Utica Comets Post-Game Report
At Springfield Thunderbirds
Saturday, February 2nd, 2019
7:05 pm Eastern/4:05 pm Pacific
— CanucksArmy (@CanucksArmy) February 2, 2019
Richard Bachman, (out for season) Olli Juolevi, (out for regular season) Jesse Graham, (week-to-week) Ashton Sautner, (day-to-day) Adam Gaudette, (day-to-day) Dylan Blujus, (day-to-day) Wacey Hamilton, (veteran limit scratch) Tanner MacMaster, (healthy) Vincent Arseneau, (healthy) and Cliff Watson, (healthy).
Comets Starting Lines
24 Reid Boucher (A) – 21 Brendan Woods – 15 Zack MacEwen
54 Jonathan Dahlen – 10 Tanner Kero – 20 Tom Pyatt
34 Carter Bancks (C) – 11 Cam Darcy – 9 Lukas Jasek
22 Jonah Gadjovich – Brendan Gaunce – 13 Kole Lind
55 Guillaume Brisebois – 23 Luke Schenn
2 Evan McEneny – 5 Jalen Chatfield
39 Colton Saucerman – 26 Jaime Sifers (A)
49 Michael Leighton
31 Ivan Kulbakov (backing up)
Well, this first period of hockey was more exciting than anything that we saw from the Comets yesterday against Syracuse.
We saw some early back and forth as Guillaume Brisebois got a shot away at one end of the ice that was denied by Samuel Montembeault before Michael Leighton gloved down a Thunderbirds chance at the other.
Paul Thompson was dinged for interference at the 1:19 mark and the Comets had an early power play to work with. If you have read the pre-game report, (linked above) for today’s contest, you will know that the Springfield penalty kill is not their strong suit.
It didn’t take long for Evan McEneny to prove that, making Thompson feel shame for his actions when the defender scored his seventh goal of the season, putting his team up 1-0 early. Luke Schenn picked up his ninth helper of the year on the play, while Tanner Kero earned his 24th.
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) February 3, 2019
Bobby Farnham is a known pest in this league, and likely any other league that he has played in and he quickly put his team back to the kill after running his mouth after the McEneny tally.
With Farnham in the box kicking rocks, Kole Lind, Brendan Gaunce, and Jonathan Dahlen hooked up for a beauty of a PP marker. The goal was Dahlen’s 12th of the season, while Gaunce picked up his 13th helper of the year on the play, and Lind earned his eighth.
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) February 3, 2019
How about that pass from Lind to Gaunce to get this one started?
We were a little over two and a half minutes into the game and the Comets had two power play goals and they were not done scoring there.
Cam Darcy decided to get his licks in when he picked off a puck in the Springfield zone and beat Montembeault, sending him to the showers early. The unassisted goal was Darcy’s seventh of the season.
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) February 3, 2019
With Montembeault’s day done, we saw Chris Driedger take over between the pipes for the Birds.
There some back and forth before Michael Leighton gloved down a shot and held for the whistle. The Comets went the other way off the ensuing faceoff and we saw more from Kole Lind and his determined work on the forecheck, forcing a turnover in the offensive zone before forcing Driedger to freeze the puck to get a line change for his team.
Springfield was looking to get back into this one as they started to apply some pressure, forcing Leighton into a pair of saves before Jalen Chatfield unloaded a stiff hit in the Comets end.
Leighton followed up with another save on Paul Thompson before Sebastian Repo pulled his team to within a pair of goals.
Repo picked up his 10th goal of the season on the play, while Matt Mangene earned his 15th helper of the year.
The Birds kept coming as Leighton had to make a big save on a two-on-one before soaking up a shot from Tomas Jurco from the high slot. Thompson came right back with another shot from the same spot as Jurco and Leighton gloved it down.
Evan McEneny was whistled for holding the stick at the 13:21 mark and the Comets were off to the kill. The Birds PK might not be great shakes, but their power play is the best in the league. The Comets were able to do great work, keeping the Birds to the outside and they came away with a good kill.
Springfield was not taking their collective foot off the throttle as they kept looking for more. Leighton stopped a bouncer from in close before shutting down a Riley Stillman shot from the point. Jonathan Ang was next up with a chance that Leighton and his defenders managed to keep out of the net during a scramble before Zack MacEwen was dinged for tripping.
With TheBigFella in the box, we saw Leighton come up with an alert save on Dryden Hunt before Tom Pyatt had his shorthanded chance denied at the other end. The Comets came up with another good kill.
Springfield kept the pressure on and Leighton came up with a shoulder save late before Jonathan Dahlen unloaded with a clapper that was shut down by Driedger at the buzzer.
The Birds showed an 18-13 advantage on the shot clock for the opening frame.
The middle frame didn’t see as much action or as many shots, but it was still a solid period of hockey as the physical play started to pick up.
There was some early back and forth before Dryden Hunt let fly with a shot off the rush that Leighton got a glove on as Springfield continued their pressure from the end of the first period.
Zack MacEwen came to play today and he was doing great work, hounding the puck carrier in the offensive zone until Taner Kero was able to steal the puck and get a shot away that was denied by Driedger.
Brendan Gaunce was dinged for interference at the 6:13 mark and it was back to the kill. Veteran defender, Jaime Sifers was back in the lineup today and he came up with a big shot block and clear, as is his way. Leighton came up with a pair of saves before Gaunce was released and went in for a chance that was denied. The Comets had a good kill.
Jaime Sifers likes to make his presence felt when he is on the ice and he made sure to give Bobby Farnham a stiff hit and a face full of stinky fingers before we saw TheBigFella throw down with Tony Turgeon. I wasn’t able to capture the whole tilt but managed to grab the nice uppercut at the end of the dust-up.
— Comets Cory (@CoryHergott) February 3, 2019
With the combatants in the box for five each, Lukas Jasek had a scoring chance that was denied before another brief melee broke out. This time it would be Brendan Woods and Juho Lammikko headed to the box for matching roughing minors.
During the four aside play, Guillaume Brisebois made a nifty play to get a shot away from the right side that was kicked aside before Pyatt worked his way back in for a shot. Driedger was ready with a quick mitt and we were back to five aside play.
Thomas Schemitsch came the other way with a shot that was denied by Leighton, who held for a whistle. Springfield kept coming with the pressure as Harry Zolnierczyk broke in with speed and Leighton was forced into a couple of big saves to keep his team up by a pair.
Jalen Chatfield missed 27 games with a broken foot, but that hasn’t stopped him from bringing his greasy game to the table since his return. Chatfield looks like he really enjoys net-front battles and coming away with the puck while dishing out some lumps in the process.
The Comets were trying to apply some pressure of their own when Boucher made a nifty play off the boards to Woods for a chance that was tipped wide of the net before Riley Stillman came back the other way with a shot that was gloved down by Leighton.
The kids were out late in the period and nearly picked up a goal when Gadjovich hit Lind with a pass in the high slot from behind the Birds net. Lind got his shot away, but Driedger was ready with another save.
Leighton finished up the period with a save on Matt Marcinew before following up with another stop and the buzzer sounded to end the period.
Springfield showed a 9-8 advantage on the shot clock for the middle frame.
There were plenty of whistles to start off the final frame, which kind of killed any flow that might have carried over from the second period.
Tony Turgeon apparently didn’t take enough punches to the face from MacEwen in their earlier tilt as the Springfield forward threw down once more at the 1:09 mark, this time with TheManChild, Jonah Gadjovich. It was a pretty even bout, and it was nice to see Gadjovich hang in there. At six-feet, four inches tall and tipping the scales at roughly 230 pounds, Turgeon is no small man.
By the time the smoke had cleared, both pugilists were assessed with a five-minute fighting major, while Turgeon was also sent to the showers as it was his second fight of the game.
Zack MacEwen was a physical force once again today and he came up with a sweet play to get his shot away in the Springfield zone before following up with another big hit.
With Gadjovich in the box, Lukas Jasek took a spin with Gaunce and Lind and the trio had a great shift in the offensive zone that saw Jasek get a shot away from a tight angle that was denied by Driedger.
Evan McEneny was sent to the box for interference at the 4:03 mark and the Comets had another penalty to kill. It took just eight seconds for Jacob MacDonald to pull his club back to within a goal when he beat Leighton for his 11th goal of the season. Harry Zolnierczyk earned his 30th helper of the year on the play, while Paul Thompson grabbed his 16th.
The Birds kept pressing and Cam Darcy had to come up with a timely shot block and clear to keep his club up by a goal. Leighton spent the next shift or so shutting down scoring chances before coming up with a big blocker save after Tomas Jurco set up Dryden Hunt for a chance.
Jacob MacDonald was dinged for interference at the 8:01 mark and the Comets were headed back to the power play.
Leighton had to steer aside a long shot from Lammikko before Tanner Kero scored his 17th goal of the season to put the Comets back up by a pair. Reid Boucher picked up his 23rd helper of the year on the play, while Luke Schenn earned his 10th, and second of the game. Schenn’s two assists today were his first two points since joining the Comets. The large defender has been a nice fit alongside Guillaume Brisebois.
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) February 3, 2019
The Thunderbirds were not about to lay down for the Comets as Leighton had to make back-to-back saves before Tanner Kero was sent off for…you guessed it, interference. I feel like the officials must have received a memo about interference calls before this game.
With Kero in the box, the league’s best power play went back to work and Jamie McGinn scored his first of the year. McGinn, as you may remember, just cleared waivers and joined the Birds for today’s game. Sebastian Repo picked up his seventh assist of the year on the play, while Anthony Greco grabbed his 16th.
If the Thunderbirds were looking to build some momentum, Thomas Schemitsch quickly put an end to that when he was whistled for delay of game after putting the puck over the glass just eight seconds later.
Luke Schenn was working the blueline with Evan McEneny on the first unit and he unloaded with a shot that was stopped before Boucher let fly with a one-timer that didn’t go. MacEwen whipped out his shovel, looking for some garbage, but Driedger managed to cover for a whistle.
It was at this point when Trent Cull called his timeout, seemingly to give his red hot first unit a rest because he sent them right back out for more. They were unable to convert.
The Comets kept it coming as Colton Saucerman picked off a puck near the Springfield blueline and quickly put it on the net, only to be denied. Driedger juggled the puck on the save and Kole Lind had a chance as well. He too was shut down by the Thunderbirds netminder.
TheBigFella didn’t pick up any points today, but he was imposing his will on his opponents at every opportunity. MacEwen dished out another big hit at the Comets blueline before Springfield came back in with more pressure.
It looked like we might see our third Donnybrook of the game when Brendan Woods and Paul Thompson introduced themselves to each other in front of the Comets bench, but the zebras jumped in to keep the game under control. Woods and Thompson were each given roughing minors on the play.
Tanner Kero and Tom Pyatt had a nice little break during the four aside play as they came in two-on-one, but Tomas Jurco managed to break up their play. MacEwen figured that going in two at a time wasn’t the way to go as he followed up by dancing through nearly every player on the ice before getting a shot away that was turned aside by Driedger. TheBigFella can move.
Driedger was summoned to the bench with just under 1:40 remaining in regulation and the Birds had an extra attacker. MacEwen came up with a late shot block before Springfield called their timeout with 14 seconds left to play. It was all over for the Birds, though as the Comets held on for the win.
Springfield held a 16-8 advantage on the shot clock for the period and a 43-29 advantage for the game. Michael Leighton finished with 40 saves in his second start for the Comets.
McEneny (7) from Schenn (9) and Kero (24). PP goal.
Dahlen (12) from Gaunce (13) and Lind (8). PP goal.
Darcy (7) unassisted.
Kero (17) from Boucher (23) and Schenn (10).
The Three Stars in the building today were:
3rd Star: Sebastian Repo. One goal, one assist.
2nd Star: Luke Schenn. Two assists.
1st Star: Tanner Kero. One goal, one assist.
CanucksArmy’s Three Stars:
3rd Star: Zack MacEwen. He didn’t pick up any points today, but MacEwen stood out with his physical play and his net-front presence on the power play. TheBigFella just keeps improving his game and taking it to new levels as the coaching staff tasks him with more responsibilities. MacEwen’s consistent effort level and tireless work ethic have enabled him to continue taking steps with his game. His skill level seems to be taking steps as well as we have seen him weave his way through opponents with ease at times on his way to the net more often this year than last.
2nd Star: Luke Schenn. Schenn brought the hits in his first game with the Comets and he brought some offence today with two helpers. He saw time on the point on the first unit power play as well as gobbling up minutes with Guillaume Brisebois on the penalty kill. Schenn has been a nice addition to the Comets and could give management in Vancouver the ability to move out one of their large defenders who currently plays a third pairing role at the trade deadline. It’s possible that the NHL game has passed Schenn by, but it is also possible that he could handle a bottom pairing role in Vancouver until the end of the season when he becomes a free agent, allowing the Canucks grab an asset for someone else on the way out.
1st Star: Michael Leighton. Leighton hasn’t played much this season as this was just his fifth game of the year. He did manage to post a 40-save effort today for his new club and was the difference between a win and a loss. If it is going to be Kulbakov and Leighton the rest of the way for Utica, performances like the one he had today will go a long way in giving this team confidence as they embark on their playoff race down the stretch. Leighton was steady today, although I felt that he was tipping over/getting knocked down often. That could also have been attributed to poor ice conditions as the officials were seen repairing the ice multiple throughout the game.
Vs Lehigh Valley Phantoms
Friday, February 8th, 2019
7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific