Utica Comets Post-Game Report
At Toronto Marlies
Sunday, October 14th, 2018
4:00 pm Eastern/1:00 pm Pacific
The 14th ranked Utica Comets rolled into Toronto today to take on the 26th overall Marlies for their fifth game of the season. The two clubs played to a 7-4 final yesterday, with the Comets coming out on top. The Comets came into the game with four points on the season, while the Marlies were still sitting with just the two points that they took from Utica on opening night.
The Comets had won their only road game this season, while the Marlies were winless on home ice. Toronto came into the game today having scored 19 goals while giving up 22. I think they may miss Sparks and Pickard at the moment. The Comets, for their part, had scored 16 times while giving up 16 as well. Reid Boucher has been responsible for seven of those 16 Comets markers this year.
The Comets power pay was ranked fourth in the league, operating at 33.3%, while their penalty kill sat 12th in the AHL with an 88.9% success rate. The Marlies power play was ranked 13th in the league with a 19.0% success rate, while their penalty kill had them sitting 25th with a 71.4% success rate.
The Comets have averaged 22 minutes spent shorthanded each game, with Brendan Woods leading the parade to the box with 29 minutes spent feeling shame. The Marlies have averaged 13.2 minutes per game in the box, with Adam Cracknell as their leading offender, having accumulated eight minutes in penalties.
Sam Gagner lead all Marlies players with three goals and three helpers, giving him six points in his first four games. Trevor Moore was right behind him with three goals and two assists in four games to give himself five points, while Calle Rosen sat third with one goal and four helpers, giving him five points as well.
For the Comets, it was Reid Boucher leading the pack with a staggering seven goals and one helper through his first four games, while Zack MacEwen sat second with one goal and four helpers, giving him five points in four contests. Adam Gaudette rounded out the top three with a pair of goals and a pair of assists to give himself four points in his first four AHL games. The two Tanners, Kero and MacMaster also had four points each through their first four games.
Scratched Today For Utica
Wacey Hamilton, (injured) Brendan Gaunce, (injured) Jesse Graham, Vincent Arseneau, Petrus Palmu, Jaime Sifers, Adam Gaudette, and Jonathan Dahlen.
Comets Starting Lines
13 Kole Lind – 21 Brendan Woods – 15 Zack MacEwen
19 Tanner MacMaster – 10 Tanner Kero – 24 Reid Boucher
25 Darren Archibald (A) – 11 Cam Darcy – 58 Michael Carcone
22 Jonah Gadjovich – 34 Carter Bancks (C) – 9 Lukas Jasek
48 Olli Juolevi – 5 Jalen Chatfield
6 Ashton Sautner (A) – 8 Dylan Blujus
55 Guillaume Brisebois – 2 Evan McEneny
31 Ivan Kulbakov
32 Richard Bachman (Backing Up)
We’ve seen a lot of quick starts so far this season with the Comets and today was no different.
Ivan Kulbakov was getting his second straight start in goal for the Comets today and he came up with a save through traffic early that saw him stretched out in a way that would make most men wince. Darren Archibald went the other way for a chance of his own but saw his shot turned aside by Kasimir Kaskisuo.
Former Canuck, Adam Cracknell opened the scoring for the Marlies in this one at the 2:43 mark when he beat Kulbakov for his first of the season, unassisted.
That lead wouldn’t last long though as Trent Cull’s new-look line of Kole Lind, Brendan Woods, and Zack MacEwen broke in and knotted the game at one. Lind did excellent work to take possession of the puck in the Marlies zone and dished a nice pass to Woods. Woods let fly with a shot and TheBigFella buried the rebound for his second goal of the season. Woods earned his first helper of the year on the play, while Lind grabbed his second.
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) October 14, 2018
There was some good back and forth between the two clubs that saw Cracknell ring the puck off the iron and out of play. Zack MacEwen showed some nice second effort to maintain possession of the puck after being dumped and sliding along the ice.
Kulbakov continued to show well with a nice save through traffic while the Comets spent a shift hemmed in their own zone. Sam Gagner was trying to dance his way past Ashton Sautner, but the feisty defender picked his pocket and sent the puck the other way. I think Gagner might be a little gunshy around Sautner after the abuse that the young defenseman has put him through already this season.
Whenever I talk about Reid Boucher’s goal-scoring prowess, someone will inevitably pipe up with, but what about his skating? Boucher has improved in that regard and showed a couple of quick steps along the boards in the Marlies zone to steal a puck.
Speaking of skating, that Lukas Jasek fellow is a slick one. He is so smooth on his blades and makes no bones about heading to the tough areas of the ice. I love his work on the forecheck.
Ivan Kulbakov was showing his acrobatic side when he went post-to-post for another save to keep the game knotted at one. He followed up by shutting down a Sam Gagner offering when the Marlies forward stole a puck and let fly, blocker high.
Kole Lind and Zack MacEwen nearly hooked up for a beauty when MacEwen danced into the Marlies zone and dished a backhand pass across the crease to Lind, but the puck hopped off Lind’s stick.
There was more good back and forth before Boucher hit MacMaster at speed with a nifty pass, unfortunately, MacMaster’s shot went off the knob of Kaskisuo’s stick and no goal was to be had.
At the other end of the ice, Juolevi got levelled by Adam Cracknell, but the rookie defender jumped right back up and into the play. The Comets went the other way with pressure and we saw Jonah Gadjovich tip a puck just wide on a nice chance as well as some nice plays from Jasek.
Kulbakov came up with another big save to stymie a Colin Greening chance, continuing his strong game for the Comets.
Olli Juolevi was seeing the ice really well in this one. The Comets had pressure in the Marlies zone and it looked like Chatfield was holding the fort at the blueline, while Juolevi slithered around the offensive zone like a snake. He looked like he knew where the puck was going to go before it was sent there.
The first period wound down with the Marlies showing a 14-9 advantage on the shot clock, but the game was tied at one.
There was a sketchy moment early in the middle frame when Cracknell and Lind collided near the Comets blueline, sending Lind staggering to the bench. The good news is that Lind was right back out there for his next shift and looked none the worse for wear.
Kulbakov continued to shine with a pair of early saves on Andrew Nielsen and Jordan Subban.
Darren Archibald unleashed a Symphony of Destruction on Emerson Clark when he lowered the boom on the Marlies forward in the Comets zone.
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) October 14, 2018
Shortly after that hit, Marlies defender, Andrew Nielsen was whistled for tripping Reid Boucher and the Comets power play was sent over the boards. Neither group could get much going and it would be no dice with the extra man…but hey, no shorthanded goal against either.
Kasimir Kaskisuo was having a much better game today, but after making a sprawling save on a Carcone chance, he had to be helped off the ice and his day was done. Jeff Glass took over.
Michael CrazyLegs Carcone welcomed Glass to the game not long after when he showed separation speed to get behind Jordan Subban and he took the puck to the net. I have often said in this space in the past that I thought Carcone holds onto the puck too long sometimes…well, he held onto it exactly as long as he needed to in order to beat Jeff Glass for his first of the year. Darren Archibald picked up his second helper of the season on the play, while Dylan Blujus grabbed his first.
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) October 14, 2018
Zack MacEwen followed up the Carcone goal with a solid hit on Subban…it was a tough shift for the former Comets defender.
The stream from AHLTV today was excellent, up until this point when we lost audio for a few shifts. It looks like things are getting better, though, for those of you who are still on the fence about springing for the service.
Jonah Gadjovich was playing in just his second game of the season, but he was making his presence felt. The youngest player on the team at 20-years-old, Gadjovich identified a Marlies player behind the Comets net for a big hit, and a big hit he did unload, forcing a turnover and sending the Comets the other way. It will be plays like that one that will have the coaching staff taking notice.
The Comets got some good offensive zone pressure from the MacMaster, Kero, Boucher line before Kulbakov put on a show with a big save, gobbling up a Timothy Liljegren one-timer with Sam Gagner lurking for a rebound. Gagner has managed but one assist in his three games against the Comets so far, all while being used as Ashton Sautner’s personal whipping boy.
Zack MacEwen showed that extra gear in his skating again with some great hustle on the backcheck. I see that extra gear showing up more with each game this season.
Reid Boucher…remember him? Well, he picked up his league-leading eighth goal of the season on a nice break with Tanner MacMaster. Boucher banged this one in with a baseball style swing, showing some excellent hand-eye coordination.
Reid Boucher now doing tricks at the AHL level. Just scored his 8th of the season by batting a waist high pass out of mid-air
— Jeff Paterson (@patersonjeff) October 14, 2018
MacMaster continued his strong rookie campaign, picking up his fourth assist, and fifth point in five games. The other Tanner, of the Kero variety, grabbed his fifth helper of the year on the play.
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) October 14, 2018
Andreas Borgman was whistled for roughing just over a minute later and the Comets were back to the power play. Once again though, no dice. Also once again, no shorty against, I will call that a win.
The period came to a close after Carter Bancks dished for Lukas Jasek in the Marlies zone, but the rookie forward could not get his shot to go.
The Comets showed a 14-13 advantage in shots for the middle frame.
There was a lot of back and forth in the final frame, but I wouldn’t call it an action-packed period of hockey.
Jalen Chatfield has been having a very nice start to his season alongside Olli Juolevi. The duo forms the Comets top defensive pair and they seem to compliment each other well. Jalen was having an active game today, bringing the violence with a big hit at the Comets blueline early in the third that chased Emerson Clark from the game. Chatfield lowered the boom on Clark, who was also destroyed by Archibald earlier in the game.
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) October 14, 2018
Chatfield was also showing off his Chris Tanev-like shot blocking ability in this one.
There was some more back and forth before Kulbakov came up with a trio of saves in succession to keep his team up by a pair. Kulbakov picked up his first AHL win in the game yesterday, but he looked like a young man with the confidence of 100 wins under his belt on this day.
I noticed that Lukas Jasek was taking some faceoffs in this game when his linemate Carter Bancks was tossed from the dot. He wasn’t on the winning side of many, but having that skillset in his repertoire will only help him as he finds his way in the league.
Kole Lind was having a solid game today. I think he will take a little time, but each game he shows something that makes me take notice. He made a nice play to set up a Chatfield chance from the blueline that the defender ripped high over the net.
Pierre Engvall is a Marlies forward who always seems to grab my attention when he’s on the ice and he did it again in this one. He skating himself into a scoring lane and unloaded a shot through traffic that Kulbakov was wise to and the save was made. We would be hearing from Engvall again before this one would finish.
Kulbakov did well to make that save. I feel like he has done an excellent job of tracking pucks, even when he has a crease full of skaters impeding his vision.
Guillaume Brisebois was having a steady game again today and he was rewarded with a goal for his efforts. Cam Darcy won a faceoff in the Marlies zone right back to Brisebois and BreezyGui snapped a shot on net that deflected off of a Marlies defender and squeaked over the line. Was it a rocket of a shot to the top shelf? Nope, but it still put the good guys up 4-1. The goal was the first of the season for Brisebois, while Darcy picked up his first helper of the year on the play.
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) October 14, 2018
It took all of 12 seconds for Engvall to get that one back when he was sprung by Adam Cracknell for a break, beating Kulbakov for his second goal of the season. Cracknell earned his fourth assist of the year on the play, while Ryan Sproul grabbed his first.
Kole Lind showed up with a timely shot block, not long after that goal to send the Comets the other way for a chance that was denied. Lind was solid today.
There was more back and forth before the Comets got some good pressure in the offensive zone. Sautner and Blujus did some nice work to keep the play alive at the blueline before Blujus saw his shot off the end boards smothered by Glass.
I see a lot of comments about how the Comets coaching staff isn’t playing the kids enough. While I understand that, to a point, I also understand team sports and how things work in a locker room. The coach will always rely on and trust his vets, it is only natural.
The thing is, this coaching staff gives the kids opportunities when they do get in. Jonah Gadjovich has played in two games. In his first game, he saw penalty killing time, today, he was afforded net front time on the power play. Lind, Dahlen, Gaudette and Palmu have all seen special teams work as raw rookies. You can’t complain about the opportunities given to the young players when they get in the lineup.
With the Comets up 4-2, Gadjovich was out on the ice in the final three minutes to help protect the lead. These kids are getting opportunities and Trent Cull showed last season with MacEwen, Brisebois, and Chatfield, that once you have earned his trust in a role, he will keep you there. Comets GM, Ryan Johnson has also stated that he is all about player development and that once players prove they can handle more responsibility, the team will give it to them.
It is only five games into the season and we are seeing contributions in all areas of the ice from the Comets young players.
With about three minutes remaining and the game winding down, the Marlies summoned Jeff Glass to the bench for the extra attacker. We saw Kulbakov steer a shot aside that sent Cam Darcy the other way and the pivot showed some great hustle to get to the puck and deposit it into the empty net. The unassisted goal was the first of the season for Darcy and the Comets were up 5-2.
Jalen Chatfield showed some dogged determination when he exited the Comets zome with not only the puck but also while wearing Trevor Moore like a jacket.
The Marlies were not going down without a fight, though. Ryan Sproul unloaded with a shot from the top of the circle that was quickly gobbled up by Kulbakov before the netminder made a stickless save after being bumped by Cracknell.
The young netminder wouldn’t be able to stop the Cracknell shot that soon followed, though and it was a 5-3 game. The goal was the first of the season for Cracknell, while Jeremy Bracco earned his first assist of the campaign on the play. That Pierre Engvall fellow picked up the other helper, for his second assist of the season.
Kulbakov would come up with one more save off the stick of Ryan Sproul and this one was over. The Comets pulled out a 5-3 win to take back-to-back games against the Marlies after giving up a loss to the Charlotte Checkers in the first game of this three-in-three weekend.
The Marlies showed a 14-7 advantage in shots for the third period and a 41-30 advantage for the game.
The Three Stars in the building today were
3rd Star: Adam Cracknell. One goal, two assists.
2nd Star: Reid Boucher. One goal.
3rd Star: Michael Carcone. One goal
CanucksArmy’s Three Stars
3rd Star: Kole Lind. Lind has played in three games so far this year and he has a pair of assists. The young forward has played both wings and has seen time on the power play. Each game I see Lind standout for a moment or two. I think he has some time to spend honing his game, but I see glimpses of a player who will make some noise once he’s up to speed.
2nd Star: Jalen Chatfield. Chatfield was a player that I enjoyed watching last season, and I continue to enjoy his work this year. He is silky smooth on his skates, uses his body and stick well to separate opponents from pucks and to protect the puck from those same opponents. He has a physical edge that usually shows up along the boards, but he unloaded with an open-ice hit today that sent Emerson Clark from the game. I’m not sure that we will ever see a ton of offence from the blueliner, but he plays a very good all-around game. I hope he continues to get his first pairing minutes if Alex Biega clears waivers tomorrow and joins the Comets for Wednesday’s game against Rochester.
1st Star: Ivan Kulbakov. Kulbakov earned his first AHL win yesterday and was rewarded with another start today. He put up 38 saves for the win and looked good while doing it. Kulbakov is destined for the Kalamazoo Wings of the ECHL once Demko is ready to play, but the young man has done an excellent job of representing himself while with the Comets. When I view Kulbakov’s game, I see a goaltender who relies on his athletic ability and reflexes to make saves. That sort of puts him at the opposite end of the spectrum as Thatcher Demko. Demko is more of a student of the game who relies on his technical ability to stop pucks. Both styles work, and it probably isn’t a bad idea to be able to throw two different looks at your opponents. Demko is apparently feeling a bit better, though he is still in concussion protocol, so Kulbakov is on borrowed time with the team, but he has given his coaching staff a glimpse of what he can do if pressed into action once Demko is called up later in the season, should that happen.
Vs Rochester Americans
Wednesday, October 17th, 2018
7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific