Utica Comets Post-Game Report
Vs Hershey Bears
Friday, March 1st, 2019
7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific
— CanucksArmy (@CanucksArmy) March 1, 2019
Scratched For The Comets
Richard Bachman, (Achilles’ injury, out for the season) Olli Juolevi, (knee surgery, out for the season) Dylan Blujus, (hand injury, week-to-week) Tanner Kero, (lower-body injury, day-to-day) Wacey Hamilton, (injured) Kyle Thomas, (healthy scratch) Brandon Anselmini, (healthy scratch) Colton Saucerman, (healthy scratch) and Reid Gardiner, (healthy scratch).
22 Jonah Gadjovich – 16 Brendan Gaunce – 34 Carter Bancks (C)
20 Tom Pyatt – 21 Brendan Woods – 9 Lukas Jasek
24 Reid Boucher (A) – 11 Cam Darcy – 15 Zack MacEwen
18 Vincent Arseneau – 19 Mike Szmatula – 13 Kole Lind
55 Guillaume Brisebois – 5 Jalen Chatfield
2 Evan McEneny – 64 Jesse Graham
3 Stefan LeBlanc – 26 Jaime Sifers (A)
49 Michael Leighton
33 Marek Mazanec
The first period wasn’t an action-packed one, but hey…at least the Comets didn’t take a late penalty, so there’s that.
We had some early back and forth before the Comets were dinged for a faceoff violation. Mike Szmatula would head to the box to pay for the crime. The Bears had a tough time getting anything going and the Comets got great work from their PK duos. The pair of Reid Boucher and Tom Pyatt managed to get a little bit of offensive zone pressure and the Comets came up with a good kill.
Vincent Arseneau has been known for his human bowling ball style of play. The man is a wrecking machine on the ice. BigVinny took the opportunity to blow up Shane Gersich in the neutral zone to get his licks in early in this one.
Jonah Gadjovich and Brendan Gaunce played on a line together last game and they looked good, so I was happy to see them back together again today. Just a thought…I wonder what Zack MacEwen might look like on the right side of those two?
Gadjovich sent Gaunce in for a scoring chance with a sweet stretch pass out of the Comets zone. Gaunce turned on the jets…yes, you read that right, and beat the defender wide, but was shut down by netminder Vitec Vanecek.
Guillaume Brisebois was back in the lineup today after being in Phoenix late last night with the Canucks and if he was tired, he sure wasn’t showing it in the opening frame. The young defender used some nice wheels and smart body positioning to make sure he was the first to the puck in the defensive zone. You can really see Brisebois’ game coming along in Utica this year.
The Bears put on a bit of pressure and Michael Leighton had to stop a long shot before Brisebois had his point shot denied at the other end. He followed up with a wrister that was tipped wide of the net.
Brendan Woods stole a puck in the offensive zone and hit Lukas Jasek with a pass, the young winger got his shot away, but was denied by Vanacek.
At the other end, the Bears came with some pressure and Leighton had to make a save through traffic before making a pad save on Nathan Walker to keep the game knotted at zero. The Comets netminder wasn’t done there as he had to glove down a Jusso Ikonen shot and he held for the whistle.
Guillaume Brisebois was feeling it today. He jumped on a loose puck in the Hershey slot with some traffic. He got his shot away but was stymied by Vanacek. Gadjovich followed up with a nice feed to Jaime Sifers for a point shot that was turned aside as well.
Ryan Sproul got a point shot away at the other end that was gobbled up by Leighton and we had some back and forth. Jalen Chatfield saw his point shot denied by Vanecek before Sproul came back with another shot that was steered aside by the stick of Leighton. The Comets netminder would make another save before the buzzer sounded to end the period.
Hershey showed a 9-7 advantage on the shot clock for the period.
We saw some scoring in the middle frame, but the Comets would find themselves in a 2-1 hole by the time the period came to a close.
We saw some line shuffling early as Gadjovich and Gaunce were split apart in favour of moving Brendan Woods to the line with Gadjovich and Bancks, while Gaunce took Woods’ spot between Jasek and Pyatt.
Leighton had to scramble to make an early save before TheBigFella clobbered Mike Sgarbossa with a stiff hit. MacEwen followed up by tipping a Brisebois shot on net but was denied by Vanecek. Reid Boucher got in on the action with a wrister that he ripped off the iron.
At the other end, Leighton juggled a shot but managed to keep the puck out of the net with some traffic in front.
Kole Lind stole the puck in tight in the offensive zone but was unable to get his shot away before his stick was chopped off the puck. Arseneau followed up with another big hit before Bancks tipped a Jalen Chatfield offering wide of the net.
Lukas Jasek has a knack for taking possession of the puck and he picked off the little black biscuit in the neutral zone before getting it to Gaunce for a chance. The Gaunce chance, however, was deflected the other way and Liam O’Brien went in to put the Bears up 1-0 with his 15th of the season. Devante Smith-Pelly picked up his first helper since being waived and demoted to Hershey by the Washington Capitals.
Carter Bancks had a chance to tie it up quickly when Brendan Woods sent him in for a shot, but the muffin that came off the captain’s stick wasn’t beating anyone. Kole Lind and Vincent Arseneau followed up with a physical shift, as is their way when they are on the ice.
Reid Boucher had a chance gloved down at one end before Cam Darcy got clocked at the other and the Comets were off to the power play. It was the goal scorer, Liam O’Brien heading off for elbowing.
Mike Sgarbossa had a shorthanded chance turned aside by Leighton before Pyatt had a shot denied from the left side. The Comets came up empty.
They also quickly headed to the penalty kill as they were dinged for having too-many-men on the ice. Leighton would have to glove down a Lucas Johansen shot and the Comets had another good kill in the books.
The Bears kept it coming, however, and hemmed the Comets in their end for a shift.
The Comets would get a chance on the power play after Zack MacEwen whipped out the moves for a scoring chance that was denied, but TheBigFella drew a slashing call on Sgarbossa. During the delayed penalty, Brisebois nearly scored but had his offering shut down.
The sound went out during the power play, but we didn’t need any sound to know that MacEwen had tied the game after redirecting a Boucher shot while wreaking havoc in front of the net. I wonder if they could use a guy who can do that up in Vancouver? The goal was the 18th of the season for MacEwen, while Boucher picked up his 27th assist of the year. Tom Pyatt earned the other helper for his eight of the season.
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) March 2, 2019
After the MacEwen tally, Leighton had to come up big by flashing the leather to shut down Steve Whitney’s chance.
Stefan LeBlanc was dinged for interference at the 16:04 mark and the Comets had another penalty to kill late in a period. Oh well, we will always have the first period of this game to look back on with fondness.
Leighton had to come up with a pair of saves before Sgarbossa beat him for his 24th goal of the season. Aaron Ness picked up his 37th helper of the year on the play…yeah…dude has 37 assists this season. That seems…good. Riley Barber grabbed the other assist for his 24th.
The Comets started to apply some pressure as the time was winding down and it was enough to force Liam O’Brien into a cross-checking penalty as the buzzer sounded. Now, that’s more like it.
The Bears showed an advantage of 9-8 on the shot clock for the period.
The Comets started the third period down a goal, but they had a full two minutes of power play time to work with to kick things off.
MacEwen and Gaunce were both denied goals on early chances before Lukas Jasek let fly with a one-timer that was set up by Brisebois. The Jasek shot was turned aside and Vanecek gobbled up the Brisebois rebound chance that followed.
Brisebois was having a solid, solid game today. He was making quick decisions with the puck and seemed to be looking for any and every offensive chance that he could safely take advantage of.
The Comets power play came up empty.
The Bears started to put on a little bit of pressure of their own before the Comets went the other way.
While in the Bears’ end, Boucher scored a seeing-eye-puck type of goal. The sniper ripped his shot from an impossible location and somehow it beat Vanecek. The goal was the 26th of the season for Boucher, breaking the Comets single season record for goals. Coincidentally, Boucher set that record himself just last year. Cam Darcy earned his 10th helper of the year on the play, while Zack MacEwen grabbed his 27th.
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) March 2, 2019
The Comets kept it coming as Lukas Jasek and Brendan Gaunce were both denied by Vanecek before Leighton kicked aside a shot from the high slot by former Canucks/Comets forward Jayson Megna.
Kole Lind wasn’t putting up points today, but he was involved in this game. He was bringing what has become his usual physical, greasy game, but he also showed some flash when he got in behind the Bears defence and managed to get a one-handed shot away while wearing the two Hershey defenders like a cape. Vanecek came up with another save.
At the other end of the ice, it was Brisebois coming up with a nice defensive play to help keep the game knotted at deuces.
Boucher and MacEwen looked dangerous again at the other end but were unable to capitalize before Leighton whipped out the blocker to stymie Whitney on another chance.
Brendan Gaunce has been a dangerous penalty killer offensively for the Comets this year, but he was the one off to the box for tripping at the 12:21 mark and it was back to the kill for Utica.
On this kill, we saw MacEwen get an early shift with Carter Bancks before coming back out again with Tom Pyatt as well, but not before blocking a shot in between. It will only help Zack’s game to keep getting those penalty killing minutes.
Leighton would have to glove down an Aaron Ness shot through traffic, but the Comets came up with a good kill.
Leighton kept the saves coming when he stretched out to make a save with his stick before Jalen Chatfield used some heavy work to knock his man off the puck in the defensive zone and get the puck going the other way. McEneny followed up with a good stick in the defensive zone to break up a two-on-one play.
At the other end of the ice, Brisebois kept his strong game going when he pounced on another loose puck with speed and sent it to Gaunce, who tipped it wide of the net.
As time counted off the clock, the Bears were looking to enter the Comets zone for one last chance, but Jalen Chatfield was having none of it. The crafty blueliner held the Comets line and the buzzer sounded. We would need the extra frame.
The Comets showed a 10-4 advantage on the third period shot clock.
This one ended quickly as Cam Darcy took a feed from Guillaume Brisebois and lit Vanecek up like a Roman candle for the winner. What a beauty from Darcy. He has had to step up in the absence of Tanner Kero, taking on work with both special teams. This should come as no surprise to anyone who watched what Darcy did last year with the team. He’s been a solid AHL contributor for the Comets.
The goal was the ninth of the season for Darcy, while Brisebois picked up his eighth assist of the season on the play and goaltender Michael Leighton earned his first.
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) March 2, 2019
Each team registered one shot in the extra frame, while the Comets showed a 26-23 edge for the game.
MacEwen (18) from Boucher (27) and Pyatt (8). Power play goal.
Boucher (26) from Darcy (10) and MacEwen (27).
Darcy (9) from Brisebois (8) and Leighton (1). Overtime winner.
The Three Stars in the building today were:
3rd Star: Mike Sgarbossa. One goal.
2nd Star: Reid Boucher. One goal, one assist.
1st Star: Cam Darcy. One goal, (overtime winner). One assist.
CanucksArmy’s Three Stars:
3rd Star: Cam Darcy. Darcy has been a solid citizen since coming aboard on a PTO last season and eventually earning an AHL deal with the team. He picked up two points today, including the game-winning overtime goal. He put up a career-high of 24 points last season and is now just five points back of that with 18 games left to play. It could be another career-high type of season for the versatile pivot. Four of Darcy’s nine goals this season have been of the game-winning variety.
2nd Star: Reid Boucher. Boucher picked up a pair of points today like normal people pick up their feet when they walk. He doesn’t have to think about it, it just happens. The Comets top scorer is now up to 53 points in 46 games this season. He kills penalties, he runs the power play and he isn’t shy about being physical when he’s on the ice. Boucher is elite at the AHL level. He is a pending restricted free agent, which means the Canucks hold his rights after this season and will have to at least give him a qualifying offer to keep him around. The question that I have, is whether or not Boucher elects to accept his QO, or if he elects to pass and head overseas. He hasn’t had a sniff with the big club this year outside of a brief call-up that didn’t see him play. It will be an interesting offseason where Boucher is concerned.
1st Star: Zack MacEwen. TheBigFella has been killing it this year in Utica. He absorbs coaching like a sponge, he puts in the work and continues to grow his game. He put six shots on the net today and picked up a pair of points to bring his totals to 18 goals and 27 assists, giving him 45 points in 51 games this year. In just his second professional season, MacEwen has jumped into 10th place on the Comets all-time scoring list. He is one point behind Wacey Hamilton for ninth, and three behind Alex Friesen for eighth. Zack has put up nine points over his last four games with the Comets to go along with making his NHL debut, picking up his first NHL assist, and slapping around Barclay Goodrow in his first NHL fight in between. Not a bad little run for TheBigFella.
At Lehigh Valley Phantoms
Saturday, March 2nd, 2019
7:05 pm Eastern/4:05 pm Pacific