Photo Credit: Owen Skye | @designedbyowen

CanucksArmy Utica Comets Post-Game: Comets Down Laval 3-2 In Demko’s Return

Utica Comets Post-Game Report

Game #19

Vs Laval Rocket

Wednesday, November 21st, 2018

7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific


The 25th overall Laval Rocket, (Montreal affiliate) rolled into Utica today to take on the 29th ranked, (gasp!) Comets for game number 19 of the season. Laval had a record of 7-9-1-1 coming into today’s action, while the Comets were showing a record of 6-10-1-1. Two points separated the clubs in the standings as Laval had 16 to Utica’s 14.

Laval had the league’s 27th ranked power play, operating with a success rate of 14.1% after going 12/85 with the man advantage. Their penalty kill sat eighth overall in the AHL, giving up 12 goals while shorthanded 78 times for an 84.6% success rate.

The Comets power play was sitting sixth in the league, going 18/79 for a 22.8% success rate. Their penalty kill was a strength last season, but they are sitting at 18th overall at the moment, having given up 14 goals while down a man 72 times for an 80.6% success rate.

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The Rocket had gone 4-5-0-1 over their previous 10 games, while the Comets had gone 2-6-1-1 over the same span. Laval was coming off of a 6-4 loss to Syracuse, while Utica last played to a 6-3 loss to Hartford. Laval brought a road record of 3-4-1-0 into Utica today, while the Comets had gone 2-7-0-0 at home this season, much to the dismay of their raucous home crowd.

Jake Evans led all Laval rookies with six goals and seven assists, giving him 13 points in 18 games this year. Olli Juolevi was still the rookie points leader in Utica with one goal and 12 assists, to give himself 13 points in his first 18 AHL games.

Evans not only led the Laval rookie group, but also the rest of his team. Alex Belzile sat second with one goal and 12 helpers to give himself 13 points in 18 games, while Brett Kulak rounded out their top three with three goals and eight assists in 18 contests.

Reid Boucher was back on top for the Comets with 10 goals and five helpers in 11 games. Tanner Kero sat second with five goals and nine assists in 18 games, while Zack MacEwen rounded out their top three with seven goals and six helpers, giving him 13 points in 18 games.

Utica had been outscored by their competition by a count of 69-49 this year, while Laval had scored 49 times and had given up the same number against.

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The Comets got a bit of good news this week as the team announced that Thatcher Demko had finally been cleared to play and has been assigned to Utica.

That news was followed up today with the announcement that Richard Bachman had also been reassigned to the Comets and was on his way back to Utica.

Alas, as often seems to be the case for the Comets, with the good news comes some not so good news. Ben Birnell of the Utica Observer-Dispatch sent out a tweet to let us know that the Comets injury list has a few more players added to it as Zack MacEwen, Jalen Chatfield, and Tanner MacMaster have all sustained injuries that will keep them out for various periods of time. *edit…MacEwen was able to play in today’s game after being listed as injured day-to-day earlier in the week. Olli Juolevi, however, was not able to play and could be out for a week or so.

Comets Scratches

Wacey Hamilton, (injured, week-to-week) Kole Lind, (injured, week-to-week) Vincent Arseneau, (injured, week-to-week) Jalen Chatfield, (injured, week-to-week) Tanner MacMaster, (injured, week-to-week) Alex Kile, Brendan Woods, Olli Juolevi, (injured).


Comets Starting Lines

34 Carter Bancks (C) – 11 Cam Darcy – 9 Lukas Jasek

54 Jonathan Dahlen – 10 Tanner Kero – 24 Reid Boucher (A)

58 Michael Carcone – 27 Tony Cameranesi – 15 Zack MacEwen

22 Jonah Gadjovich – 23 Reid Gardiner – 52 Petrus Palmu

6 Ashton Sautner – 8 Dylan Blujus

55 Guillaume Brisebois – 26 Jaime Sifers (A)

2 Evan McEneny – 64 Jesse Graham

30 Thatcher Demko

31 Ivan Kulbakov (backing up)

First Period

Thatcher Demko was indeed back and starting in net for the Comets in this game and he had a pretty solid period of hockey for his first action since training camp.

Tanner Kero has been a solid replacement for Michael Chaput as a pivot in the Comets top six and he showed some nice hustle and grit early in this one when he bodied his man off the puck on the backcheck to force a turnover in the Comets favour.

Demko saw an early shot and he turned it aside with ease to get his first touch of the game. The Comets were hemmed in their own end for a shift, in fact, they would spend a good portion of the opening frame in their own end of the ice as Laval was all over them.

Ashton Sautner was whistled for a high-stick at the 4:02 mark and the Comets were headed to the penalty kill. We saw forward groups of Kero and Boucher, along with Carcone and MacEwen. Carter Bancks and Cam Darcy wrapped things up on the kill up front.

Demko gloved down a shot and held for the whistle before making another save…with his mask…on purpose. Pretty ballsy for a kid who’s been on the shelf with a concussion since camp. The Comets came up with a good kill.

Demko followed up the penalty kill with another save on an Adam Plant point shot. He quickly came up with another alert save, steering the puck over the glass for a whistle.

We were seven minutes in and the Comets had yet to register a shot on net.

Michael Carcone would remedy that in a nice way after Tony Cameranesi forced a turnover, stealing the puck in the neutral zone and hitting him in full flight. CrazyLegs didn’t disappoint as he went in with a sweet forehand/backhand deke at speed to beat Charlie Lindgren for his fourth of the season. Cameranesi earned the lone assist for his first helper of the year.

Just nine seconds later, Reid Gardiner would send the Comets back to the penalty kill when he was sent off for tripping. Demko was helping his own cause when he gloved the puck down and fired it out to centre ice from his knees for a clear.

Jaime Sifers would come with with a nice shot block, followed up by a clear before Dylan Blujus showed a good stick to break up another play. The Comets had another good kill.

Demko followed up with another save and covered up for a whistle, taking an extra poke in the process and a sea of green descended on Jake Evans for his indiscretion. Did I mention yet that the Comets were wearing those amazing green jerseys again?

There was a bit of back and forth, but this period was all Laval. Demko showed some quick legs, kicking away a pair of chances to keep his team up by a goal.

The lines were juggled bit as we saw Jasek out with Kero and Boucher.

Petrus Palmu has been having a tough time finding his role with the Comets, but when he does get into the lineup, I usually notice him with a good stick play or two in the game, and today was no different as he used his twig to knock down a puck that came off the glass in the Laval zone and the Comets maintained possession.

With about three minutes remaining in the opening frame, Tony Cameranesi came up with the Comets second shot of the game. Netminder Charlie Lindgren came up with his first save.

Zack MacEwen showed some good hustle to force a turnover near the Laval blueline before Jonathan Dahlen was sent off for hooking.

Demko turned aside a Brett Kulak offering from the point before Guillaume Brisebois came up with a good clear. Ashton Sautner finished up the period with some nice work along the boards to separate a Laval player from the puck and the period came to a close.

Laval showed an advantage of 9-2 on the shot clock for the opening frame.

Second Period

The second period saw the continuation of the new look line of Lukas Jasek, Tanner Kero, and Reid Boucher. Trent Cull was looking for any way to get some offence going for his team.

Laval brought it early with good pressure in the Comets zone and that resulted in Nikita Jevpalov’s third goal of the season to tie the game at one. The goal came from a scramble in the Comets crease. Lukas Vejdemo earned his fifth assist of the season on the play, while Michal Moravcik picked up his second.

Carcone was looking to get that one right back when he let fly with a shot off the wing that was kicked aside by Lindgren for another save. At the other end of the ice, Demko gobbled up another shot for a save and he held for the whistle.

Thatcher followed up with another save, this time shutting down a Ryan Sproul one-timer. Another melee broke out shortly after that resulted in Dylan Blujus squaring off with Michael Pezzetta for a brief tilt. I will give Blujus a slight edge in this one. Both men were sent off for fighting.

Demko turned aside another Kulak shot through traffic before kicking out a quick leg for another save with traffic in front. Brisebois followed up with a nice outlet pass before Hayden Verbeek was whistled for hooking at the 8:58 mark. The Comets had a power play to work with, however, they would manage just one shot on goal and come up empty.

Michael McCarron was the next player to be shut down by Demko before Reid Boucher and Tanner Kero combined for back-to-back two-on-one chances that were both turned aside. The second one, however, resulted in an Adam Plant slashing penalty and the Comets were headed back to the power play.

Michael Carcone saw a chance tipped wide before Alex Belzile broke in and beat Demko for his second goal of the season. Alexandre Alain earned his fifth helper of the year on the play, while Maxim Lamarche picked up his seventh. It was the seventh shorthanded goal that the Comets have given up this year.

Cam Darcy was looking to get that one right back with a spin-and-fire play that was gobbled up by Lindgren for another save. Reid Boucher and Lukas Jasek followed up with a very quick give-and-go play that saw Lindgren stymie Boucher with another save.

Zack MacEwen showed off his underrated playmaking skills with a sweet backhand pass in full flight to Ashton Sautner who saw his stick explode on the play when he unloaded his shot.

Byron Froese was assessed with a tripping penalty as the period wound down and the Comets would end the middle frame, and start the third with the man advantage. Laval showed an advantage of 9-7 on the shot clock.

Third Period

The Comets had some good chances early as MacEwen and Boucher both saw chances denied on the power play and the Comets would come up empty with the extra man.

It wasn’t long after the power play ended, however, that Petrus Palmu showed that good stick work in the neutral zone again when he dug the puck off the boards and hit Dylan Blujus with a pass. The defender went in and beat Lindgren for his first goal of the season. Palmu earned his first AHL point with the assist, and his pal Jonah Gadjovich picked up the other helper for his first of the year as well. The goal tied the game at two.

The chippiness picked up after the whistles after the Blujus goal as both clubs were hungry for the win.

Reid Boucher showed that he isn’t just a one-trick pony who launches one-time bombs for a living when he dished a nice pass to Reid Gardiner in front for a chance that Lindgren was ready for. There was a little more back and forth before Gardiner saw his one-timer denied by Lindgren as well.

Zack MacEwen was sent off for boarding at the 8:34 mark and the Comets had another penalty to kill. Just under 30 seconds later, Vejdemo and Kero got a little greasy and both men were sent off for roughing. The Comets were doing some great work on the five-on-four with some aggressive play that resulted in former Comets forward, Alex Grenier taking a slashing call just 49 seconds later.

The Comets kept the pressure coming as Boucher jumped on a loose puck and let fly with a shot that was turned aside before Evan McEneny unloaded with a wrister that beat Lindgren for his first goal of the season. Michael Carcone picked up his sixth helper of the year on the play, while Reid Boucher did the same.

McEneny earned his fourth point in his last four games on the play, while Boucher also earned his fourth point in his last four games since returning from injury. For Carcone, it was his fourth point in his last five contests.

Michael Pezzetta didn’t help his team’s chances for a comeback when he was sent off for roughing at the 11:55 mark, but Zack MacEwen followed him to the sin bin shortly after when he was whistled for slashing at the 12:21 mark.

The Comets did great work during the four aside time before former Comets forward, Hunter Shinkaruk let fly with a shot and Demko whipped out the mitt for the save. The shot was the first of the period for Laval. The Comets came up with another good kill.

Shinkaruk had another chance denied by Demko but time was running out for Laval. The Comets were keeping the pressure coming as the new look line of Boucher, Kero, and Jasek was looking good in the Laval end of the ice.

Lindgren was summoned to the bench for the extra attacker at the 2:22 mark and Laval managed a chance as Brett Kulak let fly with a shot that was tipped off the iron before Demko had to come up with another save. Dylan Blujus came up with a good shot block late as the Comets did great work in the final minute to come away with the win.

Utica outshot Laval 8-3 in the final frame, but Laval had a 21-17 advantage for the game. Comets win 3-2.

Today’s Official Boxscore

Comets Goals

Michael Carcone  (4) from Tony Cameranesi (1).

Dylan Blujus (1) from Petrus Palmu (1) and Jonah Gadjovich (1).

Evan McEneny (1) from Michael Carcone (6) and Reid Boucher (6).

The Three Stars in the building today were:

3rd Star: Michael Carcone. One goal, one assist.

2nd Star: Evan McEneny. Game-winning goal.

1st Star: Thatcher Demko. 19 saves for the win.

CanucksArmy’s Three Stars:

3rd Star: Thatcher Demko. It was great to see Demko get a win in his first game back. He wasn’t super busy, but he made some nice saves and looked to be nearly rust-free as his timing was on point and his reads were good as well. He only had to come up with 19 saves, but the fact that he looked pretty dialled in for his first game back is a good sign. Sometimes seeing fewer shots in a game isn’t what a goalie wants after a long layoff, many prefer to be thrown into the thick of it, but Thatcher was ready with the saves that he had to make today.

2nd Star: Evan McEneny. McEneny has been coming on of late as he gets back into the swing of being an everyday player again after missing the bulk of last season with an injury. He is up to five points on the season now and four of those have come in his last four games. McEneny is a big body who isn’t shy about dishing out some stiff hits. He is a lefty who has been playing the right side a fair bit this season, mostly with one of Ashton Sautner or Guillaume Brisebois on his left. It’s good to see some offence coming from McEneny as the Comets don’t have much of it from the backend.

1st Star: Michael Carcone. Carcone grabbed a goal and an assist today and did solid work on both special teams. The speedy winger is up to four goals and six helpers to give himself 10 points in 15 games. That works out to  0.67 points/game, or to put it another way, he is on pace for just over 50 points for a regular season of work right now. Not bad for another one of the Cancuks undrafted free agent signings. I like Carcone’s game, even if he tends to hold onto pucks for too long at times. He is a versatile player who can do a bit of everything for Trent Cull and his Comets.

Next Game

Game #20

At Rochester Americans

Friday, November 23rd, 2018

7:05 Eastern/4:05 Pacific