Utica Comets Post-Game Report
Game #76 | Sunday, April 15th, 2018
The 28th overall Binghamton Devils, (New Jersey affiliate) rolled into Utica today to take on the 15th ranked Comets for the final game of the regular season. The Devils had 62 points coming into the game today, while the Comets had 86 points to show for their first 75 games.
The Devils had the league’s seventh-best power play, operating at 18.9 %, while their penalty kill was ranked 21st with an 82.0% success rate. The Comets, for their part, had the 13th best power play in the AHL with an 18.0% success rate, while their penalty kill was operating at 85.5%, which had them sitting second overall in that category.
Jacob MacDonald was the Devils leading scorer with 55 points in 74 games this year, while Nick Lappin sat second with 52 points in 64 games. Bracken Kearns rounded out their top-three with 43 points in 67 games. For the Comets, Michael Chaput led all active players with 41 points in 54 games, while Patrick Wiercioch sat second with 36 points in 57 games this season. Rookie Zack MacEwen sat third with 32 points in 65 games.
The Devils were coming off of a 4-2 loss to Hartford, while the Comets last played to a 3-1 loss to Belleville yesterday.
Binghamton showed a record of 3-5-1-1 over their previous 10 games, while the Comets had gone 5-3-2-0 over the same span. The Devils had a road record of 12-19-4-2 this season, while the Comets had gone 16-14-4-3 at home this year.
Utica had scored 207 goals coming into the game today while giving up 213. Binghamton had been outscored 243-190 by their opposition this season.
The two clubs had squared off seven times already this season with the Comets holding a five-games-to-two advantage in the season series.
Scratched today for the Comets were: Yan-Pavel Laplante, (injured), Joe LaBate, (injured), Brendan Woods, (injured), Evan McEneny, (injured), Frankie Simonelli, (injured), Aaron Irving, Jayson Megna, Dylan Blujus, Alex D’Aoust, Griffen Molino, Vincent Arseneau, Cole Cassels, Michael Carcone, Tony Cameranesi, Adam Comrie, Michael Garteig, and Caleb Herbert.
Comets Starting Lines
14 Tyler Motte – 21 Michael Chaput (A) – 40 Lukas Jasek
77 Nikolay Goldobin – 11 Cam Darcy – 15 Zack MacEwen
7 Tanner MacMaster – Wacey Hamilton (A) – 37 Kole Lind
54 Jonathan Dahlen – 82 Andrew Cherniwchan – 34 Carter Bancks (C)
12 Nolan Valleau – 28 Patrick Wiercioch
6 Ashton Sautner – 57 Willie Corrin
55 Guillaume Brisebois – 26 Jaime Sifers (A)
30 Thatcher Demko
Trent Cull went full veteran with his opening lineup today, electing to start with Wacey Hamilton – Michael Chaput – Carter Bancks along with defencemen Patrick Wiercioch and Jaime Sifers. The lines would shake out the way I have them listed above after the first shift.
The period started with some back and forth before Kole Lind was sent off for boarding at the 2:30 mark. The Devils would score on their first shot of the power play, and game, when Jan Mandat beat Demko for his fourth goal of the season with a shot through traffic. Michael Kapla earned his 15th helper of the year on the play, while Mario Lucia picked up his 13th.
Not to be outdone, just 1:30 later, Jonathan Dahlen scored to tie the game at one with the Comets first shot on net. The goal was a nice tap-in with Dahlen set up right in the slot where he should be. The official box score at the time of the goal had the assists to Jaime Sifers, his sixth, and Andrew Cherniwchan with his second. I expect the first assist to be changed to Carter Bancks for his 13th helper of the season.
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) April 15, 2018
Dahlen followed up his goal with a nifty backhander that Devils goaltender Cam Johnson denied. Dahlen came to play today.
Brandon Baddock was whistled for tripping at the 7:55 mark and the Comets would get their first chance on the power play for the day, but they would be unable to get anything going.
Shortly after Baddock exited the box, Nick Lapping beat Demko for his 31st goal of the season with the Devils third shot of the game. The first period was not a goaltender’s duel. Michael Kapla picked up his second assist of the day and 16th of the season on the play, while Brett Seney earned his fifth.
As the goal was scored, Jaime Sifers and Ben Thompson got acquainted with some pushing and shoving that led to both men receiving two minutes in the box for roughing.
During the four-on-four play, Demko made a blocker save and the puck went the other way.
With the game back to five aside, Jagger Dirk was sent off for holding on a play that sent Nikolay Goldobin to the ice. Goldobin spent time on the ensuing power play but looked to be limping a bit on his way to the bench.
Johnson was busier on this Comet power play as Lukas Jasek let fly with a pair of one-timers that were denied before Willie Corrin saw a one-timer of his own turned aside as well.
Austin Cangelosi broke in for a shorthanded chance that Demko denied and that was it for the Comets power play. It was at this point that I noticed Goldobin limping to the bench. Look for an update on Goldobin near the end of the post.
Jonathan Dahlen wasn’t happy to only show up with a goal today, he also made his way to the penalty box after being whistled for a high-stick and the Comets were headed to the kill. Demko would come up with a save off of a Nick Lappin shot from the circle before denying a shot off the wing and the Comets would come up with a good kill.
Patrick Wiercioch followed up a good kill with his 10th goal of the season, which ties a career high for him. Wiercioch got the goal, but this one was all Jonathan Dahlen as he exited the penalty box and turned on the jets. He drew two defenders to him and he turned them inside out and took the puck to the net where Wiercioch had an easy tap-in. Dahlen earned his first AHL assist on the play and his second point of the game, while Wacey Hamilton picked up his 17th helper of the year.
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) April 15, 2018
Wacey Hamilton was headed to the penalty box for slashing a minute later and the Comets would finish the period on the kill. Demko would shut down a Jacob MacDonald slapper before denying a backhander in tight from Blake Pietila.
The Devils finished the period with a 10-7 advantage on the shot clock.
The Comets started the middle frame with the remainder of Wacey Hamilton’s penalty to kill off and thanks to a Demko save on MacDonald, they would do just that.
Nick Lappin had a chance from in close denied by Demko after the power play and the Comets were getting off to a good start.
Kole Lind looked more comfortable yesterday and he looked just as comfortable today, dishing a few sweet passes over the course of the game. I like what I am seeing from Kole so far as he gets his feet wet in the AHL.
Ben Thompson was sent off for interference at the 2:20 mark and it was the Comets turn with the man advantage. Michael Chaput sent a shot on net that was quickly covered up by Johnson as all 6’4″ of Zack MacEwen was all up in his face looking for a rebound. The Comets had some good pressure on this power play, but they would come up empty again.
Christoph Bertschy was the next man to the box as he was whistled for boarding just after the Thompson penalty expired.
Zack MacEwen had a chance that was denied but Michael Chaput whipped out his shovel and didn’t stop digging until the puck was in the back of the Devils net. The goal was Chaput’s 17th of the season, while MacEwen grabbed his 23rd helper of the year for his efforts. Nikolay Goldobin was awarded the other assist, his 22nd of the season.
— x – Utica Comets (@UticaComets) April 15, 2018
The teams would go back and forth before Cam Darcy and Brett Seney were sent off for coincidental minors. Darcy was assessed with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, while Seney was sent off for interference. Not much would happen during the four-on-four play, but Jagger Dirk had a chance swallowed up by Demko when the teams got back to five aside play.
Jaime Sifers would have a chance turned aside before Zack MacEwen was sent off for kneeing. Seney would ring a shot off the bar before Demko denied Nick Lappin on a pair of chances. Michael Chaput won a faceoff and was cross-checked for his efforts by Seney. Chaput was having none of that and he clobbered Seney, sending him to the ice. Both men were sent to the box for their antics. Chaput was issued with a roughing penalty, while Seney was fingered for a cross-check.
Guillaume Brisebois was back in action today after missing a few games with an injury and the rookie rearguard went end-to-end on a rush that looked promising until he ran himself out of room. Breezy Gui can move when he wants to…now he just needs his mitts to catch up.
Thatcher Demko had to come up with a save just as Zack MacEwen was getting out of the box. Michael Latta followed up with a heavy point shot that Demko kicked away with a pad save.
Brandon Baddock was whistled for a cross-check at the 12:14 mark and the Comets were headed to the power play. Zack MacEwen had a chance from in close blocked before Demko had to come up with a shorthanded save on Jan Mandat. Less than a minute after the Baddock infraction, Tyler Motte took an interference penalty to send things to four-on-four play.
During the four aside play Wacey Hamilton broke into the Devils zone with a burst of speed and cut to the net, getting a shot away as he fell, only to see Johnson come up with another save.
With Motte out of the box, Christoph Bertschy had a chance from the circle turned aside before Demko stoned him a second time as well. Motte went the other way and was shut down on back-to-back chances off the rush.
Jonathan Dahlen was showing some great work in the defensive zone again today, getting on his horse to get in on the backcheck to help break up a play. Austin Cangelosi sent a backhander in off the wing that Demko blockered away before Ben Thompson ripped another shot off Demko’s blocker.
Brandon Baddock and Guillaume Brisebois got greasy after a whistle and the pair both made their way to the box to see the period end in four-on-four play. Both men were given cross-checking penalties.
That was it for the middle frame, the Devils showed a 12-7 advantage on the shot clock for the period.
The Comets kicked off the third period with a speedy break by two of their newest players. Tyler Motte and Lukas Jasek can both wheel and they turned on the jets for a two-on-one chance that saw Motte’s shot tipped out of play. Trent Cull spoke earlier in the season about the fact that his team is not a speedy one…I think some of these new additions might be changing his perception of that of late. Cull has been sent an influx of players with wheels to spare.
Another brief melee broke out after the Motte chance that saw Wacey Hamilton and Jan Mandat headed to the box. Hamilton was sent off for roughing and given an extra 10-minute misconduct for his shenanigans, while Mandat was given two minutes for roughing and an extra 10 as well.
Demko was busy during to start the four-on-four play as he had to come up with a pad save on Bertschy before turning aside a Tariq Hammond offering as well.
Devils netminder Cam Johnson sent the puck over the glass to earn himself a delay of game penalty and the Comets were headed to the power play. Unfortunately for the Comets, just 30 seconds later, Austin Cangelosi would tie the game with a shorthanded goal. Cangelosi picked off a Patrick Wiercioch drop pass and broke in to beat Demko high, glove side.
The Comets gave up a shorty and came up empty with the extra man.
The Comets had a heck of a shift to follow up the Cangelosi goal. Michael Chaput wheeled into the Devils zone and dished to Dahlen for a shot that was turned aside. Tyler Motte followed up with a chance that Johnson got a piece of before robbing Brisebois as well. Motte followed up with another chance from the high slot that Johnson turned aside.
Nathan Bastian came back with a shot off the rush and Demko said no. Ben Thompson picked up a loose puck and wired it on net and Demko gobbled it up for the whistle. Demko followed up with an alert save on a shot through traffic. Thatcher was tracking the puck well today.
At the other end of the ice, Ashton Sautner had a shot redirected on net and Johnson was ready with another save. Guillaume Brisebois unloaded with a bomb from the circle and Johnson flashed the leather with a nasty glove save. Wiercioch followed up with a wrister from the point through traffic that nearly fooled Johnson, but the Devils netminder got a piece of it with his mitt.
Zack MacEwen found himself with a prime scoring chance in the slot and the big fella ripped his shot high and wide. Kole Lind continued to look like his confidence was growing when he came up with a nice dipsy-doodle just inside the Devils blueline to get past a pair of poke checks but he was unable to get a clean shot off.
The teams would go back and forth for a bit before Yaroslav Dyblenko sent a shot on net that was turned aside by Demko and the Comets netminder then swallowed up another chance with a crowd forming in front.
Tyler Motte showed the wheels that made Jim Benning and company target him in more than one trade since taking over the team when he beat a Devils defender to the puck and got a shot away that Johnson just got a piece of with his glove. Demko would blocker away a Nick Lappin shot at the buzzer and this one was off to overtime.
The Comets showed a 13-8 advantage in shots for the third period.
Trent Cull sent Motte, Darcy, and Wiercioch over the boards to start the extra frame and Wiercioch may as well have just skated to the penalty box as the lanky defender was whistled for hooking just 19 seconds into the overtime period.
Demko would come up with a save on Seney before denying a Bertschy one-timer as the Devils power play went to work. Thatcher would stymie Seney on a shot from the circle before Tyler Motte went the other way for a shorthanded break. Johnson showed five-hole and Motte bit but saw his chance turned aside. The Comets would come up with a good kill.
Seney had one more chance to end the game when he split the Comets defence and sent a backhander Demko’s way. Thatcher said no.
Lukas Jasek put this one away after taking a feed from Wacey Hamilton and beating Johnson with a sneaky five-hole shot. The goal was Jasek’s third since joining the Comets. Hamilton picked up his 18th helper of the year on the play, while Ashton Sautner earned his 10th.
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) April 15, 2018
That was it in Utica. The Comets came away with a 4-3 win in overtime to finish their regular season on a winning note. The Devils showed a 33-29 advantage in shots for the game.
Something to keep an eye on going forward, Nikolay Goldobin did not finish this game with the Comets. This is just a guess on my part, but it may have had something to do with him going down on the penalty that he drew earlier in the game. He was limping to the bench at the end of that shift and did continue in the game after that, but I can’t say for sure how many shifts he took after his assist on the Chaput goal.
Cull had no update on Goldobin, who left Sunday’s game
— O-D Comets (@OD_Comets) April 15, 2018
With the win today, Thatcher Demko became the Comets all-time single-season wins leader, as well as the Comets all-time wins leader with his 25th win of the season and 47th of his career. Congrats Thatcher, you’ve done a hell of a job this season.
— x – Utica Comets (@UticaComets) April 15, 2018
The Three Stars in the building today were:
3rd Star: Patrick Wiercioch. One goal.
2nd Star: Lukas Jasek. One goal, game-winner in the shootout.
1st Star: Jonathan Dahlen. One goal, one assist.
CanucksArmy’s Three Stars
3rd Star: Tyler Motte. Motte was wheeling all over the ice today and if he can keep up what he did today in the playoffs, I think Trent Cull will be sending him over the boards on the regular. He had seven shots on net today to lead both teams. If the Comets make it to the second round of the playoffs and get Reid Boucher back, opposing goaltenders will feel like ducks in a barrel with those two piling up the shots. Motte was playing like a man possessed today…insert AV giggling during Wellwood question a few years ago here. Motte’s wheels and ability to play all three forward positions may make him an early favourite of the coaching staff.
2nd Star: Lukas Jasek. Yesterday, I was on TSN1040 and mentioned how Jasek had cooled off somewhat offensively after his torrid start, well, today he flipped me the bird with the overtime winner. Jasek had another strong game, putting three shots on net and looking dangerous while doing so. I look forward to seeing what he can do in the playoffs.
1st Star: Jonathan Dahlen. Dahlen picked up his first goal and his first helper today. He went to the dirty areas throughout the game and scored his goal by going right to the front of the net. He was also good in his own end of the ice today. I always preach patience with these young players, and I am sticking to that, but it’s hard not to get at least a little bit excited when the Canucks young prospects are showing so well early on. I don’t expect Dahlen to pile up points while with the Comets in the playoffs, but I think just getting into some of that high-intensity playoff action will bode well for him to learn how to play on the smaller ice. You never know, maybe he does pile up the points, but I will be looking for him to just continue with his development.
Game 1 Calder Cup Playoffs
At Toronto Marlies
Saturday, April 21st, 2018
1:00 pm Pacific