Photo Credit: Owen Skye | @designedbyowen

CanucksArmy Utica Comets Post-Game: Young Comets Squad Drops 3-1 Decision to Checkers



Utica Comets Post-Game Report

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Game #9

Vs Charlotte Checkers

Wednesday, October 24th, 2018

7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific

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The fifth overall Charlotte Checkers, (Carolina affiliate) rolled into Utica today to take on the 13th ranked Comets for game nine of the season. Charlotte had a record of 5-1-0-0 so far this season, giving themselves 10 points. The Comets, for their part, had gone 4-4-0-0 this year, giving them eight points on the season.

The Charlotte power play was ranked 12th in the AHL, going 7/21 for a 22.6% success rate. Their penalty kill sat 13th in the league after giving up six goals while down a man 34 times for a success rate of 82.4%. The Utica power play was sitting third in the league, going 11/35 for a success rate of 31.4%, while their penalty kill sat 16th with a 79.4% success rate after giving up seven goals while shorthanded 34 times.

The Comets were coming off of a 4-3 win over Syracuse, while the Checkers last played to a 2-0 loss to Hershey. Utica showed a home record of 1-4-0-0, while the Checkers had gone 4-0-0-0 on the road coming into today’s action.

Utica had been outscored by their opponents by a count of 32-29 this season, while the Checkers had scored 22 times while giving up just 13 goals.

Morgan Geekie led all Charlotte rookies with two goals and one assist, giving himself three points through his first six games. Tanner MacMaster and Olli Juolevi were tied with five points each to lead the Comets rookies. MacMaster’s five points have come in one fewer game than Juolevi’s eight.

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Andrew Poturalski was leading the way for Charlotte with two goals and seven helpers, giving him nine points in six games. Nicholas Roy sat second with five goals and two assists to give himself seven points in six games, while Janne Kukkanen rounded out their top three with four goals and three helpers, to give himself seven points in six contests.

The Injured Reid Boucher was the Comets leader with nine goals and three assists, good for 12 points in his first eight games. Boucher is expected to be out for a couple of weeks. Zack MacEwen sat second with three goals and five helpers, giving himself eight points in eight games. Tanner Kero rounded out Utica’s top three with seven assists through eight games.

Scratched Today For The Comets

Wacey Hamilton, (injured, day-to-day) Brendan Gaunce, (injured, day-to-day) Reid Boucher, (injured, week-to-week) Ashton Sautner, (injured, day-to-day) Jalen Chatfield, (injured, day-to-day) Kole Lind, (injured, day-to-day) and Jesse Graham.

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Comets Starting Lines

54 Jonathan Dahlen – 10 Tanner Kero – 15 Zack MacEwen

19 Tanner MacMaster – 34 Carter Bancks (C) – 9 Lukas Jasek

52 Petrus Palmu – 11 Cam Darcy – 58 Michael Carcone

22 Jonah Gadjovich – 21 Brendan Woods (A) – 18 Vincent Arseneau

48 Olli Juolevi – 3 Alex Biega

2 Evan McEneny – 8 Dylan Blujus

55 Guillaume Brisebois – 23 Jaime Sifers (A)

31 Ivan Kulbakov

32 Richard Bachman (Backing up)

First Period

This one started off quickly today, and not in the Comets favour as Greg McKegg, he of the leg for an arm and an arm for a leg, scored just 58 seconds into the opening frame. The one-timer goal was the first of the season for McKegg. Andrew Poturalski picked up his eighth assist of the season on the play, while Spencer Smallman earned his fourth.

This game was once again full of audio and video issues, as such, this will be another condensed post-game report.

Goaltender Ivan Kulbakov was busy in this one as he made a pair of saves after the McKegg marker to keep his team in the game.

Vincent Arseneau was decked, way late after one of those saves and a minor melee broke out behind the Comets net. Clark Bishop was the culprit with the late hit and he was sent off for roughing at the 4:13 mark.

Without Reid Boucher handy, Trent Cull sent Tanner MacMaster out in his place on the first unit along with Tanner Kero, Zack MacEwen, Jonathan Dahlen and Olli Juolevi. They were pretty sloppy and couldn’t get any traction. The second unit fared no better, although Alex Biega had a nice chance denied. The Comets came up empty.

Cam Darcy was next to the box after he was whistled for hooking at the 9:04 mark and the Comets penalty kill went to work. We saw Woods and Bancks up front with Biega and Blujus on one unit, and MacEwen, Kero, Sifers, and Brisebois on another. The Comets were hemmed in their end for an extended period and Kulbakov had to make a big save, but they would come away with a good kill.

Jonathan Dahlen hit Cam Darcy with a sweet saucer pass from the neutral zone to spring the pivot for a chance, but Darcy had the puck knocked off his stick.

The Comets showed some good pressure in the Checkers zone for the first time with about 7:30 remaining in the period.

Trevor Carrick sent a shot on net through traffic and Kulbakov gloved it down for a whistle. Guillaume Brisebois made a nice play to steal a puck in the neutral zone and sent it the other way for some Comets zone time. The puck soon went back the other way for another save from Kulbakov.

Evan McEneny was showing some physical play in his own end, dishing out a couple of stiff hits before Kulbakov followed up with another big save on Martin Necas and held for a whistle.

Trevor Carrick was sent off for a cross-check at the 15:12 mark and the Comets were back to the power play. They would once again come up empty.

Kulbakov did well to follow the play through a crowd to come up with a save and keep his team in the game.

Petrus Palmu was dinged for slashing at the 17:39 mark and it was back to the penalty kill for Utica. Kulbakov kicked out a leg for a save and the Comets came up with another good kill to close the period.

Charlotte outshot the Comets 13-4 in the opening frame.

Second Period

Once again, this period was full of issues. There was no sound until roughly 11 minutes remained in the period.

The line of Palmu, Darcy and Carcone had some nice shifts in the middle frame for the Comets and they had a good one early with some pressure in the Charlotte zone. At the other end of the ice, Kulbakov came up with another save.

The line of MacMaster, Jasek, and Bancks worked a nice passing play in the Checkers end that resulted in a Bancks offering being denied by netminder Scott Darling.

Morgan Geekie put Charlotte up 2-0 at the 3:14 mark, picking up his third goal of the season. Haydn Fleury earned his first assist of the year on the play.

The Checkers were pouring on the pressure.

Vincent Arseneau let fly with a big shot of the left boards, only to see Darling turn it aside.

Brendan Woods was sent off for hooking at the 5:47 mark and it was back to the penalty kill for the Comets. Kulbakov gobbled up a point shot and made another save in close before my feed froze again and I have no idea what happened for a shift.

Michael CrazyLegs Carcone put his ample wheels on display when he blazed into the Checkers zone for a shorthanded chance but was shut down by a Scott Darling poke check. Kulbakov fought off another shot to come up with another save at the other end and the Comets would come up with a good kill.

Zack MacEwen came up with a nice shot block in his own end before letting fly with a clapper at the other that sailed high over the net.

Scott Darling came up with a pair of saves, first stopping a MacMaster chance from in close before gobbling up a tipped Alex Biega shot.

The Darcy, Carcone, Palmu line came up with another good shift, putting the pressure on in the Charlotte zone before the line of Woods, Gadjovich, and Arseneau nearly got the Comets on the board. Gadjovich hit Arseneau with a nice pass from behind the net, but Big Vinny’s offering was denied by Darling.

Clark Bishop put the Checkers up 3-0, unassisted, at the 13:19 mark when he beat Kulbakov for his second goal of the year with a break from just outside the Charlotte zone.

The Darcy line brought some more good pressure before Kulbakov had to come up with a big save on a Saku Maenalanen break.

Gadjovich, Arseneau, and Woods followed up with a heavy shift before Dahlen found MacEwen for a backhand chance that was turned aside by Darling.

Evan McEneny was beaten by Aleksi Saarela for a chance, but Kulbakov said no and that was it for the second period.

The teams were tied with eight shots apiece in the middle frame.

Third Period

Kulbakov made an early save in the final frame, steering the puck over the glass for a whistle.

Janne Kuokkanen was whistled for slashing at the 1:47 mark and the Comets were headed back to the power play. The Comets got some chances on this one as Juolevi had a shot blocked before Dahlen blasted one off of Darling’s upper body and over the glass.

Jonah Gadjovich had a chance in the slot, but the big winger whiffed on it. Gadjovich had another chance from the doorstep that was turned aside before MacMaster was stopped from in close as well. The Comets power play would come up empty once more.

The Checkers started to put on the pressure as Julien Gauthier had a chance denied by Kulbakov before the netminder came up with back-to-back saves and held for the whistle.

Zack MacEwen showed some good use of his body in his own end to force a turnover and send the Comets the other way. The Darcy line followed up with another good pressure shift.

Scott Darling followed up with saves on Brisebois, Bancks, and Jasek to keep his team up by three.

Jonah Gadjovich had a bit of a tough shift in his own end, giving up the puck twice to Checkers players before the Comets could clear the puck out of danger.

Dahlen hit Biega with a nice pass and Darling directed the Bulldog’s offering over the glass.

Dylan Blujus was sent off for roughing at the 12:45 mark and it was back to the kill for the Comets. Michael Carcone showed his speed again, getting a shorthanded break that was denied by Darling. Charlotte put the pressure on, but the Comets would come up with a good kill.

Carter Bancks followed up the kill by ringing the puck off the iron for a near goal.

Tanner Kero would get the Comets to within a pair when his cross-ice feed to Dahlen went off Darling’s stick and into the back of the net. The goal was the first of the season for Kero, while MacEwen earned his sixth helper of the year on the play and Juolevi grabbed his fifth. That marks the first even-strength point this season for Juolevi.

Trent Cull summoned Kulbakov to the bench for the extra attacker with roughly three minutes remaining in the game.

Trevor Carrick took a cross-checking penalty at the 17:22 mark and the Comets were back to the man advantage. The Comets had great pressure but were unable to capitalize and that was it for this one. The Comets dropped a 3-1 decision to the Checkers.

Utica showed a 14-5 advantage on the shot clock in the final frame as the two teams tied with 26 shots apiece in the game.

Today’s Official Boxscore

Utica Comets Goal

Tanner Kero (1), from Zack MacEwen (6), and Olli Juolevi (5).

The Three Stars in the building today were:

3rd Star: Tanner Kero. One goal.

2nd Star: Gregg McKegg. One goal.

1st Star: Scott Darling. 25 saves.

CanucksArmy’s Three Stars

I am finding it difficult to pick three stars for this game. I didn’t think that any-one Comets player really stood out in this one, so I am going to do something different today and just talk about one line. I thought that the line of Petrus Palmu, Cam Darcy, and Michael Carcone were showing relatively well today. I thought they did some nice work in the Charlotte zone, applying pressure and forcing turnovers to extend their zone time.

Hopefully, the Comets will bounce back in their Friday road game against the Rochester Americans.

Next Game

Game #10

At Rochester Americans

Friday, October 26th, 2018

7:05 pm Eastern/4:05 pm Pacific