubs had played twice this season, with each team coming away with a 3-2 victory, the Comets getting theirs in overtime.
Scratched today for the Comets were: Carter Bancks, (injured), Yan-Pavel Laplante, (injured), Jayson Megna, (injured), Joe LaBate, (injured), Evan McEneny, (injured), Brendan Woods, (injured), Wacey Hamilton, (injured), and Frankie Simonelli.
Comets Starting Lines
58 Michael Carcone – 21 Michael Chaput (A) – 27 Tony Cameranesi
13 Griffen Molino – 19 Cole Cassels – 15 Zack MacEwen
44 Adam Comrie – 82 Andrew Cherniwchan – 17 Alex D’Aoust
22 David Dziurzynski – 11 Cam Darcy – 39 Zac Lynch
28 Patrick Wiercioch – 5 Jalen Chatfield
6 Ashton Sautner (A) – 8 Dylan Blujus
55 Guillaume Brisebois -26 Jaime Sifers (A)
32 Richard Bachman
We had pink ice today in Springfield as it was Pink In The Rink night for the Thunderbirds. The pink ice was an interesting experience on the TV. The sound was a little out of sync to start this game, as happens from time to time with AHL Live, but it was only the first couple of minutes this time.
The Thunderbirds started goaltender Samuel Montembeault today and he was sharp early making a save on a shot and covering up for the whistle with Andrew Cherniwchan ready to pounce on any rebound. The Comets had good zone time early, but they weren’t able to capitalize with many shots. In fact, the Comets would be outshot handily in the first frame, but Richard Bachman was solid.
Dylan Blujus showed a good stick on the defensive side of the puck when he broke up a play in the Comets zone. Former Comet, Alex Grenier came back in with a backhander after picking off a Jaime Sifers pass attempt, but Bachman was ready with the save.
The two teams would go back and forth without getting many chances before David Dziurzynski lit up Thomas Schemitsch with a board-rattling hit. Newcomer Zac Lynch followed up with a shot that Montembeault turned aside.
At the other end of the ice, Anthony Greco sent a wrister Bachman’s way and the Comet’s netminder said no. Bachman would follow up with a pair of saves on a point shot and the resulting backhander from the slot that came off the rebound.
Zack MacEwen hit Griffen Molino with a cross-ice pass and the speedy winger fired a shot right on the net that Montembeault grabbed and held onto. Francois Beauchemin came back the other way with a backhand chance that Bachman denied.
The Comets would go to the power play at the 8:58 mark when Sam Kurker was whistled for tripping. Michael Chaput would get a shot away that was turned aside before Ryan Horvat and Anthony Greco were sprung for a two-on-one break. Horvat would feed Greco for a shorthanded goal and the Comets were in a 1-0 hole. The goal was Greco’s 24th of the season, while Horvat picked up his 14th helper of the year. It would be no dice for the Comets power play.
Andrew Cherniwchan came up with a shot block in close and he dropped to the ice to get a whistle with the puck jammed beneath him. Curtis Valk got a chance from a prime spot in close, but Bachman was ready with the save.
Jaime Sifers corked Greco with an open-ice hit at the Comets blueline. The veteran can unload a hit with the best of them.
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) March 11, 2018
Bachman saw a point shot come his way and he gobbled it up for the whistle. What came next was a series of saves off of two former Comets. First, it was Valk grabbing a rebound from his own blocked shot and putting it on the net, Bachman said no. Grenier followed up with a wrist shot that Bachman denied before shutting the door on Valk once more.
Zac Lynch sent a shot on net that was turned aside before Zack MacEwen finished up the period with a couple of solid hits. The shot clock in the first period favoured Springfield by a count of 15-7.
Zack MacEwen picked up where he left off in the first period, in the Springfield zone. The big fella worked his way into the Thunderbirds zone and headed behind the net, trying to dish a centring pass out front that went off the pad of Montembeault and the netminder grabbed the puck and held for the whistle. Dylan Blujus tried a backhander that was turned aside and Ashton Sautner followed up with a wrister that he sent just wide.
At the other end of the ice, Alex Grenier hit Dryden Hunt with a pass and the winger sent a shot on net that Bachman denied.
Zac Lynch set Patrick Wiercioch up for a point shot that was denied before Lynch grabbed the rebound and sent it wide.
Jalen Chatfield came up with a nice shot block that sent the Comets the other way. We saw a nice little glimpse of the work that Zack MacEwen has put in this season when he came up with a quick burst of speed to close on a puck that I’m not sure that we would have seen at the start of the season. The hard work is starting to pay dividends for the big Comets winger.
Tony Cameranesi would send the Comets to the penalty kill at the 5:12 mark when he was sent off for tripping. Bachman would make a pair of back-to-back saves early, one of them off of the stick of Grenier, and the netminder would freeze the puck for a whistle. Bachman would make a save on a Curtis Valk one-timer before Cam Darcy put the Comets down two men when he was whistled for high-sticking, and apparently, he caused a leak because it was a double minor. It wouldn’t take the Birds long to go up 2-0 as just 10 seconds after the Darcy penalty, Alex Grenier beat Bachman for his 16th goal of the season. Chase Balisy picked up his 14th helper of the year on the Grenier tally, while Ludwig Bystrom earned his 23rd.
Cameron Brown would be sent off for slashing at the 7:34 mark and we would see some four aside action. During the four-on-four play, Zack MacEwen broke down the right side and cut to the net, but the big fella had the puck roll off his stick as he tried to stuff it past Montembeault. Keep those plays coming Zack, they will start going in.
Alex D’Aoust was a one-man wrecking crew as he was trying to kill some time on the clock after the four aside ended, taking on three Thunderbirds players in a board battle and coming away with the puck. I really do like the way D’Aoust plays along the boards, dude has some jam to his game. The Comets would come up with a good kill.
Andrew Cherniwchan and Schemitsch got into a scrum after the whistle and both players would head to the box. Cherniwchan was assessed a cross-checking penalty, while Schemitsch was given four minutes for roughing.
The Comets would come with the chances on the man advantage as Dylan Blujus had a point shot tipped wide before Carcone had a shot turned aside and Michael Chaput grabbed the rebound and sent it wide. Carcone followed up by taking the puck hard to the net but Montembeault was once again equal to the task.
Anthony Greco was sent off for tripping at the 12:16 mark and the Comets would have a brief five-on-three man advantage. Utica wouldn’t manage a shot with the two-man advantage and they wouldn’t fair a whole lot better when they went to five-on-four play. MacEwen forced his way to the front of the net but put his shot wide. Cam Darcy got a shot off but Montembeault said no.
Bachman had to come up with a save at the other end of the ice and Ryan Horvat ran him over after he did so. Dylan Blujus took exception and showed his displeasure and a scrum ensued. After the smoke had cleared, Bobby Farnham was the one heading to the box for roughing and the Comets were back to a two-man advantage.
Once again, the Comets could not muster a single shot during five-on-three play, and to make matters worse the Thunderbirds scored their third goal of the game just after Farnham came out of the box. Farnham teed up a one-timer for Jayce Hawryluk and the Springfield winger made no mistake, blasting the puck past Bachman for his ninth goal of the season. Farnham picked up his seventh helper of the year on the play, while Curtis Valk earned his 31st.
Farnham was being Farnham after the goal and it was back to the box for him. This time he was fingered for unsportsmanlike conduct for “disputing decision”. I’m not sure what his dispute was about though, as his team scored and he picked up a point.
The Comets power play looked sloppy and disjointed and the end result was the Thunderbirds picking up their second shorthanded goal of the game. This time it came off the stick of Sam Kurker for his third goal of the season. Chase Balisy earned the lone helper, his 15th of the year. It would be a big, fat no once again for the Comets power play. Does anyone else out there miss the days of Reid Boucher, Philip Holm, Darren Archibald, and Nikolay Goldobin on the power play?
The period would wind down with Cam Darcy getting a shot away that was denied and the Thunderbirds took a 4-0 lead into the third while dominating the Comets on the shot clock by an 11-6 margin.
The two teams would have some early back and forth play to get things started in the final frame as Greg Chase sent a backhander Bachman’s way that the netminder turned aside. Guillaume Brisebois had his pocket picked by Francois Beauchemin and the Springfield forward got a shot away that Bachman grabbed up and held for the whistle.
The Comets were having a tough time getting anything going in this game and the third period would be no different. They did get the odd chance though as Andrew Cherniwchan made a nifty play to steal the puck at the Bird’s blueline and he set up Michael Chaput for a shot that Monetmbeault was ready for. Chaput won the ensuing faceoff back to Brisebois who let fly with a point shot that was gobbled up for a whistle.
At the other end of the ice, Bachman made a huge save on Alex Grenier before turning aside a Bobby Farnham offering.
Alex D’Aoust and David Dziurzynski broke in for a chance with D’Aoust dishing a pass that Dziurzynski couldn’t get a handle on. Tony Cameranesi had a shot denied before Jalen Chatfield let fly with a point shot that was grabbed up and held for a whistle. The Comets kept coming as Blujus had a shot tipped wide before MacEwen cut to the middle in the high slot and unloaded a shot that Montembeault snatched up.
Bobby Farnham launched himself like a missile at Ashton Sautner as the Comets defenseman was rounding the back of his net. The alert Sautner did a side step and Farnham crashed into the boards.
Cole Cassels would try a backhanded wraparound that was turned aside before Bachman had to come up with another pair of back-to-back saves in quick succession.
Griffen Molino would be sent off for tripping at the 18:18 mark and the Comets would finish the game down a man. Anthony Greco had a shot denied and Bachman made the rebound save off Horvat as well. Brisebois would make a nice play with his stick to break up a play and that would be it in Springfield.
The Comets had a slight 8-7 edge in shots for the final frame, while the Thunderbirds held a 33-21 advantage for the game.
The Three Stars in the building today were:
3rd Star: Chase Balisy. Two assists
2nd Star: Samuel Montembeault. 21 saves for the shutout.
1st Star: Anthony Greco. One goal.
CanucksArmy’s Three Stars
3rd Star: Michael Carcone. All three of today’s stars have been somewhat snakebitten offensively of late, but all three are bringing other elements to their games that have value. Carcone put four shots on net today and played his typical buzzsaw game. I would like to see him reunited with Cole Cassels and Alex D’Aoust as they were an exciting line to watch when they were together earlier in the season and I believe their games compliment each other well.
2nd Star: Alex D’Aoust. D’Aoust plays a rough-and-tumble brand of hockey. He uses his wheels well to get in hard on the forecheck and he uses his body well along the boards, either with heavy hits or with his positioning to either protect the puck or to separate the opposing player from it. I have all kinds of time for D’Aoust’s game and I would like to see the Canucks reward him with a two-way deal for next season.
1st Star: Zack MacEwen. Zack picked up an assist yesterday, but he did no such thing today. You may be wondering then, how it is that he ends up as my first star of the game. Well, I saw something out of Zack today that caught me a little by surprise. He showed a burst of speed to close on a puck that I haven’t seen from him this year. It was only a few strides, but there was a quickness that jumped out at me. MacEwen is not a poor skater by any means, but he will need to improve that area of his game to make the jump to the next level. Today I saw a glimpse of what a more fleet-footed Zack MacEwen could look like, and I have to say that I liked it. The big fella has also been cutting hard to the net a little more, and at 6’4″ and 211lbs, he is a handful, to say the least when he does that. Keep it up Zack, good things are coming.
VS Laval Rocket
Friday, March 16th, 2018
4:00 pm Pacific