Utica Comets Post-Game Report
Vs Binghamton Devils
Thursday, December 27th, 2018
7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific
The 23rd overall Binghamton Devils, (New Jersey affiliate) rolled into Utica today to take on the 15th ranked Comets for game number 34 of the season. The Devils were showing a record of 14-17-3-0 coming into today’s action, giving them 31 points on the season, while the Comets had a record of 16-14-2-1 to give themselves 35 points so far this year.
The Comets had been outscored by a 114-104 margin this year, while the Devils had scored 96 times while giving up 123 goals against. Binghamton had a road record of 5-10-2-0 this year, while the Comets had gone 7-8-0-0 at home this season.
The Devils were coming off of a 6-3 loss to Syracuse, while the Comets last played to a 4-3 loss to the Devils before their Christmas break. Utica had gone 7-2-1-0 over their last 10 games, while Binghamton had a record of 4-6-0-0 over that same span.
Michael McLeod was the points leader amongst Devils rookies with five goals and 15 assists to give himself 20 points in 32 games this year. Jonathan Dahlen held the rookie crown in Utica with seven goals and 10 helpers, giving him 17 points in 29 games this season.
Reid Boucher was the top dog in Utica with 16 goals and 13 helpers, giving him 29 points in 22 games played. Tanner Kero sat second with 10 goals and 17 assists to give himself 27 points in 33 games, while Zack MacEwen rounded out the Comets top three with 13 goals and 13 assists, giving him 26 points in 32 games.
McLeod’s 20 points were good enough to lead all Binghamton skaters, while Blake Pietila sat second with 10 goals and nine helpers to give himself 19 points in 31 games. Marian Studenic rounded out the top three in Bingo with nine goals and 10 assists, giving him 19 points in 27 games.
The Comets power play and penalty kill both sat eighth in the AHL, with their power play scoring 32 times on 150 chances for a success rate of 21.3%. Their penalty kill had given up 22 goals while being down a man 134 times for an 83.6% success rate.
The Devils, for their part, had the league’s 28th ranked power play, scoring 19 goals while up a man 137 times for a success rate of 13.9%. Their penalty kill was sitting dead last with a 74.7% success rate after giving up 40 goals while shorthanded 158 times this season.
Rick Dhaliwal of Sportsnet650 reported today that Comets goaltender Richard Bachman’s injury is Achilles’ tendon related, and if that is the case, the netminder could be out for an extended period of time. That could put the damper on Thatcher Demko seeing minutes in Vancouver this year if the team doesn’t find another target to tandem with Kulbakov while Thatcher is up with the Canucks.
Looks like Kulbakov “could” be in Utica for a while…or maybe the club is looking to make another move in net. Tough news for Bachman. https://t.co/fzA6i8yE0t
— Cory (@CoryHergott) December 27, 2018
Today’s game is the first of three games in three days for the Comets, so I would imagine that we could see Ivan Kulbakov get one of the starts. Of the three teams that the Comets play this week, Kulbakov has played against Binghamton and Syracuse this season, coming away with a loss to Bingo, along with a win and a loss to Syracuse.
Brandon Sutter and Sven Baertschi are also reportedly close to returning to the Canucks lineup and when that happens, there will be more moves needed to get the big club down to their 23-man roster. Those moves could come in the form of trades, which tend to happen closer to the trade deadline, or it could mean that the Canucks will send Adam Gaudette back to Utica, (he does not have to pass through waivers) or they could try to send someone else down and risk losing them to waivers. Time will tell, but there are interesting days ahead as far as the roster is concerned.
Adding another body or two to the Comets roster will also muddy things up for a coaching staff who are already trying to juggle more bodies than they have room for. We could very soon be looking at a scenario where players like Lind, Jasek, MacMaster, and Gadjovich are taking their turn in the press box more often again, along with a more established player or two as well.
Olli Juolevi, (out for regular season) Jalen Chatfield, (month-to-month) Ashton Sautner, (indefinite) Richard Bachman, (indefinite) Wacey Hamilton, (indefinite) Brendan Woods, (day-to-day) Jonah Gadjovich, (day-to-day) Jagger Dirk, and Vincent Arseneau.
Comets Starting Lines
9 Lukas Jasek – 10 Tanner Kero – 24 Reid Boucher
25 Darren Archibald (A) – 16 Brendan Gaunce – 15 Zack MacEwen
54 Jonathan Dahlen – 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)
39 Colton Saucerman – 8 Dylan Blujus
30 Thatcher Demko
31 Ivan Kulbakov, (backing up)
This first period was a bit of a sleeper as both teams looked to be shaking off their turkey hangovers. Don’t get me wrong, there was a bit of action, but the finish was lacking.
Zack MacEwen got the game off to a thud of a start with a heavy hit in the Devils zone while on the forecheck before we saw a flurry of whistles due to offside/icing calls.
Lukas Jasek continues to show well and he came up with a nifty steal in the Devils zone to set Reid Boucher up for a chance that was kicked aside by Devils netminder Cam Johnson. Evan McEneny followed up with a wrister that was soaked up for a whistle.
The hits kept coming as TheBigFella unloaded with another to keep the Devils on their toes. Keep those hits coming, Zack. Brendan Gaunce followed up with a wraparound attempt that was stifled by Johnson, but the Comets were putting on some pressure.
Colton Saucerman was back in today and he let fly with a point shot that was denied by Johnson before Jonathan Dahlen hit Tony Cameranesi for a chance in close that was kicked aside. Guillaume Brisebois followed up with a shot that was turned aside as well.
Brandon Baddock got the Devils first shot with 14:18 left when he came down the left side and unloaded a shot that Thatcher Demko gobbled up and held for the whistle. Demko followed up with another save, steering aside a shot from the right side.
Blake Speers was sent off for holding at the 7:12 mark and the Comets had a power play to work with. The first unit remained the same as last game with Jesse Graham replacing Evan McEneny on the left point.
MacEwen shovelled a shot on net early before we saw the second unit of Jasek, MacMaster, Gaunce, Archibald, and McEneny roll over the boards. Demko showed some nice puck handling skill when he hit Tanner MacMaster with a stretch pass, but the Comets would come up empty with the extra man.
Michael McLeod followed up with a chance for the Devils, but Demko was ready with the save, even while being mowed over by Nathan Bastian on the play.
Brisebois showed once again that he is not afraid to take pucks deep when he went on a foray into the Devils zone but there was no play to be found for him. Colton Saucerman followed up with a one-timer that was swallowed up by Johnson for a whistle. Dylan Blujus came right back with a one-timer of his own after the ensuing faceoff and saw his shot turned aside.
MacEwen followed up with a pass to Archibald for a shot that was denied before Cam Darcy got a partial break. He was unable to score but did manage to draw a penalty on Colton White as the defender was sent off for slashing on the play.
This power play saw Brisebois take the place of McEneny on the second unit. Dahlen hit Boucher with a pass for the one-timer, but Johnson got a glove on the offering. The Comets came up empty with the extra man.
Cam Darcy was whistled for tripping at the 19:03 mark and the Comets would finish the period a man down.
Utica showed a 15-5 advantage on the shot clock for the opening frame.
Just when you thought you couldn’t find a slower period of hockey than the opening frame of this one…the second periods tops it for a lack of action. We saw a total of 12 shots on net between the two clubs in the second period.
The Comets would manage to kill off the Tanner Kero infraction that carried over from the first period before Lukas Jasek was decked by Eric Gryba, leading to an interference call on the hulking defender. The Comets would get their turn with the extra man and would manage all of one shot on net. It was no dice with the man advantage once more.
We saw some back and forth before Saucerman fluffed up his beard and uncorked a shot that was denied by Johnson. Blake Speers came back down the left side with a shot that Demko was wise to and the Comets netminder had another save in the books.
Reid Boucher followed up with a shot from the high slot that was gloved down by Johnson. We had seen nearly half a period of hockey so far and just three shots between the two clubs.
Demko had to stretch out with the leg to make a save on a Devil in the slot before Brandon Gignac came back with a shot off the left side that was gobbled up by Thatcher.
Saucerman let fly with a shot through traffic that was steered aside by the stick of Johnson. Cameranesi followed up with a spin and fire play that was stopped and held for another whistle.
Tanner Kero was dinged for interference at the 16:02 mark to set off a chain reaction of Comets penalties. With Kero already in the box, Archibald and Gaunce broke in for a chance that saw Arch rip his shot wide before being whistled for interference as well. The Comets had a five-on-three to kill off.
Blake Pietila put a shot off the post and Demko followed up by stopping a shot from the left side. Carter Bancks came up with a big shot block before Demko was dinged for slashing after getting bumped. With Kero out of the box, the Comets had another five-on-three to kill off for 43 seconds.
Demko had to make a save and covered for a whistle with traffic in his face and that was that for a lacklustre middle frame of hockey from both clubs.
The shot clock showed the Devils with an 8-4 advantage for the second period.
Well, folks, the third period didn’t get a whole lot better, but at least it contained a goal and got us closer to the finish of this dog of a game from both clubs.
The Comets still had 14 seconds left to kill off from Demko’s penalty to finish the second period, and kill it off they did.
We saw some early back and forth before Kole Lind picked off a puck and hit Tanner MacMaster with a pass, but the young winger whiffed on his shot. Evan McEneny followed up with a shot that was swallowed up by Johnson for another save.
Guillaume Brisebois has been putting more shots on the net of late and he unloaded with one early in the third, forcing Johnson to whip out the mitt for yet another save.
Evan McEneny was sent off for slashing at the 4:31 mark and within 15 seconds we had a 1-0 game. John Ramage let fly with a point shot that eluded Demko for his sixth goal of the season, while Michael Kapla picked up his 11th helper of the year on the play and Brandon Gignac grabbed his 12th.
Brendan Gaunce followed up with a chance that was kicked out by Johnson before Darren Archibald mowed down Ryan Schmelzer in the Devils zone. The line of Lind, MacMaster, and Cameranesi followed up with another good shift in the offensive zone that ended with a Lind shot being shut down by Johnson.
Zack MacEwen hit Jesse Graham with a pass and the defender saw his shot kicked aside before Gaunce had a chance denied as well. Archibald followed up with a redirect that went wide before coming back moments later for another chance that was also turned aside.
Reid Boucher found some space in the left circle and unloaded with a shot that he put wide before Tony Cameranesi let fly with a shot out of the corner that Johnson turned aside. At the other end of the ice, Demko made back-to-back saves, sending the Comets the other way with the second.
With time running out on his team, Trent Cull summoned Demko to the bench with 1:26 remaining on the clock, sending Gaunce, Archibald, Kero, Boucher, MacEwen, and McEneny over the boards. Gaunce tipped a Kero offering, but Johnson was ready with the save before Kero made a diving save at the other end of the ice with an empty net. MacEwen sent a backhand pass into the crowd in front of the Devils net in the dying seconds, but no teammate was able to put it into the net.
Utica showed a 14-5 advantage in shots for the final frame and a 33-18 advantage for the game but fell 1-0.
The Three Stars in the building today were:
3rd Star: Thatcher Demko. 17 saves.
2nd Star: John Ramage. One goal.
1st Star: Cam Johnson. 33 save shutout.
CanucksArmy’s Three Stars:
3rd Star: Colton Saucerman. Okay, here’s the deal folks. Maybe it was just me, but this game was a dud. It can be pretty tough to pick three stars when nobody scores or does much to stand out in the game. I wasn’t overly impressed with any of the Comets today, so Saucerman gets the third star for being credited with five shots on goal and for being able to grow a mean set of red whiskers.
2nd Star: Darren Archibald. TheMayor was credited with four shots on net today and also caved in Ryan Schmelzer’s chest with a heavy, heavy hit in the offensive zone.
1st Star: Reid Boucher. Boucher was also credited with five shots on net today…that’s all I’ve got folks. Let’s hope for a better effort tomorrow in Syracuse.
At Syracuse Crunch
Friday, December 28th, 2018
7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific