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Photo Credit: Owen Skye | @designedbyowen

CanucksArmy Utica Comets Post-Game: Utica Comets Fall 4-3 To Bridgeport In Overtime

Utica Comets Post-Game

Game #41

Vs Bridgeport Sound Tigers

Friday, January 11th, 2019

7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific

Pre-Game

 

Comets Scratches

Richard Bachman, (out for season) Olli Juolevi, (out for regular season) Jalen Chatfield, (month-to-month) Ashton Sautner, (month-to-month) Brendan Woods, (indefinite) Jagger Dirk, Jesse Graham, Tanner MacMaster, and Vincent Arseneau.

Starting Lines

20 Tom Pyatt – 10 Tanner Kero – 24 Reid Boucher

54 Jonathan Dahlen – 16 Brendan Gaunce – 15 Zack MacEwen

34 Carter Bancks (C) – 36 Wacey Hamilton (A) – 13 Kole Lind

22 Jonah Gadjovich – 11 Cam Darcy – 9 Lukas Jasek

55 Guillaume Brisebois – 26 Jaime Sifers (A)

2 Evan McEneny – 8 Dylan Blujus

29 Cliff Watson – 39 Colton Saucerman

31 Ivan Kulbakov

33 Alex Sakellaropoulos

First Period

We saw a pretty solid first period of action as the two clubs had some good back and forth in the opening frame. Ivan Kulbakov soaked up and early shot from Parker Wotherspoon and held for a whistle.

The Sound Tigers didn’t take long to make their mark as we saw Kulbakov beaten by another strange one as Chris Casto floated a shot on net from the blueline that somehow eluded the netminder for his first goal of the season. Josh Ho-Sang picked up his 21st helper of the year on the play, while Travis St. Denis earned his 11th.

There was some back and forth before Jaime Sifers sent a shot on the Bridgeport net from the blueline that was denied by netminder Jeremy Smith.

The Hamilton line came hard with a good shift in the offensive zone for the Comets, drawing a hooking penalty on Kieffer Bellows at the 5:15 mark and the Comets had a power play to work with.

We saw a unit of Evan McEneny, Reid Boucher, Jonathan Dahlen, Tanner Kero, and Zack MacEwen, along with the second unit of Kole Lind, Lukas Jasek, Brendan Gaunce, Tom Pyatt, and Guillaume Brisebois. Boucher had a shot denied, as did MacEwen on his rebound attempt for the first unit. Brisebois had a shot redirected off the pad of Smith and the Comets came up empty.

Jonah Gadjovich was sent out with Carter Bancks and Wacey Hamilton after the power play and the young winger was flat out robbed by Smith on back-to-back chances. Gadjovich went hard to the net with a shot and pounced on his own rebound and was denied on both chances.

Ivan Kulbakov can be an adventure in net, and he showed that wild side when he came charging out to the boards and played the puck before backpedalling to his crease. I bet he gives his coaches fits, but he sure is fun to watch.

We saw some back and forth as Smith made a save at one end before Kulbakov kicked out a chance at the other and followed up by gloving down a Ben Holmstrom offering.

Jonah Gadjovich and Lukas Jasek were playing on a line together today and Gadjovich hit his fellow rookie with a pass for a backhanded chance that was denied by Smith. The kids were getting some chances in the opening frame.

Tanner Kero tried to stuff one in from the side of the net, with no luck before we saw Kulbakov with some active puck play at the other end again. The Sound Tigers poured on some pressure in the Comets end before Gadjovich was sprung for a “break” but put his shot wide. I have the word break in quotation marks because the young winger was at the end of a long shift and had a tough time separating himself from the Bridgeport defender for a better opportunity.

Kyle Burroughs was dinged for hooking at the 15:39 mark and the Comets had another power play to work with. Pyatt got a shot away from the left circle that was kicked aside before all three of Blujus, Dahlen, and Kero were stymied by Smith after a flurry of shots.

The Hamilton line came with some late pressure before Wacey was sent off for interference at the 18:43 mark. The Comets sent MacEwen and Gaunce over the boards first, along with Brisebois and Sifers to kill the penalty. Bancks and Pyatt followed up.

Kulbakov made late saves on Tanner Fritz and Chris Bourque and the Comets would head to the second period down a man and a goal.

Utica showed an 11-7 advantage in shots for the opening frame.

Second Period

The second period didn’t flow as well as the first, but we did see some decent action. The Comets would kill off the remainder of the Hamilton penalty before Reid Boucher put his club down a man again right away at the 1:11 mark.

Wacey Hamilton is a heck of a penalty killer, but even he would tell you that it wouldn’t get any easier than this when it came to his first goal of the season. Netminder Smith mishandled the puck in his own end and gave it right to Wacey for a shorthanded marker.

The Comets nearly made it a pair of shorties on the same power play when Brendan Gaunce and Carter Bancks broke in for an odd-man rush that saw Bancks have his chance denied as well the Gaunce chance that followed. The Comets would come up with a good kill.

We saw some back and forth before Kulbakov gloved down a Parker Wotherspoon chance and held for the whistle. Wotherspoon would soon be sent off for delay of game when he cleared the puck out of play.

Reid Boucher had a one-timer from the top of the right circle soaked up by Smith before Dahlen had a chance denied as well. The Comets came up empty again.

They did put on the pressure after their PP expired that saw Smith have to scramble to come up with a save before Brisebois had his point shot denied as well.

The Hamilton line came back with more pressure, as is their way, and saw Kole Lind get robbed by the blocker of Smith. That first goal is coming for Kole, you can smell it all the way from Shaunavon Saskatchewan.

Gaunce followed up with a long shot that was steered away by the stick of Smith before the forward was sent off for interference at the 10:17 mark. The Comets had another penalty to kill.

Tanner Fritz would make Gaunce feel shame when he beat Kulbakov for his sixth goal of the campaign for a power play marker. Mitchell Vande Sompel earned his 13th helper of the year on the play, while Chris Bourque picked up his 17th.

Guillaume Brisebois plays a ton of minutes on the Utica penalty kill, but they would have to handle this one without him as the young defender was sent off for tripping at the 13:33 mark.

Dylan Blujus came up with a shot block before Kulbakov shut down a Vande Sompel point shot through traffic.

Brendan Gaunce has been a ridiculously good penalty killer for the Comets this year, seemingly getting shorthanded opportunities every game. He and MacEwen broke in for a shorthanded chance on this one that nearly connected before Kulbakov swallowed up a St. Denis chance at the other end and held for the whistle.

My AHLTV stream lost sound for a couple of minutes and during that time we saw Kulbakov whip out the mitt for a saucy save before Dylan Blujus was hit up high by something and stayed down momentarily before heading off under his own power.

Kole Lind was dinged for roughing at the 17:30 mark and the Comets had another late penalty to kill. Kulbakov made a sharp save on a redirected shot before Lind came out of the box.

Brendan Gaunce hit Tom Pyatt with a sweet pass after some even sweeter hustle to tie the game at two. For Pyatt it was his first goal with the Comets and for Gaunce it was assist number 11 of the season.

There was a scrum after the buzzer that led to Parker Wotherspoon and Wacey Hamilton taking offsetting roughing penalties.

Bridgeport showed a 12-10 advantage in shots for the middle frame.

Third Period

With the game tied at two and the teams playing at four aside to open the period, we saw the Comets looking to go up a goal early when Gaunce and McEneny both had chances denied. MacEwen followed up by hitting Brisebois with a nifty feed for a chance that was turned aside. TheBigFella came back with a rebound chance that was put high.

There was some good back and forth before Jonah Gadjovich had another chance from in close turned aside.

Guillaume Brisebois has been eating minutes on the Comets blueline like they are his favourite snack food this season. The young blueliner continues to take on more work and he showed some good defensive awareness and a great stick to force a turnover in the defensive zone before sending the Comets the other way.

Ryan Hitchcock let fly with a shot from in close, only to see Kulbakov flash the leather to stymie him. Chris Bourque came right back with another shot from the left side and Kulbakov soaked it up for another whistle before gloving down another long shot through traffic and holding again.

The Comets were looking like the 80’s Oilers when the trio of Dahlen, Gaunce and MacEwen hooked up for some tic-tac-toe, only to see MacEwen’s chance not go.

Travis St. Denis was dinged for hooking at the 10:48 mark and it was back to the power play for Utica. Boucher unloaded a wrister from the right circle that was gobbled up before TheBigFella put the Comets up 3-2 with his 15th goal of the season.

Jonatha Dahlen did some nice work to find MacEwen in his office in front of the net and Zack used those silky mitts to rip his shot home. Dahlen earned his 11th assist of the season on the play, while Evan McEneny picked up his 14th on the power play marker.

Less than a minute later, Wacey Hamilton made his third trip to the penalty box, this time for a high-stick that caused some leakage, leading to a four-minute double minor. The Comets did great work early before Otto Koivula ripped a shot on net that Kulbakov got a blocker on.

Jaime Sifers would come up with a shot block, as he is known to do before Yannick Rathgeb scored his third of the year to even the game at three. Ho-Sang picked up his 22nd helper of the year on the play, while former Canuck, Steve Bernier grabbed his seventh.

Bernier also earned an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after the play, sending his team back to the kill. Connor Jones compounded matters for the Sound Tigers when he was dinged for goaltender interference 33-seconds later. The Comets had a five-on-three man advantage to work with.

Boucher brought two scoring chances early, first putting one off the glove of Smith before being denied on a shot from a tough angle as well. The Comets came up empty.

Wacey Hamilton nearly put his team back up a goal when he swiped the puck from a Sound Tiger at the offensive blueline and came in for a shot from the left side that was soaked up by Smith for a whistle. Evan McEneny followed up with a shot off the blocker of Smith before Gaunce pulled off some janky dance moves to get through a crowd, getting off a shot that wasn’t as strong as he would have liked and Smith had another save.

That was it for the third period. This one would need the extra frame. Utica showed a 10-7 advantage in shots for the third period.

Overtime

We saw Trent Cull roll Boucher, Kero, and Brisebois over the boards as his first trio and Guillaume Brisebois showed some great hustle to break up a Sound Tigers rush before Smith was forced into a save at the other end.

MacEwen, Gaunce, and McEneny were next up and Gaunce took a MacEwen feed for a shot that was soaked up by Smith. McEneny followed up with some nice physical pressure in his own end to take the puck away from a Bridgeport player.

Dahlen, Pyatt, and Blujus were up next and we saw Blujus walk in for a chance that was denied. The Kero group came back out and the pivot had a backhander kicked aside.

Kulbakov made a pair of huge saves that would make any grown man cringe with the way he did the splits before soaking up another chance from Tanner Fritz.

Parker Wotherspoon broke the hearts of the hometown crowd when he beat Kulbakov to end it with less than 40 seconds remaining in the game. The goal was the fifth of the season for Wotherspoon, while Fritz picked up his 15th assist of the year on the play.

That was it for this one as the Comets picked up a point, but failed to make it two.

The Sound Tigers showed a 5-3 advantage in shots for the extra frame.

Today’s Official Boxscore

Today’s Comets Goals:

Hamilton (1). Unassisted.

Pyatt (1) from Gaunce (11).

MacEwen (15) from Dahlen (11) and McEneny (14). Power Play goal.

The Three Stars in the building today were:

3rd Star: Tom Pyatt. One goal.

2nd Star: Wacey Hamilton. One goal.

1st Star: Parker Wotherspoon. One goal, overtime winner.

CanucksArmy’s Three Stars:

3rd Star: Jonah Gadjovich. Gadjovich had a pretty strong game today. He showed well in a lower line role again, putting three shots on the net and creating some chances for himself and his linemates. You can see that Gadjovich knows where he needs to be on the ice, he just needs to get there a little more quickly at times. He brought a strong effort today for the Comets.

2nd Star: Brendan Gaunce. Gaunce brought it again today. He picked up another point with an assist after a great effort and put five shots on goal. Gaunce is a machine on the penalty kill, often creating shorthanded scoring chances and converting on a few of them. He now has 22 points in 25 games for the Comets and looks like a guy who is pushing to make his way back to the big club.

1st Star: Zack MacEwen. TheBigFella scored a nice power play goal today, showing how hard he can be to handle in the net-front area. He has silky mitts and has shown a knack for getting pucks away quickly while in tight. He is up to 15 goals and 15 assists now and sits just three points back of his career high of 33 points that he put up in his 66 game rookie season. He was a little flat-footed on the game-winner tonight, but I thought he played well overall today.

Next Game

Game #42

Vs Syracuse Crunch

Saturday, January 12th, 2019

7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific.