Utica Comets Post-Game Report
At Rochester Americans
Friday, October 26th, 2018
7:05 pm Eastern/4:05 pm Pacific
First off, I want to wish my youngest daughter, Kirsten a very happy 22nd birthday today. She was the third generation in our family to be born on October 26th and made for a heck of a birthday gift for me, one day early.
On to hockey…
The 16th overall Utica Comets rolled into Rochester today to take on the fifth-ranked Americans, (Buffalo affiliate) for game number 10 of the season. The last time the two clubs met, the Amerks skated away with a 6-1 victory.
The Comets were showing a record of 4-5-0-0 on the season, giving them eight points. The Amerks were 5-2-1-0 through eight games and had 10 points to their credit.
Utica’s power play came into the day ranked fifth in the AHL, going 11/39, good for a success rate of 28.2%. Their penalty kill sat 14th in the league, giving up seven goals while down a man 39 times for an 81.6% success rate.
Rochester’s power play sat atop the AHL, going 12/34, giving them a success rate of 35.3%. Their penalty kill wasn’t as stellar, sitting 30th in the league after giving up 11 goals while shorthanded 35 times for a 68.6% success rate.
Reid Boucher was still the Comets leading scorer with nine goals and 12 points in eight games. Boucher is currently listed as week-to-week with a lower-body injury. Zack MacEwen sat second on the team with three goals and six assists, giving him nine points through nine games. Tanner Kero rounded out the Comets top three with one goal and seven assists, giving him eight points in nine games.
Victor Olofsson was the leader in Rochester with five goals and nine assists through eight games, to give him 14 points to lead the AHL. Zach Redmond sat second with four goals and eight helpers, good for 12 points in eight games. Lawrence Pilut rounded out their top three with two goals and eight assists through six games, giving himself 10 points.
Olli Juolevi was the new rookie points leader for the Comets with one goal and six points in nine games. Wiliam Borgen was the rookie leader for Rochester with one goal and one assist in eight games.
Utica last played to a 3-1 loss to Charlotte, while Rochester was coming off a 5-4 loss to Belleville.
The Comets had gone 3-0 on the road so far with Ivan Kulbakov getting the win in all three contests. Rochester showed a home record of 2-2-0-0 on the season.
Brendan Woods led all Comets players with 43 minutes spent in the box, while Danny O’Regan led Rochester with 10 penalty minutes.
The Comets had been outscored 35-30 coming into today’s game, while Rochester had outscored their opponents by a 32-28 margin.
Wacey Hamilton, (injured, day-to-day), Kole Lind, (injured, day-to-day) Ashton Sautner, (injured, day-to-day) Jalen Chatfield, (injured, day-to-day) Reid Boucher, (injured, week-to-week) and Jonah Gadjovich.
Comets Starting Lines
16 Brendan Gaunce – 11 Cam Darcy – 19 Tanner MacMaster
54 Jonathan Dahlen – 10 Tanner Kero – 15 Zack MacEwen
58 Michael Carcone – 34 Carter Bancks (C) – 9 Lukas Jasek
52 Petrus Palmu – 21 Brendan Woods – 18 Vincent Arseneau
48 Olli Juolevi – 26 Jaime Sifers (A)
2 Evan McEneny – 64 Jesse Graham
4 Jagger Dirk – 8 Dylan Blujus
32 Richard Bachman
31 Ivan Kulbakov (Backing up)
The Comets got their first shift off to a good start as the line of Gaunce, MacMaster and Darcy broke in for a chance, but Amerks goaltender, Scott Wedgewood whipped out the mitt to stop the Gaunce offering.
Carter Bancks slowed that momentum a little when he was whistled for hooking at the 1:19 mark and the Comets penalty kill had to face the best power play in the AHL. Richard Bachman made an early save before kicking out a leg to shut down an Eric Cornel chance, ensuring that the Comets came up with a good kill.
Kyle Criscuolo followed up by driving hard to the Comets net with the puck but found himself wanting as Bachman barred the door. The Comets netminder came up with another save and held for the whistle with a crowd forming in front.
Michael Carcone does some nice work in all three zones and in this one, he showed a nice stick to force a turnover at the Amerks line in the opening frame.
Play slowed down a little as we saw a lot of whistles for icings and pucks going out of play.
Tanner Kero tried to liven things up with a nice chance but sent his offering wide of the net.
Zack MacEwen was dinged for high-sticking at the 8:52 mark and the Amerks would make TheBigFella pay for his indiscretion. Amerks defender, Zach Redmond would first rip the puck off the iron before following up with a one-timer that beat Bachman to put the home team up by a goal. The goal was the fifth of the season for Redmond, while Victor Olofsson picked up his 10th helper of the year on the play and Lawrence Pilut earned his ninth.
Jukas Jasek let fly with a shot that went wide of the net, but Carcone jumped on the loose puck and put it off the glove of Wedgewood and wide. Jagger Dirk followed up with a shot that Wedgewood soaked up for a whistle.
Zack MacEwen was dropped by a big hit in the Amerks zone and TheBigFella looked a little shaken up as he left the ice. Good news, however as MacEwen would be back on the ice before the period finished.
Bachman came up with another nice save off the right-side boards before Petrus Palmu and Tanner MacMaster worked a nice give-and-go at the other end, resulting in Wedgewood flashing the leather for another save.
Bachman made one of his biggest saves of the year soon after when he did this…
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) October 26, 2018
Jagger Dirk was showing well in his first regular season game with the Comets, jumping into the play near the end of the period, showing that he has confidence in his game.
There was some sloppy play from both sides before Tanner Kero sent a shot on net that was denied by Wedgewood.
Cam Darcy was whistled for holding at the 19:26 mark and the Comets would finish the period shorthanded…again.
Rochester showed a 10-8 advantage on the shot clock in the opening frame.
The Comets still had time to kill off with Darcy in the box to start the period. Bachman blockered aside a CJ Smith chance before making another save on a Rasmus Asplund offering. Smith followed up with a nice play to an open Olofsson, but Dylan Blujus came up with a nice defensive play to break up the chance. The Comets would come up with another good kill.
Richard Bachman was doing everything he could to keep his team in this one as he made a series of saves with a scramble in front of his net. Jagger Dirk showed a nice stick along the boards in the Utica zone to force a turnover before Kevin Porter beat Bachman for his second goal of the season.
Bachman tried to beat Porter to a loose puck, but collided with Lukas Jasek and saw the puck end up in the back of his net. Wayne Simpson earned his second helper of the year on the play, while Lawrence Pilut picked up his 10th. Jasek was shaken up on the play but stayed in the game.
At the other end of the ice, Petrus Palmu and Vincent Arseneau had back-to-back chances denied by Wedgewood.
Olofsson kept it coming when he sent a drop-pass to Willian Borgen for a chance that was swallowed up by Bachman for a whistle. Danny O’Regan followed up with a shot off the iron before Evan McEneny was sent off for slashing at the 5:04 mark.
Bachman made a save early and the Comets would come up with another good kill. Olli Juolevi was seeing a ton of ice today while his club was a man down.
Justin Bailey was sent off for holding at the 7:27 mark and the Comets were headed to the power play. Tanner Kero found Carcone with a rink-wide pass and Carcone ripped his shot wide of the net.
Zach Redmond tried to clear the puck and sent it over the glass, giving the Comets a five-on-three man advantage for just under a minute.
Kero set up MacEwen for a one-timer that was sent wide before a Brendan Gaunce chance from the slot was gobbled up by Wedgewood. The Comets had a scrambly chance near the end of their power play, but they would come up empty.
Bachman followed up by getting a piece of a shot sent his way to keep his team within a pair.
I noticed in this game that Olli Juolevi was doing a nice job of getting pucks towards the net for redirect chances. Once some of those start to convert, the young defender will see a nice increase in his point totals.
The Comets started to put some pressure on as Zack MacEwen sent a sneaky shot on net through traffic from the left-side boards, but it was tipped wide. MacEwen followed up with another chance that was gobbled up by Wedgewood for a whistle. They had some nice pressure but were unable to convert.
Rasmus Asplund went the other way and let fly with a shot from the left circle, but Bachman said no.
Jagger Dirk did nice work, winning a board battle in his own end to force another turnover before Bachman finished the period with a pair of saves to get out of the period down 2-0. The Amerks showed an 11-8 advantage on the shot clock in the middle frame.
The third period was not what you would call action packed. in fact, the two clubs would only manage seven shots on net between them in the final frame.
Jesse Graham managed to squeak a point shot through early, but Wedgewood got his blocker on it for a save. Vincent Arseneau followed up with a big hit along the boards in the neutral zone. We would be hearing from BigVinny again seconds later as he squared off with Tyler Randall. This was a solid tilt as the two big men traded a few blows before being assessed with five each for fighting.
The fight came as Alex Nylander was also being whistled for hooking and the Comets would end up with a power play. The Comets almost gave up a shorthanded chance as CJ Smith poked a puck from Juolevi’s stick and broke in for a chance, putting the puck well over the net.
Justin Bailey was whistled for tripping as Petrus Palmu drew the penalty just about two minutes later and the Comets would have a very brief five-on-three man advantage. They had a tough time getting anything going and gave up another shorthanded chance. This time Juolevi did a fantastic job of breaking up the odd-man rush with a controlled slide and a good stick. The Comets came up with a good kill.
Danny O’Regan put the Amerks up 3-0 at the 8:45 mark when he redirected the puck past Bachman for his fifth goal of the season. William Borgen earned his second assist of the year on the play, while Lawrence Pilut grabbed his 11th. It was the second time in the game that Bachman was beaten by a shot that he couldn’t see as one of his defenders was screening him on the play.
Brendan Gaunce was levelled by a big hit in the Comets zone, but he popped up and got back into the play briefly before heading to the bench for a line change.
This is when the comedy of errors happened as Alex Nylander rolled in on a partial break and was stopped by Bachman. The officials were calling a penalty/penalty shot but Jesse Graham, not seeing this, tried to clear the puck and put it in his own net off of Tanner MacMaster.
The officials signalled that it was a good goal…somehow. As soon as Graham touched the puck, the play should have been whistled down, but instead, Nylander was celebrating his fourth goal of the year. No assists were awarded on the play, but Trent Cull made it clear that he thought the dudes in the striped shirts may have earned a couple.
Dylan Blujus got a point shot away in the Amerks end and saw Wedgewood glove it down for a whistle.
Danny O’Regan was sent off for tripping at the 15:20 mark and the Comets went back to the power play. Evan McEneny would ring the iron with a shot but that was as close as the Comets would come to scoring. The game finished with some scrambly play as time wound down.
The Comets showed a 4-3 advantage in shots for the third period but were outshot 24-20 in the game.
The Three Stars in the building today were:
3rd Star: Zach Redmond. One goal.
2nd Star: Lawrence Pilut. Three assists.
1st Star: Scott Wedgewood. 20 saves.
CanucksArmy’s Three Stars
When the Comets get shut out, it isn’t always easy to come up with three stars. That said, I jammed out on handing out stars for one of last week’s games, so I will try a different tact today.
3rd Star: Richard Bachman. Yes, Bachman ended up taking the L in this one, but it wasn’t because he played poorly. The veteran netminder was screened by his own defenders on a pair of goals and a third goal probably should have been disallowed. He made a handful of nice saves in this one and deserved a more favourable outcome.
2nd Star: Jagger Dirk. Dirk was playing his first regular-season game for the Comets after being recalled from ECHL Kalamazoo to help fill the void left behind in the wake of the Brisebois/Biega recalls to Vancouver. I thought that Dirk showed well, finding a seam and jumping up into the play early in the game along with forcing a couple of Rochester turnovers. I hope to see Dirk continue to see time in the lineup so that we can get a better feel for what he can be at the AHL level.
1st Star: Olli Juolvei. Juolevi had another solid outing today. Sure, he had his moments like the rest of his teammates where things didn’t go his way, but I saw some things that I liked. Juolevi looked to be trying to set up some redirect plays in the Amerks zone, and those kinds of plays will start to pay dividends for him once the forwards can convert. He played another calm game today while paired with veteran Jaime Sifers for the first time. Juolevi ate up minutes on the penalty kill and saw his share of time with the man advantage as well.
At Laval Rocket
Friday, November 2nd, 2018
7:30 pm Eastern/4:30 pm Pacific