Utica Comets Post-Game Report
At Binghamton Devils
Saturday, February 23rd, 2019
7:05 pm Eastern/4:05 pm Pacific
— CanucksArmy (@CanucksArmy) February 23, 2019
Richard Bachman, (out for the season) Olli Juolevi, (out for the season) Dylan Blujus, (week-to-week) Jonah Gadjovich, (day-to-day) Kole Lind, (ill) Jonathan Dahlen, (ill) Brendan Woods, (ill) and Tanner Kero, (injured).
Today’s Comets Lines
18 Vincent Arseneau – 36 Wacey Hamilton (A) – 34 Carter Bancks (C)
20 Tom Pyatt – Brendan Gaunce – 14 Reid Gardiner
9 Lukas Jasek – 11 Cam Darcy – 24 Reid Boucher
28 Kyle Thomas – 19 Mike Szmatula – 64 Jesse Graham
55 Guillaume Brisebois – 26 Jame Sifers (A)
2 Evan McEneny – 5 Jalen Chatfield
3 Stefan LeBlanc – 39 Colton Saucerman
49 Michael Leighton
31 Ivan Kulbakov (backing up)
This first period was a bit of a clunker, folks. We saw a whopping 16 shots put on net between the two clubs and nary a goal to be found.
Carter Bancks had an early chance turned aside by goaltender Cam Johnson, who followed up with another stop on Guillaume Brisebois. Brisebois had a solid first period today.
We saw some back and forth, but not much was going on. Neither team could get any traction going before Lukas Jasek pounced on a loose puck in the offensive zone and ripped his shot off the stick of Johnson.
Ryan Murphy came back with a chance of his own, putting a point shot through traffic that was swallowed up by Michael Leighton and held for the whistle. At the other end of the ice, Brisebois got a point shot away from a faceoff win that Reid Boucher tipped on the net. Johnson came up with another save.
Michael Leighton was nearly his own worst enemy when he coughed up the puck in his own end, but managed to save his own bacon with a timely poke check and follow up save.
At the other end, it was Brisebois, once more. This time, the defender took a cross-ice feed from Boucher and unloaded with a shot, only to see Johnson flash the leather for another save. We had some back and forth as Leighton had to whip out the blocker to shut down a Michael McLeod chance at one end before Johnson followed up with a glove save at the other.
Colton Saucerman was in the lineup again today and he brought his steady game with him. He showed great body positioning to rub his man off the puck in the defensive zone to force a favourable turnover. The Devils would regain possession and put some pressure on the Comets in their end.
John Quenneville fired a shot wide before Colin White had his one-timer from the point knocked aside by the blocker of Leighton.
Leighton came up with another pair of saves before a brief scrum ensued. Cooler heads would prevail and the game continued. The Devils kept the pressure on, but they also kept putting their shots wide of the net.
Brisebois looks like he picked up a dose of confidence in Vancouver because he has been wearing his big boy pants since returning. There has been a noticeable uptick in the defender’s physical game. He showed just that when he muscled his man off the puck with a physical effort along the boards.
Leighton would have to come up with another blocker save before swallowing up another shot from Quenneville.
Wacey Hamilton took the Comets customary late period penalty at the 18:53 mark and it was off to the kill.
The Devils did no damage late but would have plenty of power play time to work with to start the middle frame. Bingo showed a 10-6 advantage on the shot clock.
The middle frame was a little bit more exciting as we saw three goals scored, though only one of them came from the Comets.
Jalen Chatfield did not return for the second period and at the time of this writing, there was no reason given as to why.
Utica still had the remainder of Wacey Hamilton’s penalty to kill off, which they did after Leighton shut down a Quenneville offering before Cam Darcy came up with a painful looking shot block. The Comets came up with a good kill but would head right back to the PK when Jesse Graham was dinged for slashing at the 1:36 mark. We would see Graham take a penalty late in the period as well.
What is the deal with all of these penalties late in periods?
With Graham in the box, the Devils took advantage. Nick Lappin grabbed his 14th of the season to put his team up 1-0. Blake Pietila earned his 18th assist of the season on the play, while Ryan Murphy grabbed his 15th.
Brendan Gaunce followed up the goal with a one-timer that was kicked aside by the quick leg of Johnson before Kyle Thomas tied the game at one with his first of the season for the Comets, and his second point in as many games since his call-up from Kalamazoo. Vincent Arseneau earned his second assist of the season on the play, while Jaime Sifers picked up his 10th.
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) February 24, 2019
With the game tied at one, we saw Colton Saucerman dish to Boucher for a one-timer that was put wide before Tom Pyatt fanned on his chance in close after having his stick lifted by a Devils defender.
Nick Saracino was sent off for tripping at the 6:33 mark and the Comets had a power play to work with. Brisebois teed up a one-timer for Boucher, but the winger put his shot wide. Evan McEneny let fly with a shot through traffic that was tracked down and stopped by Johnson for another save.
The Comets came up empty.
Kyle Thomas had one goal already and he was looking for another when he fired a one-timer that was denied by Johnson before Egor Yakovlev was dinged for tripping at the 9:24 mark.
Brisebois set up Boucher for another one-timer that was blocked before the defender pinched at the offensive blueline, leading to a shorthanded chance for Ryan Schmelzer. Schmelzer looked like he was home free before Boucher appeared as if from nowhere to rattle him enough for Leighton to come up with a save on his shot.
McEneny got another one-timer away that was steered aside by the stick of Johnson and the Comets came up empty once more.
Eric Tangradi was willing to give the Comets another kick at the can when he was sent off for interference just 10 seconds after the Yakovlev penalty expired.
Boucher hit Jasek with a cross-ice feed for a one-timer that was swallowed up by Johnson before Boucher had a chance of his own denied by the netminder.
Leighton would have to turn aside a shorthanded chance before this power play came up flat again.
The Comets were putting on some good pressure after their failed power play before Reid Gardiner was spied committing an infraction. During the delayed penalty, Johnson headed to the bench for the extra attacker and the Devils made it count.
Nick Lappin had his second of the game and 15th of the season, while the Johns, Ramage and Quenneville picked up their 17th and 14th helpers respectively.
Vincent Arseneau wasn’t going to sit back and lick his wounds after the Lappin tally as he forced a turnover in the neutral zone and sent Gaunce in for a chance that was denied by Johnson. Tom Pyatt followed up by forcing another turnover with a good stick in the offensive zone, but the Comets were unable to take advantage.
Guillaume Brisebois generally does a solid job of staying out of the penalty box, but the young defender was dinged for tripping at the 16:22 mark and the Comets had another penalty to kill without one of their top killers. Egor Sharangovich unloaded with a big shot that Leighton kicked aside before following up with another save and covering for the whistle.
Brendan Gaunce went the other way for a shorthanded chance that was stopped and held for a whistle by Johnson. At the other end, Leighton shut down a pair of chances from Quenneville and Egor Yakovlev to give the Comets a good kill.
Brisebois was back on the ice for about 13 seconds before Jesse Graham took that late penalty that I told you about earlier in the period. With Graham in the box for tripping, Blake Pietila had a late shot denied before Gaunce hit Bancks with a pass late in the period for a shot that was soaked up by Johnson.
The shot clock showed both teams with 12 shots for the middle frame.
The Comets would manage to kill off the remainder of the Graham violation before Marian Studenic came with a chance off the rush that Leighton stopped and covered. Ramage followed up with a point shot that was denied by Leighton, as was the following chance from Yakovlev.
Leighton was having another very good game for the Comets today.
Nick Lappin had two goals in this game already and he came looking for more with a shot from the high slot that was turned aside by Leighton, as was his rebound chance that followed. The Comets netminder kept the saves coming when he stymied Yakovlev again before gloving down a Tariq Hammond shot from the left side. He wasn’t done there as Leighton made back-to-back saves before denying another Ramage offering from the right side.
Ryan Schmelzer followed up with a one-timer in tight that Leighton swallowed up for the whistle.
The Comets finally started to put a little pressure of their own on before Jaime Sifers was sent off for interference. Yet another penalty for the Comets. These fellows need to stay out of the box if they want their season to extend beyond 76 games this year.
Carter Bancks would come up with a shot block and Leighton would deny Pietila of a goal and the Comets came away unscathed.
Just because the power play was over, didn’t mean that the shots stopped coming. First, it was Nathan Bastain with a shot off the rush that was denied before Eric Tangradi got a backhander away from in close that Leighton had to make an alert save on.
Vincent Arseneau showed some good hustle and some nice hands to beat a Devils defender to the puck in the offensive zone before dishing to Hamilton for a shot that the veteran couldn’t get away.
Nick Popugaev was sent off for hooking at the 14:20 mark and the Comets were back to the power play…or were they? Brendan Gaunce was whistled for tripping just 26 seconds later to put an end to the good times for the Comets.
Leighton had to come up with a save through traffic during the four aside play before Tom Pyatt made Johnson gobble up a puck at the other end as well. The Comets were able to kill off the brief penalty that remained for Gaunce.
It wouldn’t be a period of Comets hockey lately without a penalty in the late going. This time it was Cam Darcy who was sent off for slashing and the Comets had yet another penalty to kill. Leighton gloved down a point shot from Colin White before denying Quenneville from the right circle as well as the resulting rebound chance.
Nick Lappin, however, would not be denied his hattrick and beat Leighton top put his club up 3-1. The goal was Lappin’s 16th of the season, while Ryan Murphy earned his 16th helper of the year on the play. Blake Pietila also grabbed an assist for his 19th of the season.
Trent Cull summoned Leighton to the bench with 1:35 remaining in the period and Nathan Bastian quickly scored to put this one away. The unassisted goal was Bastian’s 17th of the season.
That was it for this one as the Comets were unable to make it nine straight games with a point. The Devils showed a ridiculous 20-4 advantage on the third period shot clock and a 43-23 advantage for the game. The Comets will want to tighten things up before Rochester rolls back into Utica on Wednesday.
Thomas (1) from Arseneau (2) and Sifers (10).
The Three Stars in the building today were:
3rd Star: Blake Pietila. Two assists.
2nd Star: Cam Johnson. 22 saves.
1st Star: Nick Lappin. Three goals.
CanucksArmy’s Three Stars:
3rd Star: Jaime Sifers. The grizzled vet picked up his 10th helper and 13th point of the season today. The defender hits like a truck, blocks shots like his life depends on it and leads by example. Sifers seems to calm Guillaume Brisebois’ game when the youngster is paired with him and has had a significant effect on his game. Sifers’ contract with the Comets expires after this season, but the club might want to think about keeping him around for another year. He has been a staple on the right side in Utica and has been a stalwart on the penalty kill while gobbling minutes like Tic Tacs.
2nd Star: Kyle Thomas. Thomas was signed in the offseason in order to provide depth in case injuries and call-ups hit the Comets like they did last season. It has taken until now for the team to call upon him, but the winger is wasting no time in making an impression. He picked up an assist in his first game with the club yesterday and followed up with a goal today. The Comets will need to have these call-up players contributing if they want to stay in the playoff hunt in what is a tight North Division.
1st Star: Michael Leighton. Leighton had to make 39 saves in today’s loss and he has been full value since coming aboard with the Comets. The netminder is no spring chicken, checking in at 37-years-of-age, but if the Comets have any concerns about Richard Bachman’s ability to bounce back from his Achilles’ injury next season, they might want to think about keeping Leighton around beyond this season. Leighton has gone 6-2 so far with the Comets while posting a 2.59 goals-against average and 0.917 save percentage. They will need him to continue playing the way he has in order to go on any kind of playoff run this season.
Vs Rochester Americans
Wednesday, February 27th, 2019
7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific