CanucksArmy Utica Comets Post Game: Bring On Game Five. Comets Force Fifth Game With 5-2 Win to Take Game Four

Utica Comets Post-Game Report

Playoffs Edition

Round One | Game Four

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Vs Toronto Marlies

Friday, April 27th, 2018

4:00 pm Pacific


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After a gritty effort on Wednesday forced today’s game four, the Utica Comets were once again facing elimination today in the opening round of the Calder Cup Playoffs. The Marlies came into the day with a two-games-to-one lead in the best-of-five series.

The Marlies have been afforded plenty of power play opportunities by the Comets so far in this series, 21 of them to be exact. With all of those opportunities, the Marlies were sitting 13th in the AHL after going 3/21 with the man advantage, good for 14.3%, while their penalty kill also sat 13th after going 11/14 so far in the series, good for 78.6%.

The Comets, for their part, had the AHL’s fourth-ranked power play and penalty kill so far in the opening round. Their penalty kill had given up three goals on 21 chances, good for 85.7%, while their power play had scored three times on 14 chances, good for 21.4%.

The Marlies had five players tied for the team lead with three points in their first three games. Colin Greening, Trevor Moore, Dmytro Timashov, Martin Marincin, and Ben Smith each had a trio of points to show for the series for the Marlies.

Nikolay Goldobin led all players in the series with four points in his first three games, while Michael Chaput, Cole Cassels, Michael Carcone, Wacey Hamilton, and rookie Tanner MacMaster each had two points thus far for the Comets.

Garret Sparks and Thatcher Demko had matching 2.77 goals-against averages over their first three games. Sparks showed a save percentage of 0.894% while Demko had a save percentage of 0.920%. Demko had made 103 saves over the series so far, while Sparks had stopped 59 pucks sent his way.

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The Marlies had outscored the Comets by a count of 10-9 in the first four games.

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

Comets Starting Lines

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

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77 Nikolay Goldobin – 11 Cam Darcy – 24 Reid Boucher

7 Tanner MacMaster – 21 Michael Chaput – 15 Zack MacEwen

54 Jonathan Dahlen – 36 Wacey Hamilton (A) – 58 Michael Carcone

28 Patrick Wiercioch – 5 Jalen Chatfield

55 Guillaume Brisebois – 26 Jaime Sifers (A)

6 Ashton Sautner – 8 Dylan Blujus

30 Thatcher Demko

First Period

As the first period kicked off, it was apparent that both clubs elected to ice the same rosters that they did on Wednesday. That meant that the Comets didn’t have to face either of Andreas Johnsson or Travis Dermott today after they were returned to the Marlies from the parent Maple Leafs.

Colin Greening had an early chance, cutting in all alone with a shot that was denied by Thatcher Demko before the Comets stopper shut down a Martin Marincin chance as well.

Reid Boucher would open the scoring just 1:03 into the period when he finished off a sweet tick-tack-toe play from Cam Darcy and Nikolay Goldobin. The goal was Boucher’s second of the postseason and second in as many games since rejoining the Comets after rehabbing the broken hand that he suffered while with the parent Canucks. Darcy picked up his first helper of the playoffs on the play, while Goldobin grabbed his series-leading fifth point, all assists.

Jalen Chatfield has been a solid player all season in Utica and it was no different today. The rookie blueliner came up with a hit in the Comets zone to force a turnover that led to Cole Cassels nearly scoring at the other end, but Marlies netminder Garret Sparks was ready with the save.

The Marlies brought some heat the other way when Calle Rosen fired a shot from the circle that was denied by a Demko kick-save before Chris Mueller followed up by letting fly with a shot off the right-side boards. Demko flashed the leather for the save. Vincent LoVerde tried his luck with a chance and Demko once again said no.

Ashton Sautner ripped a point shot at the other end that was blockered away by Sparks before Carl Grundstrom went the other way and uncorked a shot that was denied by Demko with a quick mitt. Demko would turn aside a wrist shot before Colin Greening was sent off for interference.

The Comets rolled out a first unit power play consisting of Reid Boucher, Nikolay Goldobin, Michael Chaput, Zack MacEwen, and Dylan Blujus. Goldobin would get a good shot away that Sparks denied before Zack MacEwen fanned on a chance that just grazed the side of the net.

Trent Cull rolled out a second unit of Tyler Motte, Jonathan Dahlen, Tanner MacMaster, Michael Carcone, and Patrick Wiercioch. Neither unit would be able to put the Comets up by a pair.

Goldobin found himself on a partial breakaway after picking off a pass. He broke in, tried his move and Sparks said no. Goldy followed up with a nice pass to Guillaume Brisebois for a one-time chance and Breezy Gui unloaded one right into the logo on Sparks’ jersey.

Ashton Sautner was showing well again today, coming up with a big hit in the Comets zone on Miro Aaltonen that led to a Marlies turnover. Jalen Chatfield wasn’t going to be outdone as he followed up with some nice work along the boards to take Colin Greening off the puck.

Chris Mueller uncorked a shot that Demko soaked up for a whistle.

Michael Carcone labelled Timashov in the Marlies zone before Pierre Engvall found himself all alone in front of Demko with a chance. Demko kicked out the leg for a pad save before shutting down another Colin Greening offering. Jeremy Bracco tried to centre a pass from behind the Comets net and it deflected off a skate, forcing Demko into an alert save.

That was it for the opening frame. The Marlies showed a 12-7 advantage on the shot clock.

Second Period

Nikolay Goldobin was showing a good stick early when he picked off a Colin Greening pass before it could hit its mark. Demko followed up by swallowing up a Greening shot and he held for the whistle.

The Marlies were bringing the pressure early, but it was the Comets who would get on the scoreboard. Tanner MacMaster did some fine work to finish off a Patrick Wiercioch chance to beat Sparks for his first of the postseason. Wiercioch picked up his second helper of the playoffs, while Michael Chaput also earned his second assist.

Zack MacEwen followed up the MacMaster goal with a nice pass to Boucher, but Sparks came up with a glove save on the Comets sharpshooter. MacMaster had a chance for his second goal of the game when he was wide open in the slot for a tap-in in chance that he put off the side of the net.

Dmytro Timashov was sent off for tripping Reid Boucher at the 5:49 mark and the Comets were headed to the power play. Colin Greening had a shorthanded chance that led to a Dylan Blujus hooking penalty and the teams would skate four aside.

The Marlies were pushing the pace as Timothy Liljegren was stopped by Demko before Justin Holl unloaded with a bomb from the point that Demko grabbed up and held for the whistle. Thatcher would come up with back-to-back saves on Martin Marincin as well.

Wacey Hamilton broke in for a shorthanded chance and he was denied on his initial shot as well as the rebound chance that followed. The Comets would come up with a good kill.

Timashov followed up with a chance and Demko turned it aside before shutting down yet another Colin Greening chance. Greening had a staggering nine shots on net today.

I figure this is a good place to show you some of Thatcher’s handiwork today…dude was on his game.

Michael Chaput was sent off for slashing at the 11:47 mark and it was back to the kill for the Comets. The Comets would do great work to keep the Marlies to the outside and they would come up with a good kill.

Tyler Motte was doing some solid defensive work when he made a nice play and cleared the puck out of the Comets zone while the Marlies were pushing. The Marlies kept coming though, as Timashov had a shot off the wing turned aside before Timothy Liljegren stepped into one. Demko was equal to the task. Justin Holl followed up with a point shot that Demko steered to the corner.

Reid Boucher would put the Comets up 3-0 at the 17:29 mark when he undressed Frederik Gauthier, used a sweet toe drag and beat Sparks for his second goal of the game. The goal was Boucher’s third in two games, while Nikolay Goldobin eared his sixth helper of the playoffs on the play and Cam Darcy picked up his second of the game.

Adam Brooks was looking to get that one right back with a chance on a delayed penalty, but Demko was ready with the save.

Jalen Chatfield was sent off for slashing at the 19:02 mark and the Comets would finish the period on the kill.

Chris Mueller had a chance from the circle turned aside before a brief melee broke out. Demko took a stick up high to set things off. No additional penalties were doled out and that was it for the middle frame.

The Marlies showed a 14-6 advantage in shots for the period.

Third Period

It wouldn’t take long for the Marlies to capitalize on their early power play as Dmytro Timashov beat Demko for his second goal of the postseason just 47 seconds into the third period. The Marlies were within two. Trevor Moore earned his third assist of the playoffs on the play, while Chris Mueller picked up his second.

Colin Greening came looking for more with a shot that Demko steered to the corner before Miro Aaltonen let fly with a shot that Demko denied.

Carl Grundstrom was whistled for interference at the 1:27 mark and it was the Comets turn with the extra man.

Just under a minute later, Michael Carcone tipped a Patrick Wiercioch offering past Sparks and the Comets had their three-goal lead back. The goal was the first of the playoffs for Carcone, while Wiercioch and MacMaster each picked up their third helper of the postseason on the play.

Andrew Nielsen followed up the Carcone goal with a high shot that Demko gloved down before Mason Marchment sent the Marlies right back to the kill after being whistled for slashing at the 2:59 mark.

Jonathan Dahlen worked his way to the slot for a chance but he was denied by Sparks. The Comets would come up empty this time on the power play.

Nikolay Goldobin has been having a heck of a series for the Comets, but not just on the offensive side of the puck. Goldy did some nice work on the backcheck to catch  Andrew Nielsen and body him off the puck, forcing a turnover in the Comets end.

Justin Holl came back in with a hot-shot that Demko denied. Miro Aaltonen followed up with a chance of his own, but he too saw his shot turned aside. Martin Marincin turned and fired the puck from the point and Demko grabbed it up and held on for the whistle. Marincin had another chance turned aside before Dylan Blujus was sent off for tripping at the 8:14 mark.

The Comets once again showed why their penalty kill was near the top of the league for most of the season as they came up with another good kill.

The teams would trade chances as Reid Boucher fired a shot off the wing that Sparks was ready for before Aaltonen went the other way and put a shot through traffic that Demko tracked down and gobbled up.

Tyler Motte would put the Comets up 5-1 at the 12:12 mark after Cole Cassels stole the puck from Timothy Liljegren and fed it out front to a waiting Motte, who ripped it past Sparks for his second goal of the series. The lone assist was the first of the playoffs for Cassels. Cassels had another solid, gritty game today.

The Comets were doing some nice work after the Motte tally, but Pierre Engvall would get the goal back just over three minutes later. The goal was the second of the series for Engvall, while Martin Marincin picked up his fourth helper of the postseason and Frederik Gauthier earned his third.

The Marlies were putting on the pressure, but the Utica crowd were giving it to them, yelling chants of U-TI-CA, U-TI-CA so loudly that I’m sure the Marlies fans could hear them all the way back in Toronto. The Comets fans have been stellar all season, but today was on a whole different level. What a fantastic group of fans in Utica.

Demko would shut down a pair of chances from Engvall and Greening before Michael Chaput picked off a pass at the other end for a chance that he sent high over the net. Wacey Hamilton and Jonathan Dahlen followed up with a give-and-go play that led to a Dahlen chance going high as well.

That was it for this one. The Comets took game four by a score of 5-2 while being outshot in every period. The Marlies showed a 16-7 advantage in shots for the third period and a 42-20 advantage for the game.

Today’s Official Boxscore

The Three Stars in the building today were:

3rd Star: Nikolay Goldobin. Two assists.

2nd Star: Thatcher Demko. 40 saves.

1st Star: Reid Boucher. Two goals.

CanucksArmy’s Three Stars

3rd Star: Nikolay Goldobin. Goldobin picked up another pair of helpers today and leads all players in the series with six points in four games…all assists. Goldy is a legit playmaker. He has also been playing quite well on the defensive side of the puck. It’s good to see him picking up where he left off in Vancouver after a strong late-season showing with the big club.

2nd Star: Reid Boucher. Boucher picked up a pair of goals today and now has three in his first two contests since recovering from a broken hand and being returned to the Comets. If the Comets end up winning this series on Sunday, I can’t help but think the Leafs might be kicking themselves for not putting in a waiver claim on the forward just to keep him out of the Comets lineup for the series against their farm team. Getting Boucher back has been HUGE for the Comets.

1st Star: Thatcher Demko. Demko put up 40 saves today and a handful of them were of the lights out variety. He stood on his head today and put up a wall. He has now made 143 saves over the first four games of this series. Demko has shown all season that he is a legit goaltender and today was no different. The poise that he is playing with has to go a long way with his teammates, giving them that confidence that he will stop everything possible.

Next Game

Round One | Game Five

At Toronto Marlies

Sunday, April 29th, 2018

1:00 pm Pacific






  • Utica fans deserved this one.

    Marlies out shot the Comets 42 – 20. That really shows how well Demko played. I do believe Demko is ready for the big show. I think we’ll see a Marstrom – Demko tandem next season.

    Must be time to re-sign Bachman. I think he deserves another contract.

    What is going on with Big Joe? He’s been injured forever it seems.

    I was a little surprised to see Sautner on the third pairing. Cull must have his reasons.

    Game day is Sunday April 29. For some reason it says March. (Said March for today’s game too) Otherwise, another quality game day report Mr Hergott.

    • Cory Hergott

      Haha, thanks, Bob. For some reason, my chemo brain has been convinced that it’s still March all month. As for Sautner, don’t read too much into the order that those D pairs are in. Sautner soaks up the minutes. Cull tends to roll four up front for the most part and its the same on the backend. Some guys get more minutes with special teams work, but Cull keeps everyone active.

    • Cory Hergott

      With Big Joe, he has been injured for quite a while. Unfortunately, I don’t have a whole lot of info as far as the injuries go. I think bringing Bachman back would be fine. I think that may depend on what happens this offseason. If Demko makes the big club, and Nilsson is waived to Utica, do they really want a Nilsson/Bachman tandem for the Comets?…on second thought, that might not be a bad idea. The Comets could really push the youth and still have solid goaltending behind them.

  • LTFan

    Great stuff Cory. With the Canucks Senior Management and Coach in attendance the boys have been playing well. Can they do it one more time? What do you think of Tanner McMaster and has Cole Cassels finally found his game? A big weekend for Canucks fans with the Draft lottery on Saturday and the Marlies vs Comets game on Sunday afternoon. Go Comets Go.

    • Cory Hergott

      I’m a fan of MacMaster’s game. He is a little on the smaller side and that seemed to be a bit of an issue in his first handful of games as he was getting pushed off the puck a little easier than I’d like. That said, it doesn’t seem to be nearly as much of an issue now that he has 17 games under his belt between the regular season and playoffs. He has decent speed, by all accounts he is a smart player as well. Ryan Johnson has had some very nice things to say about him. As for Cassels, he has taken a step this year. I’m still not convinced that he has a future as an NHL regular, but he can certainly be a solid contributor in Utica. He could possibly take on more of a leadership role next season with the Comets.

  • myshkin

    excellent recap. looks like lind is finding out what’s needed to be a pro and how hard he’ll have to work this summer. it’s a good culture that the canucks have needed for years.

  • argoleas

    Love the team’s work ethic. They just do not quit. But man, so many times when they handled the puck like a grenade. Bailed out by Demko, who was just phenomenal.

    • canuckfan

      As they play in more high pressure situations they will get better with making smarter plays rather than treating puck like grenade. The work ethic seems to be something the Canucks organization is trying to build from top to bottom as the Canucks were a lot more entertaining to watch this year which came from work ethic and playing to score rather than defending the whole time including on the power play under Willy’s system.
      Having a player like Tanev when they play with Canucks will help calm down the team when in pressure situations that is why I hope he doesn’t get traded. Age also helps with a young team they are going to freak when pressure is on. That is why you need a goalie like Demko or Miller.

  • Break The Canuck's Curse

    It looks like the junior leafs (or should I called them buds?) are following in the parent organization’s footsteps and choking in the playoffs. That offers hope.

    Even if the comets lose, I have to think either Demko or Goldy wins series MVP