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CanucksArmy Utica Comets Post-Game: Comets Kill Clinches Calder Cup Chance. Utica Downs Binghamton 4-3

Utica Comets Post-Game Report

Game #67 | Sunday, March 25th, 2018

2:05 pm Pacific

Pre-Game

The 17th overall Utica Comets continued their road trip today as they rolled into Binghamton to take on the 28th ranked Devils, (New Jersey affiliate) for game number 67 of the Comets season. The Comets had 74 points coming into the game, while the Devils had 55.

Binghamton had the AHL’s 10th ranked power play, operating at 18.2%, while their penalty kill was the league’s 21st best with an 82.5% effective rate. The Comets, for their part, had the 13th best power play in the league, running at 17.8%, while their penalty kill was sitting second in the AHL with an 86.3% effective rate.

Jacob MacDonald led all Devils players with 49 points in 65 games, while Nick Lappin sat second with 46 points in 55 games. Bracken Kearns rounded out the top three with 43 points in 65 games.

Michael Chaput was the Comets points leader amongst active players with 34 in 47 games. Zack MacEwen and Patrick Wiercioch each had 32 points this season with MacEwen playing in 61 games, while Wiercioch had appeared in 50 contests this season.

The Devils were coming off of a 5-4 shootout loss to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, while the Comets last played to a 2-0 loss to Syracuse yesterday. Binghamton had gone 4-4-1-1 over their previous 10 games, while the Comets had a record of 3-7-0-0 over the same span.

The Comets had a road record of 18-10-3-1 this season, while the Devils showed a home record of 11-16-4-2. The Devils had been outscored by a 209-165 margin this season, while the Comets had given up 191 goals this year while scoring 184.

The two clubs had squared off in six games already this season with the Comets holding a 4-games-to-two advantage in the season series. One of the Comets wins came in overtime, while the Devils won the most recent game handily by a score of 7-2.

Scratched today for the Comets were: Yan-Pavel Laplante, (injured), Joe LaBate, (injured), Brendan Woods, (injured), Evan McEneny, (injured), Cam Darcy, (injured), Jayson Megna, (injured), Tony Cameranesi, (injured), Dylan Blujus, (injured), Thatcher Demko, and Griffen Molino.

Comets Starting Lines

10 Matt Leitner – 82 Andrew Cherniwchan – 34 Carter Bancks (C)

7 Tanner MacMaster – 21 Michael Chaput – 15 Zack Mac Ewen

17 Alex D’Aoust – 19 Cole Cassels – 18 Vincent Arseneau

58 Michael Carcone – 36 Wacey Hamilton (A) – 39 Zac Lynch

28 Patrick Wiercioch – 5 Jalen Chatfield

55 Guillaume Brisebois – 26 Jaime Sifers (A)

44 Adam Comrie – 29 Frankie Simonelli

32 Richard Bachman

First Period

Well, this first period will not go down as one of the all-time exciting periods of hockey for the Comets. Both teams were on their third game in three days and it showed. Kevin Rooney got things started when he sent a wrist-shot on net and Bachman turned it aside. Moments later, Brian Strait was sent off for tripping.

Adam Comrie ripped a one-timer early and Lack swallowed it up for a whistle. Guillaume Brisebois followed up with a one-timer of his own but saw his shot blocked. Patrick Wiercioch sent a snapper on net that Lack gobbled up and held for the whistle and that was it for the Comets power play.

Michael Carcone hit Cole Cassels at speed with a pass and Cole got his shot away, but once again Eddie Lack was ready with the save.

Cassels was then sent off for unsportsmanlike conduct and the Comets were headed to the kill. John Quenneville fired a wrister wide before Wacey Hamilton went the other way for a shorthanded chance that Eddie Lack was ready for. The Comets did great work and came up with a good kill.

Yaroslav Dyblenko came at Bachman with a shot from just inside the Comets blueline and the Comets netminder soaked it up and held for the whistle. Bachman followed up with a pad save on a point shot, directing the puck to the corner and out of harm’s way.

Newcomer Matt Leitner stole the puck from Jan Mandat in the neutral zone and flatten the Devils pivot for good measure. Michael Chaput had a shot denied by Lack before Wacey Hamilton sent the Comets back to the penalty kill.

Hamilton was pegged for slashing and it was back to work for the Comets kill. Quenneville got a quick wrister away and Bachman whipped out the mitt and said no. That was the best chance for the Devils on this power play and the Comets had another good kill in the books.

Michael Carcone was looking to grab a goal when he came in hot on Lack, getting a shot away that the former Canucks netminder denied.

Wacey Hamilton headed right back to the box after taking a boarding penalty and he would watch his apprentices go back to work on the kill for two minutes. The Devils looked every bit the part of a team coming off back-to-back games, looking slow and tired on their man advantage. They would get nothing going and it was three-for-three for the Comets kill in the opening frame.

Zac Lynch would put the Comets up 1-0 with a late goal, his second of the season when he put the puck off the post and in. Adam Comrie picked up the lone helper on the play for his 10th assist of the season.

Jake Walman would follow up the Lynch goal with a hot-shot that Bachman denied, flashing the leather for the save. That was it for the first period. The Devils showed a 7-4 advantage on the shot clock for the opening frame.

Second Period

The second period got off to a spirited start as Bachman turned aside an early shot from Steven Santini before Brandon Baddock and Vincent Arseneau threw down for a solid tilt. Arseneau ate a few heavy punches before landing a left uppercut that buckled Baddock’s legs. Baddock went for the takedown quickly after getting rocked by the Arseneau fist. Both men were given five for fighting.

Nick Lappin was whistled for a cross-check right after the fight and the Comets were headed to the power play.

It didn’t take long for Frankie Simonelli to make Lappin feel shame as he ripped the puck past Lack just 15 seconds into the Comets man advantage. The goal was Simonelli’s first of the season, while Michael Chaput picked up his 21st helper of the year on the play and Patrick Wiercioch grabbed his 24th.

Wacey Hamilton is easily the Comets best penalty killer, at least in my opinion, but it is hard for him to kill penalties when he is the one in the box. Hamilton was sent off for the third time in the game when he took an interference penalty at the 5:00-minute mark of the middle frame.

The Comets would do a good job of keeping the Devils to the outside before John Quenneville let fly with another shot that Bachman turned aside.

Andrew Cherniwchan took advantage of a Devils miscue and went in on a partial break. Cherniwchan beat Lack and the Comets were up 3-0. The goal was Cherniwchan’s seventh of the season and it was an unassisted marker.

The Comets would get the shorthanded goal and come up with another good kill.

Jacob MacDonald was looking to get something going for the Devils with a hard shot that Bachman stopped and held for the whistle. Quenneville followed up with a one-timer off a Devils faceoff win that Bachman was ready for. MacDonald came back with another chance and Bachman made the save and held onto the puck with Kevin Rooney lurking.

At the other end of the ice, Adam Comrie dished to Frankie Simonelli for a chance but Lack was ready with the save.

Blake Speers was whistled for hooking at the 9:36 mark and it was back to the power play for the Comets. Simonelli had a shot blocked but Zack MacEwen pounced on the rebound. Lack said no. The Comets would come up short with their man advantage.

Matt Leitner was fingered for tripping soon after and it was back to the kill for the Comets. Quenneville kept coming with the shots, sending a one-timer on net that Bachman turned aside. Bachman was busier on this kill as he made a save on Brett Seney before making another save and seeing Carter Bancks come up with a big shot block and the Comets had another good kill.

Brandon Baddock was the next player headed to the box when he was sent off for interference. The Comets went to the power play but it was Kevin Rooney who had the best scoring chance, shorthanded, but Bachman gloved the puck down and dropped it to his defender to keep the play going.

Before the Comets could get anything going, Carter Bancks was whistled for tripping. We would see 28 seconds of four-on-four play during which neither team would make anything happen.

The Devils would end up with a brief power play after Rooney exited the box and Quenneville had a chance from in close. Bachman was ready with the first save and then came up with another on the resulting rebound. That was it for the second period. The Comets were badly outshot in the middle frame by a 14-6 margin.

Third Period

The third period did not get going the way the Comets wanted it to as Nathan Bastian beat Bachman for his ninth goal of the season just 1:35 in. Jake Walman picked up his 15th helper of the year on the play for the lone assist.

Frankie Simonelli was trying to make sure that he stays in the lineup when the team is healthy as the man was a shooting machine today. He finished the game with five of the Comets 14 shots on net and two of them came in quick succession early. First, it was his point shot that was redirected on net that Lack turned aside before he sent a wrister through traffic that Lack was able to stop.

At the other end of the ice, Bachman came up with a big save on Bastien to keep his team up by a pair.

Newcomer Matt Leitner would put the Comets up 4-1 at the 6:32 mark when he beat Lack from a bad angle for his first goal of the season in his first game with the Comets. The Leitner tally was unassisted.

Less than two minutes later, Jacob MacDonald got the Devils back within two when he sidestepped a falling Tanner MacMaster and walked in for a shot on Bachman that beat the Comets netminder for his 18th goal of the season. Kevin Rooney picked up his 18th helper of the year on the play, while John Quenneville grabbed his 17th.

Leitner followed up the MacDonald goal with a big hit on Brian Strait in the Devils zone and the two teams would have some good back and forth.

Michael Latta unloaded a heavy shot from the high slot and Bachman said no. Bachman was by far the busier keeper in this one and he was being leaned on heavily by his team in the final frame.

Bachman made a diving save on Nick Lappin and then foiled him again when he tried with another quick chance. Ben Thomson tried his luck with a shot and Bachman said no. Steven Santini offered up a shot and Bachman snagged it with the glove.

Michael Chaput was sent off for tripping at the 15:43 mark and it was back to the kill once more for the Comets.

It took just over a minute for Blake Speers to get the Devils to within a goal. Speers beat Bachman after a series of chances from Nathan Bastian and Michael Kapla. The goal was the 10th of the season for Speers, while Bastian earned his seventh helper of the year and Kapla picked up his 13th.

Michael Latta was looking to tie the game up with a shot that Bachman steered to the corner with his blocker before the Devils summoned Lack to the bench for the extra man.

Michael Carcone had a chance for an empty net goal but he put his shot wide. Bachman made a pair of saves from in tight before the Devils called their timeout with 1:10 remaining.

The timeout would do nothing to help the Devils solve Bachman for a tying goal and that was it in Binghamton. The Comets held on to win 4-3 and punched their ticket to the Calder Cup playoffs. The Devils finished with a 20-4 advantage on the shot clock for the final frame and a 41-14 advantage for the game. Thank you, Richard Bachman.

If you were following along in this post you will have noticed that all four Comets goals today were scored by players on PTO, (professional tryout) deals. That is some solid player mining put in by Pat Conacher and Ryan Johnson, not to mention the excellent work put in by the coaching staff to extract everything they can out of this depleted Comets roster.

Today’s Official Boxscore

The Three Stars in the building today were:

3rd Star: Nathan Bastian. One goal, one assist.

2nd Star: Andrew Cherniwchan. One goal, (shorthanded).

1st Star: Matt Leitner. One goal, (game-winner).

CanucksArmy’s Three Stars

3rd Star: Andrew Cherniwchan. Cherniwchan picked up a shorthanded goal today and showed why he has been a solid addition on a PTO since coming aboard. He now has seven points with the Comets, all goals. He isn’t going to pile up points, but he has shown to be very capable on the defensive side of the puck and has played both the middle and the wing for the Comets.

2nd Star: Frankie Simonelli. Simonelli has been patiently waiting to get back into the Comets lineup. With a goal and a team-leading five shots today, when the team only put up 14 as a group, he was trying to show that he should stay in. He had a good showing today, let’s hope he can keep it up while the Comets are using him in the lineup.

1st Star: Richard Bachman. For the third straight game, the Comets got outstanding goaltending, only this time it was from Richard Bachman and not Thatcher Demko. Bachman put up 38 saves on 41 shots and several were of the game-saving variety. If Demko and Bachman are both starting to get back on track, it could be a fun run to the playoffs for the Comets.

Next Game 

At Rochester Americans

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018

4:05 pm Pacific