Utica Comets Post-Game Report
Vs Binghamton Devils
Friday, December 14th, 2018
7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific
The 24th overall Binghamton Devils, (New Jersey affiliate) rolled into Utica today to take on the 17th ranked Comets for game number 29 of the season. The Devils were showing a record of 11-14-3-0 on the season, giving them 25 points. The Comets, for their part, had a record of 13-13-1-1 to give them 28 points on the season.
The Comets were coming off of a 5-2 win over Providence, while the Devils last played to a 5-1 win over Rochester. Utica had gone 6-7-0-0 at home this season, while the Devils brought a road record of 4-8-2-0 into today’s action. Over their previous 10 games, the Comets had a record of 7-3-0-0, while the Devils had gone 3-7-0-0 over that same span.
Both clubs had given up 102 goals this season, while the Comets had scored 89 times and the Devils 77.
Utica’s power play was the AHL’s fourth-ranked unit, scoring 30 times on 130 opportunities for a success rate of 23.1%. Their penalty kill sat 13th in the league, giving up 21 goals while down a man 113 times for an 81.4% success rate.
The Devils power play was the league’s second-worst, sitting 30th overall after scoring just 15 goals while up a man 118 times for a 12.7% success rate. Their penalty kill was even worse, sitting dead last after giving up 35 goals awhile shorthanded 131 times for a success rate of 73.3%.
John Quenneville was the top dog in Bingo with nine goals and 10 assists to give himself 19 points in 19 games this season. Marian Studenic sat second with nine goals and 10 assists, giving him the same totals, but in 27 games. Blake Pietila rounded out their top three with nine goals and seven helpers to give himself 17 points in 27 games this season.
For the Comets, Reid Boucher was the big cheese with 14 goals and 10 assists, giving him 24 points in 17 games this year. Tanner Kero sat second with nine goals and 14 assists to give himself 23 points in 28 games played. Zack MacEwen rounded out the top three with 12 goals and 10 helpers, good enough for 22 points in 28 games.
Studenic’s 19 points were good enough to lead all Devils rookies, while Jonathan Dahlen led the Comets rookie crew with seven goals and 10 assists this season, giving him 17 points in 27 games.
It seems as though a week doesn’t go by without some sort of Comets roster news and this week, we learned that Petrus Palmu has signed on with his old club, TPS Turku for the remainder of the season. Palmu was having a difficult time finding his way this year with the Comets, only suiting up for 12 games and picking up one assist along the way. The winger looked to be having a tough time finding the time and space on the ice that he needed to play his game and get any traction with the club.
It is an unfortunate turn of events to have a young player head back overseas, and maybe this decision could have been made sooner, but at the end of the day, Palmu will be getting more playing time and should have a better understanding of what he will need to do to earn more ice tie with the Comets next season if/when he comes back over. He is in the first year of his three-year entry-level deal with the Canucks.
— CanucksArmy (@CanucksArmy) December 13, 2018
The other news that came out today was that defenceman Jalen Chatfield will be out for months, rather than weeks with a broken bone in his foot. That is some unfortunate news for the young defender, and for the team as the backend isn’t swimming with players who can bring the type of game that Chatfield does.
Ryan Johnson says Jalen Chatfield is "likely out another couple months" with a broken bone in his foot. Johnson had a similar injury when he played. Juolevi is rehabbing, should have a better idea of how much longer he'll be out in a couple/few days, says Johnson @UticaComets
— TSN Radio Vancouver (@TSN1040) December 14, 2018
- Reid Boucher: five goals, six assists, 11 points in seven games.
- Tanner Kero: four goals, five assists, nine points in nine games.
- Zack MacEwen: five goals, four assists, nine points in nine games.
- Jonathan Dahlen: four goals, zero assists, four points in four games.
- Lukas Jasek: zero goals, three assists, three points in five games.
- Evan McEneny: one goal, five assists, six points in five games.
- Darren Archibald: three goals, two assists, five points in five games.
- Tanner MacMaster: one goal, one assist, two points in four games.
- Brendan Gaunce: one goal and three assists, four points in five games.
- Jaime Sifers: one goal, two assists, three points in three games.
- Jesse Graham: one goal and two assists, three points in three games.
Eight of the 11 players listed above would see their streaks extended today.
Wacey Hamilton, (day-to-day) Vincent Arseneau, (day-to-day) Jalen Chatfield, (month-to-month) Olli Juolevi, (week-to-week) Ashton Sautner, (week-to-week) Brendan Woods, (day-to-day) Jonah Gadjovich, and Jagger Dirk.
Comets Starting Lines
9 Lukas Jasek – 10 Tanner Kero – 24 Reid Boucher
54 Jonathan Dahlen – 16 Brendan Gaunce – 15 Zack MacEwen
25 Darren Archibald (A) – 11 Cam Darcy – 34 Carter Bancks (C)
19 Tanner MacMaster – 27 Tony Cameranesi – 13 Kole Lind
55 Guillaume Brisebois – 2 Evan McEneny
64 Jesse Graham – 26 Jaime Sifers (A)
8 Dylan Blujus – 39 Colton Saucerman
30 Thatcher Demko
32 Richard Bachman (backing up)
There were not a ton of shots in the opening period, but the action wasn’t all bad. Tanner Kero tossed an early shot on net from the left boards that was stopped and held by goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood for a whistle.
There was some early back and forth without many shots either way before Kero sent another shot off the left side that was kicked aside by Blackwood.
Zack MacEwen has been rolling this year and he kept that roll going when he took a nice feed from Brendan Gaunce and bull-rushed his way past the Devils defender and beat Blackwood for his 13th goal of the season. Gaunce picked up his fourth helper of the year on the play, while Jesse Graham earned his seventh.
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) December 15, 2018
The goal had some of the local Vancouver media calling for a MacEwen promotion to Vancouver.
Give this man a promotion https://t.co/vLzUkgkfBV
— Jason Brough (@JasonBroughTSN) December 15, 2018
Darren Archibald followed up with a nice redirection of a Cam Darcy shot that Blackwood turned aside before he shut down a pair of chances from Carter Bancks and Tanner MacMaster. Reid Boucher found himself with some space and let fly with a shot that didn’t make it through the tangle of bodies around the Devils net.
The Comets were putting on the pressure in the Devils end.
Zack MacEwen came looking for another goal with a shot off the left side that Blackwood got a glove on before absolutely robbing Jonathan Dahlen on the rebound chance.
Kole Lind was doing some nice work to hound the Devils puck carrier in the Comets end, eventually leading to an Eric Tangradi hooking call. The Comets would get their first power play of the day.
We saw the normal first unit, consisting of Kero, Dahlen, MacEwen, Boucher, and McEneny before the second group of Archibald, Graham, Jasek, MacMaster, and Lind jumped over the boards. Neither unit would get any traction and the Comets came up empty.
Jaime Sifers followed up with a point shot, and after picking up three points in his last three games, I think he should continue to do so. This offering, however, was steered aside by Blackwood for another save.
Brendan Gignac was sent off for delay of game after putting the puck out of play and the Comets were back to the man advantage. MacEwen got a shot away that was gloved down by Blackwood before MacMaster hit Jasek with a pass for a shot that went wide of the net. The Comets came up empty once more.
Tony Cameranesi had a shot turned aside before the Devils finally got some zone time late in the period. Demko turned aside a John Ramage one-timer before the period came to a close. We saw some late line juggling as Dahlen and Jasek swapped spots on the Kero/Gaunce lines.
Utica showed a 6-3 advantage on the shot clock for the opening frame.
Comets defenceman Jaime Sifers wasn’t on the bench to start the middle frame, so the club was down to five defenders for a few shifts until the grizzled vet made his return.
Blake Pietila was whistled for a high-stick at the 1:16 mark and the Comets had an early power play to work with. Tanner MacMaster had a chance off the left side turned aside before Blackwood denied an Archibald chance as well. Brandon Gignac came down the right side with a shorthanded chance that was gobbled up by Demko for the whistle.
Eric Gryba teed up a point shot bomb off the ensuing faceoff and beat Demko for his first of the season. Blake Speers picked up the lone helper for his second assist of the season. The Comets came up short with the extra man while giving up a league-worst ninth shorthanded goal.
Demko followed up the goal by turning aside a pair of chances from in close before Colton Saucerman cleared the puck out of the zone. Demko would have to glove down another long shot and he held for the whistle.
It was at this point when Jaime Sifers made his return to the Comets bench. The Devils started to put on the pressure as it was their turn to carry the play for a bit.
Zack MacEwen was having a game today and he came looking for another goal when he pulled out a spin and slapper play that was denied before a Boucher bouncer from the point led to another chance for the Comets that didn’t go.
Demko made a save at the other end on a delayed penalty as Guillaume Brisebois was dinged for holding. Just over a minute later, Brendan Gaunce was whistled for hooking and the Comets would be down two men.
Demko came up with a save on a one-timer before turning aside a Tangradi shot. Tangradi came right back with another and beat Demko for his fourth of the season. Colton White picked up his eighth helper of the year on the play, while Blake Pietila earned his ninth.
The Devils came right back in with a two-on-one that saw Demko steer Brian Ward’s shot over the glass. Ward spent some time with the Comets on a tryout deal last season.
Cam Darcy was felled by a shot in the Comets zone but bounced back up to get into the play. We would hear from Darcy before this period would finish.
The Devils were putting on the pressure and taking it to the Comets for a few shifts before Jonathan Dahlen was crushed into the boards in the Devils end by Tangradi and the young winger stayed down for an extended time. He would end up heading down the tunnel with the trainer and did not return in the period.
Boucher followed up with a spin and fire move off the right side and Blackwood made the save and held for the whistle with Kero lurking. MacEwen brought the heavy game with a bone-crushing hit on Tariq Hammond in the Devils zone and the Comets started to apply some pressure.
Saucerman was dinged for holding at the 15:15 mark and the Comets had another penalty to kill. Demko had to come up with a pair of saves on Egor Sharangovich and the Comets had another good kill.
Demko came up with another pad save before Dylan Blujus used a nice pass to spring Boucher for a chance at the end of a long kill and a tired Boucher lobbed one in for Blackwood to glove down for a whistle. Archibald followed up with a big shot off the left side that Blackwood kicked out before Cam Darcy tied things at two.
With just over 40 seconds remaining in the period, Lukas Jasek hit a streaking Cam Darcy with a sweet pass and Darcy did the rest, picking up his fifth goal of the season, and it was a beauty. Jasek earned his eighth helper of the year on the play, while Evan McEneny continued with his run of points with his 11th assist of the season.
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) December 15, 2018
That was it for the middle frame as things ended with the game tied at two and the Devils showing a 13-7 advantage on the shot clock for the period.
There was no Jonathan Dahlen to be found to start the final frame as he did not finish the game. Ben Birnell of the Utica Observer-Dispatch did report later in the game that he saw Dahlen watching from the tunnel in street clothes.
There was some early back and forth before the Kero line started to apply the pressure. Guillaume Brisebois put his club up 3-2 at the 3:55 mark when he sniped one past Blackwood from the circle for his second goal of the season. Reid Boucher picked up his 11th helper of the year on the play, while Tanner Kero earned his 15th.
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) December 15, 2018
The Devils came right back looking for a tying goal when Demko gloved down a shot with a crowd forming in front.
At the other end, Gaunce set MacEwen up with a nifty drop pass and TheBigFella hammered the puck on net, but Blackwood was ready with another save.
The Devils came back with more pressure as Demko denied a Blake Pietila shot while the Comets were hemmed in for a shift. Thatcher then soaked up a Colton White one-timer and held for the whistle. Demko wasn’t done there as he made another save on a nifty toe drag play by Nathan Bastian.
The shots kept coming as Demko shut down a Blake Speers chance off the left boards before making a save on a back-door play. He followed up by gobbling up another point shot for the whistle.
Zack MacEwen had his big boy pants on today and Tariq Hammond felt the brunt of it more than once. TheBigFella had already crushed him earlier in the game and he rocked him again in the third, sending the six-foot-three, 194-pounder ass over teakettle at the Comets blueline with a stiff hit.
At the other end of the ice, Tanner Kero hit Archibald for a one-timer and The Mayor was robbed by Blackwood.
Lukas Jasek was sent off for hooking at the 11:34 mark and the Comets had a penalty to kill. Demko kicked aside an Eric Tangradi shot before Brendan Gaunce put the Comets up 4-2 with a shorthanded goal. Carter Bancks played set-up man on Gaunce’s sixth of the season, earning his fourth helper of the year along the way.
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) December 15, 2018
The Comets killers kept it coming as Boucher had another shorthanded chance, but he was denied, as was the Dylan Blujus follow up opportunity. The Comets had a good kill to go along with their shorthanded goal.
Demko followed up with a pair of saves, first on a Tangradi shot, before Michael McLeod raced in for a chance that was put off of Thatcher’s shoulder and out of play.
The Devils summoned Blackwood to the bench with just under four minutes to play…and that was when my AHLTV feed dropped out. When I got the game back up and running, Lukas Jaesk was celebrating a shorthanded, empty-net goal. It was the sixth of the year for Jasek, while Boucher picked up the lone helper for his 12th of the season.
The Devils were looking to get that one right back when Bastian let fly with a shot that Demko blockered away before Gaunce had a shot of his own gloved down from the right circle at the other end. Gaunce came right back with another shot and Blackwood whipped out the mitt for a save.
That was it for this one as the Comets pulled out a 5-2 win. The Devils led the third period in shots by a margin of 13-7 and 29-20 for the game.
MacEwen (13) from Gaunce (4) and Graham (7).
Darcy (5) from Jasek (8) and McEneny (11).
Brisebois (2) from Boucher (11) and Kero (15).
Gaunce (6) from Bancks (4). Shorthanded.
Jasek (6) from Boucher (12). Empty net goal.
The Three Stars in the building today were:
3rd Star: Cam Darcy. One goal.
2nd Star: Brendan Gaunce. One goal, one assist.
1st Star: Guillaume Brisebois. One goal. Game winner.
CanucksArmy’s Three Stars:
3rd Star: Zack MacEwen. TheBigFella picked up his 13th goal and now has 23 points in 29 games this year. To put that into perspective, he is just 10 points shy of his rookie total of 33 points in 66 games last season. He now has 10 points in his last 10 games and is on pace for 34 goals and 33 assists, good for 67 points. That would be a solid campaign for the second-year forward. MacEwen wasn’t just adding to his points totals today as he also spent time on the penalty kill and brought the pain with a couple of big hits. He put six shots on net today as well and had five of the Comets first eight.
2nd Star: Brendan Gaunce. Gaunce picked up a shorthanded goal today along with an assist and is now up to six goals and four assists to give himself 10 points in 13 games this year. That puts him on pace for 35 goals, 23 assists, and 58 points for a 76 game regular season. His previous high was 38 points in a 46 game 2015/16 season with the Comets. Gaunce also did great work on the penalty kill and has adjusted well with his shift back to the middle. You can see how his defensive game has had a positive effect on Dahlen’s play outside of the offensive zone since the two have been paired with MacEwen. The trio has formed an offensively potent second line that can handle itself in the defensive zone as well.
1st Star: Reid Boucher. With another two assists today, Boucher is now up to 14 goals and 12 assists, giving him 26 points in just 18 games this year. That is a blistering 59 goal, 50 assist pace over a normal 76-game AHL season. Boucher was killing penalties again today and continues to show that he can handle all situations duty at the AHL level. The points keep piling up for the 25-year-old winger as he is up to 39 goals and 31 assists, good for 70 points in 62 regular season games for his Comets career. That is some pretty solid production.
At Charlotte Checkers
Sunday, December 16th, 2018
1:00 am Eastern/10:00 am Pacific