Utica Comets Post-Game Report
Game #64 | Sunday, March 18th, 2018
1:00 pm Pacific
The 19th overall Utica Comets rolled into Toronto today to take on the first ranked Marlies, (Toronto affiliate) for the Comets 64th game of the season. The Comets had 70 points coming into today’s contest, while the Marlies had 90.
The Comets power play was sitting 11th overall in the AHL, operating at 18.5%, while their penalty kill was ranked fourth in the league with an 85.6% effective rate. The Marlies, for their part, had the 14th best power play in the league, operating at 17.2%, while their penalty kill was ranked first overall with an 89.1% effective rate.
Michael Chaput was the Comets active scoring leader with 31 points in 44 games, while Zack MacEwen had the same number of points in 58 games this season. Patrick Wiercioch sat just one point back with 30 in 47 games. Ben Smith was the Marlies active points leader with 50 in 62 games, while Chris Mueller was second with 42 points in 62 games. Miro Aaltonen rounded out the Marlies top three with 36 points in 52 games.
The Comets were coming off a 4-3 loss to Belleville while the Marlies last played to a 3-1 win over that same Senators team. Utica had gone 17-9-3-1 on the road this season, while the Marlies had a home record of 18-11-1-0. The Marlies had gone 6-3-1-0 over their previous 10 games, while the Comets had gone 1-9-0-0 over the same span.
Toronto had outscored their opponents by a count of 204-132 this season, while Utica had given up 184 goals and had scored 176 times. The two clubs had faced off in five games already this season with the Marlies holding a 4-1 advantage in the season series, outscoring the Comets 18-14 in the process.
Scratched today for the Comets were: Yan-Pavel Laplante, (injured), Joe LaBate, (injured), Jayson Megna, (injured), Brendan Woods, (injured), Alex D’Aoust, (injured), Evan McEneny, (injured), Adam Comrie, (sick), Frankie Simonelli, Zac Lynch, and David Dziurzynski, (vet rule).
Comets Starting Lines
13 Griffen Molino – 34 Carter Bancks (C) – 82 Andrew Cherniwchan
11 Cam Darcy – 21 Michael Chaput – 15 Zack MacEwen
18 Vincent Arseneau – 19 Cole Cassels – 27 Tony Cameranesi
7 Tanner MacMaster – 36 Wacey Hamilton (A) – 58 Michael Carcone
55 Guillaume Brisebois – 26 Jaime Sifers (A)
28 Patrick Wiercioch – 5 Jalen Chatfield
6 Ashton Sautner – 8 Dylan Blujus
30 Thatcher Demko
Oh boy, this first period was a beauty. There were shots aplenty and the Comets would hold a 2-1 lead by the end of the opening frame.
It was all Marlies early though, as Calle Rosen sent a wrister on Demko that the Comets netminder turned aside. Jeremy Bracco followed up by centring the puck into a crowd in front of the net where Derian Plouffe got a shot off that Demko turned aside. Rosen followed up with another wrister and Demko followed up with another save.
Newcomer Tanner MacMaster dropped a pass to Wacey Hamilton, who saw his shot blocked but Jaime Sifers and Guillaume Brisebois each got rebound chances that were turned aside as well. Cam Darcy grabbed a loose puck in the neutral zone and flew into the Marlies zone for a chance that Calvin Pickard gobbled up for a whistle.
At the other end of the ice, Cole Cassels grabbed an extra gear on the backcheck to break up a Marlies scoring chance in the Comets zone.
Jaime Sifers would send a one-timer Pickard’s way and the netminder was ready with another save. The puck went the other way and we saw Miro Aaltonen dish the puck to Trevor Moore and the winger got a shot off that Demko turned aside. Demko followed up with a save off a quick shot from a Marlies faceoff win and then denied Vincent LoVerde and Kyle Baun on back-to-back chances.
Timothy Liljegren rolled into the Comets zone and cut in from the blueline with a shot that Demko turned aside. Andreas Borgman followed up with a chance of his own and Demko denied him as well.
Guillaume Brisebois has been playing very well of late and he was putting pucks on net in the opening frame. The rookie blueliner sent a point shot on net that Pickard was ready for, but Brisebois would help make something happen before the period would end.
Andrew Cherniwchan was the first player headed to the penalty box today after he clocked Derian Plouffe right into Calvin Pickard and all three men ended up in the net. Cherniwchan was whistled for interference and the Comets would head to the penalty kill.
With the Comets on the kill, Miro Aaltonen sent a wrister Demko’s way and Thatcher grabbed it up and held for the whistle. Demko followed up with a sprawling save on Chris Mueller before making back-to-back saves on Vincent LoVerde and Mason Marchment. The Comets would come up with a good kill, but Thatcher was a busy fella in the first period.
Patrick Wiercioch was looking to open the scoring when he walked into the circle in the Marlies end and put a puck on net, but Pickard was ready with another save. Jaime Sifers followed up with a wrister that was turned aside and Carter Bancks was looking to pounce on the rebound but couldn’t get a handle on the puck.
Mason Marchment would put the Marlies up 1-0 when he beat Demko for his 10th goal of the season. Miro Aaltonen picked up his 22nd helper of the year on the play, while Kyle Baun grabbed his 15th.
The Comets would get that one right back, however, as recent ATO signee Tanner MacMaster picked up a rebound off of a Guillaume Brisebois point shot that went wide. He buried it behind Pickard for his first professional goal in just his second game with the Comets. Nice work Tanner. Brisebois earned his 12th helper of the year on the play, while Michael Carcone picked up his 11th.
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) March 18, 2018
It took just 18 seconds for Zack MacEwen to keep those good times rolling when the big fella jumped on a loose puck and ripped it past Pickard for his 10th goal of the season. Initially, there were assists handed out to Jaime Sifers, (5th) and Michael Chaput, (20th) but the scoring line was changed to an unassisted goal. Time will tell if Sifers and Chaput get those points back.
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) March 18, 2018
Trevor Moore would get a backhander away on Demko that Thatcher denied before the period wound down. The Marlies outshot the Comets 17-14 in the opening 20 minutes of play.
The second period picked up right where the first left off with some good back and forth action. Calle Rosen was back with another wrist shot on Demko and once again, Thatcher had his number. Rosen put six shots on net today for the Marlies.
Comets captain, Carter Bancks would be whistled for slashing at the 3:32 mark and the Comets were back to the penalty kill. Wacey Hamilton came up with a shot block that looked like it hurt as he limped around the Comets zone continuing his job on the kill. Hamilton would block another shot and see it cleared before he headed to the bench. The man is a gamer to be sure.
Demko would come up with a save off of the stick of Ben Smith before the penalty ended and the Comets had another good kill in their books. Jalen Chatfield followed up the kill with a shot block and Demko followed up with yet another save on Rosen.
Miro Aaltonen cut in from the left side and sent a shot on Demko that the Comets netminder gobbled up and held for the whistle.
Not long after that Demko save, Michael Chaput would be sent off for hooking. The Marlies power play was incredibly short-lived, however, as Trevor Moore was fingered for a high-stick just three seconds later. During the four aside play, Marlies rookie Timothy Liljegren made a nifty move high in the Comets slot to find a scoring lane and he let fly with a shot that Demko denied. Liljegren is pretty adept at dancing along that blueline to find openings for shots or plays.
One thing that Liljegren wasn’t adept at, however, was catching up to a streaking Michael Carcone in full flight on a breakaway. Liljegren was forced into whacking and slashing at Carcone until the ref threw his arm in the air and then pointed at centre-ice. That’s right folks, Carcone had a good old-fashioned penalty shot. The speedster made his move but Pickard whipped out his blocker and was equal to the task and we still had a 2-1 game.
The Comets have seen some nice growth from their rookie crop this season as the young guns have been given all sorts of opportunities with veteran players getting called up and or injured. One of the rookies who has been playing very well all season, but hasn’t seen the points come yet is Jalen Chatfield. I have all kinds of time for Chatfield’s game and I can’t wait for the young man to pick up his first goal. Piling up points will probably not be his calling card when he gets to the NHL, but his crazy slick skating and heady defensive play should eventually land him a spot on the Canucks blueline down the road.
Chatfield jumped on a loose puck in the neutral zone and breezed into the Marlies zone and sent a shot on net that Pickard denied. The way Jalen skates just looks so effortless, I could only imagine what a guy like Zack MacEwen could do with skating like that. By the way, the big fella did it again today. For the third straight game, I saw some quick feet from MacEwen to close on a loose puck. We just were not seeing these quick bursts from Zack at the start of the season. It will still take some time to get to where he needs to be, but he is putting in the work and the payoff is starting to come.
Back to the action, Cam Darcy, who has also been playing quite well for the Comets of late, sent a shot in on Pickard and the Marlies netminder said no. Calle Rosen went the other way and sent another wrister on Demko but as we have already established, it wouldn’t matter how many wristers Rosen would fling Demko’s way, the Comets netminder had his number.
Thatcher would turn aside a Colin Greening offering before Cole Cassels was sent off for hooking. Once again, the Marlies were some of the Comets best penalty killers as Chris Mueller followed Cassels to the box just three seconds later when he was whistled for tripping.
During the resulting four-on-four play, Michael Carcone came into the Marlies zone with some shifty moves to find an opening and got his shot away. Pickard once again was ready with a save. It’s no wonder why the Marlies are at the top of the league when they get the kind of goaltending that they do.
Patrick Wiercioch would put the Comets up 3-1 when he beat Pickard for his ninth goal of the season with an absolute bomb of a shot. The goal put Wiercioch just one point behind former Comets blueline leader, Philip Holm and “Wirey Wiercioch” has a game in hand. Not bad Patrick, not bad. Cam Darcy continued his hot streak by picking up the lone assist on the Wiercioch tally for his 18th helper of the season. The Comets are getting some solid secondary scoring out of Darcy this season. When the Comets were on their great run earlier, he was one of the players who stepped up to keep that run going for as long as it did.
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) March 18, 2018
The Marlies were looking to get that goal right back, but Thatcher Demko had other ideas.
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) March 18, 2018
Demko followed up that save by thwarting another Colin Greening chance before holding onto the puck for a faceoff.
The two clubs would have a little back and forth as Chatfield jumped on a loose puck and hammered a shot on net that Pickard turned aside before Marchment grabbed a puck that squirted loose from a scrum and put it on the net. Demko grabbed it up and held for the whistle and that would be it for the middle frame. The Marlies showed a 14-13 edge in shots for the second period.
Ashton Sautner put his team in a bit of a jam when he took a hooking penalty just 40 seconds into the third period and the Comets killers would get down to work. Andrew Cherniwchan was a man possessed on this kill, doing great work to keep the Marlies from getting set up early. When the Marlies finally did get a shot on net, Demko was ready with the save. The Comets came up with another good penalty kill.
Tanner MacMaster has been showing well in his two games with the Comets. He has some wheels and he is shifty, but he was knocked off the puck a little too easily a couple of times. He isn’t a big dude, so he will need to get a handle on that if he wants to earn a pro deal somewhere. He does have a bit of a Mason Raymond quality to his game.
It was more back and forth with the teams as MacMaster sent a shot on net from just inside the blueline that Pickard turned aside before Ben Smith sent a shot through traffic that Demko saw and handled easily. Guillaume Brisebois ripped a hard shot off the shoulder of Pickard before Plouffe sent a shot on Demko that was turned aside.
I know that the fan base in Vancouver can be tough on players, and quite often for things that are out of their control. I hope that Guillaume Brisebois doesn’t fall victim to this just because Canucks management speaks so highly of him every chance that they get. I have seen some legitimate strides taken by Brisebois this season and I would hate to see the fan base turn on him if he only becomes a third pairing defender with the Canucks when he gets to the show in a couple of years. If he can be a solid third pairing guy who was taken in the third round, I will call that a win. I know that sometimes management doesn’t help when they heap praise on a player, but I think that if folks keep their expectations in check, that many will be pleasantly surprised when Brisebois gets here and brings his steady game.
It was at this point in the game that we saw Andreas Borgman burry Tony Cameranesi into the boards from behind. It would be the end of the game for both players as Cameranesi had to be helped off the ice to the locker room and Borgman was assessed a five minute major for boarding and a game misconduct.
Andreas Borgman was ejected from tonight's Marlies/Comets game for this hit on Utica forward and ex-Marlie Tony Cameranesi. Cameranesi was very shaken up and needed to be helped off. The AHL is pretty strict about hits like these, wouldn't be shocked if this ends up a suspension. pic.twitter.com/RQIjlZ6gaO
— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) March 18, 2018
Comets play-by-play man, Andy Zilch tweeted out an update on Cameranesi after the game. Thanks for the update Andy.
Tony Cameranesi is walking around under his own power and visiting the hospital for precautionary reasons.
— Andy Zilch (@Andy_Zilch) March 18, 2018
On the ensuing five-minuteman advantage, Zack MacEwen had a pair of early chances denied. Tanner MacMaster was getting a look on the power play. The newcomer was getting his opportunities today from the coaching staff. MacEwen set up Chaput for a one-timer but Pickard was ready with the save. The Comets were having a tough time getting anything going as their shots were either going wide or being blocked by Marlies players. It was no dice on the five-minute power play.
Griffen Molino and Zack MacEwen were not about to stop coming at the Marlies just because their power play was over as Molino sent a shot in on Pickard and the netminder held for the faceoff. MacEwen was sprung for a partial break, but he had the puck swept off of his stick by Rosen as he was about to take his shot.
Mason Marchment got his stick up into the mumbles of Michael Carcone and the Comets winger sprung a leak. Marchment would be assessed with four minutes four his high-stick that drew blood. Wiercicoh would ring the iron with a shot off the crossbar, but the Comets power play looked sloppy and they weren’t able to get much in the way of traction. Carcone was back out near the end of the man advantage and he used Wacey Hamilton as a screen, letting fly with a shot that Pickard tracked and stopped. Demko would be forced into a pair of shorthanded saves off of Ben Smith and it would be a wasted power play for the Comets.
With 1:15 left in the game, Pickard dashed to the bench for the extra attacker. Demko would make a save and Chaput would clear the puck out of the zone. Jalen Chatfiled would be sent off for hooking at the 19:56 mark and Ashton Sautner was dinged for high-sticking as the clock stopped to end the game. The Comets showed a 10-8 advantage in shots for the third period while the Marlies had a 39-37 edge in shots for the game. Comets win, 3-1.
The Three Stars in the building today were:
3rd Star: Patrick Wiercioch. One goal.
2nd Star: Michael Carcone. One assist.
1st Star: Thatcher Demko. 38 saves.
CanucksArmy’s Three Stars
This is a first for this season, I am going with the same three players that they went with in the building. It is tough to argue against any of Wiercioch, Carcone, or Demko today.
3rd Star: Patrick Wiercioch. Wiercioch ripped a bomb of a goal today and he just keeps upping those points totals. He now has nine goals and 22 assists this season to give him 31 points. It would be hard to argue that Wiercioch has been a very good player this season in Utica and he may have put himself back on the radar with an NHL team or two for next season.
2nd Star: Michael Carcone. I have been a Carcone fan all season. He’s been in a bit of a slump of late, but I really do dig the way this fellow plays hockey. The second-year pro is up to 23 points in 57 games this season, which more than clears his rookie high of 18 points last season. He is a buzzsaw of a player and his motor is always going. He put six shots on goal today.
1st Star: Thatcher Demko. Demko put up 38 saves today and the Comets needed him to do it. Thatcher has had a great season in Utica this year, but he has had a tough time getting wins recently. He played a calm game today and showed that presence on the ice that we were used to seeing when he was piling up the wins. Let’s hope that this game was a turning point of sorts for both Thatcher and the team.
VS Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
Friday, March 23rd, 2018
4:00 pm Pacific