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Photo Credit: Owen Skye | @designedbyowen

CanucksArmy Utica Comets Post-Game: Comets Hang On For 5-4 Win Over Rochester. Bachman Makes 43 Saves

Utica Comets Post-Game Report

Game #20

At Rochester Americans

Friday, November 23rd, 2018

7:05 pm Eastern/4:05 pm Pacific

Pre-Game

The 26th overall Utica Comets rolled into Rochester today to take on the third-ranked Americans, (Buffalo affiliate) for game number 20 of the season. Utica had a record of 7-10-1-1 coming into today’s action, giving them 16 points on the season. Rochester, for their part, showed a record of 11-4-2-0, good enough for 24 points so far this year.

The Comets power play was ranked eighth overall in the AHL, going 19/84 to give them a success rate of 22.6%. Their penalty kill sat 14th in the league after giving up 14 goals while down a man 77 times for an 81.8% success rate.

The Amerks power play was the league’s 10th best, scoring 15 times on 70 opportunities for a 21.4% success rate. Their penalty kill sat 21st overall, giving up 17 goals while shorthanded 82 times for a 70.3% success rate.

With Reid Boucher now called up to Vancouver, (we will get to that shortly) Tanner Kero took over top spot amongst the Comets active players with 14 points in 19 games this season. Zack MacEwen sat second with seven goals and six helpers to give himself 13 points in 19 games. Olli Juolevi sat third with 13 points in 18 games. Juolevi sat out Wednesday’s game with a lower-body injury and isn’t expected to be available this weekend.

With leading scorer Lawrence Pilut called up by Buffalo, Zach Redmond was the big cheese in Rochester with 12 goals and nine helpers to give himself 21 points in 17 games. Victor Olofsson sat second with 17 points in 14 games, while Alex Nylander rounded out their top three with 14 points in 17 games.

Juolevi’s points totals were still tops amongst Comets rookies, while William Borgen led all Rochester rookies with five points in 17 games.

The Comets had gone 3-5-1-1 over their past 10 games, while the Amerks showed a record of 6-2-2-0 over that same span. Utica last played to a 3-2 win over Laval, while Rochester was coming off of a 4-3 win over Hartford. Rochester had a home record of 6-3-0-0 this season, while the Comets had gone 4-3-1-1 on the road.

Utica had been outscored 71-52 by their competition so far this season, while the Amerks had outscored theirs by a 63-54 margin.

There has been some Utica roster movement this week and I will recap those moves below.

We know that Thatcher Demko is back and that Richard Bachman was also reassigned to the Comets by the Canucks. With both goaltenders back in the fold, the Comets have assigned goaltender Ivan Kulbakov to Kalamazoo.

Kulbakov played 12 games for the Comets, going 5-5 with two overtime losses as well. He was a workhorse for the team during the absence of Demko and later Bachman when he was recalled to Vancouver. The young man represented himself well and that’s all that anyone could ask of him.

The other part of the above announcement was that Jagger Dirk has been recalled from Kalamazoo. Dirk has five points in 12 games with the Wings so far this season and will give the coaching staff another option on the backend with Juolevi and Chatfield both out with injuries. Chatfield will be out a while as he is listed as week-to-week with his injury and has been seen with a cast on his leg.

We also found out that the Comets leading scorer is being rewarded with a recall as the team announced that Reid Boucher and Brendan Gaunce would be trading places. Gaunce has been assigned back to the Comets, while Boucher has been summoned to Vancouver.

Gaunce should help the Comets penalty kill and with Boucher missing, he may be asked to take on some power play duty as well. With the Comets depth down the middle so thin, I wonder if it might make some sense to move Gaunce back to the middle to help remedy that. It would also ensure that he wouldn’t be taking up a spot on the wings where the Comets have more prospects who would have to sit in his stead.

That should make for some interesting line combos for today’s contest.

Scratched For The Comets

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

Comets Starting Lines

54 Jonathan Dahlen – 11 Cam Darcy – 34 Carter Bancks (C)

58 Michael Carcone – 27 Tony Cameranesi – 15 Zack MacEwen

16 Brendan Gaunce – 10 Tanner Kero (A) – 9 Lukas Jasek

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

32 Richard Bachman

30 Thatcher Demko (backing up)

First Period

This first period of hockey was a busy one, so let’s get right to it.

Richard Bachman got the start today as the coaching staff is looking to ease Thatcher Demko back in after being off for so long. Bachman was busy in the opening frame, and he was good. He came up with an early save and held for the whistle.

At the other end of the ice, Tanner Kero hit Lukas Jasek with a nice pass and the Comets winger/pivot saw his offering denied by Amerks netminder, Adam Wilcox.

Brendan Gaunce was back on the ice for the Comets and it didn’t take him long to make his presence felt when he grabbed his second goal of the season just 2:19 in after beating Wilcox. Tanner Kero earned his 10th assist of the season on the play with a nice pass. Lukas Jasek earned the other helper for his third of the year.

Welcome back, Brendan.

The Comets were pushing the pace to start, but the Amerks would be heard from before this period would finish. Bachman gloved down a pair of shots before getting a piece of an Eric Cornel shot for another save.

Bachman wasn’t done there as he made another save on Justin Bailey from the slot before getting a pad on another shot through traffic. Bacher was busy.

Zack MacEwen had a chance at the other end after Tony Cameranesi fed him with a pass, but TheBigFella saw his offering denied. The Amerks went the other way and Wayne Simpson beat Bachman for his fifth goal of the season. C.J. Smith picked up his eighth helper of the year on the play, while Kevin Porter earned his ninth.

The game was tied at one.

Jonathan Dahlen saw a wrist shot denied before Ashton Sautner was sent off for cross-checking. Sautner was doing a better job of getting away with those earlier in the season.

Bachman made a save and covered for a whistle on a Victor Olofsson chance before flashing the leather to shut down a Kevin Porter offering.

Tanner Kero was sent off for roughing at the 10:41 mark and the Comets were down two men. Jaime Sifers came up with a big shot block that led to a clear before Dylan Blujus blocked a shot of his own. Bachman came up with a save before Danny O’Regan put the Amerks up 2-1 with his seventh goal of the season. Simpson earned his fourth helper of the year on the play, while C.J. Smith grabbed his ninth.

Dalton Smith took away some momentum for his club when just seconds later, he was sent off for interference. Jonathan Dahlen saw his one-timer turned aside before Jack Doherty put his team down two men after taking a slashing penalty. The Comets would make him pay.

Zack MacEwen grabbed a Jonathan Dahlen rebound and toe-dragged it before depositing it behind Wilcox for his eighth goal of the season. Dahlen picked up his 10th assist of the season on the play, while Jesse Graham earned his second.

The Comets didn’t stop there as Michael Carcone buried his fifth of the year past Wilcox to put the Comets up 3-2 just 29 seconds later. Graham picked up his third helper of the year on the play, while Jasek grabbed his fourth.

Bachman followed up the Carcone goal with a save and he held for a whistle before Justin Bailey came in one-on-one with Sautner and got a shot away that was gobbled up for another whistle.

There was some good back and forth before MacEwen showed a good stick in the neutral zone to force a turnover. TheBigFella really is bringing a more well-rounded game so far this season.

Brendan Guhle unloaded a point shot that was denied by Bachman before the Comets netminder shut down a William Borgen offering to end the period.

The Amerks showed a 20-10 advantage on the shot clock in the opening frame.

Second Period

The Amerks threw a lot of pucks on the net in the first period, and they kept them coming in the second. The clubs had some good back and forth early before Jesse Graham let fly with a point shot that was kicked aside by Wilcox.

Bachman had an exciting moment when he misplayed the puck and scrambled to make a save that saw the shot go off the post. He followed up with an alert save while still mid-sprawl on the rebound chance.

Jonah Gadjovich was sent off for tripping at the 4:58 mark and it was back to the penalty kill for Utica. The Comets did excellent work on this one to keep the chances to a minimum and they had a good kill.

Andrew MacWilliam quickly took a penalty of his own when he was whistled for tripping at the 7:27 mark and this time it was the Comets turn with the extra man. Dahlen drove the net with the puck for a chance that Wilcox denied before Tanner Kero was dinged for tripping at the 8:22 mark.

Matt Tennyson had a shot from the circle swallowed up before Zack MacEwen showed that good stick again with some great work on the forecheck. The Comets came up with another good kill.

Unfortunately, soon after the penalty expired, Jack Doherty floated a point shot past Bachman to tie the game at three. The shot may have been redirected by Michael Carcone on the way through, but Bachman didn’t see it. The goal was Doherty’s first of the season. Alex Nylander picked up his 10th helper of the year on the play, as did C.J. Smith.

Petrus Palmu was looking to get that one right back with a wrister from the high slot, but Wilcox threw out the blocker for a save. Bachman followed up with a blocker save of his own at the other end of the ice before following up with another stop and holding for the whistle.

The teams continued to trade chances as Tanner Kero found Lukas Jasek in the slot from behind the Rochester net, but the young winger saw his shot gobbled up by Wilcox. Bachman fought off a pair of shots at the other end before gloving down a Jack Doherty chance.

Brendan Gaunce was looking solid in his return today, stealing a puck in the Rochester zone and getting a shot off that Wilcox was ready for before Carcone had another chance denied from in close.

Carter Bancks was whistled for interference at the 18:07 mark and the Comets would finish the middle frame down a man.

Zach Redmond saw his one-timer swallowed up by Bachman before the Comets netminder whipped out the mitt to foil a Brendan Guhle offering. Guhle came back with another chance and Bachman was equal to the task once more.

Michael Carcone and Cam Darcy broke in with some speed and a flurry of action that resulted in Carcone coming away with his sixth goal of the season to make it a 4-3 game with five seconds remaining in the period. Darcy picked up his fourth helper of the year on the play. The Comets had their first shorthanded goal of the season.

Rochester showed a 15-4 advantage on the shot clock for the middle frame.

Third Period

Bachman had an early save to get the final frame underway before Carcone broke down the left side with speed and got a shot away that was soaked up for a whistle.

Dylan Blujus followed up by ringing a shot off the iron.

Cam Darcy kept the good times going for Utica when he picked off an ill-advised pass in the Rochester zone and whistled it past Wilcox for his third goal of the year. It was an unassisted tally.

Tanner Kero came looking for another when he tried a spin and fire play that was denied by Wilcox.

It wasn’t long after when Jack Doherty let fly with a point shot that was first tipped by Justin Bailey before Sean Malone poked home the rebound for his first of the season. Bailey picked up his fifth helper of the year on the play, while Doherty earned his second. We had a 5-4 game and roughly 13 minutes of hockey still to play.

Bachman followed up the goal with a save by steering the puck over the glass to keep his club up by one.

At the other end of the ice, Jonathan Dahlen walked out of the corner with a shot that he put wide before Andrew Oglevie came down the right side with a shot off the rush that Bachman gobbled up for another whistle.

Matt Tennyson unloaded a one-timer that was also shut down by Bachman before Willian Borgen clipped Zack MacEwen with a high-stick and he was sent off for two minutes of shame in the box. The penalties kept coming as MacEwen was dinged for elbowing just 35 seconds later, followed by Justin Bailey being sent off for a cross-check just 40 seconds after that.

During the four-on-three for Utica, Dahlen saw his shot from the circle swallowed up and the Comets would come up empty with the extra man.

The Comets kept it coming as Dylan Blujus and Reid Gardiner were shut down on back-to-back chances before a redirected Olofsson shot was gloved down by Bachman at the other end.

The Amerks called their timeout with 2:04 remaining and pulled Wilcox for the extra man when play got back underway.

Bachman had to come up with a save in tight before making a sprawling save followed up by a blocker save to come away with the win. Bacher was full value in this one for the Comets.

The Amerks showed a 12-6 advantage in shots for the third period and a 47-23 advantage for the game.

Today’s Official Boxscore

Comets Goals:

Gaunce (2) from Kero (10) and Jasek (3).

MacEwen (8) from Dahlen (10) and Graham (2). PP goal.

Carcone (5) from Graham (3) and Jasek (4). PP goal.

Carcone (6) from Darcy (4). Shorthanded goal.

Darcy (3) unassisted. Game-winner.

The Three Stars in the building today were:

3rd Star: Cam Darcy. One goal, (game-winner), one assist.

2nd Star: C.J. Smith. Three assists.

1st Star: Michael Carcone. Two goals.

CanucksArmy’s Three Stars:

3rd Star: Lukas Jasek. Jasek has had the opportunity to play with some more offensive minded players over the last game and a half and he hasn’t looked out of place with them. Today he lined up with Brendan Gaunce and Tanner Kero and was rewarded with two assists for his efforts. He is getting power play time and worked in the top-six during five aside play today. He’s up to five goals and four helpers to give himself nine points in 16 games this year. That is a 0.56 points/game pace and there is nothing wrong with that for a player who was drafted in the sixth round of the 2015 draft and is playing his first year in the league.

2nd Star: Michael Carcone. I am starting to feel like a bit of a broken record, but Carcone brought it again today with a pair of goals and four shots on net. The speedy winger drives play and is never afraid to take pucks hard to the net. He plays a big role on the second unit power play as well as on the penalty kill where he is always a threat to score a shorthanded goal with the kind of speed that puts defenders back on their heels. He is up to 12 points in 16 games, or 0.75 points/game. This from a player who tripled his goal totals from five to 15 from year one to year two in the AHL. Could he hit 20 this year? I’m not sure, but I am not counting out the possibility of him besting the 15 that he put up last season.

1st Star: Richard Bachman. Bachman gets a bit of a bad rap from some Comets fans as he has struggled at times during his tenure with the team, but the veteran netminder is capable of turning in games like today’s 43 save performance as well and the Comets will need him to be able to shoulder a bit of the load while Thatcher Demko gets back up to speed after missing all but two games so far this season. Bachman came up with a handful of game savers today and showed that he can battle with the best of them. Credit where it is due, Bacher got the job done today.

Next Game

Game #21

Vs Belleville Senators

Saturday, November 24th, 2018

7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific