Utica Comets Post-Game Report
Game #73 | Saturday, April 7th, 2018
4:00 pm Pacific
The 13th overall Utica Comets rolled into Syracuse to take on the third-ranked Crunch, (Tampa Bay affiliate) for game number 73 of the Comets season. The Comets were up to 85 points on the season, while the Crunch had 94.
The Comets had the league’s eighth-best power play, operating at 18.7%, while their penalty kill sat second in the AHL with an 85.6% success rate. The Crunch showed the AHL’s 23rd ranked power play with a 15.8% success rate, while their penalty kill was third in the league with an 84.5% success rate.
Michael Chaput led all active Comets scorers with 41 points in 53 games, while Patrick Wiercioch sat second with 36 points in 55 games. Michael Carcone and Cole Cassels each had 26 points with Carcone having played in 65 contests, while Cassels had played in 66. Mathieu Joseph was the top dog in Syracuse with 53 points in 67 games, while Carter Verhaeghe sat second with 43 in 53 games. Matthew Peca rounded out their top-three with 43 points in 60 games.
The Crunch were coming off of a 4-3 shootout loss to Binghamton, while the Comets last played to a 3-2 shootout win over Toronto. The Crunch had a record of 7-1-0-2 over their previous 10 games, while the Comets had gone 7-2-1-0 over the same span.
Syracuse showed a home record of 23-9-2-1 this season, while Utica had a road record of 21-10-4-1 coming into today’s game. The Crunch had outscored their competition by a count of 226-180 this season, while the Comets had scored 205 goals and had given up 207.
The two clubs had squared off 10 times already this season with each team showing five wins and five losses. Two of the Syracuse losses came in the shootout and the last game between the two teams ended in a 2-0 Crunch win.
This game could be the first of many between former Kelowna Rockets teammates Kole Lind and Cal Foote as the two could see a lot of each other in the Comets/Crunch rivalry over the next couple of seasons in the AHL.
In other Comets news, by picking up his 24th win of the season yesterday, Thatcher Demko tied the team record for regular season wins by a Comets goalie that was set by Joacim Eriksson in the 2013/14 season.
The Comets will also be getting some reinforcements very soon and Trent Cull will have some roster decisions to make. Nikolay Goldobin, Tyler Motte, Ashton Sautner, and possibly Reid Boucher will be arriving from Vancouver after their season ends in Edmonton tonight. Boucher has a broken hand and it is unclear at this point if the team will send him down. If Boucher is to get back to Utica, he will first need to clear waivers. Boucher also became a father yesterday. Congrats Reid.
The players mentioned above aren’t the only ones who could be on their way as Jonathan Dahlen wrapped up his season yesterday and could also be joining the squad as soon as next week. Olli Juolevi and or Petrus Palmu could also be possibilities when their seasons wrap up. The other player/players to keep an eye on are Jonah Gadjovich and Brett McKenzie who are still playing with the Owen Sound Attack of the OHL. McKenzie has yet to be signed by the Canucks, so he is less likely.
At the end of the day, what this all means is that Trent Cull will have more players at his disposal than he has had all season. The team also got Jayson Megna back from injury yesterday and that means that they are one vet over the limit and will have to play the veteran shuffle again. Ben Birnell of the Utica Observer-Dispatch does a nice job of breaking down which Comets players are affected by the rule.
Cull said Bancks could have played Friday.
Anyway, with Megna returning to the lineup the Comets are dealing with the vet rule again for the first time since early in the season.
Teams can play 5 Vets.
Comets have 6: Sifers, Chaput, Megna, Wiercioch, Hamilton and Bancks. https://t.co/8JKHringvs
— O-D Comets (@OD_Comets) April 7, 2018
Before I get to the scratches and starting line up, I want to send my condolences to those who have been affected by the Humboldt Broncos tragedy. The Nation Network has come up with a way to help out and I urge you to give it a look and take part if possible, if not, maybe you can pass the info along so someone else can.
The Nation Network has partnered with @print_machine for this Humboldt Broncos charity tee that is now live with 100% of the profits going directly to the victims of this horrible tragedy. If this is not for you, please help us spread the word. Thank you https://t.co/HbbLDazByz pic.twitter.com/72hsSnRo8K
— CanucksArmy (@CanucksArmy) April 7, 2018
Scratched today for the Comets were: Yan-Pavel Laplante, (injured), Joe LaBate, (injured), Brendan Woods, (injured), Cam Darcy, (injured), Zack MacEwen, (injured), Guillaume Brisebois, (injured), Frankie Simonelli, (injured), Wacey Hamilton, (vet rule), Michael Chaput, and Alex D’Aoust.
Comets Starting Lines
18 Vincent Arseneau – 23 Jayson Megna – 37 Kole Lind
7 Tanner MacMaster – 34 Carter Bancks (C) – 40 Lukas Jasek
58 Michael Carcone – 19 Cole Cassels – 13 Griffen Molino
27 Tony Cameranesi – 82 Andrew Cherniwchan – 10 Matt Leitner
44 Adam Comrie – 8 Dylan Blujus
28 Patrick Wiercioch (A) – 5 Jalen Chatfield
12 Nolan Valleau – 26 Jaime Sifers (A)
30 Thatcher Demko
I will let you all know up front that this was another terrible feed from AHL Live for this game. I had to listen to the Syracuse feed because the Utica feed audio/video was way out of sync…again. The video quality was also very poor, often making it difficult to even tell which players were on the ice at a given time. That said, the above roster alignment may or may not be accurate.
Tanner MacMaster kicked things off for the Comets when he stepped over the Syracuse blueline with a shot that Crunch netminder Eddie Pasquale denied. A brief melee broke out but it was quickly quelled by the officials.
At the other end of the ice, Thatcher Demko turned aside a shot and the Comets headed back the other way. Patrick Wiercioch and Jayson Megna each had chances turned aside by Pasquale. Demko followed up with a save on Alexey Lipanov before Andrew Cherniwchan and Alex Gallant were each sent off for roughing.
Dominik Masin was whistled for tripping just 20 seconds later and the Comets had a four-on-three man advantage. Kevin Lynch managed to get a shorthanded break and he turned Adam Comrie inside-out with a move and sent a backhander on net. Demko came up with a big save to keep the game scoreless.
— x – Utica Comets (@UticaComets) April 7, 2018
The Comets came up empty with the man advantage and as Masin came out of the box he was sent in for a scoring chance. Demko said no. Alexander Volkov followed up by ripping a shot off the iron. Thatcher had those fat posts behind him again today. Lynch came back with a wrister and Demko gloved it down for the whistle.
Lukas Jasek has impressed since joining the Comets and he looked good again in the opening period, getting a shot off from the wing that Pasquale turned aside. The puck went the other way for another chance that Demko denied before Pasquale stymied Jasek once again. Jasek finished the first period with three shots on net to lead both clubs.
Crunch rookie Cal Foote dished a sweet outlet pass to Olivier Archambault who got a shot away that couldn’t beat Demko. Archambault followed up with another chance and Demko kicked out the pad to make the save.
Demko followed up with another save before getting slashed by Alex Gallant. Thatcher was having none of it and the next thing you know, all hell broke loose and Thatcher and Gallant had a wrestling match. Thatcher was firey in this one.
Demko sticking up for himself against Gallant before the reinforcements jump into the fray
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) April 7, 2018
Demko and Gallant each earned two minutes for roughing, while Gallant also received two minutes for slashing. The Comets looked to score on their power play, but the goal was waived off for incidental contact. Demko would make a save off a Mitchell Stephens offering before Michael Carcone was sent off for high-sticking.
With the teams playing four aside, Demko had to come up with another save on Stephens before turning aside a one-timer as well. That was it for the opening frame. The Crunch showed a 13-7 advantage on the shot clock.
The Comets started the period with the remainder of the Carcone minor to kill off and they did just that.
After the kill, Kevin Lynch came off the right side boards with a shot that Demko steered away with the blocker before stopping an Erik Cernak point shot. The Crunch were coming with some pressure.
Mitchel Stephens killed some of the Crunch momentum when he was sent off for hooking at the 3:40 mark. The Comets were trying to get shots through but Syracuse were doing a good job of blocking them. Kole Lind managed to get a shot through that Pasquale got a piece of before Carcone’s rebound chance was denied as well. Cole Cassels followed up with a shot and Pasquale whipped out his leg for a kick save to keep the game tied at zero. The Comets power play came up empty again.
Mitchell Stephens and two teammates were coming in hot on Demko, Stephens got a shot away and Demko came up with a quick pad save. The puck went the other way and not to be outdone, Pasquale made a save too. Vincent Arseneau followed up with a one-timer chance that was steered over the glass by Pasquale.
Lukas Jasek doesn’t just put up points, he is also a fiery player, which he showed when he started mucking it up with Olivier Archambault on a faceoff. Dude is a pest.
Jalen Chatfield wired a shot from the point that Pasquale denied before he was forced into another save on the rebound. The Comets kept the pressure up as somebody, sorry, the video was so poor that I couldn’t tell who, but somebody from the Comets ripped the puck off the iron behind Pasquale.
Adam Comrie and Reid McNeill traded chances and Pasquale and Demko traded saves before Andrew Cherniwchan rolled down the right side, sending a shot on net that Pasquale gloved down for the whistle.
Mitchell Stephens kept the shots coming as he sent one in from the left circle that Demko grabbed up for a whistle before Dylan Blujus ripped a shot on net that Pasquale steered away with the blocker. Demko would come up with a pad save at the other end and the period came to a close.
The Comets showed a 12-6 advantage in shots for the middle frame.
Erik Cernak got things started in the third with a clapper that Demko turned aside with a kick save. Vincent Arseneau went the other way with a shot that Pasquale soaked up and he held for the whistle.
Thatcher Demko followed up with back-to-back saves on Carter Verhaeghe and Reid McNeill before Dylan Blujus came up with a huge shot block on a Crunch three-on-two.
Cole Cassels saw Kole Lind cutting to the net and he floated the puck on the net looking for a tip-in play. Pasquale was able to snatch up the puck before Lind could do any damage. Reid McNeill followed up with a shot at the other end that Demko got a pad on. The box score shows Reid McNeill as having just two shots, but the Syracuse feed seemed to have him getting a shot on net on nearly every one of his shifts.
Erik Condra tried a chance from in close and Demko said no. After the save, Adam Comrie and Daniel Walcott got into a shoving match, but cooler heads would prevail before either would be sent to the box.
Griffen Molino stole a puck just inside the Crunch zone and got a good shot away, but Crunch rookie Cal Foote came up with a big shot block. At the other end, Demko came up with a pair of saves, first on McNeill and then on Mat Bodie who let fly with a one-timer that Thatcher denied.
Andrew Cherniwchan headed down the right side boards and was buried with a big hit. The puck went to the Crunch net and Tanner MacMaster was also dumped and a massive scrum broke out. By the time the smoke had cleared, each of Lukas Jasek, Dylan Blujus, Erik Cernak, and Daniel Walcott found themselves in the box for roughing.
When play resumed, Kole Lind had a chance to pick up his first pro goal as he was camped in the right spot for the shot but the puck jumped over his stick at the last second. Next time Kole.
Michael Carcone was sent off for tripping Mathieu Joseph at the 13:15 mark and Joseph joined him in the box for diving/embellishment. The four-on-four play would last less than a minute as Matt Leitner was sent off for tripping and gave the Crunch a four-on-three man advantage.
Demko made a pair of saves on Matthew Peca before Erik Condra got a piece of a Peca point shot and it went off the crossbar and in to put the Crunch up 1-0. The goal was Condra’s ninth of the season, while Peca picked up his 33rd helper of the year on the play. Mitchell Stephens earned the other assist to give him 22 helpers on the season.
Demko made a save after the goal and he looked frustrated. Thatcher didn’t look as calm and collected as he normally does in this one today.
Another scrum broke out, this time along the boards in front of the Crunch bench and the end result was Andrew Cherniwchan and Alexander Volkov heading to the box for roughing. Time was running out on the Comets and they summoned Demko to the bench for an extra attacker.
Wiercioch put a shot through traffic, but Pasquale came up with a big save and that was about it in Syracuse. After the final horn sounded, there was a fight that I could only hear and not see as AHL Live had already gone to crowd shots and advertising rather than show the brouhaha. The fight was between Cernak and Arseneau and because it came after the game ended, it is possible, if not likely that one or both players could face suspension.
Arseneau was assessed with five minutes for fighting, along with a 10-minute game misconduct for being the aggressor. Cernak, for his part, was given five for fighting along with a 10-minute game misconduct for continuing altercation.
The Crunch won 1-0, showing a nine-shots-to-seven edge in shots for the third period and a 30-26 advantage for the game.
The Three Stars in the building today were:
3rd Star: Thatcher Demko. 29 saves.
2nd Star: Erik Condra. One goal.
1st Star: Eddie Pasquale. 26 saves.
CanucksArmy’s Three Stars
We are going a little bit unconventional for the three stars today. This is partly because the Comets were shut out and nobody really stood out today, and partly because it was honestly difficult to see anyone stand out even if they did with how terrible the video feed was. So we will use the three stars today as a way to build a little bit of excitement for next week.
3rd Star: Nikolay Goldobin, Tyler Motte, Ashton Sautner, and Reid Boucher. Now, Boucher has a broken hand and he will require waivers to get back to Utica, so it is unclear at this point which way the team will go with him. Adding Goldobin, Motte, and Sautner however, will be a huge boost. Goldobin has proven that he can help this team score and Motte put up 11 points in 17 games with Cleveland in the AHL this season before his trade to the Canucks. Getting Sautner back will help balance the backend, especially if/when Guillaume Brisebois returns from his injury.
2nd Star: Olli Juolevi and Petrus Palmu. The Comets could also see defenseman Olli Juolevi join their ranks when his playoff series ends, which could be as soon as this week. I am less certain about Palmu coming over, but I would gladly see him spend time with the Comets before their playoffs are over. Palmu put up 36 points in 59 games as a rookie with TPS Turku in the regular season and has added four points in nine playoff games for the club. Juolevi put up 19 points in 38 regular season games with TPS Turku along with five points in nine playoff games so far. TPS Turku is on the brink of elimination from their playoffs.
1st Star: Jonathan Dahlen. Dahlen set a goal this season to help get his club team Timra IK out of the Allsvenskan, (second-tier league) and into the SHL/Elitserien, (top tier) and he accomplished his goal. That took a lot of drive from Dahlen and that kind of drive will go a long way for him going forward. Dahlen put up 23 goals and 21 assists in 44 games with Timra this season to give him 44 points in the regular season. He also put up eight goals and six helpers in 10 games to help his team advance to the SHL. I’m looking forward to seeing what Dahlen can do in Utica’s playoffs this year.
VS Syracuse Crunch
Friday, April 13th, 2018
4:00 pm Pacific