Utica Comets Post-Game Report
At Binghamton Devils
Wednesday, November 28th, 2018
7:05 pm Eastern/4:05 pm Pacific
The 19th overall Utica Comets rolled into Binghamton today to take on the 24th ranked Devils, (New Jersey affiliate) for game number 22 of the season. The Comets brought a record of 9-10-1-1 into today’s action, while the Devils had a record of 8-10-3-0. The two clubs were separated by just one point with the Comets having 20 points and the Devils 19.
The Comets had a record of 4-4-1-1 over their previous 10 matches, while the Devils had gone 3-5-2-0 over that same span. Utica had a road record of 5-3-1-1 this season, while Bingo had gone 5-5-1-0 at home.
Binghamton last played to a 4-3 loss to Rochester, while Utica was coming off of a 4-2 victory over Belleville.
The Comets power play was ranked sixth in the AHL, going 23/96, giving them a success rate of 24.0%. Their penalty kill sat 13th in the league, giving up 15 goals while down a man 88 times, for a success rate of 83.0%.
The Devils power play and penalty kill were both ranked 29th in the AHL. Their power play had gone 11/95 to give them a success rate of 11.6%, while their penalty kill had given up 25 goals while shorthanded 101 times for a success rate of 75.2%.
Reid Boucher led all Comets scorers with 10 goals and six helpers, giving him 16 points in 12 games played. Tanner Kero sat second with six goals and 10 assists to give himself 16 points as well, through 21 games. Zack MacEwen sat third with eight goals and seven helpers through 21 games, giving him 15 points on the season.
Nick Lappin was the big cheese in Bingo with nine goals and four assists, good for 13 points in 21 games. Marian Studenic sat second with eight goals and five helpers to give himself 13 points in 20 games. Blake Pietila rounded out their top three with seven goals and six assists through 20 games played.
Olli Juolevi has headed off to Vancouver to have his injured knee looked at, and we have a new active-rookie points leader in Utica. Jonathan Dahlen has the same number of points as Juolevi with 13 now, but Dahlen’s totals come from three goals and 10 assists in 20 games, while Juolevi has put up one goal and 12 helpers in 18 games played. Studenic was the rookie points leader in Binghamton with his 13 points as well.
The Comets had been outscored by a 77-61 margin coming into today’s contest, while the Devils had given up 76 goals while scoring 57 times.
There was a bit of player movement again this week for the Comets as they saw Darren Archibald and Reid Boucher reassigned to their club by the parent Canucks. The Comets also returned forwards Alex Kile and Reid Gardiner to the Maine Mariners and Kalamazoo Wings of the ECHL respectively, while also calling defender Brandon Anselmini up from the Wings. Kile was with the club on a PTO, (professional tryout) and has been released by the Comets.
Comets announce roster moves.
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) November 27, 2018
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) November 28, 2018
The Comets have more than a few players of their own who are dinged up and you can now add captain Carter Bancks to the list as he left Saturday’s game with Belleville midway through the second period with an injury. It sounds as though Kole Lind, Tanner MacMaster, and Brendan Woods could be coming back soon-ish, however. * Lind, MacMaster, and Woods were indeed back in the lineup today and the trio played as a line.
Wacey Hamilton, (week-to-week) Vincent Arseneau, (week-to-week) Jalen Chatfield, (week-to-week) Olli Juolevi, (week-to-week) Carter Bancks, (week-to-week) Reid Boucher, (in transit) Jagger Dirk, Brandon Anselmini, Jonah Gadjovich, and Petrus Palmu.
Comets Starting Lines
54 Jonathan Dahlen – 11 Cam Darcy – 25 Darren Archibald (A)
16 Brendan Gaunce – 10 Tanner Kero (A) – 9 Lukas Jasek
58 Michael Carcone – 27 Tony Cameranesi – 15 Zack MacEwen
19 Tanner MacMaster – 21 Brendan Woods – 13 Kole Lind
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)
The first period was a pretty quick period of hockey as there were not a ton of whistles. John Ramage did get dinged for a delay of game penalty just 10 seconds in, though, when he sent the puck over the glass and the Comets had an early power play to work with.
We saw a first unit consisting of Jonathan Dahlen, Tanner Kero, Zack MacEwen, Michael Carcone, and Evan McEneny, along with the second unit of Brendan Gaunce, Darren Archibald, Lukas Jasek, Jesse Graham, and Tanner MacMaster.
Gaunce had a one-timer chance denied before Lukas Jasek saw his chance on the rebound turned aside as well. The Comets would come up empty with their early opportunity.
The Comets kept the pressure on as Brendan Woods followed up with a chance in close that was turned aside by Mackenzie Blackwood before Cam Darcy had a wraparound chance denied as well.
Demko wasn’t as busy, but he turned aside a Nick Lappin offering in the early going.
Tanner MacMaster, Brendan Woods, and Kole Lind have all missed time with injuries of late and Trent Cull had them playing as a trio today. MacMaster and Lind nearly hooked up for a nice chance early as they broke into the Devils zone with MacMaster sending a cross-ice feed to Lind that was knocked out of the air by a Devils defender.
The Comets had control of the game early.
Utica had an offensive zone faceoff and I noticed Archibald skate over to Dahlen and speak with him briefly. Dahlen repositioned himself a few steps to his right and Cam Darcy won the ensuing faceoff right to him for a chance. A nice little bit of on-ice coaching was done by the veteran Archibald.
Zack MacEwen has been playing well this year and he was looking engaged again today as he had a rebound chance shut down by Blackwood before he unloaded with a stiff hit in front of the Comets bench on the backcheck.
Woods and Lind broke into the Devils zone for a chance that saw Blackwood blocker away the Woods shot with Lind fast approaching. Lukas Jasek followed up with a shift in the offensive zone where he showed some great anticipation, jumping on loose pucks before others could get to them.
Nathan Bastian put the Devils up 1-0 at the 10:37 mark after burying a Michael McLeod rebound past Demko for his fifth goal of the season. McLeod earned his sixth helper of the year on the play, while Colby Sissons picked up his fourth.
Colin White followed up with a shot off the left side that Demko blockered away. It was the Comets turn to be hemmed in their own end for a bit.
Eric Gryba took away some of that momentum when he was whistled for a cross-check on Jesse Graham behind the Comets net.
Graham ended up losing the puck in his feet at the Devils blueline on the ensuing power play and Demko had to come up with a shorthanded save on Kevin Rooney. The Comets power play came up short once more.
Michael McLeod and Cam Darcy looked to have a mid-ice collision and both men went down and took a few seconds to get back up. A video review of the play showed Darcy eating the butt end of McLeod’s stick on the play. That couldn’t have felt very good in his first game without the full visor on after coming back from a facial injury.
Demko was playing the puck with confidence in this game, which is nice to see, in my opinion. That is one area that I was hoping to see some improvement in for Thatcher this season, and so far, he has looked solid when handling the puck.
The Comets were hemmed in a bit as the period wound down and we saw Thatcher make another save with his mask before Jesse Graham had his point shot turned aside at the other end of the ice.
Marian Studenic was whistled for tripping at the 18:52 mark and the Comets had another chance on the power play. This time, they would make no mistake as Brendan Gaunce continued his excellent play since his return from the parent Canucks, beating Blackwood for his fourth goal of the season and third since his return. Jesse Graham picked up his fourth helper of the year on the play, while Lukas Jasek grabbed his fifth.
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) November 29, 2018
The Comets finished the period tied at one and up 10-7 on the shot clock.
Ashton Sautner was looking to start the middle frame off with a goal but saw his offering go off the glove of Blackwood and out of play.
Cam Darcy looked like a man who was set firmly in the sights of the Devils as he was popped with another solid hit by McLeod, but the pivot bounced back up and stayed in the play.
Jaime Sifers was playing in his 600th AHL game and he celebrated with an interference penalty at the 1:16 mark and it was off to the penalty kill for the Comets.
We saw forward combos of Woods and Kero, MacEwen and Carcone, and Gaunce with Archibald. McEneny and Brisebois made up one defensive unit, while Sautner and Blujus were the other.
Demko kicked aside a John Quenneville shot before Quenneville got his revenge in the form of his fifth goal of the season, putting his shot upstairs, beating Thatcher. Sissons picked up his fifth helper of the year on the play, while McLeod earned his seventh.
The Comets put on some pressure after the Quenneville goal with a pair of solid shifts before Tanner MacMaster followed up by showing some quickness on the forecheck when his line was out.
Zack MacEwen was sent off for charging after finishing his check in the Devils zone and the Comets were headed back to the kill.
Quenneville had a wrister denied before Brisebois came up with a nice shot block. Demko followed up by steering the puck over the glass for a whistle and the Comets had a good kill.
Binghamton carried the play for a bit in the middle frame and they went up by two goals when Egor Sharangovich tapped home a nice play by Quenneville for his fourth of the season. Quenneville picked up his seventh assist of the season on the play, while Mariann Studenic earned his sixth.
Brendan Woods let fly with a wrister from the high slot that was blockered out of play before Zack MacEwen showed some moves, whipping out a little Charlottetown Shuffle to beat the Binghamton defender before putting the puck up high where Joe Roberts picks his potatoes, for his ninth goal of the season. For reference, MacEwen scored 10 goals in his 66 game rookie campaign last year and now has nine in his first 22 games this year. Dylan Blujus picked up his second helper of the year on the play, while Ashton Sautner grabbed his fourth. The Comets were within a goal.
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) November 29, 2018
Evan McEneny followed up with a chance that was kicked aside before we saw more of that solid board play from Lukas Jasek. I love the way this kid competes in puck battles.
The Devils were dinged with a delay of game penalty for a faceoff violation at the 19:03 mark and the Comets would finish the period on the power play. Demko would be forced into a shorthanded save before the period ended.
Binghamton showed an 8-7 advantage in shots for the middle frame.
The Comets started out with the extra man and they were looking for a goal early. Carcone had a chance denied before TheBigFella saw his backhander turned aside as well. Cam Darcy followed up with a chance of his own with a loose puck in the crease, but Blackwood said, no.
The Comets power play came up empty, and Brendan Gaunce quickly headed to the box for a high-stick and it was back to the penalty kill for Utica.
Demko was busy on this kill, steering the puck over the glass for a whistle before getting a pad on a shot from the left side. Nathan Bastian drifted through the crease, trying to stuff a loose puck past Demko, but Thatcher kept the paddle down and steered the puck out of harm’s way. The Comets had another good kill in the books.
Demko followed up with a big save on Brandon Baddock before MacEwen sent the puck on net at the other end, seeing it pinball around before Blackwood turned it aside.
The two clubs had some good back and forth where each team took their turn pushing the pace before MacEwen used his six-foot-four frame to obliterate Bastian with a big hit along the boards in the neutral zone.
Lukas Jasek does a lot of things well and he showed some nice passing in this game. He hit Brendan Gaunce with a pass to spring him into the Devils end and looked like he’d made the pass a thousand times before. He is looking a little more confident with each game.
The teams traded chances as Sautner had a blast kicked aside before Lind and Gaunce were each denied as well. Demko made a nice save on a redirected shot at the other end before Carcone had a wraparound chance turned aside by Blackwood.
Brandon Gignac let fly with a chance off the rush that was gobbled up by Demko for the whistle before McEneny had a pair of chances denied at the other end.
It was nice to see Trent Cull throwing Kole Lind out on the ice in the final five minutes while his team was looking for a goal. Lind has missed a pile of time with an upper-body injury, so it was nice to see him back in today and being used late in the game by his coach.
Tanner MacMaster and Eric Gryba were each assessed with slashing penalties at the 18:20 mark and the teams would finish the game at four aside. Trent Cull summoned Demko to the bench with about 1:20 left in the period and Ryan Schmelzer quickly scored an empty net goal to put the home squad up 4-2.
The goal was the third of the season for Schmelzer, while Kevin Rooney picked up his fifth assist of the year on the play.
That was it for this one as the Devils pulled out a 4-2 win. Bingo led the third period with 12 shots to the Comets 11, while the Comets outshot them 28-27 for the game.
Gaunce (4) from Graham (4) and Jasek (5). PP goal.
MacEwen (9) from Blujus (2) and Sautner (4).
The Three Stars in the building today were:
3rd Star: Colby Sissons. Two assists.
2nd Star: Mackenzie Blackwood. 26 saves.
1st Star: John Quenneville. One goal, one assist.
CanucksArmy’s Three Stars:
3rd Star: Lukas Jasek. Jasek finished today’s game with an assist and showed some tireless work along the boards in all three zones. I love the compete level that Jasek brings, his motor always seems to be going. He looks like he is seeing the ice well and has dished some really nice passes of late. I like that he has shown the ability to play with grinders and higher-end players alike without looking out of place. He isn’t putting up the type of points that he did when he lit Utica ablaze with seven points in his first six games at the end of last season, but he is now up to five goals and five assists to give himself 10 points in 18 games this season. that is a very respectable 0.56 points/game so far in his rookie campaign. Not bad for a guy taken in the 6th round who many fans had written off as a player who wouldn’t even earn a contract.
2nd Star: Brendan Gaunce. Gaunce picked up another goal today and now has three in his three games since the Canucks returned him to Utica. Gaunce now has four points in six games on the season. All four points are goals. Today’s marker came on the power play, showing that Gaunce can be used in all situations for the Comets when needed. He did great work on the penalty kill today as well. With Carter Bancks out of the lineup, Gaunce looks like he has been tasked with taking Jasek under his wing as a linemate over the last two games and the two look to have a bit of chemistry early.
1st Star: Zack MacEwen. MacEwen had another solid showing today, playing on both special teams as well as soaking up five aside minutes. He played a physical game and showed agility and deft hands on his goal. He picked up his ninth today in his 22nd game after scoring 10 in 66 games last season. He is currently on pace for 31 goals and 55 points for the season. I think that most observers would be pretty happy with that kind of production out of the undrafted forward who just keeps taking on more responsibility and proving that he can handle it. TheBigFella is inching ever closer to his first NHL call-up.
At Belleville Senators
Friday, November 30th, 2018
7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific