Photo Credit: Owen Skye | @designedbyowen

CanucksArmy Utica Comets Post-Game: Utica Comets Rally With Four Unaswered Goals To Pull Out 5-2 Win Over Springfield

Utica Comets Post-Game Report

Game #26

Vs Springfield Thunderbirds

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Friday, December 7th, 2018

7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific


The 10th overall Springfield Thunderbirds, (Florida affiliate) rolled into Utica today to take on the 24th ranked Comets for game number 26 of the season. The Thunderbirds showed a record of 12-6-1-2 coming into today’s action, giving them 27 points on the season. The Comets, for their part, had a record of 10-13-1-1 to give themselves 22 points this year.

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Goal scoring has not been an issue for Springfield as they have piled up 80 this season while giving up 68. The Comets, on the other hand, have been outscored by a 94-72 margin this year.

The Birds brought a road record of 4-4-0-1 into today’s action, while the Comets had gone 4-7-0-0 at home this year. Springfield last played to a 5-4 overtime loss to Bridgeport, while the Comets were coming off a 5-2 loss to Rochester.

Utica had gone 4-5-0-1 over their previous 10 games, while Springfield had a record of 5-4-1-0 over the same span.

Henrik Borgstrom was the rookie points leader for Springfield with four goals and 14 assists, giving him 18 points in 20 games this year. Jonathan Dahlen had sole possession of the rookie lead in Utica after scoring a goal last game to leapfrog Olli Juolevi. He now had four goals and 10 assists to give himself 14 points in 24 contests this year.

Jayce Hawerluk was the top dog in Springfield with five goals and 17 assists to give himself 22 points in 21 games. Paul Thompson sat second with 11 goals and eight helpers, giving him 19 points in 21 games, while Anthony Greco rounded out their top three with nine goals and 10 assists, good enough for 19 points in 21 games as well.

Reid Boucher was back on top in Utica with 11 goals and eight helpers to give himself 19 points in 15 games this year. Zack MacEwen sat second with 10 goals and nine assists to give himself 19 points in 25 games, while Tanner Kero rounded out the top three with eight goals and 11 helpers, good enough for 19 points in 25 games also.

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The Comets power play had dropped one spot to fourth in the AHL, scoring 27 times on 113 opportunities for a success rate of 23.9%. Their penalty kill was the league’s 12th best unit, giving up 17 goals while down a man 99 times for an 82.8% success rate.

The Birds power play had taken over the third overall spot that Utica held last game. Springfield had scored 26 times on 108 chances for a 24.1% success rate. Their penalty kill was ranked 26th in the AHL after giving up 23 goals while shorthanded 101 times this year for a 77.2% success rate.

Scratched Today For The Comets

Wacey Hamilton, (week-to-week) Vincent Arseneau, (week-to-week) Jalen Chatfield, (week-to-week) Olli Juolevi, (week-to-week) Reid Boucher, (healthy scratch, internal matter) Jagger Dirk, Kole Lind, and Tanner MacMaster.

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Reid Boucher did not play today because of what is being called an internal matter. Hopefully, the issue is short lived, whatever it may be.

Comets Starting Lines

22 Jonah Gadjovich – 21 Brendan Woods – 34 Carter Bancks (C)

25 Darren Archibald (A) – 10 Tanner Kero – 9 Lukas Jasek

54 Jonathan Dahlen – 16 Brendan Gaunce – 15 Zack MacEwen

 52 Petrus Palmu – 11 Cam Dacy – 27 Tony Cameranesi

6 Ashton Sautner – 2 Evan McEneny

55 Guillaume Brisebois – 8 Dylan Blujus

26 Jaime Sifers (A) – 64 Jesse Graham

30 Thatcher Demko

32 Richard Bachman (backing up)

First Period

The first period of hockey got off to a quick start, slowed for a spell, and then finished with some solid action.

There was some early back and forth between the clubs without a whole lot happening until Ashton Sautner was dinged for a high-stick at the 3:21 mark, sending the AHL’s third-best power play to work.

It took less than a minute for Jayce Hawerluk to redirect the puck past Thatcher Demko for his sixth goal of the season. Henrik Borgstrom picked up his 15th helper of the year on the play, while Jacob MacDonald earned his eighth.

Demko followed up the goal with a save and Lukas Jasek did good work to get the puck going the other way. Archibald, Jasek and Sautner broke in for a three-on-two that saw Archibald’s shot blocked on the way to the net. The Kero line had some sustained zone time for the Comets on their shift.

The Thunderbirds followed up with some sustained pressure of their own, but the shots were not piling up for either team. Brendan Gaunce had a nice chance from the right side of the net but fired his offering wide.

Petrus Palmu has had a tough time finding regular work with the Comets this year, but he showed some deft hands with a sweet pass against the flow, finding Dylan Blujus for a shot that was denied by T-Birds netminder Samuel Montembeault. The netminder followed up with another save, gloving down Blujus’ next shot as well.

Zack MacEwen was sent off for hooking at the 10:29 mark and the Comets were headed to the kill. Carter Bancks, Brendan Woods, Ashton Sautner, and Dylan Blujus were the first over the boards to work the kill. Henrik Borgstrom got a one-timer away that was swallowed up by Demko before Jacob MacDonald let fly with another shot that Demko denied.

We saw Darren Archibald with Tanner Kero up front on the kill as well, followed up by Brendan Gaunce and Cam Darcy. Guillaume Brisebois and Jaime Sifers also saw time on the kill on the backend. The Comets would come up with a good kill.

Demko turned aside a tipped chance at one end before MacEwen whipped out a spin and fire move that was turned aside by Montembeault at the other. Evan McEneny followed up with a shot from the high slot that was kicked aside as well.

Demko came up with another save on a tipped shot before Lukas Jasek showed some fantastic stick work to juggle the puck through the neutral zone, keeping control of it and leading to a Jayce Hawerluk interference penalty. Hawerluk was so hot under the collar that he took another two minutes for sucker punching Jasek after the whistle.

The Comets power play was sloppy and unable to get any traction, with Jesse Graham getting the only real chance and it was denied before Harry Zolnierczyk was sent off for interference at the 17:58 mark, putting his club down five skaters to three.

Tanner Kero had a one-timer kicked aside before Jonathan Dahlen took the puck to the net and buried his rebound chance for his fifth goal of the season. Jesse Graham picked up his fifth assist of the year on the play, while Evan McEneny continued his hot play with his ninth helper of the season.

That was it for the opening frame as we saw the Comets with a 10-7 advantage on the shot clock and the game was tied at one.

Second Period

The second period saw its share of special teams work as both clubs spent some time in the box in what was a rough and tumble frame of hockey.

There was some good back and forth early before Petrus Palmu had a chance denied from in close by Montembeault. At the other end of the ice, Thatcher Demko steered aside a shot from the circle for a save of his own. Tanner Kero hit Darren Archibald for a one-timer, but TheMayor’s chance was shut down by a defender.

Jonathan Dahlen has looked more engaged in his last handful of games and today was no different.

Jaime Sifers bobbled the puck at the T-Birds blueline and Jayce Hawerluk broke in for a scoring chance. Demko came up with the save to deny him before Sebastian Repo buried the rebound for his second goal of the year. Hawerluk picked up his 18th assist of the season on the play.

Brendan Gaunce followed up with a chance that was denied by Montembeault before the Birds went the other way. Dylan Blujus lost his stick while defending and Dahlen looked sharp to give him his stick on the backcheck.

At the other end of the ice, it was Palmu showing well again with some excellent patience to hold onto the puck, keeping the play alive in the offensive zone.

Thatcher Demko has been playing the puck pretty well in his limited action so far this year but he had an adventure that led to him ending up on his backside. Brendan Woods grabbed the man he felt was responsible for Demko’s fall and after the smoke cleared, Woods was in the box for roughing, while Ryan Horvat was sent off for interference.

The clubs played some four aside hockey before Evan McEneny took a stick to the mumbles and during the delayed penalty, Dahlen fired a shot on net that trickled through for his sixth of the season. The goal was credited to MacEwen in the building, but he was not even in the area when the puck went in. Brendan Gaunce was credited with the lone assist for his first helper of the season.

With the game tied at two, the rough stuff continued. Paul Thompson was assessed with a double minor for a high-stick and the Comets were headed to another power play. Ian McCoshen was dinged for boarding 46 seconds later and the Comets had a five-on-three man advantage for 34 seconds.

The Comets had some great puck movement before Tanner Kero had a one-timer denied. Dahlen followed up with a chance from in close that was turned aside by Montembeault as well.

Kero put the puck into the crease and Gaunce whipped out his shovel looking for some garbage, but he too was denied. Guillaume Brisebois followed up with a one-timer that was swallowed up as well. The Comets were pouring it on but came up empty.

At the other end of the ice, Demko shut down a Ryan Horvat chance as well as making a pair of saves from the side of the net before all hell broke loose and we saw Horvat and McEneny throw down for a tilt. Each man landed a couple of blows, but Horvat gets the decision in this one. Horvat was also assessed with an extra two minutes for roughing on the play, sending Utica back to the power play.

Jesse Graham unloaded a big shot through traffic from the high slot for his first goal of the year, and the Comets were up 3-2. Tanner Kero picked up the lone helper for his 12th of the season.

The Comets still had some power play time to work with before the period ran out and we saw Lukas Jasek have a pair of chances denied before the buzzer sounded. Utica showed a 12-10 advantage in shots for the middle frame.

Third Period

The Comets still had 46 seconds of power play time to work with as the third period got underway, but they wouldn’t get anything to go.

Carter Bancks, however, tapped in a loose puck after a Dylan Blujus point shot at the 1:04 mark to put the Comets up 4-2 with his first of the season. Blujus picked up his third helper of the year on the play, while Jonah Gadjovich grabbed his second. Sorry, there was no gif of the Bancks goal available at the time of this writing.

There was more of the rough stuff after the Bancks goal and eventually, Brendan Gaunce was headed off for interference. The Comets did great work on this kill. Zack MacEwen managed a shorthanded chance off the rush with a bomb of a shot that was denied by Montembeault and the Comets had another good kill in the books.

Tanner Kero put the home team up 5-2 at the six-minute mark, finishing off a sweet backdoor play from Archibald for his ninth goal of the season. Archibald earned his fourth helper of the year on the play, while Jaime Sifers picked up his third.

The Comets had been down 2-1 but stormed back with four unanswered goals. Bobby Farnham has had a history of being a bit of a disturber of the peace and he was whistled for boarding at the 6:35 mark. The Comets were back to the power play.

Utica had a tough time on this one, however, and came up empty with the extra man. They got things going a bit after, however, with a nice passing play from Palmu, to Bancks, and then to Woods, but Montembeault kicked the shot aside.

Demko made a save on a Paul Thompson backhander in the Comets zone before Dahlen stole the puck at the other end for a chance that was turned aside.

Jonah Gadjovich was sent off for delay of game at the 11:44 mark and the Comets had another penalty to kill. Demko made a tidy save in tight before coming up with another stop and the Comets had a good kill.

The Thunderbirds hemmed the Comets in for a shift before Jesse Graham had a shot shouldered away at the other end of the ice. Sebastian Repo let fly with a one-timer that Demko steered aside before MacEwen ripped a shot off the glove of Montembeault. We had some solid back and forth.

Sure, the Comets were up 5-2, but it was still nice to see Jonah Gadjovich out on the ice with just over a minute left to play. The coaching staff is giving the young guys opportunities, in-game, to test themselves in different situations.

Evan McEneny missed most of last season with a knee injury, and he looked to just be rounding into form of late, but we saw him leave the ice in obvious discomfort near the end of this one. He wasn’t putting much pressure on his leg as he left the ice. Fingers crossed that this isn’t anything major for him.

As time wound down, MacEwen broke in with another chance and was denied before Demko came up with another save in the Comets zone.

Farnham hit Blujus with an unnecessary hit as the buzzer went and Thatcher Demko looked like he was pretty hot at the Birds pest. There was a gathering of the minds after the final horn where words were spoken before Ian McCoshen pulled the bonehead play of the game when he shoved one of the officials.

Keep an eye out for McCoshen giving the official a shove.

Today’s win was also the 50th of Thatcher Demko’s career with the Comets. No other goaltender has reached that milestone with the club. Congrats, Thatcher.

Today’s Official Boxscore

Comets Goals:

Dahlen (5) from Graham (5) and McEneny (9). PP goal.

Dahlen (6) from Gaunce (1).

Graham (1) from Kero (12). PP goal.

Bancks (1) from Blujus (3) and Gadjovich (2).

Kero (9) from Archibald (4) and Sifers (3).

The Three Stars in the building today were:

3rd Star: Tanner Kero. One goal, one assist.

2nd Star: Jesse Graham. One goal, (game-winner) one assist.

1st Star: Jonathan Dahlen. Two goals.

CanucksArmy’s Three Stars:

3rd Star: Evan McEneny. McEneny picked up another helper today and now has 11 points in 24 games this year. He is currently on pace for 34 points this season, his previous high being 23 points in the 2016/17 season. He now has 10 points in his last 11 games. McEneny also threw down for a tilt today after not liking the way his goaltender was being treated by the opposition. Hopefully whatever was ailing his leg at the end of the game is nothing serious as the Comets can ill afford to lose one of the only offensive weapons that they have on the backend at the moment.

2nd Star: Tanner Kero. Kero picked up a goal and an assist today and is now up to 21 points in 26 games to lead the Comets this season. He is currently on pace for 61 points this year. That would obliterate his previous high of 39 points that he put up in 60 games in the 2015/16 season with the Rockford IceHogs. Kero plays all situations for the Comets and is their best option in the middle. The trade of Michael Chaput to the Hawks for Kero this offseason flew under the radar for most Canucks fans, but it has been a very nice move for Utica. Many in Utica bemoan the fact that Jim Benning hasn’t done much to help the farm team, especially down the middle, but Chaput wasn’t even re-signed by Chicago and was allowed to walk for nothing. I would say that Benning made a shrewd move that has indeed helped the Comets at the position where they needed it the most. Not that they couldn’t use more help down the middle…

1st Star: Jonathan Dahlen. I mentioned in yesterday’s post-game report that Dahlen has been known to have his moments in games this year, but that a complete game has been harder to muster for him. Well, today was about as good of a showing as we have seen from Dahlen this year and it was because he looked engaged throughout the contest. He picked up a pair of goals today, the first one coming off of some great second effort work to follow up his own rebound. He also did some solid work on the defensive side and showed awareness to get his stick to Dylan Blujus when he was without one. Dahlen is up to six goals and 10 helpers to give himself 16 points in 25 games played this season. that puts him on pace for a 48 point season. He has struggled with consistency this year, but if he can put together a few games in a row like he had today, it will go a long way in boosting his confidence and hopefully get him on a good roll.

Next Game

Game # 27

At Binghamton Devils

Saturday, December 8th, 2018

7:05 pm Eastern/4:05 pm Pacific








    • North Van Halen

      C/mon Editors, this stuff needs to stop. I’m really close to being an ex-reader cuz of this stuff.

      And multi-personality boy tells me no one will miss me and get out in 3….2…1…..

      • Locust

        This site is a total embarrassment compared to other Nation sites. I have actually started following the Jets – their site and writers are awesome. I thought JD was the problem – nope.
        Cory wrote a great article and it essentially gets ruined by CA sponsored trolls.

      • Holly Wood

        I have asked the editors 5 times now in the last two weeks to clean up this site by exposing or punting members that post under numerous user names from the same email address. They not only haven’t done anything, they have not even replied to the question with a lame excuse why they can’t. Even though I asked on Monday mailbag and WWYDW, there has been nothing except at least one of the most obnoxious commenters appears to have changed his name. Leaves me to think they are in favour of it because it drives up page clicks that may be directly tied to advertising revenue. They could very well be ones doing the trolling. So my solution has been to stop liking or trashing anything. It may be a drop in the bucket but I won’t be feeding the trolls.

        • Holly Wood

          Cory, I noticed you sometimes follow the comments on your reports, so I wonder what you feel about the concerns some people have with the multi account trolls that lurk around this site?

          • There’s only one multi-account-holding troll, and he certainly doesn’t drive readers to the site. Ad revenue is generally based either on click-through or on unique visitors by IP address, so having the same people returning multiple times to the comments section isn’t going to generate more revenue for the site. It’s also about one in a thousand readers who actually engage in the comments section on a regular basis. This conspiracy nonsense doesn’t help anything. Never blame on malice what can more easily be blamed on incompetence or laziness.

            The issue is that the editors just don’t care enough to implement a real solution. They’ve deleted this guy’s account and banned him a couple of times, and he just comes back by making accounts at the library or using a VPN, and they don’t care enough about the comments section to play whack-a-mole with him.

            There are only two real solutions to the problem that I can think of – prevent new accounts from posting for 48 hours to prevent him from spamming a page with comments from multiple accounts, and give a couple of regular commenters moderator privileges so they can delete his posts as they appear. I think most of us who read regularly can spot one of his accounts within a couple of posts and would be able to effectively end this garbage within a week or two. But again, I don’t think the editors can be bothered.

          • Cory Hergott

            Holly Wood: Unfortunately, I have no control over the comments section. If I see an ignorant comment that I don’t agree with, I just cruise on past. I ignore the “trolls” and move on. I enjoy interacting with readers who take the time to ask a question etc. I don’t enjoy coming to the comments section and seeing a bunch of bickering that has nothing to do with a Utica Comets post-game. I wish that I had a better answer for you.

          • North Van Halen


            How about I talked to the editor, Ryan, and this is what he’s going to do about it. Or asking for the ability to delete comments or…. anything but shrugging the shoulders and passing the buck.

            I’ve read this site since the days of Charron & Drance and I’m close to my end.

            Never been on a site where a guy can get away with cursing at and insulting the other commenters with no consequence. It’s crazy

        • West Van Helen

          Yes, I agree it’s high time Bud Poile and his multi id troll act was banned, after all he is the only poster who has been asked to leave by the writers and he is the only poster who openly abuses the CA staff. However, Bud has already admitted if he is banned he will use a rolling IP to get back in so what can we do, nothing.

          I also feel that the constant whining and calls for moderation which have never existed at CA are ruining the threads for writers like Cory, so could we please talk hockey and stop being so childish. Thanks. Go Canucks and Comets.

  • wojohowitz

    Boucher is not the only one. Gaunce and McEneny are both growing old waiting for their chance to prove themselves and picking up Leivo sends that message; No future here – time to move on.

    • Defenceman Factory

      Gaunce and Boucher have had chances but I suppose that could be debated. There is absolutely nothing stopping other teams from making offers for these guys. I don’t think it would take much to get any of the 3 from the Canucks. Toronto wanted Carcone instead. It is a painful when the realization hits that you will never be a full time NHLer.

      • Kangaroo Court

        I would guess Boucher was bummed out he wasn’t the one who went to the Leafs organisation, but i have no sympathy for these guys. Playing pro hockey at any level is still better than working a regular nine to five imo.

        • LTFan

          BCB – agree. IMO it appears that Gaunce is a better option than any of the players that you mentioned. I was never big on Gaunce but it appears that he is working hard and I would hope that when the next injury happens with the Canucks he will get another call up.

        • Defenceman Factory

          I don’t think it’s that complicated. Green is evaluating his options. The 3 guys you mentioned all got waived as well. Gagner and Leipsic were looked as potential top 6 players. Gaudette and Beagle are better centres. Roussel, Motte, Granlund and Ericksson are better wingers. Schaller hasn’t been good and is in the press box.

          Would have been nice for Gaunce to get a few more games but he is hardly a difference maker. In the prior two seasons he played 94 games with 4 goals and 11 points. He is almost 25. Gaunce is okay as a 4th line injury replacement. If there was anything more there other teams could pick him up cheap.

  • Fred-65


    Am I wrong in thinking this kid Dylan Blujus is worth a little more scrutiny ?? A second round pick by Tampa, 6’3″/200 right handed D in 16 games he’s 1 + 3 and a plus 7 ( against McEnemy minus 16 and Sautner – 2 in fact the only D in Utica with a plus rating) I have no idea how many minutes he’s getting a game. He seems to overlooked but maybe for a reason ?

    • Cory Hergott

      Fred-65: I’m not sure that Blujus would be an upgrade over a Sautner/McEneny at this point. His right shot is handy to have around for the role that he fills in Utica, though.

      • kermit

        Hi Cory, I have a question as I haven’t watched any Utica games, is Zack MacKewen fast enough for today’s NHL? His numbers show some promise, but he’s a big body, how is his skating?

        • Cory Hergott

          His skating was once considered a “weakness” in his game but he has busted his ass and put that to bed. He is beating other players to pucks on the regular and his skating shouldn’t be considered an issue going forward.

    • Cory Hergott

      The Comets are incredibly tight-lipped about their injuries. People who are around the team every day are kept in the dark. All that I know right now is the information that is out there. He has a knee injury, came to Vancouver to have the team docs take a look at him and he is back in Utica now. From what I understand, the timetable is 2-3 weeks. That would put his return somewhere around Christmas-ish, if all goes well.

    • Cory Hergott

      When I write the line up for the post-game, The first line listed and first defensive pairing listed are the ones who start the game. Trent Cull generally rolls four lines, so you can place them in whatever order you like. As for Lind, he has just come back after missing a month with an upper-body injury and my guess is that they want to ease him back in. He was a scratch again on Saturday night. Lind, MacMaster, Gadjovich, Palmu and to a lesser extent, Jasek will likely be back into a rotation with the numbers getting closer to full strength in Utica. Boucher was a healthy scratch in this game and Brendan Woods was a healthy scratch in the Saturday game, so Cull is rotating the scratches with some of the older players as well.