Utica Comets Post-Game Report
At Belleville Senators
Wednesday, March 20th, 2019
7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific
Contrary to what I wrote in the tweet below, I can assure you that no toads were harmed in any way while writing my pre-game today.
It’s game day @UticaComets fans! The Comets hit the toad to Belleville for a game with big playoff implications at 4:00 pm Pacific. @CanucksArmy has your pre-game reading. Stay tuned for our post-game report following today’s action.https://t.co/uRJN5WUI68
— Comets Cory (@CoryHergott) March 20, 2019
Scratched Today For Utica
- Richard Bachman: G. Out for the season, Achilles’ injury.
- Olli Juolevi: LD. Out for the season, knee surgery.
- Evan McEneny: LD. Out for the season, lower-body injury.
- Wacey Hamilton: F. Week-to-week, neck injury.
- Reid Boucher: LW/RW. Week-to-week, hand injury.
- Jonah Gadjovich: LW/RW. Day-to-day, upper-body injury.
- Matt Petgrave: LD. Healthy scratch.
- Brandon Anselmini: LD. Healthy scratch.
- Kyle Thomas: F. Healthy Scratch.
- Dyson Stevenson: LW/RW. Healthy scratch.
Today’s Comets Lines
(First forward line/defensive unit listed started the game. The rest are in no particular order)
20 Tom Pyatt – 11 Cam Darcy – 15 Zack MacEwen
16 Brendan Gaunce – 10 Tanner Kero (A) – 9 Lukas Jasek
34 Carter Bancks (C) – 21 Brendan Woods – 13 Kole Lind
18 Vincent Arseneau – 19 Seamus Malone – 14 Reid Gardiner
8 Dylan Blujus – 5 Jalen Chatfield
3 Stefan LeBlanc – 26 Jaime Sifers (A)
64 Jesse Graham – 39 Colton Saucerman
49 Michael Leighton
33 Marek Mazanec (backing up)
The opening frame saw a bit of back and forth action, along with some lulls in play, but we had a decent first period of action.
Cam Darcy had an early chance off the left side denied by goaltender Marcus Hogberg before Reid Gardiner had his one-timer chance turned aside as well.
There was a bit of back and forth without a whole lot going on before Carter Bancks took a feed in close from Brendan Woods and got a backhander away. Hogberg was ready with another save.
Seamus Malone was back in the lineup after missing a game with a hand injury and his line with Gardiner and Vincent Arseneau had a solid shift of disturbing the peace in the offensive zone.
Woods and Bancks were back out with Kole Lind and the trio went to work. Woods hit Bancks with another pass and the captain let fly with a shot off the left side that was swallowed up by the Belleville netminder for a whistle.
We were 6:30 into the period and the Sens had yet to get a shot on the Comets net.
We saw some hacking and whacking after a whistle that saw Brendan Woods and Erik Brannstrom both head off for slashing. That’s a pretty good trade-off for the Comets and if you think that wasn’t Woods’ intention, I believe you would be mistaken. He’s a crafty one, that Brendan Woods.
During the four aside play, Tanner Kero got a partial breakaway and saw his backhander turned aside by Hogberg before Jack Rodewald went the other way for a chance of his own that was foiled by a smart play from defender Stefan LeBlanc.
Zack MacEwen showed some wheels and agility when he took the puck hard to the net, but TheBigFella put his offering wide of the target.
At the other end of the ice, Michael Leighton finally saw his first shot of the game with 12:01 remaining when Andreas Englund unloaded off the left side and the Comets netminder gloved it down for a whistle.
Brendan Gaunce showed some smarts when he picked off the puck in the neutral zone, sending the Comets to the attack and we were back to evens with Woods and Brannstrom exiting the box.
Former Comets forward, Joe LaBate had a shot steered aside by Leighton before the Comets went the other way where Woods got a shot away from the left side that Hogberg soaked up for a whistle.
At the other end, Drake Batherson took a nice bounce off the end boards and put it quickly on the Comets net, but Leighton came up with an alert save. Vincent Arseneau let fly with a long shot at the other end and Hogberg gobbled it up for a whistle.
Leighton had to be quick to cover up a bouncing puck with Adam Tambellini lurking for loose change and this game stayed knotted at zero.
Jaime Sifers was dinged for tripping at the 12:27 mark and the Comets were off to the kill. We saw units of MacEwen with Darcy, Chatfield, and Blujus, along with the second group of Gaunce with Kero, Jesse Graham, and LeBlanc. Leighton had to make a stick save before stopping another and following up by denying a Filip Chlapik rebound chance and the Comets had a good kill.
Chlapik followed up with a point-blank shot from the slot that clanged the iron before Seamus Malone hit Arseneau with a sweet feed and BigVinny was stymied by Hogberg.
The Comets had a pretty sloppy shift in their own end but managed to come away unscathed and the game remained tied at zero. As time wound down, Darren Archibald tried to sneak a shot through from the left side, but Leighton came up with a paddle save.
The period ended with the Sens showing an advantage of 10-9 on the shot clock for the opening frame.
Well, we saw a goal in the middle frame, unfortunately, it would belong to the Sens.
Brendan Gaunce had an early opportunity but had his shot soaked up by Hogberg for the whistle. Kole Lind followed up with a shot of his own that was denied, as was the resulting rebound chance. Hogberg was dialled in.
Zack MacEwen stole a puck and got his shot away, but Hogberg kicked out the leg for another save. Jaime Sifers came with a wrister from the point and the Sens netminder gloved that one down with traffic forming in front. Even the shots that the netminder didn’t stop weren’t going in as Kole Lind zinged a shot off the outside of the post.
Jack Rodewald would put the Sens up 1-0 at the 5:20 mark when he found himself all alone and beat Leighton for his 21st goal of the season. Filip Chlapik picked up his 17th helper of the year on the play, while Vitaly Abramov earned his 12th.
The Sens kept the pressure on as Stefan Elliott sent a wrister on net from the point and Leighton gloved it down for a whistle.
At the other end, Brendan Gaunce had a chance off the rush that was denied, as was the Stefan LeBlanc attempt that followed. Jalen Chatfield has a way of making his presence felt by the opposition and he did just that when he stepped up on Rodewald and filled him in with a stiff hit in the offensive zone.
BigVinny tried a spin and fire move from in close and Hogberg was ready with another save.
At the other end, Erik Brannstrom showed some wheels to get to the Comets net with the puck, but Dylan Blujus came up with a nice play to foil any scoring attempt. It was nice to see Blujus back in the lineup today.
Leighton would have to follow up with a save on Drake Batherson to keep his team within a goal.
Lukas Jasek had a chance denied by Hogberg as the Comets started to press and Tanner Kero was also stopped in the same sequence. We had a bit of back and forth before Reid Gardiner came up with a HUGE defensive play to stymie Darren Archibald with a wide open net.
The Comets were hemmed in their end before Abramov had his wraparound attempt shut down by Leighton. Erik Burgdoerfer followed up with another chance and Leighton put another save in the books.
Erik Brannstrom was dinged for holding and the Comets would have a power play to work with. We saw the first unit of MacEwen, Gaunce, Darcy, Kero, and Graham. TheBigFella was used in the left circle on this one in a shooting position and he was quick to get a shot away that Hogberg turned aside. MacEwen is normally used in the net front on the first unit.
Darcy had a chance denied as well before Jesse Graham was sent off for tripping and we had some four aside play. Neither team had much happen during the four aside play before the Comets would have a brief penalty to kill.
The trio of Bancks, Woods and LeBlanc had a shorthanded chance turned aside by Hogberg as the puck rolled through the Sens crease. The Comets would kill off the remainder of the Graham penalty and the Sens remained up a goal.
Zack MacEwen followed up the kill with a solid hit at the offensive blueline before Leighton had to glove down a shot off the left side from Englund.
The period finished with a little back and forth as Sifers unloaded with a shot that Hogberg did well to stop with Brendan Gaunce in his face looking to pounce on a loose puck. At the other end, Dylan Blujus came up big again as he stymied Filip Chlapik’s hopes for a goal when he slid through his shooting lane to break up his play. Vincent Arseneau finished up with a heavy shot that Hogberg got a piece of.
Utica had a 14-13 advantage on the shot clock but found themselves down 1-0 for their efforts.
We had some early back and forth in this one before Tanner Kero came up with a great defensive play to stop a scoring chance in the Comets end. Leighton followed up with a pair of saves on Logan Brown, first through traffic before kicking out a pad for the next.
Leighton came up with another save through traffic before Nick Paul rang the iron with his shot. We had some end to end action as Lukas Jasek was denied in the Sens zone before Leighton whipped out the mitt in the Comets zone to shut down Paul once more. The Comets netminder followed up with a scrambling save on Chase Balisy.
The Sens were putting on some pressure and it resulted in Lukas Jasek taking a seat for hooking at the 10:48 mark. The Sens called their timeout but it didn’t seem to help much as just 11 seconds later, Chlapik was dinged for a hooking penalty of his own.
During the four aside play, Dylan Blujus came up with yet another defensive gem when he halted an Adam Tambellini scoring chance. Have I mentioned yet that it was nice to have Blujus back in the lineup?
With the two teams back at even strength, Seamus Malone had his chance from the left circle turned aside before Jesse Graham was denied as well. Woods followed up with a shot off of a turnover, but Hogberg swallowed it up for a whistle.
Lind came with a quick shot through traffic that was also gobbled up before Stefan LeBlanc whipped out a dipsy doodle to get by his man for a shot that Hogberg was ready for and the netminder held for another whistle.
Tanner Kero soon found himself open in front of the ney and got a shot away that was denied by Hogberg before MacEwen let fly with a shot that found nothing but iron.
Brendan Woods evened the game at one at the 15:29 mark when he followed up his own rebound and beat Hogberg for his fifth goal of the season. Jalen Chatfield picked up his fifth helper of the year on the play, while Dylan Blujus grabbed his sixth. Welcome back, Dylan. Sorry, folks…I don’t have a gif of the goal for you.
It looked pretty promising when Woods found Colton Saucerman with a nice feed for a wrister, but Hogberg flashed the leather for another save.
We lost audio briefly with about 3:43 remaining in the game, but we had it back by the time Justin Faulk had put the Sens up 2-1 at the 18:16 mark. The goal was the second of the season for Faulk, while Drake Batherson picked up his 35th assist of the year on the play and Nick Paul grabbed his 20th.
Time was running out and Trent Cull summoned Leighton to the bench for the extra attacker with about 1:25 left in the period. It didn’t take long for former Comets forward, Darren Archibald to salt this one away with an empty netter for his 19th goal of the season. Erik Burgdoerfer picked up his 12th assist of the season on the play, while Faulk grabbed his third.
That was it for this one as the Comets outshot the Sens 8-7 in the final frame and 31-30 for the game, but came out on the wrong side of a 3-1 decision.
Woods (5) from Chatfield (5) and Blujus (6).
The Three Stars in the building today were:
3rd Star: Nick Paul. One assist.
2nd Star: Justin Faulk. One goal, one assist.
1st Star: Marcus Hogberg. 30 saves.
CanucksArmy’s Three Stars:
3rd Star: Brendan Woods/Reid Gardiner. I am going to split the third star today. I feel like Gardiner deserves a bit of shine for some of his play away from the puck today, particularly his play to shut down a Darren Archibald sure goal with Michael Leighton scrambling back into position. I like Gardiner better on the wing, where I feel like he can use his shot better, and he has proven to be a solid option in call-up duty for the Comets. For Woods, it was about his no-quit attitude on his goal that gave the team some life. Woods might not be a big point producer, but he does great work in a penalty killing role with the team and his line usually spends a good amount of time in the offensive zone.
2nd Star: Jalen Chatfield. Chatfield had another nice game today, making it four in a row that I have felt like I am seeing the Jalen Chatfield that I have come to enjoy watching. It took the young defender a handful of games to get his feet back under him…pardon the pun, after coming back from a broken foot. It was nice to see him rewarded with a point today as offence has not come easily for Chatfield. As usual, Chatfield also brought some physicality to the table as well.
1st Star: Dylan Blujus. Blujus was playing in his first game since February first and he didn’t look rusty at all. He made three huge defensive plays and picked up an assist today as well. Blujus brings a bit of what the Comets have been missing as a steady player in his own end who can turn the momentum with a well-timed break up of an opponent’s chance. With Ashton Sautner, Guillaume Brisebois, and Luke Schenn still up in Vancouver, Blujus will be all the more important in the coming games for the Comets.
Today’s loss leaves the Comets in sixth place in the North Division with 68 points in 66 games, along with a winning percentage of 0.515%. Cleveland is right ahead of them with 68 points in 64 games and a winning percentage of 0.531%. Belleville holds the fourth and final playoff spot in the North with 74 points in 66 games, giving them a winning percentage of 0.561%.
Vs Laval Rocket
Friday, March 22nd, 2019
7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific