Utica Comets Post-Game Report
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.
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.
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)
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.
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) October 12, 2018
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.
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) October 12, 2018
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.
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.
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.
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) October 13, 2018
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.
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.
At Toronto Marlies
Saturday, October 13th, 2018
4:00 pm Eastern/1:00 pm Pacific