CanucksArmy Utica Comets Post-Game: Comets Stave Off Elimination With 5-2 Win in Game Three

Utica Comets Post-Game Report

Playoffs Edition

Round One | Game Three

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Vs Toronto Marlies

Wednesday, April 25th, 2018

4:00 pm Pacific


Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

The Utica Comets were facing elimination today in their must-win, third game of their best-of-five series with the Toronto Marlies. The Marlies had opened the series with a pair of wins at home to take a commanding two-games-to-none lead.

The Marlies had doubled up on the Comets, outscoring them 8-4 in the first two games of the series.  Garret Sparks was showing a goals-against average of 1.74 in the first two games, along with a save percentage of 0.932%. Thatcher Demko, for his part, had a goals-against average of 3.11, along with a save percentage of 0.907% over the first two contests.

The Marlies power play got plenty of practice in the first two games, but only managed two goals on the 14 chances afforded to them by the Comets. As such, their power play was operating at 14.3%, which sat them 13th in that category for the Calder Cup Playoffs. Their penalty kill fared a little better, going nine for eleven, which was good enough to have them in ninth place with an 81.8% success rate.

The Comets power play was the eighth best of the playoffs, going two for eleven, which was good for an 18.2% success rate. Their penalty kill was the fourth best in the extra season thus far with a success rate of 85.7% after killing off 12 of the 14 penalties that they had taken in the series.

Dmytro Timashov and Michael Chaput each led their teams in points for the series with three apiece over the first two games. Colin Greening, Trevor Moore, Chris Mueller, Frederik Gauthier, Martin Marincin, and Ben Smith each had two points for the Marlies in the first two contests. Nikolay Goldobin and rookie Tanner MacMaster each produced a pair of points for the Comets over the first two games of the series as well.

The Comets and their fans found out today that there would a special guest in the building for the ceremonial puck drop. That’s right folks, Darren Archibald made an appearance in Utica today…if only he were able to suit up.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

In other Comets news, it was announced by the club that Reid Boucher had cleared waivers and was on his way to the team. Ben Birnell of the Utica Observer-Dispatch sent out a tweet yesterday to let us know that Boucher was practising and that he would be a game-time decision.

Lukas Jasek was injured in game one and that is why he didn’t play in game two and also why he didn’t dress today.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Scratched today for the Comets were: Yan-Pavel Laplante, (injured), Even McEneny, (injured), Joe LaBate, (injured), Frankie Simonelli, (injured), Brendan Woods, (injured), Lukas Jasek, (injured), Aaron Irving, Willie Corrin, Alex D’Aoust, Griffen Molino, Adam Comrie, Michael Garteig, Kole Lind, Vincent Arseneau, Tony Cameranesi, Jayson Megna, (vet rule), and Andrew Cherniwchan.

Comets Starting Lines

14 Tyler Motte – 19 Cole Cassels – 34 Carter Bancks (C)

77 Nikolay Goldobin – 11 Cam Darcy – 24 Reid Boucher

7 Tanner MacMaster – 21 Michael Chaput – 15 Zack MacEwen

53 Jonathan Dahlen – 36 Wacey Hamilton (A) – 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

First Period

The opening period saw the same two goaltenders that had started the previous two contests, but one of those goaltenders would be chased from the game before the first period was 14-minutes old.

Cole Cassels would see an early chance turned aside early and as the play went the other way, we saw Marlies defender Justin Holl struggle off the ice. He would not return for his second shift for about eight minutes.

Colin Greening tried his luck with a backhander that was denied by Demko. At the other end of the ice, Reid Boucher made his presence felt on his first shift when he had a scoring chance blocked before pasting Chris Mueller to the boards in the Marlies end.

Jaime Sifers took a blueline feed from rookie Tanner MacMaster and put it on the net, only to see Sparks gobble it up for a whistle. Michael Chaput and Martin Marincin made acquaintances after the whistle when a brief scrum ensued, but cooler heads prevailed and neither man would head to the box.

Jeremy Bracco sent a shot on Demko from the circle but the Comets netminder was equal to the task. Greening followed up with a wrister that Demko turned aside before shutting down a Chris Mueller offering from the wing by flashing the leather.

At the other end of the ice, Dylan Blujus sent a point shot on net that was turned aside before Tanner MacMaster grabbed the rebound for a chance that was also denied by Sparks. Jonathan Dahlen tried a wraparound pass to Wacey Hamilton but he missed his mark. Instead, Guillaume Brisebois picked up the puck and ripped it on net for a point shot that was swallowed up by the Marlies netminder.

Chris Mueller and Ben Smith came with speed into the Comets zone for a chance. Demko denied the Smith chance before stopping a Vincent LoVerde rebound.

Greening was issued the first penalty of the game at the 7:46 mark when he was whistled for interference. It took Reid Boucher less than 10-seconds to put the Comets up 1-0 with one of his patented one-timers. The goal was the first of the playoffs for Boucher, while Dylan Blujus picked up his first helper on the play and Nikolay Goldobin grabbed his third.

Cam Darcy tried to put the Comets up by a pair after taking a pass from Godobin for a chance that was denied by Sparks before Miro Aaltonen went the other way for a chance that was shut down by Demko.

Wacey Hamilton put the Comets up 2-0 less than two minutes later after taking a pass from a speeding Michael Carcone and depositing it behind Sparks. The goal was Hamilton’s first of the playoffs. Carcone earned his second helper of the post-season, while Jonathan Dahlen picked up his first.

Tyler Motte and Mason Marchment were sent off for coincidental minors shortly after the goal and the two clubs would play some four aside hockey. Motte was whistled for kneeing, while Marchment was fingered for a high-stick. Andrew Nielsen was seen heading down the tunnel after the play, but he would return for the Marlies.

During the four-on-four play, Calle Rosen stepped over the Comets blueline with a shot that Demko grabbed up and held for the whistle.

The teams were back to five-on-five play when Cole Cassels picked off a pass in the Marlies zone and broke in to beat Sparks to the five-hole for his first goal of the playoffs. The unassisted Cassels goal chased Sparks from the net and we got our first look at Calvin Pickard in the series.

Ashton Sautner followed up the Cassels goal with a stiff hit in the Comets zone to take a Marlies player off the puck. Ben Smith followed up with a Marlies chance that Demko turned aside.

Cam Darcy was sent off for a high-stick on Vincent LoVerde that drew blood at the 15:56 mark and the Comets were down a man for four minutes. Demko came up with back-to-back saves, the second one stoning Chris Mueller. The Comets were doing some great work along the boards on this kill and kept the Marlies from getting much traction. Trevor Moore would ring the iron before Demko shut down another Chris Mueller offering.

Carter Bancks would put the Comets down two men when he was sent off for tripping at the 17:25 mark. The Comets kill was doing great work with shot blocks and tipping pucks out of harm’s way before Marlies netminder Calvin Pickard iced the puck while trying to spring a forward for a break.

The Comets would finish the period with a good kill and a gritty effort to get it done. The Marlies showed a 13-7 advantage in shots for the opening frame.

Second Period

The Comets started the second period hot as Tyler Motte and Dylan Blujus both had early chances denied by Pickard.

Miro Aaltonen had a chance turned aside by Demko before Nikolay Goldobin was sent off for hooking at the 1:51 mark. Fortunately for the Comets, the Marlies also took a penalty for too many men while trying to get Pickard to the bench for the extra attacker during the delayed penalty.

During the four aside play, Demko gloved down an Andrew Nielsen shot before shutting down a Calle Rosen chance off the ensuing faceoff.

With the teams back at five aside, Chris Mueller tried to hit Comets veteran defender Jaime Sifers in the Comets zone, but Sifers stood him up and Mueller was picking himself up off the ice.

Tanner MacMaster went the other way and was stymied twice by Pickard, first on a turnover chance and then again on the rebound opportunity.

At the other end of the ice, Thatcher Demko was doing his best to make sure his team had a chance to come away with the win when he sprawled to make a save on a net-side play.

The teams would go back and forth as Blujus had a shot turned aside at one end before Demko said no on a Timashov chance from in tight. Tyler Motte would get another chance in the Marlies zone that Pickard was ready for.

Zack MacEwen was bringing a physical game again today, getting in hard on the forecheck when he had the opportunity.

The Marlies came with a strong shift that had the Comets hemmed in their own end for an extended period before Patrick Wiercioch had a good chance gobbled up at the other end by Pickard with Reid Boucher lurking.

Goldobin would see a chance from the slot denied before Demko came up with back-to-back saves in sprawling fashion. Guillaume Brisebois showed a good stick to break up a Marlies scoring chance as well.

As the period wound down, Boucher picked off a Marlies’ pass and found Goldobin in the slot, but the winger fired his offering wide of the net. Tyler Motte let fly with a one-timer that was denied and that would be it for the middle frame.

The Comets showed a 16-11 edge in shots for the second period.

Third Period

Full discloser, I had my internet drop out on me about halfway through the third period and I didn’t get back online until there were only two minutes remaining. As such, you will, unfortunately, be getting a condensed version of the final frame. I apologize for the inconvenience.

Ashton Sautner put the Comets in a bind early when he was sent off for delay of game just 1:10 into the third period after he put the puck over the glass. Demko would have to come up with a save on a redirected point shot from Calle Rosen and the Comets would come up with a good kill.

Tanner MacMaster has impressed since joining the Comets, but mostly on the offensive side of the puck. He showed that he can be effective defensively as well when he used some strong play along the boards in the Comets zone to break up a play before coming up with a shot block on the same shift.

Earlier in the season I can remember remarking on how Cam Darcy seemed to get a breakaway or two every game for a stretch, well, he got another one in this game but was stoned by Pickard.

Demko would shut down a Mason Marchment chance before a MacMaster one-timer was stopped at the other end.

Cam Darcy was issued a double minor for a high-stick in the first period and in a case of deja vu, he was whistled for the same infraction at the 7:28 mark of the third period. With Darcy in the box, Demko came up with a save on Chris Mueller from the circle before Miro Aaltonen was sent off for holding the stick.

Just three seconds later, Wacey Hamilton was sent off for a high-stick and the Marlies had a four-on-three man advantage.

The Marlies started to push as Dmytro Timashov rang the puck off the iron before Jeremy Bracco followed up by ripping the puck off the post. Vincent LoVerde was next with a shot that Demko gobbled up for the whistle.

Calle Rosen would get the Marlies on the board when he finished off a nice tick-tack-toe play with Trevor Moore and Ben Smith. The goal was Rosen’s first of the playoffs, while Moore picked up his second helper and Smith earned his third.

It was at this point that I had my internet drop out, so I will do my best to fill in the remainder of the game.

Andrew Nielsen was sent off for slashing roughly two-minutes after the Rosen goal and the Comets had a power play. The Comets would come up empty with the man advantage, but they would go ahead 4-1 shortly after Nielsen exited the box.

Tyler Motte grabbed his first goal of the playoffs when he beat Pickard at the 14:35 mark. Wacey Hamilton picked up his first helper of the postseason on the play.

Marlies defender, Justin Holl was sent off for interference about a minute after the Motte goal and the Comets were right back to the power play. Unfortunately, Colin Greening would beat Demko for a shorthanded goal and the Marlies were back within two. The goal was Greening’s second of the playoffs, while Miro Aaltonen earned the lone assist for his first helper of the postseason.

Cole Cassels would salt this one away with an empty net goal at the 18:20 mark. The goal was Cassels’ second of the game and postseason. Nikolay Goldobin picked up his fourth helper of the playoffs on the play, while Carter Bancks grabbed his first.

The Marlies showed a 13-5 advantage in shots for the third period and a 37-28 advantage for the game, but the Comets would take this one 5-2.

Today’s Official Boxscore

The Three Stars in the building today were:

3rd Star: Reid Boucher. One goal.

2nd Star: Cole Cassels. Two goals

1st Star: Thatcher Demko. 35 saves.

CanucksArmy’s Three Stars

3rd Star: Tanner MacMaster. MacMaster continued to show well today and did so on the defensive side of the puck as well as the offensive side. He put five shots on net today and played a solid game.

2nd star: Cole Cassels: Cassels picked up a pair of goals today and did great work defensively as well. Cassels has played up and down the lineup all season in Utica and takes on whatever role Trent Cull asks of him. Cassels doesn’t generally pile up the points, but he can add some secondary scoring while doing some heavy lifting defensively. He has taken steps in his game this season with the Comets.

1st Star: Thatcher Demko: The Comets needed a strong game from Demko and they got one. The second-year pro is seeing his first AHL playoff action this season and he has looked quite good for the most part. He put up 35 saves today, many of them were of the big save variety as well. Demko will have to continue to turn in strong performances if the Comets are going to take this series to five games. I have faith that he can get the job done.

Next Game

Round One | Game Four

Vs Toronto Marlies

Friday, April 27th, 2018

4:00 pm Pacific











  • DJ_44

    I was impressed with Dahlen…he has a nose for the net. Put him with some playmakers and he will score.

    Hats off the the Utica fans. I think it would be stupid to move a team from a community with such a positive environment. Keep the prospects away from the Vancouver media…. Let the coaches develop the plays there.

    • apr

      I’ve been calling for Nucks to have the AHL team closer to Van, preferably in Victoria – but Utica seems like a great atmosphere, and you raise a good point of keeping prospects away from Nucks media/bloggers/fans.

      • Dinsdale

        The city also has a regional international airport–it may be easier for calling players up while on the road.
        Also, their proximity to opponents gives them around double the practice days (I think I read/heard nearly 70 days) of the Canucks. I’d rather see the players get the development time they need than the chance of seeing them locally where they’d end up traveling a ton and not getting practice time.

        • argoleas

          I believe that was one of the main criteria for selecting a location like Utica. They spend less time traveling and more time practicing, which is what prospects in a developmental league should be doing.

          I also like the idea of keeping prospects away from the Van media spotlight.

          Overall, looks like the Utica arrangement is working out very well.

  • Locust

    Another great article Cory.
    FYI everyone – this is the type of quality, interesting, ‘hockey knowledge combined with writing ability’ read that other Nation sites get for their team on a regular basis.
    Few and far between here at Canucks Army and even less so when it is about the Canucks.
    Just sayin’…….

  • Dirty30

    NB: Next game Friday April 27

    Glad Cassels is playing decent again — his injury set him back and a lot of people wrote him off, but he’s got something going for him.

    What’s the deal with Boucher — AHL superstar and NHL ghost.

    Nice to see the Comets win against the Marlies.

  • Holmes

    Yep, great coverage. After letting in 7 last night, feels like the drumbeat in Leaf land is going to get loud for an upgrade on defense. Personally, I think a Tanev for Liligren deal makes a lot of sense for each team. Tanev is a known commodity. However, Liligren…saw him live in game 1. Thought he was solid but not impactful. Another deal that could work…Gardiner straight up for Tanev.

    • canuckfan

      It is not worth trading Tanev if we are going to be bringing in prospects to learn the game on defence. Tanev and Edler will be good to pair with the prospects coming into the league. Tanev is calm and doesn’t panic and gives it his all. Getting hit in the face with a puck is not so much injury prone more like bad luck. Just goes to show that Tanev is tough as nails and is a leader how can anyone in the lineup whine about a nagging injury when you have Tanev going out and playing through the pain. If and when we get back into the playoffs Tanev and Edler will lead the team through those game 7’s as they know what it takes and the other players will follow. Plus now that the Sedins have retired we need the leadership of Tanev. He may not be out spoken but he is there in a support role and leading through how he plays on the ice.

    • Smyl and Snepsts

      Why in hell would you want to trade Tanev for a liability like Gardiner???? The Leafs would jump on that deal so fast it would make your head spin.

    • This doesn’t make any sense really as Gardiner and Tanev are the same age, close to the same cap hit, and Tanev plays the right, which is more valuable. Gardiner’s also going to be a free agent next year and will get a pretty hefty raise.

      Gardiner’s hardly a “liability” – he’s a very good offensive defenceman who makes the occasional defensive gaff, and his overall impact on the ice is overwhelmingly positive. But this deal just wouldn’t make any sense at all for the Canucks,

  • hank_n_dank420

    when the flames were there everyone liked the hockey but nobody cares about calgary and the suedo cowboy fans. the games against da nucks affiliate would sell out and they would be the home team for that night

  • Fred-65

    In the case of Tanev the question is does he show prospects how to play D or do you say by the time these youngster hit prime time Tanev’s best day will either in the rear view mirror or commanding a big salary. If you intend to trade Tanev this summer is the time to do it