Utica Comets Post-Game Report
At Laval Rocket
Saturday, November 3rd, 2018
3:00 pm Eastern/12:00 noon Pacific
The 19th overall Utica Comets were back for their second of back-to-back games against the 28th ranked Rocket in Laval, (Montreal affiliate) today after coming away with a 3-1 victory yesterday. The Comets had a record of 5-6-0-0, giving them 10 points on the season, while the Rocket showed a record of 3-7-1-0 to give themselves seven points coming into today’s action.
The Comets road record improved to 4-1-0-0 after yesterday’s win, while Laval’s home record dropped to 2-5-0-0. Goaltender, Ivan Kulbakov had all four of the Comets wins on the road coming into today’s action.
Utica’s power play had gone 11/47, landing them in 10th place in that category in the AHL with a 23.4% success rate. Their penalty kill had given up nine goals while shorthanded 45 times for an 80.0% success rate, good enough for 16th place in the league.
The Rocket, for their part, showed the AHL’s 29th ranked power play with a success rate of just 12.0%, going 6/50 with the extra man. Their penalty kill fared much better, sitting first overall after giving up just three goals while being a man down 45 times this season.
The Comets had been outscored by a 40-33 count this season, while the Rocket had given up 30 goals while scoring 25 times.
Olli Juolevi led all Comets rookies with seven points through 11 games, while Jake Evans led the rookie crew in Laval with five points in 11 contests.
Reid Boucher was still the top dog in Utica with 12 points in eight games. Boucher is still injured and is listed as week-to-week. Zack MacEwen continued his strong season with another goal last night to keep his hold on second place for the Comets with 10 points through his first 11 games this year. Tanner Kero rounded out the top three with nine points in 11 games.
Kenny Agostino sat atop the scoring pile for Laval with nine points in 11 games, while Alex Belzile sat second with eight points in the same number of contests. Brett Kulak rounded out the Laval top three with seven points in 11 games played this season.
Brendan Woods led all Comets players with 43 minutes spent in the penalty box, while Maxim Lamarche held the penalty minutes crown in Laval with 16 minutes spent in the box.
Reid Boucher, (injured, week-to-week) Kole Lind, (injured, week-to-week) Wacey Hamilton, (injured, day-to-day) Petrus Palmu, and Jesse Graham.
Comets Starting Lines
54 Jonathan Dahlen – 11 Cam Darcy – 15 Zack MacEwen
19 Tanner MacMaster – 10 Tanner Kero (A) – 58 Michael Carcone
22 Jonah Gadjovich – 34 Carter Bancks (C) – 9 Lukas Jasek
18 Vincent Arseneau – 21 Brendan Woods – 23 Reid Gardiner
48 Olli Juolevi – 26 Jaime Sifers (A)
6 Ashton Sautner – 8 Dylan Blujus
55 Guillaume Brisebois – 2 Evan McEneny
31 Ivan Kulbakov
33 Connor LaCouvee (backing up)
The first period of this one was not what you would call firewagon hockey. The two clubs would manage just 11 shots on net between them in the opening stanza.
Laval had some good pressure in the Comets zone early, but they were unable to make anything happen, in fact, we were nearly seven minutes into the game before each club had registered a shot on goal.
When things finally did get going, it was Brendan Woods with a chance at the side of the net resulting from an Evan McEneny point shot. Laval netminder Michael McNiven denied the Woods chance.
Jonathan Dahlen has shown a knack for getting in behind opposing defenders for scoring chances on the regular and he did it again in this one. This time, it was Dylan Blujus springing the young winger with a stretch pass and Dahlen broke in, only to ring his shot off the iron.
Daniel Audette went the other way for a chance that was turned aside by Ivan Kulbakov. The young netminder followed up with another quick save before the line of Dahlen, Darcy, and MacEwen put some good pressure on in the Laval zone.
Vincent Arseneau was whistled for slashing at the 14:08 mark and the Comets were headed to the penalty kill. We saw Woods and MacEwen sent out as a forward unit, as well as Bancks and Kero as another forward pair.
Sautner and Blujus spent nearly the entire kill on the ice before Blujus came up with a big shot block and headed slowly to the bench. He would be back. The Comets came up with a good kill.
Cam Darcy followed up the kill with a chance that was swallowed up by McNiven.
Brett Lernout is a large man and he gave the much smaller Tanner MacMaster a shove into the boards and found himself headed to the box for boarding at the 17:05 mark.
The Comets power play would come up empty and the period would wind down with no score.
Laval showed a 6-5 advantage on the shot clock for the opening frame.
The Comets would get an early power play in the middle frame when Michael Pezzetta was sent off for charging just 37 seconds in. The Comets couldn’t get anything going, and in fact, they nearly saw the puck end up in their own net when Kulbakov got a little adventurous trying to play the puck, losing it in his feet before a Laval forward fumbled his chance at a yawning cage.
Olli Juolevi was next to the box as he was whistled for hooking at the 2:36 mark. Brendan Woods and Carter Bancks had a shorthanded chance of their own but were unable to hook up on their play. Kulbakov looked strong on this kill, coming up with a series of saves, including a sprawling effort to keep the game knotted at zero.
Zack MacEwen was seeing regular duty on the penalty kill today, being teamed up with Woods at times, as well as with Carcone. Kulbakov turned aside a Michal Moravcik point shot and the Comets came up with another good kill.
Vincent Arseneau is always game for a tilt, even if he isn’t often on the winning side of them. Today he traded blows with Brett Lernout after a scrum and the Comets forward took the L in this one too. It wasn’t a one-sided affair, by any means, but Lernout took this one.
Cam Darcy put the Comets up 1-0 at the 7:04 mark when he followed up his own rebound to backhand the puck past McNiven for his second goal of the season. Michael Carcone picked up his third helper of the year on the play, while Tanner MacMaster earned his fifth.
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) November 3, 2018
Darcy followed up his goal with a hooking penalty just 28 seconds later and the Comets were back to the kill.
Kulbakov came up with an early save before Dylan Blujus came up with one of his own with a big shot block. MacEwen followed up with a big shot block as well and skated slowly to the bench in discomfort. It would take more than that to keep TheBigFella down though, as he was back out for his next shift.
Carcone, Darcy, and Sautner worked a sweet bit of passing that resulted in Sautner being stymied by McNiven.
At the other end of the ice, Kulbakov made a save and covered up, only to receive an extra poke from Michael Pezzetta and the Laval winger was headed to the box.
This was a tough one for the Comets as Olli Juolevi had a learning moment, coughing up the puck at his own blueline, resulting in the Comets giving up their league-worst, sixth shorthanded goal against. Nikita Jevpalovs grabbed his second goal of the season with the unassisted, shorthanded marker. The Comets came up empty with their man advantage.
Kulbakov kept the saves coming while the Rocket had the Comets hemmed in their own end for a shift. Arseneau followed up with a big hit that sparked some conversations between a few players on the ice, but cooler heads would prevail.
Tanner MacMaster doesn’t take many penalties, in fact, previous to this game, he had taken just one this season. Well, he was whistled for holding at the 14:20 mark and the Comets had another penalty to kill.
Kulbakov was busy on this kill, coming up with no fewer than five saves to keep his club in the game. The Comets would come up with another good penalty kill.
Cam Darcy followed up that kill with a shot off the right side boards that was gobbled up by McNiven for the whistle. At the other end, Kulbakov came up with another save, steering the puck over the glass for a whistle.
Tanner Kero had a late chance denied and the period would end with the teams tied at one apiece. Laval showed a 12-8 advantage on the shot clock for the middle frame.
The Rocket kept it coming as the third period opened with Kenny Agostino getting off a nice chance, only to see Kulbakov come up with a big save.
The game slowed a bit as we saw a handful of icing calls fairly close together to kill any flow to start the third.
Kulbakov can be interesting to watch as he will stop the puck with whatever part of his body that he happens to get in front of it with. Early in the third, we saw him leap straight up in the air, knocking the puck down with his body before falling down to cover the loose biscuit.
Jonah Gadjovich and Lukas Jasek were both doing nice work along the boards in the Laval zone again today and they had a great shift doing just that in the third.
The Rocket kept it coming as Byron Froese let fly with a shot that was shut down by Kulbakov whipping out the mitt.
Jake Evans managed to get a tip on a Michal Moravcik shot, but Kulbakov stopped it and covered for a whistle. While Kulbakov had the puck covered, Alex Belzile was a little too close for comfort and Kulbakov got up into his face to let him know it was time to back off. That exchange led to an Ashton Sautner cross-checking penalty while Belzile joined him with a roughing call.
The Comets looked dangerous during the four aside play as Jasek set up McEneny for a point shot that was denied before McNiven flashed the leather to deny another McEneny blast moments later. Michael Carcone followed up by breaking back into the Laval end with speed, cutting to the net for a chance before having his stick chopped and falling dangerously into the boards. Carcone stayed down briefly before leaving under his own power.
At the other end of the ice, Daniel Audette took a pass in the right circle and let fly with a shot that Kulbakov was ready for.
Dylan Blujus was whistled for cross-checking at the 8:28 mark and it was back to the kill for Utica. Just nine seconds later, Jaime Sifers knocked the puck over the glass and the Comets would be down two men for nearly two full minutes.
Cale Fleury had a chance denied by Kulbakov before Carter Bancks came up with yet another shot block. Say what you want about the captain not being an offensive dynamo, but the man gives it everything he has and is very good on the defensive side of things.
Kulbakov was throwing his arms around all over the place, first coming up with a blocker save before gloving down another offering, keeping the game tied at one. Cam Darcy had a shorthanded opportunity but wasn’t able to convert on his chance. The Comets would come up with another good penalty kill.
The Comets young netminder kept his team in this one as he made a save on a quick shot out of a scrum before shutting down another Agostino chance through traffic. Kulbakov would stop another Agostino chance with a quick leg save before Jonah Gadjovich was drilled into the boards at the other end of the ice by rookie Jake Evans. Evans would get two for boarding.
The Comets came close to taking the lead when Zack MacEwen tipped a Jonathan Dahlen shot off the iron. Dahlen followed up with a chance of his own with MacEwen wreaking havoc in the crease, but McNiven gloved it down.
The Comets called their timeout with 4:03 remaining so that Trent Cull could rest his first power play unit and throw them right back out there. Evan McEneny had another point shot swallowed up and the Comets would come up empty with the man advantage once more. Call it a hunch, but I think the Comets may be missing that Reid Boucher fellow on the power play.
Defender, Dylan Blujus followed up with a backhander from in close that was denied by McNiven.
Nikita Jevpalovs was sent off for tripping at the 17:35 mark and the Comets would get yet another chance to put this one away.
Jonathan Dahlen hit a streaking Dylan Blujus with a pass and the blueliner let fly with a shot that ended up out of play. Blujus followed up with another offering, this time sending it high over the net. The Comets would come up empty once more.
Things took a turn for the worse for Utica when they were fingered for having too many men on the ice in the final 30 seconds and would have to head to overtime at a disadvantage.
Laval outshot the Comets 16-7 in the third period.
This one didn’t take long to decide as just 28 seconds in, Jake Evans scored his third of the season to win the game. Alex Belzile picked up his eighth assist of the year on the play, while Kenny Agostino earned his sixth.
Laval showed a 35-20 advantage in shots for the game and came away with the win.
Cam Darcy (2) from Michael Carcone (3) and Tanner MacMaster (5).
The Three Stars in the building today were:
3rd Star: Byron Froese. No points.
2nd Star: Ivan Kulbakov. 33 saves.
1st Star: Kenny Agostino. One assist.
CanucksArmy’s Three Stars
3rd Star: Evan McEneny: McEneny missed the bulk of last season with a leg injury and the defender is working his way back into the swing of things as the games go on. He is seeing some second unit power play time, as well as some use on the penalty kill. He doesn’t get the same kind of fanfare as some of the other players in the system, but McEneny did put up seven points in 11 games last year, so there may be more to his game than he’s been able to show so far this season. McEneny put five shots on net today and looked a little more comfortable than he has so far this season.
2nd Star: Zack MacEwen: MacEwen had a solid game today, getting time on both special teams. I am thrilled to see TheBigFella getting some regular reps on the penalty kill as I believe that will be something that the big club in Vancouver will want him to be able to do when he gets to the show. MacEwen looks to be developing a bit of chemistry with Jonathan Dahlen and it’s looking like it is only a matter of time before the two start hooking up for some big goals. Zack put four shots on net today along with showing deft hands to tip a Dahlen shot off the iron.
1st Star: Ivan Kulbakov: Here he is again, the young netminder who was supposed to be getting his game back together in Kalamazoo after what was an up and down season for him last year. Ian Clark’s find has been making the Canucks goaltending coach look brilliant. It was another 33 save effort today for Kulbakov. He now has a goals-against average of 2.89 to go along with a 0.913 save percentage, stopping 210 of the 230 shots that he has faced over his seven starts this season. Kulbakov has faced less than 30 shots in just two of his seven games with the Comets and has four of the Comets five wins this season.
Utica and Laval get right back at it on Wednesday for their third of four meetings this month.
Vs Laval Rocket
Wednesday, November 7th, 2018
7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific