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Photo Credit: Owen Skye | @designedbyowen

CanucksArmy Utica Comets Post-Game: Comets Playoff Picture Gets Cloudy As They Drop 3-1 Decision To Phantoms

Utica Comets Post-Game Report

Game #59

At Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Saturday, March 2nd, 2019

7:05 pm Eastern/4:05 pm Pacific

Pre-Game

Post-Game

Today’s Comets Scratches

  1. Richard Bachman: G. Out for the season, Achilles’ injury.
  2. Olli Juolevi: LD. Out for the season, knee surgery.
  3. Dylan Blujus: RD. Week-to-week, hand injury.
  4. Wacey Hamilton: F. Day-to-day, injured.
  5. Tanner Kero: C. Day-to-day, lower-body injury.
  6. Kyle Thomas: F. Healthy scratch.
  7. Colton Saucerman: RD. Healthy scratch.
  8. Brandon Anselmini: LD. Healthy scratch.

Comets Starting Lines

22 Jonah Gadjovich – 21 Brendan Woods – 34 Carter Bancks (C)

24 Reid Boucher (A) – 11 Cam Darcy – 15 Zack MacEwen

20 Tom Pyatt – 16 Brendan Gaunce – 9 Lukas Jasek

18 Vincent Arseneau – 14 Reid Gardiner – 13 Kole Lind

55 Guillaume Brisebois – 5 Jalen Chatfield

2 Evan McEneny – 26 Jaime Sifers (A)

3 Stefan LeBlanc – 64 Jesse Graham

33 Marek Mazanec

49 Michael Leighton (backing up)

First Period

The opening frame wasn’t a barn burner, but we did have a bit of action. Marek Mazanec made his Comets debut in this one. Welcome aboard, Marek.

The first period didn’t start out so great for Zack MacEwen as he was blown up with a big hit in the defensive zone early. We saw some back and forth before Mazanec had to steer a Reese Wilcox offering aside with his stick.

This was when things got a bit worse for TheBigFella as he was dinged with a tripping call at the 3:29 mark. It didn’t take long for the Phantoms to take advantage. Greg Carey beat Mazanec for his 24th goal of the season to put his team up 1-0. TJ Brennan picked up his 30th helper of the year on the play, while Chris Conner earned his 26th.

MacEwen tried to make up for his ill-timed penalty after taking a feed from Cam Darcy and getting a backhander off from the left side. Goaltender Mike McKenna came up with the save. At the other end, Mazanec gloved down a shot off the right side and held for the whistle.

Jaime Sifers has been getting some point shots through of late and he did just that, but his shot was turned aside by McKenna. The grizzled vet followed up with a second shot that was denied as well.

Zack MacEwen tried to spring Reid Boucher with a stretch pass that was just out of reach and McKenna challenged and beat Boucher to the puck. At the other end, Mazanec showed a smart stick to pick off a cross-crease play to keep his team within a goal.

There was more back and forth before Jalen Chatfield let fly with a shot off the rush that was tipped wide by Guillaume Brisebois. The two defenders kept it coming and McKenna had to make another pair of saves. I am liking this duo of Brisebois and Chatfield. They both skate really well and they are looking like they might break out for some points.

Jonah Gadjovich has been playing well lately and he came up with another aggressive forechecking shift for the Comets. Tom Pyatt followed up with a wraparound that he couldn’t get to go before Jasek hit Gaunce for a shot that was gobbled up by McKenna for another whistle.

Byron Froese was sent off for hooking at the 13:40 mark and the Comets would get their chance on the power play. Neither unit would get anything going before Kole Lind mishandled the puck and Justin Bailey was off to the races for a shorthanded chance. He let fly with his shot and Mazanec squeezed it tight for the save. The Comets came up empty.

Reid Boucher had a chance denied from in tight before Greg Carey put the Phantoms up 2-0 with his second goal of the game and 25th of the season with a long shot. David Kase picked up his 10th helper of the year on the play, while Reese Wilcox earned his 14th.

Mazanec had to kick aside another shot from David Schlemko before stopping another and holding for the whistle. That was it for the opening frame. The Phantoms showed an 8-5 advantage on the first period shot clock.

Second Period

The second period didn’t see any goals, but we did have another period of decent hockey. Mikhail Vorobyev came in with an early chance that he put over the net before MacEwen went the other way and showed some wheels with a shot off the rush from the right side. McKenna came up with another save. McEneny followed up with a shot of his own that popped McKenna’s lid off and the whistle was blown.

We had some back and forth before Mazanec had to gobble up a shot from James deHass.

At the other end, Kole Lind continued to impress as a playmaker when he sent a cross-ice feed while under pressure to a wide open Vincent Arseneau. BigVinny let fly with his shot, but McKenna ate it up like a Philly cheesesteak. Jaime Sifers followed up with a point shot through traffic and McKenna stopped that one as well.

Evan McEneny put the Comets back to the penalty kill at the 6:21 mark when he was whistled for holding. Mazanec was busy early on this one, stopping a shot from in close before making another save on Carey.

The Comets were hemmed in, even though Gaunce came up with a timely shot block. Carey got another shot away and Mazanec fired out a pad for another save. The Comets came up with a good kill.

Utica tried to claw back into this one as Darcy and Boucher both had chances denied on a shift that saw Darcy and MacEwen throwing their weight around.

Kole Lind did Kole Lind things when he knocked down the puck in the neutral zone on a clearing attempt and dished to Arseneau, who was once again denied. Reid Gardiner followed up with a chance that was thwarted as well.

Justin Bailey went the other way on a two-on-one and decided that he would be the shooter. He let fly with his shot and Mazanec said, no. At the other end, Brisebois had a point shot denied as the Comets put on some pressure. Chatfield followed up with a shot of his own that was turned aside. McKenna was playing a strong game today.

McEneny unloaded a shot off a Zack MacEwen faceoff win and McKenna turned it aside like every other shot that he had faced to that point today.

Connor Bunnaman had a chance off the left side in the Comets zone that Mazanec swallowed up for a whistle before we saw Brendan Woods feed Reese Wilcox a steady diet of rights in what was a very one-sided tilt. Woods got the extra two minutes for boarding on the play.

Reid Boucher managed to get a shorthanded chance but was denied by McKenna. At the other end, Mazanec had to make a stick save on Greg Carey and followed up with another save on a one-timer. The Comets came up with a good kill.

I spoke earlier about how Sifers has been able to get some shots through of late and the defenceman sent a shot on the net with Zack MacEwen making life difficult for McKenna, but the netminder made the save. Jasek followed up with a chance of his own that was stopped and frozen by the Phantoms goaltender.

Jalen Chatfield seems to enjoy when the going gets a little rough and he crushed a Phantoms forward with a big hit in the Comets zone that sent the player staggering to the bench. The was it for the middle frame. The Comets showed a 17-11 advantage on the second period shot clock.

Third Period

The Comets started off the third period with a bit of a whoops by Brisebois when the young defender had a miscue that led to a Phantoms scoring chance, but no harm came from the play and Brisebois breathed a sigh of relief. At the other end of the ice, Brisebois’ partner, Jalen Chatfield got a wrister away that was swallowed up by McKenna.

The Comets kept it coming as Tom Pyatt came with a trio of chances that were all denied by McKenna before another Jaime Sifers point shot was swallowed up. Brendan Woods tried his luck with a shot while Kole Lind was wreaking havoc in front of the net. McKenna was ready for that one as well.

Connor Bunnaman was sent off for holding at the 4:29 mark and the Comets had another power play to work with.

It took TheBigFella just 17 seconds to pull the Comets to within a goal after he banged in his 19th of the season. MacEwen did great work to start the play, getting the puck to Evan McEneny at the point before charging to the net like a bull. McEneny picked up his 23rd assist of the season on the play, while Boucher earned his 28th.

The Comets looked like they were about to tie the game soon after as they came at McKenna in waves. First, it was Chatfield joining Jasek on the rush, only to be denied. Boucher followed up with a chance of his own that was turned aside as well. Gaunce fed MacEwen on an odd-man rush, but he too was stymied by McKenna.

Chris Conner got a chance at the other end that was shut down by Mazanec before LeBlanc had a point shot gobbled up by McKenna. Tyrell Goulbourne had a chance denied by Mazanec as we had more back and forth.

MacEwen kept the shots coming in the Phantoms zone, but McKenna was there with another save.

TJ Brennan was dinged for holding at the 9:57 mark and the Comets would get another crack at the man advantage.

Evan McEneny had a quick wrister denied early, but the first unit couldn’t get anything going. The second unit didn’t fare any better as far as getting a goal, but they did show some nice puck movement between Jasek, Lind, Gadjovich, Graham and Darcy. Kole Lind also got a nice clapper away, but the Comets power play came up empty.

Brendan Woods and Reid Gardiner followed up the power play with a two-on-one, but Gardiner’s backhander was turned aside. As an aside, Gardiner looks dangerous when he finds a scoring lane.

At the other end of the ice, Brisebois came up with a smart stick to break up a Phantoms scoring chance. Mazanec followed up by shutting down an offering from Colin McDonald.

The Comets netminder showed more than once today that if you try to pass a puck through his crease that he is going to pick it off. He did just that to keep another scoring chance from popping up in his face.

He would, however, have to stifle another two-on-one chance before Jesse Graham let fly with a point shot at the other end. Lukas Jasek jumped on the resulting loose puck but saw McKenna come up with yet another save.

We had some more back and forth in the dying minutes as Greg Carey unloaded with a shot off the right side that was turned aside by Mazanec before Graham had his shot off the rush kicked aside by McKenna. Jalen Chatfield followed up with another point shot and McKenna gloved it down for a whistle.

Trent Cull summoned Mazanec to the bench with 1:49 remaining and although the Comets were able to get some nice puck movement going, they were unable to capitalize before Justin Bailey sealed the deal with an empty-net goal. It was his 15th of the season, while McKenna earned the lone assist for his first helper of the year.

Jesse Graham was dinged for tripping just seconds after and that was all she wrote for this one. The Comets finished with a 17-7 advantage in third-period shots and a 39-26 advantage for the game, but Mike McKenna proved to be too tough to take down.

Today’s Official Boxscore

Comets Goal

MacEwen (19) from McEneny (23) and Boucher (28). Power play goal.

The Three Stars in the building today were:

3rd Star: David Kase. One assist.

2nd Star: Mike McKenna. 38 saves.

1st Star: Greg Carey. Two goals.

CanucksArmy’s Three Stars:

3rd Star: Jonah Gadjovich/Kole Lind/ Lukas Jasek. The kids are getting some love today as the three of them continue to build on their games and show more confidence at the AHL level. Lind is proving to be a crafty playmaker who has a knack for getting greasy when he needs to. Gadjovich has looked more comfortable with imposing his large frame on opposing players. He is also showing some nice hands with some slick passes. Jasek has been held pointless for a bit here, but he continues to show value on the defensive side of the puck. If he doesn’t have the puck, he is doing everything within his power to retrieve it. The trio made up the bulk of the second unit power play and they moved the puck around pretty well today.

2nd Star: Jalen Chatfield/Guillaume Brisebois. The pair of second-year defenders have been used as a duo for the last two games by Trent Cull and I have liked what I have seen from them. They both skate very well and move the puck effectively too. They seemed to feed off of each other today, jumping up into the play as well as getting back to make some timely defensive plays. I know that Brisebois didn’t get a lot of time in with the Canucks while he was up with the big club, but he looks like a different player since returning. He is making decisions more quickly and looks more confident in his game.

1st Star: Zack MacEwen. Speaking of looking good since returning from the Canucks, Zack MacEwen has three points in his first two games back. He has been credited with six shots on goal in each of those two games since returning, scoring twice and grabbing an assist. TheBigFella is just one goal shy of giving the Comets three 20-goal scorers in one season for the first time in franchise history. Heck, they had never had two in one season until Reid Boucher and Tanner Kero pulled off the feat this season. Zack now has 10 points in his last five games with the Comets. He is now up to 46 points in 51 games this year.

Next Game

Game #60

Vs Syracuse Crunch

Wednesday, March 6th, 2019

7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific