Utica Comets Post-Game Report
Round One | Game Two
At Toronto Marlies
Sunday, April 22nd, 2018
1:00 pm Pacific
The Utica Comets and Toronto Marlies got right back at it today for game two of their best-of-five opening round series of the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs.
The Marlies took game one with a 3-2 win in overtime, with the winner coming off of the stick of Chris Mueller. Michael Chaput forced the extra frame with the game-tying goal coming in the final 35 seconds of the third period.
The two clubs finished the regular season with very similar special teams numbers and game one was no different as both teams went 1/7 on the power play and subsequently, each team killed off six of their seven penalties.
Not unlike the way the regular season went, Michael Chaput led the Comets active players in points with two yesterday, thanks to his goal and assist. Rookie Zack MacEwen showed well in his first pro playoff game, picking up a goal of his own. Nikolay Goldobin, Patrick Wiercioch, and rookie forward Tanner MacMaster rounded out the Comets scoring with their assists.
Dmytro Timashov led the Marlies with two points yesterday, both assists, while Jeremy Bracco, Justin Holl, and Chris Mueller each tallied a goal, and Calle Rosen and Ben Smith rounded out the points parade with their first assists of the series.
Thatcher Demko finished game one with 44 saves, good for a 0.936 save percentage and a goals-against average of 2.32. Garret Sparks, for his part, finished up with 32 saves on the day to give him a goals-against average of 1.55 and a save percentage of 0.941. That’s right folks, as expected, coming into the series we have a goaltender’s duel to look forward to.
Yesterday’s game saw a little bit of controversy as Cole Cassels thought that he had scored to win the game in overtime, but the play was reviewed and it was determined that the puck did not cross the goal line. Marlies goaltender, Garret Sparks also took a stick in the beak from his own teammate on the play, which required some repairs at the bench. Let’s hope that we have no such controversy for today’s game.
There was a potential Comets roster move announced today as well. The parent Canucks announced that they were waiving Reid Boucher with the intent of sending him to Utica.
Boucher had to wait for his broken hand to heal before the Canucks could send him down. It isn’t yet clear if Boucher will be available to the Comets for game three on Wednesday, but if he is, it would be huge for a team that has struggled so mightily on the power play without him.
Any team can put in a claim for Boucher, but he would not be able to play for them at either the NHL or AHL level the rest of the way. As such, It isn’t likely that a team will claim him…unless the Marlies just want to block the Comets from using him by putting in a claim and sitting him the rest of the way. Again, not likely, but it is possible.
There was much anguish yesterday from Canucks/Comets fans over the fact that Jonathan Dahlen, and to a lesser extent, Kole Lind did not play. Did either player get into the lineup today? Find out below.
Scratched today for the Comets were: Yan-Pavel Laplante, (injured), Joe LaBate, (injured), Brendan Woods, (injured), Evan McEneny, (injured), Frankie Simonelli, (injured), Aaron Irving, Willie Corrin, Tony Cameranesi, Alex D’Aoust, Griffen Molino, Adam Comrie, Michael Garteig, Kole Lind, Vincent Arseneau, Lukas Jasek, and Jayson Megna, (vet rule).
Comets Starting Lines
7 Tanner MacMaster – 21 Michael Chaput – 15 Zack MacEwen
54 Jonathan Dahlen – 11 Cam Darcy – 77 Nikolay Goldobin
14 Tyler Motte – 36 Wacey Hamilton (A) – 34 Carter Bancks (C)
82 Andrew Cherniwchan – 19 Cole Cassels – 58 Michael Carcone
28 Patrick Wiercioch – 5 Jalen Chatfield
6 Ashton Sautner – 8 Dylan Blujus
55 Guillaume Brisebois – 26 Jaime Sifers (A)
30 Thatcher Demko
As you can see above, Jonathan Dahlen did get into the lineup today, unfortunately, his inclusion appears to have come at the expense of rookie forward Lukas Jasek.
The first period started off with an early knuckler being sent in on Demko and the Comets stopper gloved it down for the whistle.
Patrick Wiercioch put his team behind the eight-ball early when he was sent off for delay of game at the 1:01 mark for sending the puck over the glass. The Comets did great work to keep the Marlies to the outside and they came away unscathed by the Wiercioch minor.
Martin Marincin followed up the Marlies power play with a high shot that Demko knocked down before Frederik Gauthier had his shot turned aside by Thatcher’s blocker.
Jonathan Dahlen was back in the lineup today and he dished a sweet pass to Andrew Cherniwchan who broke in for a chance that was denied by Sparks. Zack MacEwen followed up by charging to the net with the puck, but he was at the end of a shift and was caught up to by a Marlies player before he could get a decent shot away.
The Marlies would go up 1-0 at the 5:51 mark when Pierre Engvall jumped on a loose puck in the slot and beat Demko for his first goal of the playoffs. Frederik Gauthier earned his first helper of the post-season on the play.
Comets defender, Jaime Sifers followed up the Marlies goal with a point shot that Sparks turned aside before we saw Jonathan Dahlen charge to the net with speed for a tap-in chance that Sparks denied with a quick pad save. Dahlen looked dangerous a few times in the opening frame.
The Comets would keep the shots coming as Jalen Chatfield saw his high shot gloved down before Dylan Blujus had a chance turned aside by the Marlies netminder.
The Marlies had a scramble play in front of the Comets net that saw Timothy Liljegren try to poke a loose puck past Demko. That rubbed Cam Darcy the wrong way and the Comets pivot tackled Liljegren before the officials jumped in to separate them. Neither player was penalized on the play.
Jonathan Dahlen showed off those sick passing skills again when he spotted Nikolay Goldobin across the ice and dished a long distance saucer pass his way.
Goldobin would be sent off for slashing shortly afterward. The Comets were back to the kill, briefly as just over a minute later, Trevor Moore was whistled for interference and we saw some four aside play.
During the four-on-four play, Michael Carcone used his speed to break behind the Marlies net and dished a pass through traffic out front to Cam Darcy. Darcy made no mistake, burying the puck behind Sparks to tie the game at one. The goal was Darcy’s first of the post-season, while Carcone picked up his first playoff helper.
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) April 22, 2018
Dmytro Timashov followed up the Darcy goal with a shot on net that Demko turned aside, then Thatcher stopped a rebound chance as well.
Tanner MacMaster was showing well again today, dishing a pass to Chaput, who saw his offering turned aside by Sparks. Nikolay Goldobin and Cam Darcy were looking to work a give-and-go play but Martin Marincin got in the way to break up the play.
The Comets were headed back to the penalty kill at the 15:06 mark when they were whistled for having too many men on the ice. Carcone would serve the bench minor.
Jalen Chatfield continued his strong play with a great defensive play to clear the Comets zone on the kill. Andrew Cherniwchan would put the Comets down two men when he was sent off for tripping at the 16:22 mark.
During the five-on-three play, Demko turned aside a Calle Rosen chance before making another pad save, but he wouldn’t stop them all. Ben Smith tried a shot but the rebound came right back to him. He kicked the puck to Timashov, who then buried it behind Demko to put the Marlies up 2-1. The goal was the first of the playoffs for Timashov, while Smith and Chris Mueller earned their first helpers of the post-season.
Frederik Gauthier would take a high-sticking penalty at the 19:02 mark and the Comets would finish up the first period with the man advantage.
The period ended with the Marlies showing an 11-9 advantage on the shot clock.
The Comets had 1:03 of power play time to work with to open the middle frame, but they would be unable to get any traction and came up empty.
Just as their penalty expired, the Marlies broke up the ice on a three-on-two with Gauthier coming out of the box. Gauthier got his shot away and Demko said no.
Ashton Sautner let fly with a point shot that Sparks was ready for, but the Comets were putting on some good pressure.
The puck went the other way and we saw Demko purposely make a save by headbutting the puck out of harm’s way.
Andrew Cherniwchan kept the Comets parade to the penalty box going when he was sent off for slashing at the 5:20 mark. Demko would do the splits to stymie Pierre Engvall and the Comets had another good kill to their credit.
Guillaume Brisebois was next to the box when he was sent off for a high-stick just 27 seconds after the Cherniwchan infraction expired.
Goldobin was huge on this kill, first coming up with a big shot block before stealing the puck along the boards and clearing it out of the zone. Demko would come up with a save on Grundstrom and the penalty was killed.
Zack MacEwen carried his physical play over from game one as he laid a solid hit on Justin Holl that led to a turnover and a Comets chance that was denied.
The line of Cole Cassels, Andrew Cherniwchan, and Michael Carcone followed up with a strong shift in the Marlies zone that led to Carcone staring down a nearly wide open net but saw his shot blocked by Marincin.
Both clubs were doing some good work today with blocking shots or tipping them wide.
The Comets came with some pressure as Guillaume Brisebois found a seam and jumped into it for a chance that was turned aside before Sparks whipped out the mitt to shut down a Carcone chance. Jonathan Dahlen sent a seeing-eye, no-look, backhand pass to Wiercioch for a point shot that Sparks swallowed up.
Dahlen was showing some serious playmaking skills in this one when he had the chance to play. Unfortunately, the Comets spent so much time in the box that his ice-time was limited.
Speaking of which, Wacey Hamilton made his way to the familiar confines of the penalty box at the 15:17 mark when he was sent off for tripping.
Hamilton is a great defensive player and a great penalty killer, but he has been killing the Comets with untimely penalties over the last month or more of play. I think it may be wise to slide him out in favour of Jayson Megna for game three if Cull wants to put another veteran in…or, you know, try going with both of Lukas Jasek and Jonathan Dahlen and see if the team can produce some more offence.
Back to the game, Timothy Liljegren stepped into a shot that Demko turned aside before Vincent LoVerde uncorked a one-timer that Thatcher was ready for as well. Dylan Blujus came up with a big shot-block on another LoVerde chance before Demko covered up another offering with Carl Grundstrom lurking. The Comets would come up with another good kill.
Demko would turn aside a Justin Holl chance before the puck went the other way. Jonathan Dahlen had a wide open net and a rebound landed on his stick in close. He took his shot and saw it go through Sparks, through the crease and wide of the net. The young man had a couple of nice chances today and looked poised to break out.
Demko would make a sprawling save off of Colin Greening as time was running out for the middle frame before Adam Brooks was whistled for slashing at the 19:43 mark. The Comets would finish up the second period with the man advantage.
Patrick Wiercioch had a shot redirected on net and Sparks was ready with the save to close out the period. The Marlies showed a 9-5 advantage on the shot clock for the second period.
The Comets had 1:44 remaining on the power play to open the period and Martin Marincin would put his team down two men just seven seconds after the puck dropped, putting the puck over the glass for a delay of game penalty.
During the five-on-three play, Zack MacEwen had a chance turned aside by Sparks. Trent Cull elected to go with a five-forward unit and it paid off when Michael Chaput tied the game at two with his second goal of the playoffs. Chaput took a Tanner MacMaster feed and sent a wrister bar-down on Sparks. MacMaster earned his second helper in as many post-season games, while Nikolay Goldobin picked up the other assist for his second of the playoffs as well.
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) April 22, 2018
The tie-game did not last long, however, as Colin Greening beat Demko with a one-timer just 38 seconds later to put the Marlies up 3-2. The goal was Greening first of the playoffs, while Frederik Gauthier earned his second assist and Martin Marincin tallied his first.
Jaime Sifers followed up the Marlies goal with a stiff hit on Justin Holl in the Comets zone before Ben Smith had a scoring chance denied by Demko.
At the other end of the ice, Zack MacEwen sent a high shot on net that was gloved down by Sparks before Cam Darcy saw his chance turned aside. Sifers followed up with a point shot that Sparks gobbled up for the whistle.
Vincent LoVerde unloaded a clapper from just inside the Comets blueline that Demko blockered away before swallowing up a rebound chance.
Andrew Cherniwchan sent a backhander on net that Sparks turned aside before Demko came up with a good save in close at the other end and then soaked up a Jeremy Bracco offering as well.
Carl Grundstrom would put the Marlies up 4-2 with his first goal of the series when Trevor Moore won a faceoff in the Comets zone right to him for a quick shot that beat Demko. Moore picked up the lone assist, his first of the series.
Demko nearly handed the Marlies a fifth goal when he tried to pass the puck to Guillaume Brisebois but duffed his attempt. The puck ended up on a Marlies stick and Thatcher was forced into a save.
Jonathan Dahlen took a stretch pass from Jaime Sifers and got a step on Timothy Liljegren for a scoring chance, but Liljegren recovered just in time to poke Dahlen’s stick before he could put the puck behind Sparks. Once again, Dahlen looked dangerous and opportunistic.
Love this chance from Dahlen
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) April 22, 2018
Trent Cull summoned Demko to the bench with 3:22 remaining on the clock. We saw a Wiercioch point shot denied by Sparks before Pierre Engvall tried his luck with an empty net goal. He sent his shot wide.
Jonathan Dahlen may not have played in game one, and the Comets penalty trouble took him out of a large portion of game two, but he was out there with 2:20 left on the clock and the Comets with an empty net. Hopefully, that means that we will see him again for game three.
The Marlies would send another empty net chance wide before Trevor Moore salted this one away with his first of the playoffs into the yawning cage. Colin Greening picked up his first helper of the post-season, while Marincin earned his second of the game.
Rookie defenders Guillaume Brisebois and Jalen Chatfield each had chances denied late and that was it for this one. The Marlies take game three by a 5-2 score. Utica showed an 11-9 advantage in shots for the final frame, while the Marlies had a 29-25 advantage for the game.
The Three Stars in the building today were:
3rd Star: Colin Greening. One goal, one assist.
2nd Star: Calle Rosen. Zero points.
1st Star: Frederik Gauthier. One goal, one assist.
CanucksArmy’s Three Stars
3rd Star: Jonathan Dahlen. Dahlen didn’t get a pile of ice-time in this one as the Comets spent far too much time killing penalties that were taken mostly by players that he should maybe be playing ahead of. In spite of his lack of minutes, Dahlen looked dangerous at times, dishing saucer passes across the ice, dangling blueliners in the offensive zone and going to his office for scoring chances. If you are unsure of where Dahlen’s office is yet, just picture the two-three inches outside of the blue paint that designates the opposing goal crease.
2nd Star: Tanner MacMaster. MacMaster joined the Comets with far less fanfare than the likes of Jasek, Dahlen, and Lind, but the rookie winger has shown well since coming aboard on an ATO. MacMaster put up seven points in 13 games with the Comets in the regular season and he now has two points in his first two pro playoff games. MacMaster is a speedy, shifty player who can make plays and not get buried in his own end defensively. I am quickly leaning towards wanting the Canucks to bring him in as a full-timer next season, either on an AHL deal or a two-way, depending on how things shake out for him this offseason. I think he could be a solid player for the Comets next season with the possibility of some NHL upside down the road, should he continue to improve as a pro.
1st Star: Michael Chaput. Chaput picked up his second goal and third point of the playoffs today with another big goal. Chaput has been a Mr. Everything for Trent Cull in Utica this season, playing both special teams and eating up minutes in five-on-five play. If the Comets are going to force a fourth game in the series, I can’t help but think that Chaput will be playing a big role in that. He has seen a revolving door of linemates this season but has managed to produce with whichever wingers Trent Cull decides to flank him with.
Round One | Game Three
Vs Toronto Marlies
Wednesday, April 25th, 2018
4:00 pm Pacific