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Photo Credit: Owen Skye | @designedbyowen

CanucksArmy Utica Comets Post-Game Report: Comets Close Out Weekend Series With 5-1 Win Over Cleveland

Utica Comets Post-Game Report

Game #39

At Cleveland Monsters

Sunday, January 6th, 2019

3:00 pm Eastern/12:00 noon Pacific

Pre-Game

Comets Scratches

Olli Juolevi, (out for season) Richard Bachman, (out for season) Jalen Chatfield, (month-to-month) Ashton Sautner, (indefinite) Brendan Woods, (indefinite) Dylan Blujus, (day-to-day) Jagger Dirk, Tanner MacMaster, Lukas Jasek, and Jonah Gadjovich.

Comets Starting Lines

34 Carter Bancks (C) – 36 Wacey Hamilton (A) – 15 Zack MacEwen

54 Jonathan Dahlen – 17 Adam Gaudette – 20 Tom Pyatt

16 Brendan Gaunce – 10 Tanner Kero – 24 Reid Boucher

18 Vincent Arseneau – 11 Cam Darcy – 13 Kole Lind

2 Evan McEneny – 64 Jesse Graham

55 Guillaume Brisebois – 26 Jaime Sifers (A)

38 Craig Wyszomirski – 39 Colton Saucerman

31 Ivan Kulbakov

33 Alex Sakellaropoulos (backing up)

First Period

We had another pretty solid first period of action today between the Comets and Monsters. As you can see from the above, the coaching staff elected to stick with the lineup that handily beat the Monsters 6-2 yesterday.

Zack MacEwen and Wacey Hamilton broke in for an early two-on-one, but MacEwen had his chance foiled by a sliding defender. The line of Jonathan Dahlen, Adam Gaudette, and Tom Pyatt followed up with a Dahlen one-timer that was soaked up by netminder Brad Thiessen for a whistle.

The line of Vincent Arseneau, Cam Darcy, and Kole Lind did some damage yesterday and they were looking to keep that up with some early pressure in the Monsters zone with a heavy forechecking shift.

The line of Brendan Gaunce, Tanner Kero, and Reid Boucher also had a solid first shift as Kero hit Gaunce for a one-timer that was put off target.

In the Comets end, the Monsters didn’t have much to work with as the Utica group were keeping them to the outside. Newcomer Craig Wyszomirki is a rather large fellow at six-foot-four and tipping the scales in the 230lbs range and he made sure to make Ryan MacInnes feel it with a big hit behind the Comets net.

The Comets were showing well early.

Remember that line of Arseneau, Darcy, and Lind? Well, they were the group to open the scoring today when Lind set Darcy up with a nice feed and the pivot did the rest, beating Thiessen for his sixth goal of the season. Lind earned his sixth helper of the year on the play and third of the weekend.

Goaltender Thiessen followed up the goal by steering aside a chance from the left side before the Darcy line climbed over the boards for another great shift.

Ivan Kulbaklov is a lot of fun to watch, although I’d imagine he gives his coaching staff fits with his sprawling style. He plays a high risk, high reward type of game and he showed up with another sprawling save in this one to keep his club up by a goal.

The tandem of Colton Saucerman and Craig Wyszomirski were hemmed in their own end for a shift before Kulbakov got a glove on an opportunistic shot.

Kole Sherwood stepped up and levelled Zack MacEwen as he came over the Monsters blueline with a dangerous hit that saw TheBigFella stay down for a few scary moments before heading off the ice under his own power. He went to the room but would return before the resulting power play was over.

Sherwood was assessed with a five minute major for a check to the head as well as a match penalty. His day was done and I would expect to see a suspension to follow.

With the Comets on the power play, Kulbakov had to glove down a shorthanded chance before Tanner Kero buried a Brendan Gaunce feed for his 11th goal of the season. Gaunce picked up his 10th helper of the year on the play, while Reid Boucher grabbed his 15th.

Sonny Milano came back with a shorthanded chance that was denied by a Kulbakov glove before Thiessen had to make back-to-back saves at the other end. The period finished up with MacEwen dancing in for a chance that was denied before Cam Darcy hit Tom Pyatt for a chance that was turned aside as well.

The Comets finished the opening frame with an 11-8 lead on the shot clock.

Second Period

The second period got off to a slow start as we saw a lot of whistles early. Kole Lind showed a smart stick to pick off a play along the boards in the offensive zone as he continues to show well on that side of the puck.

MacEwen was dinged with a hooking penalty at the 3:42 mark and the Comets were onto the kill. Kulbakov came up with an early save before Gaunce let fly with a shorthanded shot off the left side that was turned aside by Thiessen.

Kulbakov shut down an Alex Broadhurst one-timer, along with the rebound chance that followed before Zac Dalpe beat him for his 15th goal of the season. Justin Scott picked up his third helper of the year on the play, while Broadhurst earned his 15th. The Monsters were within a goal.

The Comets young netminder came up with another save before we saw BigVinny accept a pass from Tom Pyatt and blow down the right side before cutting to the net and putting his shot upstairs, where Norman keeps his mother. That makes five goals for Arseneau this year. His previous AHL high was one. Pyatt picked up his third assist since joining the club for yesterday’s game, while fellow newcomer, Craig Wyszomirski picked up his first helper of the year.

Kulbakov followed up with a save off the rush before juggling a long shot with his glove and keeping it out.

I have been somewhat outspoken on Twitter and in some of my radio spots when it comes to Jonathan Dahlen and his inconsistent game. Today he was showing better, getting back hard on the backcheck before heading back the other way and pulling off a nifty kick-pass to Adam Gaudette. Dahlen has gobs of skill oozing from his pores and if he can put it all together with a consistent effort in all three zones from start to finish in games, he will be deadly.

Vincent Arseneau isn’t about the skill and the flash, though you might not know it from his goal today. No, this man is all about bringing the energy and that comes largely from stapling opposing players to the boards. BigVinny dished out a pair of heavy hits before Thiessen was forced to come with big saves on Boucher’s wraparound attempt along with the Brendan Gaunce rebound chance that followed.

Wacey Hamilton was whistled for hooking at the 12:17 mark and the Comets had another penalty to kill. Brisebois came up with a nice shot block before Kulbakov stopped a wrister through traffic and the Comets had another good kill.

Evan McEneny has been having a solid season for the Comets offensively, but he does good things on the other side of the puck as well and he showed a good stick to break up a play in the defensive zone.

Kulbakov had to stop and cover up a bouncer before MacEwen let fly with a shot off the left side that Thiessen got a piece of.

Colton Saucerman has quietly been having a decent run with the Comets. He does solid work in his own end, especially in board battles, but he would put his club a man down at the 17:24 mark when he was whistled for hooking.

The Comets were a little over a minute into their penalty kill when Tom Pyatt was dinged for a hooking penalty of his own and the Comets were down two men. Kulbakov made a save on Justin Scott before the period came to a close with the Saucerman penalty killed off and roughly 35 seconds remaining in the Pyatt minor to kill off in the third.

Cleveland held a favourable advantage on the shot clock for the middle frame, outshooting the Comets 19-7.

Third Period

The Comets managed to kill off the remainder of the Pyatt minor to get the final frame off to a good start.

Kulbakov made a couple of early saves before Tanner Kero banged in his second of the game and 12th of the season after tipping a Colton Saucerman offering past Thiessen. It was the second assist of the year, and in as many games for Saucerman.

We were 2:31 into the final frame and the Comets were up 4-1. Utica kept it coming as Cam Darcy forced Thiessen into a save before Zack MacEwen did the same. Jonathan Dahlen set Adam Gaudette up with a nice feed, only to have the puck go up on edge and see Gaudette send it out of play.

At the other end of the ice, Kulbakov made a save and covered up for a whistle with a crowd forming before getting a shoulder on a Mark Letestu chance and smothering it for another whistle.

Wacey Hamilton has proven to be a faceoff machine for the Comets, but the grizzled vet was sent off for a faceoff violation at the 5:28 mark and the Comets had another penalty to kill.

TheBigFella came up with a nice takeaway in the defensive zone before sending the puck down the ice and out of harm’s way. Kulbakov followed up by gloving down a Letestu shot before Brendan Gaunce blocked a shot and went the other way with a shot that was denied by Thiessen. The Comets had another good kill.

Lind came right back with another chance off the right side that Thiessen got a limb on and we had some more back and forth between the two clubs.

Vitaly Abramov came up with a slick move to hit a scoring lane, only to have Kulbakov shut the door on him. Justin Scott tried his luck with a backhander and was also rebuffed by the Comets current number one goaltender as well.

At the other end of the ice, Jesse Graham fired a shot through traffic from the high slot that was denied before Arseneau was felled by a heavy shot in the Comets zone and he hobbled to the bench. We had more back and forth as Gaunce had a long shot from the high slot denied before Kulbakov gloved down another for the Comets.

The Monsters kept coming as the speedy Nathan Gerbe broke down the left side for a chance, only to have Zack MacEwen get on his horse with a fierce backcheck to angle him off to the boards and negate his opportunity.

Kole Lind was sent off for holding at the 14:38 mark and it was back to the kill for Utica.

When you watch a Comets penalty kill and pay attention to Guillaume Brisebois and Jaime Sifers, it becomes apparent that the pair are the coaching staff’s most trusted defenders who are currently able to suit up. It seems as if either one or the other…or both spend nearly the entirety of every kill on the ice.

Sifers came up with a big shot block that dropped him like a rock, but the steady vet got back up and was ready for more.

The Monsters summoned Thiessen to the bench with about 3:40 left in the period and Taner Kero salted the game away with a shorthanded, empty-net goal to complete his first career AHL hat trick. The goal was the pivot’s 13th of the season, while Reid Boucher picked up his 16th helper of the year on the play. Evan McEneny picked up the secondary assist for his 13th of the season.

The Comets came up with a good kill before Abramov unloaded with a shot from the left side and Kulbakov whipped out the mitt for the save. Just for good measure, the netminder pointed out to Abramov that the puck was in his glove. The kid has some swagger after a pair of back-to-back solid efforts. He will need that swagger if he has to shoulder the load in Utica for any length of time.

The Monsters pressed late before Kole Lind unloaded with a clapper from just inside the Cleveland blueline to end the game with another save from Thiessen. That was it for this one.

The Monsters showed a 14-9 advantage on the shot clock for the final frame and a 41-27 advantage for the game. It was a solid weekend of work for the Comets as they took both halves of the back-to-back games in Cleveland to start their mini road trip off right.

Today’s Official Boxscore

Comets Goals

Darcy (6) from Lind (6).

Kero (11) from Gaunce (10) and Boucher (15). PP goal.

Arseneau (5) from Pyatt (3) and Wyszomirski (1).

Kero (12) from Saucerman (2).

Kero (13) from Boucher (16) and McEneny (13). Empty net, shorthanded goal.

The Three Stars in the building today were:

3rd Star: Reid Boucher. Two assists.

2nd Star: Ivan Kulbakov. 40 saves.

1st Star: Tanner Kero. Three goals.

CanucksArmy’s Three Stars:

3rd Star: Kole Lind/Vincent Arseneau/Brendan Gaunce/Tom Pyatt/Colton Saucerman. All of the players listed picked up points in both games over the weekend and contributed to a successful start to this three-game mini road trip. Lind had three helpers, Arseneau had three goals, Pyatt had three assists, Gaunce had three helpers, and Saucerman had a pair. The Comets will need to keep getting these types of efforts in order to climb the standings and make the playoffs.

2nd Star: Ivan Kulbakov. Kulbakov made 28 saves yesterday and another 40 today, giving him 68 saves on 71 shots this weekend. Those 40 saves from today represent an AHL career high for the young netminder. Kulbakov will have to continue with his strong play at least until the Canucks can acquire another goaltender or claim Mike McKenna back, should the Flyers waive him when they get healthy.

1st Star: Taner Kero. Kero picked up a hat trick today, the first of his AHL career and did solid work on the penalty kill when called upon as well. The Comets number one pivot now has 13 goals and 18 helpers and has once again wrestled spot number two in the Comets scoring race from Zack MacEwen. Kero is now up to 31 points in 39 games. He has yet to miss a game for the Comets and is now on pace for a career high 25 goals and 35 helpers, which would give him 60 points on the season. The trade of Michael Chaput for Kero has turned out to be a good one by the Canucks for their farm club.

Next Game

Game #40

At Toronto Marlies

Wednesday, January, 9th, 2019

7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific