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CanucksArmy Utica Comets Post-Game: Comets Come Away With 4-2 Win Over Syracuse

Utica Comets Post-Game Report

Game #37

Vs Syracuse Crunch

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2019

7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific

I thought that I would shake things up a little bit and start doing separate pre-game and post-game reports rather than lumping both into the post-game for the new year. I will still include a link to the pre-game portion at the start of each post-game report, but it should allow for many of you who would prefer a shorter post-game the opportunity to skip right to the game.

Pre-Game

The Vancouver Canucks also pulled off a trade today that might look minor at first blush, but it will have deeper implications when it comes to the roster in Utica.

Comets Scratches

Oli Juolevi, (out for regular season) Jalen Chatfield, (month-to-month) Ashton Sautner, (indefinite) Richard Bachman, (out for season) Brendan Woods, (indefinite) Tanner MacMaster, (day-to-day) Dylan Blujus, (day-to-day) Jonah Gadjovich, Craig Wyszomirski, and Tom Pyatt, (in transit).

Comets Starting Lines

16 Brendan Gaunce – 10 Tanner Kero – 24 Reid Boucher

54 Jonathan Dahlen – 17 Adam Gaudette – 15 Zack MacEwen

18 Vincent Arseneau- 11 Cam Darcy – 13 Kole Lind

9 Lukas Jasek – 36 Wacey Hamilton (A) – 34 Carter Bancks (C)

55 Guillaume Brisebois – 26 Jaime Sifers (A)

2 Evan McEneny – 64 Jesse Graham

4 Jagger Dirk – 39 Colton Saucerman

30 Thatcher Demko

31 Ivan Kulbakov (backing up)

First Period

The Comets came out with a good opening period of action in this one as we saw some early back and forth before Utica started to take the play to the Crunch for a good portion of the period.

Wacey Hamilton got things started with a wraparound attempt that was foiled by netminder Eddie Pasquale before Tanner Kero and Reid Boucher came back with a pair of chances that were also denied. There was a pile of whistles early, but this one would eventually get going.

Lukas Jasek had a long shot turned aside before Thatcher Demko shut down a Cory Conacher chance and followed up with yet another save with his mask. This has become a regular thing this season for Thatcher. I hope that bucket that he wears is a good one.

Brendan Gaunce was whistled for roughing at the 7:57 mark and the Comets had a penalty to kill. We saw the vaunted unit of Bancks and Hamilton up front, followed by Boucher and Kero before Gaunce and MacEwen made their appearance to wrap things up. Boucher picked off a pass to come up with a clear before Demko made a pair of saves in tight and the Comets had a good kill.

Demko followed up with a save on Slater Koekkoek before denying a Carter Verhaeghe offering from the left side. I have often felt that Verhaeghe could be a guy who would interest Jim Benning as a change of scenery project. 

Jagger Dirk plays a quiet, simple game and he kept that up with a nice play to grab the puck out of a scrum and send it out of his own end for a clear. That clear eventually led to an Adam Gaudette chance in close that was denied before Evan McEneny busted out the moves with a sweet toe drag around a Syracuse defender for another shot that was turned aside by Pasquale.

The Comets were putting on some pressure when we saw Gaudette with a nice read to force a turnover in the Crunch zone before Andy Andreoff came back the other way with a shot off the rush that Demko got a piece of.

Evan McEneny was sent off for hooking at the 17:53 mark and the Comets had another penalty to kill. The Comets were doing great work to keep the Crunch to the outside before Demko made an alert save through traffic to keep his team in it.

Thatcher followed up with a sprawling save on Andreoff from in close before TheBigFella sent Reid Boucher the other way for a break.

Boucher whipped out the moves and beat Pasquale for his 17th goal of the season just as the McEneny penalty expired. Zack MacEwen picked up his 15th helper of the year on the play.

That was it for the opening frame as the Comets showed a 10-8 advantage on the shot clock.

Second Period

The Comets had some good early pressure again before Andy Andreoff had a chance denied by Demko. Lukas Jasek went the other way with Wacey Hamilton and hit him with a cross-ice feed, only to see Hamilton put his shot off the mark.

Goaltender Pasquale came up with another stop on a long shot and held for the whistle before Thatcher Demko made a save of his own at the other end, kicking out a chance from in close.

Adam Gaudette was whistled for hooking at the 4:08 mark and the Comets had another penalty to kill. We saw Guillaume Brisebois come up with a shot block before Wacey Hamilton cleared the puck out of the zone. Reid Boucher had another shorthanded chance that was thwarted by Pasquale and the Comets had another good kill.

Demko fought off another Slater Koekkoek offering before Colton Saucerman was dinged for a cross-check and it was right back to the kill for Utica.

Demko soaked up a Cameron Gaunce offering from the high slot before shutting down a Carter Verhaeghe chance off the left side.

Thatcher wouldn’t stop all of them, however, as Alex Barre-Boulet grabbed his 15th goal of the season when he beat Demko for a power play marker to tie the game at one. Cory Conacher picked up his 23rd helper of the season on the play, while Gaunce earned his 18th.

Just under a minute later, it was the Comets turn with the man advantage when Ben Thomas was sent off for a slashing infraction. Boucher let fly with a wrister that Pasquale got a glove on before Tanner Kero saw his tip-in chance denied as well. Lukas Jasek followed up with a good stick to keep the puck in the offensive zone, but the Comets would come up empty once more.

Kole Lind had a chance denied by Pasquale before Demko soaked up a shot through traffic in the Comets end. We had some solid back and forth in this game. Conacher had a backhander denied by Demko before Thatcher followed up by gloving down a wrister from far out.

Wacey Hamilton hasn’t missed a beat since making his season debut 36 games into the season and he was showing good energy again today. Hamilton tried to spin and fire a shot from in close but put his chance off the side of the net.

Demko followed up with a flurry of saves, including another one with his mask before Slater Koekkoek came calling with another shot that was denied. Alexander Volkov was whistled for hooking at the 19:25 mark and the Crunch would finish the period down a man.

Reid Boucher had a chance gloved down and the period would come to a close with the Crunch showing a 17-7 advantage on the shot clock.

Third Period

The Comets still had 1:25 to work with on the power play to open the period before Boucher was dinged for…you guessed it, hooking, at the 0.58-second mark. I’m not sure if the AHL sent out a memo ahead of the game offering a plate of chicken riggies to the officiating crew who dished out the most hooking calls today, but the crew in Utica would have won that contest, hands down.

With Boucher in the box, we had 51 seconds of four aside play that saw Demko whip out the blocker on a Boris Katchouk chance before the Crunch had 45 seconds of power play time to work with. Demko kept his blocker busy as he used it to turn aside a Verhaeghe chance and the Comets had another good kill.

Demko steered aside a shot in the Comets end that led to the trio of Gaudette, Dahlen, and MacEwen going the other way for a chance that was denied. Alex Volkov was headed back to the box at the 4:08 mark and the Comets had another power play to work with.

Dahlen had a one-timer denied by Pasquale, who followed up with another save on a Tanner Kero chance. The Comets kept it coming as Pasquale had to make another save before we saw MacEwen skate out of the corner wearing a defender like a jersey and get a shot off that was denied. Gaunce followed up by putting a shot off of Pasquale’s lid.

Jesse Graham put the Comets up 2-1 at the 5:59 mark, picking up his second goal of the season in the process when he leaned into a point shot that beat Pasquale. Brendan Gaunce earned the lone assist for his eighth of the season.

Taylor Raddysh was sent off for tripping less than a minute later and it was back to the man advantage for the Comets. Things got a little dicey at this point as Guillaume Brisebois lost the puck at the offensive blueline and had to chase down the speedy Cory Conacher who was coming in hot on Demko with a scoring chance. Brisebois got on his horse and closed the gap, causing the official to point to center-ice as if indicating a penalty shot for the former Comet. After much confusion, it was decided that Brisebois would have to feel shame in the box for two minutes or less instead.

With Brisebois and Raddysh both in the box, we had some four aside action and that’s all that Evan McEneny needed to put the Comets up 3-1. McEneny broke in, split the Syracuse defence and scored his fourth goal of the season. Tanner Kero picked up the only assist for his 18th of the year.

Colton Saucerman was looking to make it 4-1 when he let fly with a long shot that was soaked up, leading to a brief scrum at the side of the net that featured Adam Gaudette.

Nolan Valleau was sent off for cross-checking at the 10:32 mark and it was back to the power play for the Comets. Zack MacEwen looked every bit the hockey player when he had two chances denied from in close before emerging helmetless from a scum.

Gaudette had a one-timer turned aside before Gaunce had a backhander denied from in close as well. The Comets came up empty.

Time was running out on the Crunch, but they weren’t going down without a fight. Eddie Pasquale was summoned to the bench with about 3:15 remaining in the period and eight seconds later, the Crunch called their timeout. Evan McEneny was whistled for a cross-check at the 18:31 mark and the Comets would have to close this one out shorthanded.

It took Cory Conacher just six seconds to pull his team to within a goal when he beat Demko for his 13th of the season, hammering the puck home from the right circle. Cameron Gaunce picked up his 19th assist of the season on the play, while Carter Verhaeghe earned his 23rd.

Jaime Sifers had to come up with a huge shot block late that led to a Brendan Gaunce empty-net goal with just two seconds remaining to close this one out. The goal was the 10th of the season for Gaunce, while Boucher picked up his 14th assist of the year and Thatcher Demko was credited with his first. Thatcher was credited with an assist last game as well so that one must have been taken away from him.

Gaunce was assessed with a 10-minute misconduct for “abuse of officials” immediately following his goal. I’m not sure what was said, but clearly, it was enough to warrant an early shower as far as the officials were concerned.

That was it for this one as the Comets came away with a 4-2 victory and their second win in as many games. Utica showed a 14-8 advantage in shots for the final frame, while the Crunch had a 33-31 advantage for the game.

Today’s Official Boxscore

The Three Stars in the building today were:

3rd Star: Reid Boucher. One goal, one assist.

2nd Star: Jesse Graham. One goal.

1st Star: Thatcher Demko. 31 saves.

CanucksArmy’s Three Stars:

3rd Star: Darren Archibald. TheMayor did not play today, as he is no longer a Utica Comets player, but he is getting all three stars today for his years of service to the club. Star number three comes for, “The Hit.” If you don’t know which hit I am talking about, do you even Comet? I am talking, of course, about the hit that Archibald delivered on Carl Stollery that saw the man do a full 360 in the air before crumpling to the ice in a heap.

2nd Star: Darren Archibald. Archibald leaves the Comets as the club’s leading goal scorer with 75 goals in 304 games as a Utica Comet. That is a mark that could stand for a while in Utica if Reid Boucher doesn’t happen to come back next season. Archibald came a long way from an undrafted player to one who holds a franchise lead for goals scored in the AHL.

1st Star: Darren Archibald. As mentioned above, Archibald has played 304 games in Utica, which is also a franchise record. Arch also managed to get into 52 NHL games with the Vancouver Canucks, scoring six goals and eight helpers for 14 points. Once again, that is a pretty nice achievement for a player who took Archibald’s path as a pro hockey player. He has been an exemplary player for young Canucks prospects to look up to and try to emulate as far as work ethic and drive. The Comets will miss what the big man brought, game-in and game out.

Next Game

Game #38

At Cleveland Monsters

Saturday, January, 5th, 2019

1:00 pm Eastern/10:00 am Pacific