Photo Credit: Owen Skye | @designedbyowen

CanucksArmy Utica Comets Post-Game: Comets Win Third Straight With 4-2 Victory Over Belleville

Utica Comets Post-Game Report

Game #21

Vs Belleville Senators

Saturday, November 24th, 2018

7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific


The 19th overall Belleville Senators, (Ottawa affiliate) rolled into Utica today to take on the 23rd ranked Comets for game 21 of the season. Belleville showed a record of 9-9-1-0 coming into today’s contest, giving them 19 points on the season. The Comets for their part sat one point behind with a record of 8-10-1-1.

Belleville had gone 5-4-1-0 over their previous 10 games, while the Comets had gone 4-4-1-1 over that same span. The Comets were coming off of a 5-4 win over Rochester, while the Sens last played to a 3-2 overtime loss to Charlotte.

Utica had a home record of 3-7-0-0 so far this season, while the Sens had gone 3-4-1-0 on the road this year.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Belleville had been outscored by a 66-62 margin this year, while the Comets had given up a whopping 75 goals while scoring just 57 times this season.

The Comets power play was ranked seventh in the league with a 23.6% success rate after going 21/89 with the man advantage. Their penalty kill was the league’s 15th best after giving up 15 goals while down a man 83 times for a success rate of 81.9%.

The Sens power play was sitting eighth in the league with a 21.8% success rate after going 19/87 with the extra man, while their penalty kill was sitting 26th overall after giving up 22 goals while shorthanded 95 times for a success rate of 76.8%.

With Drake Batherson called up to Ottawa, Jack Rodewald led all active Sens players with seven goals and eight helpers, giving him 15 points in 15 games. Rudolphs Balcers sat second with seven goals and six assists to give himself 13 points in 19 games, while Paul Carey rounded out their top three with two goals and 11 assists, giving him 13 points in 13 games.

Reid Boucher is in Vancouver, so that makes Tanner Kero the top dog in Utica amongst active players with five goals and 10 assists in 20 games. Zack MacEwen sat second with eight goals and six helpers in 20 games, while Olli Juolevi rounded out their top three with one goal and 12 assists to give himself 13 points in 18 games so far in his rookie season.

Advertisement - Continue Commenting Below

Christian Wolanin led all Sens rookies with four goals and seven assists to give himself 11 points in 16 games this year. Juolevi’s totals still had him sitting atop the rookie heap in Utica, although Jonathan Dahlen was catching up, sitting just one point behind him with 19 games played.

The Comets were coming off of back-to-back wins and were looking to make it three in a row.

Scratched Today For Utica

Wacey Hamilton, (week-to-week) Kole Lind, (week-to-week) Vincent Arseneau, (week-to-week) Tanner MacMaster, (week-to-week) Jalen Chatfield, (week-to-week) Brendan Woods, (injured) Olli Juolevi, (injured) Petrus Palmu, 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 – 12 Alex Kile

6 Ashton Sautner – 8 Dylan Blujus

55 Guillaume Brisebois – 26 Jaime Sifers (A)

2 Evan McEneny – 64 Jesse Graham

30 Thatcher Demko

32 Richard Bachman (backing up)

First Period

This was a pretty good period of hockey for the Comets as they carried the play for the bulk of the opening frame.

Guillaume Brisebois came up with a nice pinch early to keep possession of the puck in the Sens end for the Comets before Brendan Gaunce nearly opened the scoring for the second night in a row. Gaunce stole the puck in the Sens zone and let fly with a shot that was denied by goaltender Filip Gustavsson before he sent his rebound chance wide of the net.

Michael Carcone has been hot of late and that was looking to continue today when he came in off the rush with Zack MacEwen and hit TheBigFella with a pass, but MacEwen lost the handle and couldn’t get a good shot away.

The Comets got an early power play when the Sens were dinged for a faceoff violation and the home team went to work. It took less than a minute for Jonathan Dahlen to bury a one-timer from Reid Boucher’s office in the right circle. The goal was Dahlen’s third of the season, while Michael Carcone grabbed his seventh helper of the year on the play. Evan McEneny continued his strong play by grabbing an assist of his own for his fifth of the season.

Jack Rodewald sent the Comets right back to the man advantage when he was whistled for holding less than two minutes after the Dahlen marker.

The Comets couldn’t get anything going and would come up empty with the extra man.

That didn’t stop them from keeping the pressure on, however, as the line of MacEwen, Carcone, and Cameranesi had a great forechecking shift that led to an Evan McEneny chance that Gustavsson denied. Dylan Blujus had a chance kicked aside as well. The Comets had good pressure, but Gustavsson was keeping his club in the game.

Thatcher Demko was back in the net, but he wasn’t busy in the opening frame. He did make a save and held for the whistle before Cam Darcy corked former Comets forward Joe LaBate with a stiff hit behind the Comets net.

Thatcher came out to play the puck behind his net and was dumped by Ben Sexton. Sexton was sent off for goaltender interference and the Comets were back to the power play.

The second unit started things off, but couldn’t get anything going. Lukas Jasek and Nick Paul were issued offsetting minors and suddenly, there was a little more room to work with on the ice.

That was all the Comets needed to get Tanner Kero his 100th AHL point. Kero finished off a sweet pass from Zack MacEwen to score his sixth of the season to put the Comets up 2-0. MacEwen earned his seventh assist of the year on the play, while Carcone grabbed his eighth.

Brendan Gaunce followed up the Kero goal with a rush that led to an Andreas Englund holding call and the Comets were back to the power play. This one was a dud as the Comets couldn’t get anything going and came up empty once more.

Ashton Sautner was dinged for high-sticking at the 18:10 mark and the Comets would finish the period down a man…or would they be down two men? Cam Darcy was whistled for slashing at the 18:29 mark and the Comets had a tall task to take on as the period wound down.

Demko shut down a Ben Sexton chance before a hand-pass led to a Sens goal being disallowed. Belleville called their timeout with 31 seconds remaining in the period, but it didn’t help them any as the Comets came out of the period up 2-0.

Utica showed a 10-4 advantage in shots for the opening period.

Second Period

The Comets would manage to kill off what remained of both penalties to start the middle frame off on the right foot. Demko turned aside a bouncer from the point shortly after the kill ended, before getting a piece of a Paul Carey shot and steering it over the glass.

Jordan Murray got his team to within a goal at the 2:06 mark when he redirected a point shot past Demko for his third goal of the season. Logan Brown earned the lone assist for his first of the year.

Demko made a paddle save that sent the puck the other way, leading to a Francois Beauchemin slashing penalty and the Comets were headed back to the power play.

Jonathan Dahlen ripped a one-timer off Gustavsson’s mask from the high slot before sending a nice rink-wide pass to Carcone for a chance that was turned aside by the netminder. Brisebois followed up with a sweet backhand pass to Gaunce, but the winger put his shot wide of the net. The Comets would come up empty with the extra man.

Tony Cameranesi had a chance form in close denied before the Sens started to put on some pressure of their own. Demko did well to track the puck on a quick shot in close with traffic in front before flashing the leather to deny former teammate Joe LaBate on his breakaway.

Thatcher followed up by kicking aside an Adam Tambellini offering before making another save and holding for the whistle. The Sens didn’t stop there as Rudolphs Balcers had a shot turned aside by Demko before the Comets netminder made yet another save and held for the whistle again.

Nick Paul let fly with another wrister and Demko was ready with another save. Thatcher was busy and he was standing tall.

Guillaume Brisebois had a nice rush up the ice that led to a Carcone chance that was denied before the Sens tied the game at two off of a Filip Chlapik marker. Chlapik redirected a Stuart Percy point shot for his fifth goal of the season. Percy picked up his eighth helper of the year on the play, while Ben Sexton grabbed his seventh.

Cam Darcy didn’t help things for Utica when he was sent off for high-sticking less than 30 seconds later, sending the Comets back to the penalty kill.

Demko kicked aside a chance before Tony Cameranesi caught Darcy fresh out of the box with a pass that sent the pivot in all alone. Darcy made no mistake, going upstairs, where Norman keeps his mother. It was the fourth goal of the season for Darcy, while Cameranesi picked up his second assist of the year on the play. Ashton Sautner earned the other helper for his third of the season.

The Sens tried to answer right back with a goal, but Demko kicked out a quick leg to deny the opportunity before Gaunce was sent off for hooking. The Comets were headed back to the kill.

Demko would get a shoulder on a Tambellini one-timer and the Comets would have another good kill in the books.

Patrick Sieloff hit Beauchemin with a pass and the resulting shot was turned aside by Demko. Reid Gardiner went the other way with the puck and drew a high-sticking penalty on Chase Balisy. It was the Comets turn to go to the power play.

MacEwen had an early chance, but Gustavsson whipped out the mitt to stymie him. MacEwen followed up with another chance that was denied as well. The period would end with the Comets up 3-2.

Belleville showed a 16-8 advantage on the shot clock for the middle frame.

Third Period

The Comets started the third period with a minute remaining in their power play, but the best they could muster was a McEneny point shot that was tipped wide by Kero.

There was a quick run on penalties as Stuart Percy was whistled for slashing at the 1:33 mark, but Jonathan Dahlen soon followed him to the box with a tripping penalty just 23 seconds later.

During the four aside play, Demko used the paddle of his stick to redirect a centring feed from behind his net and out of harm’s way. Thatcher followed up with a save on a Murray offering from the left circle. The Comets killed off the brief Dahlen penalty.

There was some back and forth, but Belleville had the play going in their favour. Beauchemin ripped a shot off the iron before Demko deflected a Paul Carey chance aside for another save.

The Sens kept it coming as Balcers had a glorious chance form the slot blockered away by Demko before Thatcher shut down a Gabriel Gagne chance as well.

Demko followed up with a save on a tipped shot that saw Ben Sexton get a little too close to the Utica netminder for Guillaume Brisebois’ comfort and the Comets defender went after Sexton to let him know of his displeasure. No penalties were assessed as a result of the brief skirmish.

There were a bunch of whistles that slowed things down a little before Gaunce broke down the right side with a shot off the wing that Gustavsson turned aside.

At the other end of the ice, Demko made back-to-back saves on Paul Carey before covering up for a whistle with a crowd forming.

Jonathan Dahlen was out late in the game and the rookie forward showed a great stick, breaking up a rink-wide pass in the Comets zone and sending it down the ice to negate what could have been a scoring chance.

Demko would make another save on Paul Carey before Gustavsson was summoned to the bench with 2:09 remaining in the game.

Things got interesting as time wound down when Dahlen fired the puck off the iron with the Sens net empty before Wolanin made a kick save on a Reid Gardiner chance at the yawning cage. The Comets were doing great work while Belleville had six attackers.

Brendan Gaunce salted this one away with his third goal of the year after sending the puck into the open net from just inside his own blueline. The goal was unassisted.

Belleville held an 8-3 advantage in shots for the third period, and a 28-21 advantage in the game but the Comets came away with a 4-2 win.

There was a bit of late news regarding the Comets as the parent Canucks have announced that Darren Archibald will hit the waiver wire tomorrow with the intention of sending him down to Utica.

Ben Birnell of the Utica Observer-Dispatch also tweeted out that Carter Bancks was dinged up in this one and missed a good portion of the game.

Last, but not least, according to Jeff Paterson, Olli Juolevi will be heading to Vancouver to have his knee looked at.

Today’s Official Boxscore

Comets Goals

Dahlen (3) from Carcone (7) and McEneny (5). PP goal.

Kero (6) from MacEwen (7) and Carcone (8). PP goal.

Darcy (4) from Cameranesi (2) and Sautner (3).

Gaunce (3). Unassisted/empty net goal.

The Three Stars in the building today were:

3rd Star: Michael Carcone. Two assists.

2nd Star: Thatcher Demko. 26 saves.

1st Star: Cam Darcy. Game-winning goal.

CanucksArmy’s Three Stars:

3rd Star: Brendan Gaunce. Gaunce has been back for two games and he has two goals. One opened the game, and the other closed things out as an empty-netter. Gaunce hasn’t been able to provide consistent offence at the NHL level, but he can more than hold his own in the AHL. He has played five games for the Comets this season and has three goals. He did great work on the penalty kill today and saw some time on the power play as well.

2nd Star: Thatcher Demko. Demko came up with another win today and is now 2-0 after missing nearly two months of action with a concussion and its related symptoms. He put up 26 saves for the win, and although he wasn’t super busy, he did make some key saves to get the win. It isn’t always easy to only see a handful of shots in a period and still stay sharp enough to make the kind of saves that Demko was making. It is a good sign that he is able to focus as well as he has after a head injury like the one that he suffered.

1st Star: Michael Carcone. Here we go again…Carcone has picked up a few of our stars this season for CanucksArmy. I have enjoyed watching his game as he continues to put up points for the Comets. He is now up to 14 points in 17 games and is on pace to obliterate last season’s 27 point effort. He is currently sitting with a 0.82 points/game average. Over a full 76 game AHL season, that would be good for just over 62 points. Is it likely that Carcone will be able to keep that pace up? Probably not, but he is certain to have another career year in his third season with the Comets. Carcone has six points in his last three games.

Next Game

Game #22

At Binghamton Devils

Wednesday, November 28th, 2018

7:05 pm Eastern/4:05 pm Pacific



  • rediiis

    With the Canucks losing in the Pacific, I think it is very important to manage Demko’s work the first month back from his concussion. Having him in the big club this year is not going to help. This win in no way makes me feel better about Cull. Dahlen will for sure be a late call up this year. Just like the big club eventually will give Gaudette some time with some good players (like tonight and his first goal). Gadjovich needs some good mates to succeed. He is a force and work with the one trick pony, solid in front of the net. He is like Backes, deal with it Cull. Sometimes coaches get into a system and don’t use the assets. Just my opinion. Go Comets!

      • DJ_44

        Both comments are ignorant. Demko and Pettersson are recovered; they are not playing while recovering. That is why, despite not showing any post concussion symptoms after his injury, they keep Pettersson out for an additional two weeks. In that entire time period, he showed not affects. They were extra careful with Demko, that and he got an additional week off due to illness.

          • Bud Poile

            If either of these kids were mine I would protect them from contact for a minimum of three months.
            Petey missed a TOTAL of 13 days to fully recover from a brain injury. They had him back on the ice as soon as they possibly could.They didn’t keep him out for an additional two weeks,DJ. His full recovery before going back into action was 13 days.
            Saying: “In that entire period,he showed no effects.” illustrates your knowledge on the subject.
            The Canucks are an employer and the NHL have not protected concussed players adequately in the past,to put it very mildly.
            Coaches stay employed by winning. They listen to the club’s paid experts and throw brain injured players right back into the fire ASAP.

            ” After experiencing head trauma, such as a concussion, the greatest risk of reduced mental health generally occurs within the first year. With that being said, even after 15 years have passed, these individuals continue to experience an elevated risk.”
            “Based on current research, it appears that there are possible symptoms that can last months — if not years. Unfortunately, concussions are also cumulative in nature, making the recovery process even more challenging. This means, that if you suffer from one concussion, it’s generally easier that you’ll suffer from another.”
            “Within a recent study, published in Concussion, researchers examined cognitive-motor integration. What they found, was that after analyzing 102 National Hockey League prospects, a significant effect was found regarding reaction time and accuracy.

            The takeaway: Previously concussed elite-level athletes may experience lasting neurological effects that are not generally detected through standard clinical assessments. ”


  • LTFan

    Another good write up of the game Corey, really enjoy reading your game summaries. Sounds like Gaunce is one of those players who is on the bubble in the NHL but fits in very well in the AHL.