Photo Credit: Owen Skye | @DesignedbyOwen

CanucksArmy Utica Comets Post-Game Report: Comets Drop 4-3 Decison To Checkers

Utica Comets Post-Game Report

Game Three

VS Charlotte Checkers

Friday, October 12th, 2018

4:00 pm Pacific/7:00 pm Eastern


The fifth overall Charlotte Checkers rolled into Utica today to take on the 16th ranked Comets for game number three of the season. The Checkers had posted a pair of wins in the two games that they had played, picking up 10 goals while giving up just four. The Comets, for their part, had scored six goals while giving up eight in their first two contests, a loss and a win.

Both of the Checkers wins have come on the road so far this year, while both of the Comets games were played in their home barn.

Coming into today’s game, the Checkers had the league’s first ranked power play, having converted on four of seven chances to give themselves a 57.1% effective rate. Their penalty kill was ranked 11th, giving up one goal while shorthanded eight times for an 87.5% effective rate.

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The Comets had gone three for seven with the man advantage, placing them third in the league with a 42.9% effective rate. Their penalty kill had given up one goal while down a man eight times to match the Checkers’ record.

Nicholas Roy came into the day as Charlotte’s leading scorer with four goals and two helpers to give himself six points in two games. Andrew Poturalski sat second with two goals and three assists, giving him five points in two games, while Janne Kuokkanen rounded out their top three with a pair of goals matched by a pair of assists to give himself four points in two games.

Zack MacEwen was leading the Comets with one goal and three helpers, giving him four points through two games. Reid Boucher sat second with three goals over the same span, while Jonathan Dahlen, Tanner Kero, and Tanner MacMaster were all tied for third with a pair of helpers for the Comets.

The Checkers were coming off of a 4-2 win over Rochester, while the Comets last played to a 3-1 win over Belleville.

This is the first game of a three-games-in-three-days weekend for the Comets as they have a pair of afternoon games in Toronto against the Marlies to follow up today’s contest.

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Scratched Today For Utica

Brendan Gaunce, (injured)  Wacey Hamilton, (injured) Jagger Dirk, Dylan Blujus, Jukas Jasek, Vincent Arseneau, Petrus Palmu, Jesse Graham, and Michael Carcone.

Comets Starting Lines

19 Tanner MacMaster – 10 Tanner Kero – 24 Reid Boucher

54 Jonathan Dahlen – 17 Adam Gaudette – 25 Darren Archibald (A)

34 Carter Bancks (C) – 21 Brendan Woods – 13 Kole Lind

22 Jonah Gadjovich – 11 Cam Darcy – 15 Zack MacEwen

6 Ashton Sautner (A) – 2 Evan McEneny

48 Olli Juolevi -5 Jalen Chatfield

55 Guillaume Brisebois – 26 Jaime Sifers

32 Richard Bachman

31 Ivan Kulbakov (Backing Up)

First Period

We saw a pretty solid period of hockey in the opening frame as the Comets scored early and the Checkers scored late.

Richard Bachman had to come up with a quick save early after a turnover in the Comets zone lead to a Checkers shot that he denied. Olli Juolevi followed up with a nice stretch pass out of the Comets zone to hit Kole Lind, who sent his offering wide of the net. Comets captain, Carter Bancks let fly with a shot that was denied by Alex Nedeljkovic as well.

In the Comets zone, Adam Gaudette turned a puck over to Julien Gauthier for a  Checkers scoring chance, but Bachman said no.

Zack MacEwen managed to tip a hot-shot from Olli Juolevi, only to see it stopped by Nedeljkovic before Jaime Sifers saw his point shot gloved down by the Checkers netminder.

Reid Boucher opened the scoring at the 3:22 mark when he took a Tanner MacMaster feed from behind the net and buried his fourth goal of the season. For MacMaster, it was assist number three on the year.

Just under two minutes later, the Comets were headed to the power play when Jake Bean was whistled for interference. It took both power play units, but the Comets went up by a pair when Adam Gaudette earned his first pro goal after whipping out a slick toe drag and beating Nedeljkovic high to the stick side. Kole Lind earned the lone assist on the play, his first of the season.

The Comets were right back to the power play roughly a minute and a half later when Nicholas Roy was sent off for holding. Things did not go as planned, however, as Clark Bishop and Saku Maenalanen broke in shorthanded and Maenelanen scored his first of the year. Bishop earned his first assist of the year on the play. That makes three shorthanded goals against in three games this year for the Comets.

The Comets came close on an Archibald chance, but Nedeljkovic smothered the puck with Kole Lind lurking in the crease looking for some garbage. Utica would come up empty on the power play.

Trevor Carrick dropped Jalen Chatfield with a neutral zone hit, but the defender popped right back up and was back in the play. Zack MacEwen followed up with a shift where he looked like a man possessed, taking the puck hard to the net for a chance that wouldn’t go.

Richard Bachman would glove down a Morgan Geekie offering before Darren Archibald and Dan Renouf tried to square off at the other end of the ice. The stripes were having none of it though and sent both men off for unsportsmanlike conduct before they could come to blows.

With the teams playing at four aside, Jalen Chatfield jumped into the rush for a chance in the Checkers zone, but the puck quickly went the other way and was behind Bachman for a tie game. Dennis Robertson did the damage with his first of the year, while Andrew Poturalski’s fourth assist of the season was the lone helper on the play.

Just under three minutes later, Reid Boucher was whistled for slashing and headed to the box. Bachman came up with a pair of kick saves before whipping out the blocker to shut down a Greg McKegg offering. Birthday boy, Jonah Gadjovich was seeing some time on this kill along with Darren Archibald. The Comets would come up with a good kill.

With just over a minute remaining, Roland McKeown was sent off for slashing and the Comets would finish the period on the power play…or would they? Zack MacEwen would be sent off for goaltender interference in the late going after taking a puck a little too hard to the net.

Greg McKegg thought he scored to end the period, but his buzzer-beater didn’t quite beat the buzzer.

The Comets showed a 16-10 advantage on the shot clock in the opening frame.

Second Period

With McKeown and MacEwen still in the box, the second period kicked off with some four aside action. Dan Renouf unloaded with an early wrist shot that was gloved down by Bachman to get things off to a quick start.

Charlotte would have a brief power play after the four aside finished up, but the Comets would show up with a good kill.

The Comets found themselves hemmed in their own end for a bit until rookie winger, Kole Lind made a nice play, forcing a turnover to relive the extended pressure from the Checkers.

Adam Gaudette found himself heading to the penalty box after being whistled for tripping and it was back to the kill for the Comets. Once again, Jonah Gadjovich made an appearance while down a man. It was nice to see him getting these assignments in his first game and for his part, he showed well.

Bachman had to come up with another save on Maenalanen, and one more after that before the Comets came up with another good kill.

It wasn’t long after that kill ended that Morgan Geekie put the Checkers up 3-2 after working a give-and-go with Cliff Pu. The goal was Geekie’s second of the season, while Pu picked up his first assist of the campaign. Spencer Smallman earned the other helper on the play for his third of the season.

Zack MacEwen was bringing it once again in this one, showing excellent hustle and great wheels to beat out an icing call and turning it into a scoring chance for his team that Nedeljkovic turned aside. It will be plays like that one that will continue to endear TheBigFella to his coaching staff.

Dennis Robertson was sent off for tripping at the 8:42 mark and the Comets were headed back to the power play. This one was pretty sloppy before Reid Boucher and Clark Bishop were sent off for slashing and cross-checking respectively.

During the four aside play, Adam Gaudette showed some nice work by using his body to force a turnover in the Charlotte zone. There was a bit of a lull in play before the Comets found themselves hemmed in their own zone again. Bachman soaked up a long slapper for a whistle as the period was winding down.

The Comets couldn’t get much going in the middle frame as they were outshot 8-5.

Third Period

The final frame started off with Carter Bancks and Olli Juolevi breaking in for a chance that didn’t convert before Guillaume Brisebois and Trevor Carrick were sent off for slashing and interference respectively.

During the four-on-four play, Tanner MacMaster dished to Evan McEneny for a one-timer that was denied before MacMaster got greasy in front with McKeown. MacMaster was assessed with a cross-checking penalty, while McKeown was dinged for a slash.

It was during this stretch when Zack MacEwen and Reid Boucher broke in for a two-on-one. MacEwen had his legs moving and found his lane, went to the net and dished a sweet pass to Boucher for a tap-in. The goal was the fifth in three games for Boucher to take the AHL goal-scoring lead, while MacEwen grabbed his fourth helper in three contests. The game was knotted at three.

TheBigFella followed up with some good hustle and a good stick in his own end to break up a Checkers play.

There was some solid back and forth for a couple of shifts, and then things slowed to a crawl for a couple more. Bachman came up with a nice save off of a Julien Gauthier one-timer before Ashton Sautner absolutely crushed Spencer Smallman into the boards in the Comets’ zone. Sautner was wearing his big boy pants again today and he was bringing the heavy game that we have seen from him over the first two games.

Roland McKeown must have liked something in the penalty box as he was headed back there for hooking to send Utica back to the man advantage. The power play would last just one minute before Evan McEneny was fingered for holding and made his way to the penalty box.

With the teams once again playing four aside, Bachman came up with another save on a one-timer, this time by Trevor Carrick. Bachman denied another point shot before Jalen Chatfield calmly gathered the puck and headed the other way out of danger. The Checkers had a brief power play as McKeown exited the box, but Boucher and Sautner did some excellent work in the Checkers’ zone to kill off the remainder of McEneny’s minor.

Jonathan Dahlen had a bit of a quiet game, but he did make a nice play to steal the puck in the Checker’s zone and dished a nice drop pass to Gaudette for a shot that was stopped by Nedeljkovic. Dahlen followed up with a set up for Darren Archibald that the big winger couldn’t get to go.

With just 1:25 remaining in regulation, Dennis Robertson snuffed out the Comets chances for a win when he beat Bachman with a shot through traffic and off the post for his second goal of the game. Julien Gauthier earned his second helper of the year on the play, while Saku Maenalanen grabbed his first.

Trent Cull made use of his timeout and also summoned Bachman to the bench, but the Checkers would hold on for the win. Charlotte showed a 13-4 advantage in shots for the third period and a 31-25 advantage for the game. The Checkers won, 4-3.

Today’s Official Boxscore

The Three Stars in the building today were:

3rd Star: Adam Gaudette: First pro goal.

2nd Star: Reid Boucher. One goal. (leads league with five).

1st Star: Dennis Robertson. Two goals.

CanucksArmy’s Three Stars

3rd Star: Ashton Sautner. Sautner was told by the coaching staff during his exit meeting last season that they wanted him to up his physical game for this season. I would say that the defender took that meeting very seriously. Sautner has made no bones about making life difficult for anyone who dares to try his side of the ice since the start of the season. He has been using his body well along the boards, as well as using his stick in ways that it was not designed for. Sautner is bringing the nasty on the regular so far this season and it is a good look for him. That kind of play will get him noticed by the big club for another look this season.

2nd Star: Zack MacEwen. MacEwen showed those nifty hands again when he picked up his fourth assist and fifth point of the season on the second Boucher tally today. TheBigFella showed some wheels and some poise with the puck when he sent that sweet backhand pass across the crease to Boucher for the tap-in goal. MacEwen also took his share of draws in this game and he won several of them. He continues to round out his game and he is showing better than even I expected him to at the start of this season.

1st Star: Reid Boucher. Boucher just keeps scoring goals. His fifth of the year propped him up as the league’s highest scorer in terms of goals this year. He continues to take on penalty killing duty and eats up minutes at five-on-five. I’m not sure if Boucher can keep up this blistering pace, but if he spends a full year in Utica this season, would anyone be surprised to see him pot 30-plus goals? I wouldn’t.

Next Game

At Toronto Marlies

Saturday, October 13th, 2018

4:00 pm Eastern/1:00 pm Pacific









  • LTFan

    Again thanks for the write-up Cory. I noticed that Juolevi was -3 on the night and in 3 games he is leading the AHL in + – at – 6. He is at the bottom – alone. I know it is only 3 games into the season but this is concerning. You have seen the games. What is he doing, not doing, that has led to this poor start to the season – is it who he is partnered with or is it something else?? Your comment would be appreciated.

    • Chuck-ey

      Benning bust. What more evidence do you need that Juolevi was a terrible pick at 5… worst plus minus on D in the AHL while Sergy, McAvoy and superstar power forward Matty Tkachuk are all killing it in the bigs. Case closed.

      • Fred-65

        I agee I like others haven’t seen a lot of Juolevi to make a fair judgement. JB had him ranked 5th over all in the world at the draft. He has failed since he has tried out for the Canucks to bust the door down with his abilities. No one can over look he’s attended two camps and has been cut both times. Being the worse +/- in the AHL is not some thing to be proud of. No one wants him to fail, but he’s 20 ( 21 at the end of this season) in what is a young mans league and has failed to sperate himself from others, especially when you look at his draft class. There has to be doubt creeping into managements mind. They try to give a positive slant, but how long can they do that for. They’re continuing to do much the same with Virtanen and it looks like he’ll end up as a bottom 6 player. I’d be happy if Juolevi ends up as a 3rd pairing D

        • Defenceman Factory

          The problem with that take Fred is everybody who watches Juolevi play says he is going to be fine. It’s understandable to point at others who have developed faster but the fact is there are a lot of top 4 Dmen who didn’t make the NHL by age 20. Juolevi’s ceiling hasn’t changed. He will be a top 4 Dman and everyone agrees they want it to happen as fast as possible.

          The Canucks could have pushed Juolevi into the line-up and I expect he would have been okay but giving him special team and 1st paring minutes in Utica will develop him faster. It also avoids having to send down a waiver eligible Dman. MDZ. Poulliot and Hutton are all on the trade list. When/if someone gets traded or injuries happen Juolevi should get a look.

          Making an issue about the -7 after 3 games is not reasonable especially on a Dman getting the toughest match-ups behind rookie forwards and in front of the back-up goalie. The Comets gave up 7 goals in the team’s and Juolevi’s first game. Things will come around.

    • Cory Hergott

      LTFan: I honestly don’t think that Juolevi is off to a bad start at all. I don’t put a ton of stock into plus/minus stats. Juolevi has been paired with Jalen Chatfield on what would be the top pair in Utica so far and they have been eating up minutes. I have zero concerns about Juolevi’s game so far in the AHL. He has played well and has shown poise. As you said, they are just three games into the season, there is a ton of hockey yet to play, Olli will be fine.

      • Nuck16

        Thanks Cory. One thing I’d like to see personally and feel free to tell me to piss off, to have a section describing the play on key players of interest (eg. Gaudette, Dahlen, OJ..) so we get an overall sense of how they played, just like you just did with OJ. For a lot of us, that’s what we’re really interested in is the players that we’re hoping will have a big impact on the big club in the future.

        • Cory Hergott

          Nuck16: Don’t worry, I won’t tell you to piss off, haha. What I will say is that when I am watching the games, I am focusing on the game as a whole in order to bring a decent post-game report. It can be a little more difficult for me to zero in on specific players “in game,” but I do try to point out/identify certain plays made by players that stand out. I can’t make any promises, but I have been going back and rewatching games and trying to track certain players/plays made etc. with the intention of writing different pieces as the year goes on.

      • Chuck-ey

        They are primarily attackers, Juolevi is a defensive defenceman ffs!

        It is pathetic how many armchair warriors always resort to the “well he’s doing [email protected] too, so what’s the issue” excuse – the issue is, this is unacceptable for a top five pick to be so defensively unresponsible in the MINORS in year three when so many lower draft picks are killing it for their teams in the NHL now!

        You are either ready to deliver the goods or not in toddays NHL… Juolevi is just never going to be the elite player Benning promised us and the Canucks needed to deliver on D straight from the draft! BUST!!!!

  • Killer Marmot

    So what do the Canucks do with Boucher? His AHL stats suggest he should be the first call-up, but doesn’t have the defense and skating for the big show.

    • Cory Hergott

      KM: Boucher is fine on the defensive side of the puck. I think that narrative is old and played out, to be honest. In his time with the Canucks, he has drawn a pile of penalties and has been fine defensively. His skating isn’t nearly as bad as many make it out to be either. There are certainly worse skaters in the NHL. I’m not sure that he is a full-time NHL player in Vancouver as there are a lot of wingers ahead of him on the depth chart, but he can handle call-up duty. It’s not like he has been given plum assignments while with the big club either. He’s a goal scorer, put him in a position to score goals and he will do just that.

      • Defenceman Factory

        It seems to me Boucher is one of those players who has to play in the top 6. He just isn’t an NHL top 6 player. He really doesn’t look good down the line up so you have to move him down a league. Top 6 in the AHL seems a perfect fit for him.

        Europe is full of these guys. Canucks can keep him in Utica for a few more years but I suspect he can make more in Europe and will want to go there. I suspect the NHL door has closed for him at least with the Canucks.