Utica Comets Post-Game
At Syracuse Crunch
Friday, February 1st, 2019
7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific
— CanucksArmy (@CanucksArmy) February 1, 2019
Richard Bachman, (out for season) Olli Juolevi, (out for season) Ashton Sautner, (day-to-day) Jesse Graham, (week-to-week) Adam Gaudette, (illness, day-to-day) Jaime Sifers, (veteran limit scratch) Tanner MacMaster, Colton Saucerman, and Jonah Gadjovich.
Comets Starting Lines
54 Jonathan Dahlen – 16 Brendan Gaunce – 15 Zack MacEwen
20 Tom Pyatt – 10 Tanner Kero – 24 Reid Boucher (A)
34 Carter Bancks (C) – 21 Brendan Woods – 9 Lukas Jasek
18 Vincent Arseneau – 36 Wacey Hamilton (A) – 13 Kole Lind
2 Evan McEneny – 5 Jalen Chatfield
55 Guillaume Brisebois – 23 Luke Schenn
29 Cliff Watson – 8 Dylan Blujus
31 Ivan Kulbakov
49 Michael Leighton (backing up)
The first period saw four penalties called, all on Syracuse, but they would be the team who would be up 2-0 by the time the period came to a close.
Tanner Kero had an early chance kicked aside by Crunch netminder Connor Ingram and we had some back and forth hockey to follow. Vincent Arseneau saw his one-timer kicked out before Luke Schenn sent Reid Boucher back into the Crunch zone with a nice pass, but the winger lost control of the puck.
Brendan Woods got a piece of a point shot, but his tipped chance was also turned aside by Ingram. A brief scuffle ensued after the whistle and Kole Lind was able to draw a roughing penalty on Andy Andreoff. Lind has been bringing that belligerent, heavy style to his game of late and it’s a good look for him. You can see his confidence growing with each game.
With Andreoff in the box, we saw the first unit of Jonathan Dahlen, Tanner Kero, MacEwen, Reid Boucher, and Evan McEneny get down to work on the power play. Dahlen got a shot away that was kicked out before Ingram gloved down a McEneny offering. Dahlen followed up by stealing the puck near the Crunch net, spinning and firing another shot that was denied as well.
Guillaume Brisebois was out late in the power play with the second unit consisting of he, Lukas Jasek, Brendan Gaunce, Tom Pyatt, and Kole Lind. Brisebois had to get on his horse to beat Cory Conacher to a puck in the Comets zone before skating it back up the ice. The Comets came up empty.
They would be right back to the power play, however, as Lind was able to draw another penalty, this time on Taylor Raddysh for tripping as Kole was attempting a zone exit.
Zack MacEwen lost control of the puck and that led to a chance by Cameron Gaunce that Kulbakov turned aside. TheBigFella breathed a sigh of relief.
With just three seconds remaining in the Raddysh minor, Andy Andreoof was sent off for charging after making contact with Kulbakov behind the Comets net. From my view, it looked like Kulbakov was the one initiating contact with a bit of a nudge on Andreoff.
MacEwen hit Dahlen for a chance that was soaked up by Ingram before Boris Katchouk fired his shorthanded chance wide at the other end. Kulbakov had to come up with a shorthanded save on Conacher as well before this Comets power play was over. Once again. they came up empty.
Nolan Valleau, who spent time with the Comets on a PTO late last season, put his new team up 1-0 at the 12:03 mark when he put a shot in off of Jalen Chatfield for his second goal of the year. His first goal also came against the Comets. Carter Verhaeghe picked up his 29th helper of the year on the play, while Taylor Raddysh grabbed his 16th.
The Crunch kept it coming as Ben Thomas found himself wide open for a chance that Kulbakov denied before Wacey Hamilton unloaded with a stiff hit in the Syracuse end. Evan McEneny followed up with a shot that was steered aside by the blocker of Ingram before Valleau was sent off for holding.
We lost sound for a little over a minute during this power play but we saw Guillaume Brisebois get a shot away from the high slot that was deflected wide. The Comets were having a tough time getting anything going and we saw Carter Verhaeghe with a shorthanded chance that Kulbakov got a glove on. The Comets came up empty once more.
Vincent Arseneau and Brenden Wood broke in for a chance that saw Arseneau show a burst of speed before getting his shot off. Ingram swallowed it up for a whistle. Dylan Blujus followed up with a shot through traffic that was also denied.
Kole Lind was seen chatting it up with Andy Andreoff after another whistle and it was apparent that Lind was doing a fine job of getting under the veteran’s skin.
Jalen Chatfield has been known to play a heavy brand of hockey and he corked Brady Brassart with a solid hit before Dennis Yan put the Crunch up 2-0 with his 10th goal of the season. Valleau picked up his 11th helper of the year on the play, while Alex Volkov grabbed his 15th.
Brendan Woods followed up the goal with a big hit in the Crunch zone just before the period came to a close.
The Comets showed a 9-8 advantage on the shot clock for the opening frame.
Pee-Yew! This second period was a dud. We saw just 11 shots on goal between the two clubs and not many of them were of the exciting variety.
Carter Verhaeghe let fly with a shot from the high slot that Kulbakov knocked aside with his blocker before the parade of icing calls came.
Once all of that nonsense was over with, we saw Lukas Jasek showing some great awareness in the offensive zone, following the play with his head on a swivel until he picked off a turnover to create a scoring chance that he couldn’t get to go.
Andreoff and Verhaeghe wen the other way for a two-on-one and Kulbakov said, no.
Brendan Woods followed up with a shot from just inside the Syracuse blueline that was gloved down before a brief scrum broke out between Kero and Brady Brassart. Luke Schenn stepped in with some words and found himself feeling shame in the box after taking a roughing penalty.
We saw penalty killing units of Bancks, Hamilton, Blujus, and Chatfield, along with another of Gaunce, Woods, Brisebois, and McEneny. Woods set Gaunce free for a shorthanded chance that was denied before the forward duo of Kero and Boucher came over the boards to finish off a good kill.
Dylan Blujus took a puck off the inside of his hand and headed down the tunnel with the trainer. The trainer would return to the bench, but Blujus would not and the Comets were down to five defenders for the remainder of the game.
It was at about this time when the game really went flat, but we did see Luke Schenn impose his will with a pair of heavy hits before Kulbakov had to stretch out to come up with another blocker save. Both teams were playing sloppy and I was happy to see this period coming to a close.
Alex Volkov and Carter Bancks traded soft shots as the two goaltenders stopped their muffins before Kulbakov finished off the period with a series of saves in a scramble.
That was it for the middle frame, thankfully. The Crunch showed a 7-4 advantage on the shot clock.
If that second period was stinky, the third was flat out malodorous. Neither team looked like they were looking for a win in this one, although Syracuse had a comfortable lead to work with.
There was some early back and forth that went nowhere before Andy Andreoff, Alex Barre-Boulet, and Carter Verhaeghe took advantage of a Comets defensive zone breakdown and went up 3-0 at the 4:11 mark to make their lead even more comfortable.
It was Andreoff who finished off the passing play from Barre-Boulet and Verhaeghe. The goal was the 17th of the season for Andreoff, while Barre-Boulet grabbed his 19th helper of the year and Verhaeghe picked up his 30th. Have I mentioned before that I enjoy Verhaeghe’s game?
Vincent Arseneau has been known to turn the tide of a game with a well-timed hit and BigVinny was looking to do just that when he followed up the Syracuse goal by filling in Ben Thomas with a heavy hit in the offensive zone.
Kole Lind took Arseneau’s lead and had some words with Cameron Gaunce after the following whistle. Cooler heads would prevail before any shenanigans broke out, but it is nice to see Lind bringing that little bit of swagger and belligerence on the regular since coming back from his injury.
Brendan Woods put the Comets back on the penalty kill when he was dinged for a high-stick at the 7:19 mark. The Syracuse power play was uneventful and the Comets came away with a good kill.
Ivan Kulbakov was doing his job, trying to keep his team in this game when he stretched out a leg to cover the post and come up with a big save in tight. At the other end of the ice, Jalen Chatfield snuck his shot through a crowd, but Ingram was ready with another save to keep his shutout intact.
Trent Cull has pulled his goaltender early on occasion this season, as have many of his counterparts from other teams when they are down a few goals. Well, Cull summoned Kulbakov to the bench a touch earlier than normal with just over eight minutes remaining in the period.
With the extra attacker, Evan McEneny had a shot kicked out before setting up a Tanner Kero one-timer that was also turned aside.
Carter Verhaeghe salted this one away with his 21st goal of the season into the yawning cage. Andreoff picked up the lone assist for his 15th of the season.
With the Comets down 4-0, Kulbakov swallowed up a long shot and held for the whistle before Kole Lind got a shot away from the right side that was soaked up by Ingram. Taylor Raddysh went the other way for a partial break, but Guillaume Brisebois showed some great hustle on the backcheck to track him down and take the puck away.
Kulbakov kicked out a followup chance before coming up with another pair of saves in a scramble sequence as time wound down.
That was it for this one as the Crunch showed a 9-8 advantage in third-period shots and a 24-21 advantage for the game.
The Three Stars in the building today were:
3rd Star: Dennis Yan. One goal.
2nd Star: Connor Ingram. 21 save shutout.
1st Star: Andy Andreoff. One goal, one assist.
CanucksArmy’s Three Stars:
3rd Star: Luke Schenn. This was one of those games where I found myself struggling to name three stars for the Comets. When no player really stands out for scoring goals or making nifty plays, and the goaltender isn’t lights out it can be difficult to find the silver lining. Something that I did like today was the physical edge that Schenn brought. The man is large and he hits like a truck. He dished out a couple of bone-rattling hits in this one and showed poise in the Comets end during some otherwise scrambled play in the defensive zone. Schenn also showed the ability to deliver a nice breakout pass, and that could come in handy down the stretch when this team is looking to force their way into the playoffs.
2nd Star: Guillaume Brisebois. Schenn’s defensive partner since coming on board with the Comets has been Brisebois and the pair have quickly shown some chemistry. Brisebois seems to settle in a little more when he has a steady, veteran partner and he had another good game today with Schenn at his side. Brisebois has been eating minutes for the Comets this season and it is starting to show in his game. He showed some nice wheels and hockey sense on the backcheck today and saw time on both special teams. Brisebois is rounding out his game and is looking like a player who could be putting his name on the radar for a longer look in Vancouver by the second half of next season in a bottom pairing role.
1st Star: Kole Lind. This wasn’t Lind’s best game this year, but it was another good one for him and he did have some nice moments. He continues to show a nice battle level since returning from his injury and is showing no fear when it comes to getting into scrums with much larger players. Lind is bringing that part of his game that was seen in the WHL where he can get under the skin of his opponents, while also being able to make plays and create scoring chances with his linemates. I wouldn’t mind seeing what Lind could do if afforded some opportunity a little farther up the lineup now. Maybe moving Tom Pyatt to a different line and sliding Lind over to the left side for a few games on the flank of Tanner Kero and Reid Boucher might make some sense. I have been impressed with Lind’s compete level since returning from his injury, and maybe it’s time for him to get an audition with some more favourable linemates to see if he can kick his offensive game into gear.
At Springfield Thunderbirds
Saturday, February 2nd, 2019
7:05 pm Eastern/4:05 pm Pacific