CanucksArmy Utica Comets Post-Game: Comets Lay A “Benning-Is-In-Town Beatdown” On Pens With 8-1 Romp

Utica Comets Post-Game Report

Game #74

Vs Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins

Friday, April 12th, 2019

7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific



Scratched Today For Utica

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  1. Richard Bachman: G. Out for the season, Achilles’ injury.
  2. Michael Leighton: G. Out for the season, lower-body injury.
  3. Olli Juolevi: LD. Out for the season, knee surgery.
  4. Evan McEneny: LD. Out for the season, lower-body injury.
  5. Jalen Chatfield: RD. Day-to-day, upper-body injury.
  6. Mitch Eliot: RD. Healthy scratch.
  7. Dyson Stevenson: LW/RW. Healthy scratch.
  8. Vincent Arseneau: LW/RW. Healthy scratch.
  9. Mitchell Vanderlaan: LW/RW. Healthy scratch.
  10. Connor Doherty: LD. Healthy scratch.
  11. Derek Pratt: LD. Healthy scratch.

Today’s Starting Lines

(First forward line/defensive pair listed started the game. The remaining lines are in no particular order)

Carter Bancks (C) – 21 Brendan Woods – 15 Zack MacEwen

20 Tom Pyatt – 10 Tanner Kero – 24 Reid Boucher

 16 Brendan Gaunce – 11 Cam Darcy – 13 Kole Lind

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22 Jonah Gadjovich – 36 Wacey Hamilton (A) – 9 Lukas Jasek

3 Stefan LeBlanc – 26 Jaime Sifers (A)

40 Aaron Thow – 8 Dylan Blujus

7 Brandon Anselmini – 64 Jesse Graham

33 Marek Mazanec

35 Ty Reichenbach (backing up)

First Period

The opening frame went pretty well for the Comets as they held a solid lead on the shot clock and finished the period up 1-0.

Reid Boucher lifted the fans out of their seats early when he was sent in all alone on a break, but saw goaltender John Muse come up with a save on his backhander. At the other end, Marek Mazanec kicked out a leg for a save to send the Comets back the other way.

We had a bit of back and forth before Lukas Jasek let fly with a shot off the right side. That led to a bit of a scramble where Wacey Hamilton put the puck off Jasek. Gadjovich was JonahOnTheSpot to pick up his fourth goal of the season. The Comets were up 1-0. Jasek earned his 17th helper of the year on the play, while Hamilton earned his ninth.

That is a pretty good start to have when Jim Benning is in the building to take in the game.

The Comets kept it coming as Tom Pyatt took a feed from Boucher but was unable to beat Muse. Cam Darcy followed up by wheeling into the Pens’ zone and getting a backhander away that Muse denied. Defenceman, Stefan LeBlanc came right back with a shot that was kicked out by Muse as the Comets were pouring it on early.

When the Pens finally got another chance it was Ryan Haggerty stepping into one from just inside the Comets blueline, but Mazanec was able to get a glove on it. The Comets went the other way and we saw Brendan Woods feed Gadjovich for a chance from in close, Muse was ready with another save.

LeBlanc followed up by dishing to Boucher for a one-timer from the high slot that was kicked out by the Pens netminder. Brendan Gaunce came back in with a wrister that was denied before the Pens went the other way.

Sam Miletic let fly with a shot off the left side that Mazanec steered aside with his stick. The Comets netminder followed up with a glove save on Sam Lafferty. Mazanec would have to keep the saves coming when he got a stick on a Brandon Hawkins offering.

The Comets had a new-look line of Cam Darcy between Brendan Gaunce and Kole Lind and that trio was buzzing in the offensive zone, but were unable to make anything happen. The Kero line followed up with an active shift of their own that saw Boucher take the puck hard to the net, only to be denied by Muse once again. LeBlanc followed up with a wrister that was swallowed up by the Pens netminder to keep his team in the game.

Cam Darcy did his best to put his team up 2-0 when he whipped out all of the moves to dance into the Pens’ zone before being denied by Muse with another save.

Jesse Graham was dinged for a cross-check at the 13:10 mark and it was off to the kill for Utica.

The foursome of Carter Bancks, Wacey Hamilton, Jaime Sifers and Stefan LeBlanc did the heavy lifting on this one, staying out for nearly the entirety of the kill. Mazanec did his part as well as he gloved down an early shot and Jaime Sifers followed up with a big shot block. Sifers announced recently that this would be his last season of pro hockey as he is hanging up his skates after Sunday’s game.

Mazanec wasn’t done stopping pucks as he came up with a huge save on Joseph Blandisi before swallowing up a Jeff Taylor offering as well. Jimmy Hayes came back with a shot off the right side that the Comets netminder denied as well. The Pens’ power play came up as empty as a pocket.

Sam Miletic put the Comets right to the power play as the Graham penalty expired when he was dinged for tripping.

The Comets rolled out their second unit of Jasek, Gaunce, Graham, Gadjovich, and Lind. That quintet did not get any traction and was replaced by MacEwen, Kero, Thow, Boucher, and Pyatt.

Thow set Boucher up for a one-timer that was kicked aside before Pyatt took a feed from Boucher and let fly with a shot that Muse steered over the glass. The Comets power play also came up short.

Kole Lind didn’t seem to care that the power play was over because he was still looking for a goal, getting a shot away from the right side that was gloved down by Muse. Jonah Gadjovich followed up with a shot from the other side that was denied by the blocker of Muse and that would wrap it up for the opening frame.

Utica showed a 14-8 advantage on the shot clock for the opening period.

Second Period

Sweet fancy Moses! Buckle up folks, the middle frame was a banger. Mazanec had to come up with an early save on Lafferty on a two-on-one play before gloving down the Ben Sexton point shot that followed. Mazanec followed up by dropping the puck and clearing it out of the Comets zone with a flick of the wrist.

Reid Boucher…well, he had himself a heck of a period. The Comets sniper scored three goals in the middle frame, the first of which came just 1:38 in. There was a bit of a scramble at the Pens’ blueline and Kero managed to get the puck to Boucher and number 24 in your program ripped it home for his 29th goal of the season. Kero earned his 31st helper of the year on the play to continue with his impressive season.

The Pens came looking for a quick reply, but Mazanec gloved the shot down and, once again calmly flicked the puck out of his zone. The Comets netminder was playing the puck well in this one.

Jake Lucchini sent the Comets back to the power play at the 2:52 mark when he was dinged for roughing.

The Comets power play went to work and this time they would not be denied. Tom Pyatt had his short-side chance denied by Muse before Boucher tried his luck but was turned aside as well. There was a scramble on that play and Pyatt banged home the rebound for his sixth goal of the season and the Comets were up 3-0. Zack MacEwen earned his 30th helper of the year on the play, while Boucher picked up his 31st.

The Comets kept bringing the heat as Gadjovich dished a nice feed to Sifers for a backhander that was denied by Muse.

At the other end, Mazanec came up with a save on Jimmy Hayes from the right side before Jesse Graham went the other way to take a feed from Kole Lind, putting a wrister on net that was denied. It was a bit of back and forth hockey as Sam Miletic went the other way with speed down the left side. Miletic let fly with a shot and Mazanec whipped out the mitt for another save.

Carter Bancks tried his luck with a shot from distance that was kicked and we saw the Pens head the other way, three-on-one, but Adam Johnson put his offering wide of the net. It was MacEwen’s turn next when he ripped a shot off the blocker of Muse before Pyatt was denied in tight. The Pens went back the other way with numbers and, once again were unable to put a shot on the target.

With all of this back and forth, you had to know that someone would get dinged with a penalty and it was Lukas Jasek who was eventually whistled for holding at the 8:24 mark. It was back to the kill for Utica.

Mazanec kicked out an early one-timer before MacEwen and Woods went the other way for a shorthanded chance. Woods fired his shot wide after TheBigFella danced into the Pens end for the zone entry. Cam Darcy and Brendan Gaunce finished off the kill and that was when the fireworks started that would last for the remainder of the period and carried over into the final frame.

Darcy ran into Muse and Jimmy Hayes took exception. Hayes stands six-foot-five and tips the scales at 210lbs. Darcy, for his part, is six-feet tall and weighs in at 185lbs. Darcy did well to hold his own and hang on in that one. Both men were given five for fighting.

Roughly 25 seconds later, Reid Boucher had his second goal of the game and the Comets were up 4-0. Boucher got in close and buried it for his 30th goal of the season. Tom Pyatt grabbed his 12th helper of the year on the play, as did Jesse Graham.

It took Jarrett Burton roughly 30 seconds to pull the Pens to within…three. The goal was the sixth of the season for Burton, while Adam Johnson picked up his 25th helper of the year and Matt Abt earned his 12th.

Just under a minute later, Abt was headed to the box for holding and it was back to the man advantage for the Comets. Kevin Czuczuman was dinged for roughing just 12 seconds later and the Comets had a lengthy two-man advantage to work with.

Reid Boucher made it a 5-1 game roughly 25 seconds later when he used a backhander to beat Muse for his third goal of the period and 31st of the season. Tanner Kero picked up his 32nd helper of the year on the play, while Tom Pyatt earned his 13th.

Mazanec followed up the Boucher goal with a save and was bumped on the play by Ben Sexton. Jonah Gadjovich wasn’t about to let that slide and invited Sexton for a little dance. This one was more of a wrestling match and both men were given five for fighting.

It was about a minute later when Wacey Hamilton and Jarrett Burton started teeing off on each other in another bout. Both got a couple of shots in and both were headed to the box for five minutes. The fisticuffs were not over yet as under a minute later, former Canuck Joseph Cramarossa nailed Brandon Anselmini with a cross-check and there were more gloves hitting the ice. I was impressed by Anselmini’s gusto in this one as he handled himself well. Both were given five for fighting and Cramarossa was given an extra two for the cross-check.

Taking a break from the pugilistic activities…for just a moment, Lukas Jasek entertained us with the Comets sixth goal of the game when he ripped his shot past Muse for his ninth of the season. Brendan Gaunce earned his 21st assist of the year on the play, while MacEwen grabbed his 31st.

Was the fighting over with? Nope…the puck was no sooner in the net before Matt Abt must have decided that he was hungry or something because Brendan Woods fed him a steady diet of rights and he seemed happy to eat them before the two crashed to the ice with a thud.

The scoring wasn’t over for the period either as Kole Lind found himself all alone two minutes later and wired home his fourth goal of the season. Gaunce picked up his 22nd assist of the year on the play, while Jasek grabbed his 18th.

Tanner Kero and Jaime Sifers both had late chances shut down by Muse. The period ended with the Comets up 7-1 on the scoreboard and up 17-9 in shots for the period.

Third Period

We only saw one more goal the rest of the way and not nearly as many shots as we did in the middle frame.

We did see our sixth fight of the contest as Zack MacEwen and Sam Lafferty wanted to get in on the knuckle-dusting and had a quick tilt. TheBigFella stuffed his fist into Lafferty’s mumbles a couple of times before the two were escorted to the box. They were each given five minutes for their shenanigans.

It was 10 seconds later when the confusion kicked in for me. Tanner Kero was mauled at the side of the net by Joseph Blandisi and somehow was given five for fighting without even moving his arms. Kero just returned from a concussion, he had zero ambition to take part in the altercation.

Kero spent time on the bench with the trainer before leaving for the remainder of the game. Blandisi, for his part, was given an additional 10 minutes for being the aggressor.

The Comets ended up with a power play after the smoke had cleared, but it would be a short-lived one. With MacEwen in the box, Gadjovich was occupying his spot in the net front on the first unit and he dished a sweet feed to Boucher for a shot that was put wide. Not long after, Aaron Thow was dinged for slashing and the power play came to an end.

Mazanec had to glove down a Czuczuman wrister before Jaime Sifers put the Comets up 8-1 with his fourth goal of the season. The shorthanded marker was assisted by fellow veterans Carter Bancks with his 11th and Wacey Hamilton with his 10th as the Comets were running away with this one. This goal was scored on Matt O’Connor as he was between the pipes for the Pens and Muse’s night was done.

Matt Abt followed up the goal with a shot that was kicked out by Mazanec.

The Comets found themselves headed back to the kill soon after when Brandon Anselmini was whistled for a cross-check. The two Brendans got down to work as Gaunce and Woods had a shorthanded chance that saw O’Connor turn aside Woods’ one-timer.

Mazanec did his part with back-to-back saves before Ben Sexton was sent off for high-sticking Kole Lind as well as boarding on Lukas Jasek. It was good to see that Jasek was able to take part in the power play as he took a heavy hit. The Comets had four minutes of power play time to work with.

Mazanec had to whip out the mitt to shut down a shorthanded chance by Burton before O’Connor got a blocker on a Wacey Hamilton offering at the other end. Brendan Woods had a chance from in close denied and Graham had a shot kicked out as well before Dylan Blujus laid out with a great stick to stymie a Jimmy Hayes chance at the other end.

Carter Bancks sent Hamilton in for a chance and the vet split the defence but was denied by O’Connor. The Comets came up empty.

Stefan LeBlanc was the next to the box when he was sent off for interference at the 14:34 mark.

Brendan Woods came up with a shot block that he looked to take off the hand before MacEwen had his shorthanded backhander gloved down at the other end. Tom Pyatt followed up with a quick shot off of a faceoff win that was denied before Kole Lind pulled out a sweet toe drag to beat the defender but couldn’t get his shot through.

Time was winding down as Sam Lafferty let fly with a hot-shot off the right side that was swallowed up by Mazanec. The Comets netminder gloved down the following chance from Abt before making another save on an odd-man rush to wrap this one up.

That was it in Utica. The Comets finished the final frame with a 10-9 advantage on the shot clock and a 41-26 advantage for the game.

Today’s Official Boxscore

Comets Goals

  1. Gadjovich (4) from Jasek (17) and Hamilton (9).
  2. Boucher (29) from Kero (31).
  3. Pyatt (6) from MacEwen (30) and Boucher (31). PP goal.
  4. Boucher (30) from Pyatt (12) and Graham (12).
  5. Boucher (31) from Kero (32) and Pyatt (13).
  6. Jasek (9) from Gaunce (21) and MacEwen (31). PP goal.
  7. Lind (4) from Gaunce (22) and Jasek (18).
  8. Sifers (4) from Bancks (11) and Hamilton (10). Shorthanded goal.

The Three Stars in the building today were:

3rd Star: Marek Mazanec. 25 saves.

2nd Star: Tom Pyatt. One goal, two assists.

1st Star: Reid Boucher. Three goals, one assist.

CanucksArmy’s Three Stars:

3rd Star: Lukas Jasek. Jasek picked up a goal and a pair of helpers today and is now up to 27 points in 61 games in his rookie season. That puts him six points back of Zack MacEwen’s rookie total of 33 points in 66 games last season. Jasek has two more games to make up a little more ground, but I feel like the winger has had a pretty solid first year of pro hockey in North America.

2nd Star: Tanner Kero. Kero picked up another two helpers today and was credited with five shots on net. He is now up to 56 points in 65 games with the Comets in his first year with the team. Kero’s previous high in the AHL was 39 points in 60 games back in the 2015/16 season with the Rockford IceHogs. Kero just came back from a concussion and was attacked by Blandisi in today’s game. I hope that he is able to play the next two games because I feel like he might have a few more points left in him this season.

1st Star: Reid Boucher. Boucher picked up four more points tonight and is now up to 62 on the season. That ties him with Pascal Pelletier for first in single-season points on the Comets all-time list. His 31 goals are six better than his previous AHL career-high of 25 that he put up last season. His 31 assists are 10 better than his previous career-high of 21 from last season and his 62 points smash his previous career-high of 46 set last year. It has been an impressive season for Boucher and he has done everything asked of him by this club while in Utica.

Next Game

Game #75

At Hershey Bears

Saturday, April 13th, 2019

7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific

  • Puck Viking

    Time to fire Cull.

    With prime minutes going to vets this guy has single handedly wasted a year of development for the kids ont the farm all while chasing Palmu and Dahlen out of town.

    • Braindead Benning

      Funny how both teams have similararties… Comets play vets and can’t develop young prospects and the Canucks sign albatross contacts to vets to prevent call up’s from the farm… Or, maybe it’s because after 5 years people are overating all these “prospects” the team has?
      If players like Lind, Gad & Palmu have another year and are still stagnant then it’s going to look alot worse then the MG years of drafting (although at least the team was at its highest point)

      • ClassOF2011

        A heads up from the Western Conf Champion Flames GM on what a farm team is there for…

        “The goal isn’t to go 68-0 down there playing AHL vets, it’s to play the YOUNG players regardless, make them better and develop them for the Calgary Flames. That’s the goal” – Brad Treliving

        Now Benning…

        “I think the coaches have done a good job here. I don’t need to visit Utica to know good things and stuff is happening; I can see it in the standings.” – Benning

        Asked if Trent Cull will return next season: “Yes, he will be back next year”!!!!!!! – Benning

        WTF – You just couldn’t make this sh*t up… playoff hockey all around us… Canucks and Comets are NOT INVOLVED. But all is fine and dandy in FOUR YEAR zero PLAYOFFS failure Benning’s world. Wow, just wow. #firebenning

        Hello windowlickers, HELLOOOO!

      • Bud Poile

        It is exceedingly rare that a late 6th round pick makes the NHL,but Jasek’s dedication/ work ethic has earned him a decent AHL rookie campaign.
        Nice to see the Comets at .500 with their roster depleted due to injuries and NHL call-ups.

          • Bud Poile

            Yes,it is confusing with the drunken rants we have to endure from you and Braindead.
            The Canucks farm team have made the playoffs 3 out of the five years under Benning’s tenure.
            In 2018 the Comets set the AHL attendance record with their 138 game consecutive sell-out streak.

        • Braindead Benning

          It’s exceedingly rare that idiots like JB JR still have employment in the NHL… WTF is FA thinking having these clowns running 2 teams… 😂 They can’t even sign UFA at a reasonable price and always using excuses along the way… Pathetic

  • Too bad Boucher doesn’t have an NHL game, seems like such a tragedy that we have such a good AHL player that can’t translate all aspects of his game to the next level.

    Next year should be better for the Cometa because the Canucks have reliable goaltending. They’re going to reduce the frequency of shotblocking and trust their goaltenders to reduce injuries. That means fewer Comets call-ups.

    • wojohowitz

      Boucher does have a NHL game, just like Gaunce does. Both will be in the NHL next year but not with the Canucks. I see Nic Dowd just signed a three year contract with Washington, similar to Yannick Webber. Neither were good enough for the Canucks but good enough for Washington and Nashville.

      • ClassOF2011

        Yes Wojo, a good point from you at last. The list of ‘[email protected] for the Canucks’ who then went to other teams and miraculously became contributing keepers is mindblowing…

        Bonino (2 cups), Richardson, Weber, Dowd, Forsling, Sbisa, McCann, Guddy, Gagner, Nilsson are just a few who are doing fine away from the Benning trainwreck. Many are/have also enjoyed playoff hockey!

        This clearly comes down to pi$$-poor management and bad coaching guys – the evidence is simply overwhelming, isn’t it?

        #firebenning #firegreen #cull-cull #canuck career killers

  • LTFan

    If Boucher is not in the NHL next season I expect he will head for Europe and probably the KHL. As for Nick Dowd, this past season in Washington was by far his best year in the NHL. Looks like he replaced Jay Beagle for less money.