Utica Comets Post-Game Report
Game #71 | Thursday, March 5th, 2018
8:00 am Pacific
The 15th overall Utica Comets rolled into Toronto today to take on the first ranked Marlies, (Toronto affiliate) for game number 71 of the Comets season. The Comets had 82 points coming into the game today, while the Marlies showed 102 points for their season’s efforts to this point.
The Comets had the AHL’s 10th best power play, operating at 18.6%, while their penalty kill sat second in the league with an 85.6% success rate. The Marlies, for their part, had the 14th best power play in the AHL with an 18.0% success rate, while their penalty kill reigned supreme, sitting first overall with a success rate of 89.2%.
Michael Chaput led all Comets active scorers with 39 points in 51 games this season, while defenseman Patrick Wiercioch was sitting in second with 35 points in 53 games. Rookie Zack MacEwen rounded out the top three with 32 points in 64 games. Ben Smith was the big cheese in Toronto with 57 points in 70 games played, while Chris Mueller sat second with 46 points in 70 games. Miro Aaltonen was their third leading point getter with 32 points in 64 games played.
The Comets were coming off of a 6-5 win over Springfield, while the Marlies last played to a 5-4 win over Manitoba. The Marlies had a record of 8-2-0-0 over their previous 10 games, while the Comets showed a record of 6-4-0-0 over the same span.
Utica had a road record of 21-10-3-1 this season, while Toronto had gone 29-5-0-1 at home coming into today’s contest. The Comets had scored 200 goals this season while giving up 202. The Marlies had outscored their competition by a count of 230-151.
The two clubs had faced off six times already this season with the Marlies holding a convincing four-games-to-two advantage in the season series, having outscored Utica 19-17 in the process. The Comets did, however, come out victorious the last meeting by a 3-1 margin.
In other Comets news, after Lukas Jasek made his Comets debut last game, picking up a goal and two helpers in the process, it is expected that Canucks 2017 second-round draft pick Kole Lind will make his debut today after being signed to an ATO, (amateur tryout) this week.
Comets sign forward Kole Lind to an amateur tryout contract.
— x – Utica Comets (@UticaComets) April 2, 2018
With Lind and Jasek coming aboard, and Jonathan Dahlen and Jonah Gadjovich possibly joining the Comets soon as well, along with the impending returns of Goldobin and Motte, the forward ranks were getting crowded. Subsequently, Utica announced this week that they had released forward Zac Lynch from his PTO, (professional tryout) with the team. Lynch picked up three points in eight games with the Comets and joins the long list of players who have helped the Comets get to where they are this season. Thanks, Zac.
Comets sign Nolan Valleau, release Zac Lynch.
— x – Utica Comets (@UticaComets) April 4, 2018
In the same announcement, the team also let us know that they were bringing another defenseman in on a PTO. Nolan Valleau is the latest to join the ranks. Valleau is an undrafted, 25-year-old who stands 6’1″ and weighs in at 180 lbs. He shoots left and has spent most of the last three seasons in the AHL. He has spent the bulk of this season in the ECHL with the Orlando Solar Bears, picking up 34 points in 41 games.
The other roster move made by the Comets this week was to release Lukas Jasek from his ATO…and sign him to a PTO. The big difference here for the player is that he will earn a paycheck while with the team.
Scratched today for the Comets were: Yan-Pavel Laplante, (injured), Joe LaBate, (injured), Brendan Woods, (injured), Cam Darcy, (injured), Jayson Megna, (injured), Guillaume Brisebois, (injured), Zack MacEwen, (injured), Dylan Blujus, (injured), Matt Leitner, and Alex D’Aoust.
Comets Starting Lines
13 Griffen Molino – 34 Carter Bancks (C) – 82 Andrew Cherniwchan
7 Tanner MacMaster – 21 Michael Chaput – 37 Kole Lind
58 Michael Carcone – 36 Wacey Hamilton (A) – 40 Lukas Jasek
18 Vincent Arseneau – 19 Cole Cassels – 27 Tony Cameranesi
44 Adam Comrie – 28 Frankie Simonelli
28 Patrick Wiercioch – 5 Jalen Chatfield
12 Nolan Valleau – 26 Jaime Sifers (A)
32 Richard Bachman
The first period of this one got underway with Richard Bachman making a diving save on a Ben Smith shot to set the tone for the day. Bachman was good in the opening frame.
Lukas Jasek had an impressive first game last week, putting up three points. I’m not sure if he will be able to keep up his current pace, however, as he put up two more points in the first period of this game…but we will get to that in a moment.
First up though, Jasek took a nice feed from Tanner MacMaster and put a shot on net that Garret Sparks gobbled up for a whistle. At the other end of the ice, Rich Clune came down the left side and put a shot on net that Bachman swallowed up and held for a faceoff.
Jalen Chatfield took a long time to score his first AHL goal, picking it up in his last game, which was his 56th contest with the Comets this year. He didn’t take as long for his follow up goal, picking up his second of the season at the 4:57 mark after taking a sweet cross-ice feed from Tanner MacMaster. The assist was MacMaster’s fifth since joining the Comets, while Lukas Jasek picked up the other helper for his third of the season.
— x – Utica Comets (@UticaComets) April 5, 2018
Vincent Arseneau followed up the Chatfield goal by bringing the boom, levelling Frederik Gauthier with a big hit.
The two clubs would go back and forth a bit before Tanner MacMaster buried a Lukas Jasek rebound behind Sparks for his second goal of the season. Jasek earned his fourth helper since joining the Comets, while Michael Chaput earned his 24th assist of the season on the play.
— x – Utica Comets (@UticaComets) April 5, 2018
Wacey Hamilton followed up the MacMaster goal by sending a shot on net that was tipped wide before the puck went the other way. Colin Greening buried Jalen Chatfield with a hit in the Comets zone and the rookie defender looked like he was shaken up. He did get up and he did continue in the game.
Chatfield showed that the hit didn’t leave any lingering effects when moments late,r he unloaded a bomb on the net that Sparks denied. Michael Carcone followed up with a chance that Sparks was also ready for.
Timothy Liljegren came back the other way with a shot off the wing that Bachman gloved down for a whistle before the Comets netminder had to make a pad save on a Vincent LoVerde offering.
Tanner MacMaster did some nice work to side-step a hit coming out of the Comets zone. I have mentioned that the one thing that worries me about MacMaster is that he can be somewhat easy to knock off the puck. If he can keep it up with the shifty plays to avoid the contact, he won’t have to worry about being knocked off the puck.
Richard Bachman was playing a solid opening period of hockey, making a save that sent the puck the other way before Miro Aaltonen came back on a breakaway and was stymied by the Comets netminder. Bachman turned aside a Dmytro Timashov chance before robbing Trevor Moore on a backdoor play as the period was winding down.
Andrew Cherniwchan was whistled for hooking at the 19:33 mark and the Comets would spend the remainder of the period on the kill.
The Marlies finished the opening period up 15-7 on the shot clock, but down 2-0 on the scoreboard.
Jalen Chatfield kept his strong game going when he broke in for a shorthanded chance to start the period. Sparks was ready with the save. Adam Brooks would get a shot away that Bachman turned aside and the Comets killed off the remainder of the Cherniwchan penalty.
Unfortunately, just as Cherniwchan was getting back into the play after coming out of the box, Pierre Engvall beat Bachman for his third goal of the season. Dmytro Timashov earned his 20th helper of the year on the play, while Andrew Nielsen picked up his 16th.
The Marlies kept coming as Andreas Borgman came right back with a shot that Bachman turned aside. It would be a busy day for the Comets netminder.
Jalen Chatfield was sent off for tripping a minute later and the Comets were headed back to the penalty kill. The Marlies would get one good chance when Pierre Engvall sent a shot Bachman’s way that was shut down. The Comets came up with a good kill.
Patrick Wiercioch was wearing face/jaw protection for today’s game after going down in the same game as Zack MacEwen last week. Wiercioch got a shot away that Sparks turned aside and we still had a 2-1 game.
Back to MacEwen, it was mentioned during the Comets broadcast by Andy Zilch that MacEwen is now listed as being out week-to-week. This is pure speculation on my part, but I wonder if MacEwen may have a concussion after taking a big hit last week. If that is indeed the case, I hope that the big fella can take the time needed to get back to good health. The young man has promise and I would like him to be able to see that promise through.
Tanner MacMaster has been showing very well since coming on board on an ATO. He looks to be a pretty solid playmaker. MacMaster dished a pass to Jaime Sifers for a point shot that was soaked up by Sparks for a whistle before Chaput let fly with a hot-shot from the right side boards that Sparks denied as well.
Adam Comrie saw himself get beat to a puck in the Comets zone by Trevor Moore, but he also saw his goaltender come up with a ballsy poke-check. Bachman saw Moore coming in hot and the netminder charged out with a daring poke-check to dash Moore’s chance.
It was at this point in the game that I noticed the Comets defence pairs looked different. I had to listen to the game alternating between the home and away feeds, rather than just the Comets visiting feed today. The sound and video were just too far out of sync to make the game watchable otherwise. As such, it may have been pointed out earlier in the game by Comets play-by-play man Andy Zilch, but it appeared that Frankie Simonelli was the missing defender. The Comets would go the rest of the way with five defensemen.
The Marlies were looking to tie this game up when Gauthier sent a backhander Bachman’s way that was turned aside before Martin Marincin clanged a puck off the iron.
Not to be outdone, Michael Carcone dished to newcomer Nolan Valleau for a point shot. Sparks made the save and he held for the whistle with a crowd forming in front. Jaime Sifers followed up with another point shot that was steered out of play by the Marlies netminder. Lukas Jasek sent a pass to MacMaster for a shot that Sparks got a blocker on.
There looks to be some decent early chemistry between MacMaster and Jasek. Michael Chaput followed up with a one-timer that was turned aside, but the Comets had some good pressure from the Chaput line.
As the period was drawing to a close, Martin Marincin let fly with another shot that Bachman grabbed up and held for a whistle before Cole Cassels came up with a late shot block to end the middle frame.
The teams were tied with 11 shots apiece in the second period and the Comets were still up 2-1.
The Marlies came out hot in the third period, forcing Bachman into an early save on a redirected shot before Adam Comrie was sent off for hooking at the 1:37 mark. Bachman came up with a pad save on Adam Brooks before stopping Trevor Moore and Ben Smith on back-to-back chances. The Comets would come up with another good kill.
Timashov rolled down the right side with a quick shot and Bachman flashed the leather and said no. Trevor Moore came back with another chance and Bachman was ready with the save and held for the whistle.
Patrick Wiercioch had a chance from the circle that was denied by Sparks before Ben Smith went the other way with speed, cutting to the Comets net with the puck. Bachman stood his ground with the save before denying Adam Brooks on the rebound.
Bachman couldn’t stop everything though, as Vincent LoVerde beat him for his eighth goal of the season to tie the game at two. Andrew Nielsen and Trevor Moore each picked up their 17th helper of the year on the play.
Bachman was doing his best to keep the Comets in this one as he came up with a pad save through traffic before losing his stick and still coming up with a save on a Timothy Liljegren point shot through a crowd.
Jalen Chatfield set up Kole Lind for a one-timer in the slot that the Comets rookie got off very quickly, but Sparks swallowed it up and held for the whistle.
You may have noticed that Lind’s name hasn’t come up much yet to this point. This was easily Lind’s best chance of the game, in fact, it was the only shot that he was credited with. I had people tweeting to me and messaging me throughout the game, asking about how Lind was playing. Well, to be honest, he looked like a rookie playing in his first AHL game. That isn’t to say that he looked bad, or lost, or anything of the sort, he just looked like a guy who was getting his first feel of pro hockey. I hope that people give Lind a handful of games to get up to speed before judging his play. Rookies Zack MacEwen, Alex D’Aoust, Guillaume Brisebois, and Jalen Chatfield all took some games to get comfortable and I don’t expect anything different from Lind.
Adam Comrie came up with a timely poke-check in the Comets zone on Ben Smith to break up a scoring chance before Michael Carcone turned on the jets and blasted into the Marlies zone for a chance. Carcone tried his move and Sparks came up with a save bigger than Gavin McGlenister’s running shoes.
Bachman would have to come up with one more save on a Gauthier shot from the point and this game would need the extra period. The Marlies showed a 13-7 edge in shots for the third period.
It was all Marlies in the extra frame as the Comets would not muster a single shot. Carcone used his wheels to break up a chance by Trevor Moore early.
We did see Kole Lind get a brief shift in overtime, which was nice to see. If there is one thing that I can say about Utica this season, the team is not afraid to play their kids and put them in pressure situations. I feel like this will only bode well for their futures.
Andreas Borgman had a chance denied by Bachman before Trevor Moore ripped a shot off the cross-bar.
Adam Brooks ended this one with just 32.8 seconds left when he beat Bachman for his seventh goal of the season. Moore picked up his 18th helper of the year on the play, while Justin Holl earned his 20th.
That was it in Utica. Marlies win 3-2.
The Three Stars in the building today were:
3rd Star: Richard Bachman. 39 saves.
2nd Star: Andrew Nielsen. Two assists.
1st Star: Adam Brooks. Game Winner in overtime.
CanucksArmy’s Three Stars
3rd Star: Richard Bachman. Bachman came up with 39 saves today, which was a season-high for him according to Ben Birnell of the Utica Observer-Dispatch. There were a handful of saves today that were of the big variety, as is usually the case for the Comets netminder. With the Comets heading to the playoffs, there is every chance that they will need both of their stoppers to play and play well. I have faith in Bachman to get a win or two if needed in the extra season.
2nd Star: Lukas Jasek. Jasek Came up with another pair of helpers today and he looked dangerous at times on the ice. He is up to one goal and four assists in his first two-games with the Comets. It is early, and this is a small sample size, but his play looks promising enough that I would like to see the Canucks do whatever it is that they would need to do to get Jasek to Utica for next season. He does, however, still have another year remaining on his deal overseas. Ryan Biech of CanucksArmy tells me that his deal overseas is something that can be worked around though.
1st Star: Tanner MacMaster. MacMaster picked up a goal and an assist today and now has two goals and five assists to give him seven points in nine games since joining the Comets from Quinnipiac of the NCAA on an ATO. Again, this is a small sample size, but MacMaster is growing on me as he gains confidence at this level. He is looking like an adept playmaker and he doesn’t have a problem keeping up with the pace of the pro game. I hope to see MacMaster get at least an AHL deal for next season with the Comets, and depending on how his offseason goes, a two-way deal may not be out of the question.
Vs Toronto Marlies
Friday, March 6th, 2018
4:00 pm Pacific