Photo Credit: cory hergott

CanucksArmy Utica Comets Post-Game: Comets Battle Back For 4-2 Win Over Lehigh Valley, Olli Juolevi Adds Pair Of Helpers

Utica Comets Post-Game Report

Game #33

Utica Comets at Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Saturday, December 28th, 2019

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7:05 pm Eastern/4:05 pm Pacific


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Pre-Game Predictions From Twitter

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Scratched Today For Utica

  1. Francis Perron: W/C – Upper-body injury, no timeframe. NHL deal.
  2. Carter Camper: C – Veteran scratch. AHL deal.
  3. Jonah Gadjovich: LW/RW – Illness, no timeframe. NHL deal.
  4. Mitch Eliot: RD – Healthy scratch. NHL deal.
  5. Josh Teves: LD – Healthy scratch. NHL deal.
  6. Richard Bachman: G – Healthy scratch. NHL deal.
  7. Dyson Stevenson: W/C – Lower-body injury, day-to-day. AHL deal.

Comets Starting Lines

(First forward line/defence pair listed started the game. The remainder are in no particular order)

18 Vincent Arseneau – 34 Carter Bancks (C) – 95 Justin Bailey

47 Sven Baertschi – 36 Wacey Hamilton (A) – 24 Reid Boucher (A)

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77 Nikolay Goldobin – 9 Lukas Jasek – 13 Kole Lind

3 Stefan LeBlanc – 17 Seamus Malone – 74 Tanner Sorenson

55 Guillaume Brisebois – 25 Brogan Rafferty

48 Olli Juolevi – 6 Ashton Sautner

8 Dylan Blujus – 5 Jalen Chatfield

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64 Mikey DiPietro

31 Zane McIntyre (backing up)

First Period

This game had a decent pace to the opening frame, even if it took half a period before we saw more than three shots between the two clubs.

Carter Bancks opened the game between Justin Bailey and Vinny Arseneau, but Seamus Malone took that spot after the first shift and Bancks slid between Stefan LeBlanc, who was playing forward as a defenceman, and recent ECHL call-up Tanner Sorenson.

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There was some early back and forth before Sven Baertschi had a chance denied by JF Berube.

Kole Lind was dinged for tripping at the 2:18 mark and the Comets had an early penalty to kill. Trent Cull elected to sit point producing pivot Carter Camper as his veteran scratch today in favour of Wacey Hamilton and Wacey was out there with his twin, Carter Bancks to start this kill off.

Baertschi and Boucher took over and did great work to keep the puck out of their end for the bulk of their time on the ice. The twins came back out to finish things off and the Comets had a good kill.

Mikey DiPietro got the hook after allowing three goals in 7:45 of work last night, but he was back in goal today and came up with a save on German Rubtsov to keep his team in the game. The Phantoms started to apply some pressure and apparently that was too much for AHLTV to show us as my screen went black for a couple of minutes before returning to normal.

When the game was back on, we saw DiPietro deny Rubtsov once more.

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Olli Juolevi has been looking good since his return from injury and he showed a smart stick to disrupt a Phantoms play enough to send the puck out of the Comets’ zone. Boucher followed up by going down the right side with a shot that Berube turned aside. The Phantoms went back the other way where DiPietro shut down a Mark Friedman offering.

DiPietro followed up by gloving down another long shot and he held for the whistle. On the ensuing faceoff, Carter Bancks used a nice stretch pass to send Tanner Sorenson in where he dropped for a streaking Jalen Chatfield. Chatfield let fly with a shot that Berube turned aside.

At the other end, DiPietro kicked out a chance from Andy Welinski before Juolevi had a shot through traffic swallowed up by Berube. A brief melee broke out after the whistle and Kole Lind was right in the middle of it after having a fresh zipper installed on his chin after taking a puck up high last night.

Reid Boucher unloaded with a shot, but he put it right into the crest on the front of Berube’s jersey. We had some back and forth before Rafferty let fly with a shot through traffic that was turned aside, as was the David Kase chance at the other end.

Kole Lind picked up his 10th goal of the season to put the Comets up 1-0 after taking a nice pass from Olli Juolvei and burying it behind Berube. Juolevi grabbed his 11th helper of the year on the play, while Lukas jasek earned his sixth.

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That was some nice puck movement from some young Comets.

The goal came at the 18:28 mark and the Comets took a 1-0 lead into the middle frame. Utica showed an 8-4 advantage on the first-period shot clock.

Your first-period shot map:

Second Period

The middle frame saw more scoring than the opening one and there was some pretty good action to boot.

Guillaume Brisebois continued with the strong defensive play that he’s been providing this year when he foiled an early Phantoms chance before Lukas Jasek went the other way and unloaded with a one-timer that Berube kicked out. Wacey Hamilton followed up with a chance that he couldn’t get to go.

There was some good back and forth before Baertschi took a stiff hit just inside the Phantoms’ blue line. Sven has taken a couple of heavy hits of late but he keeps bouncing back up.

Brogan Rafferty did nice work to skate the puck out of trouble in his own end but Nate Prosser was soon back in the Comets zone with a chance that DiPietro turned aside. Kole Lind had a chance at the other end when he sent a backhander through traffic but Berube was there with the save.

The Comets’ fourth line of Malone between Arseneau and Sorenson had a solid shift in the offensive zone before DiPietro had to glove down a high shot through traffic and held for the whistle as the Phantoms started to press.

Guillaume Brisebois kept the big defensive plays coming as he laid out to break up a Phantoms’ two-on-one and once again, Lukas Jasek was gong the other way and had his chance turned aside as well.

Olli Juolevi has been doing some good things this year, but he has also shown some warts in his game. One of those warts reared its head when he overhandled the puck and DiPietro had to come up with a big stop before Kurtis Gabriel scored on the rebound. The goal was Gabriel’s second of the season, while Matthew Strome and Steven Swavely both earned their second helper of the year on the play.

The Phantoms didn’t stop there as Gerry Fitzgerald soon put the Phantoms up 2-1 with his fourth of the season seconds later. Maksim Sushko picked up his sixth helper of the year on the play, while Carson Twarnski earned his fourth.

Ouch, those were two quick goals!

The Comets weren’t taking it laying down, however, as Lind sent Goldobin in for a free chance, but Goldy hot-dogged it by trying a play from behind his legs and put his offering over the net. Insert facepalm emoji here…

The Comets did great work to get that go-ahead goal back as Olli Juolevi made up for his gaff and sent a beautiful pass to Wacey Hamilton for his second goal of the season. Juolevi showed fantastic patience on the play. Olli earned his 12th assist of the year, while Reid Boucher kept his points streak alive at 15 games with his 19th helper.

The foot stayed on the go pedal as Rafferty pinched deep to dish a net-front feed to Arseneau, but Berbube was equal tot he task. DiPietro steered aside a shot at the other end and Justin Bailey turned on the afterburners and went all the way for his 11th of the season. DiPietro didn’t get an assist on the play, but he probably should have for that effort.

Greg Carey tried to get that one back with a shot off the left side, but DiPietro said no.

Guillaume Brisebois and Pasqual Laberge were both dinged for roughing in the final minute and a half and we saw DiPietro come up with a blocker save before Boucher and Hamilton went the other way where Hamilton had his backhander soaked up by Berube.

Olli Juolevi was dinged for holding at the 20:00 minute mark and the Phantoms would be starting the final frame up a man. Lehigh Valley showed a 10-6 advantage on the shot clock in the second period.

Your second-period shot map:

Third Period

The Comets were up 3-2 going into the third period and had the Juolevi penalty to kill while Guillaume Brisebois and Pasqual Laberge were also doing time for their previous transgressions.

The Phantoms pressed and DiPietro came up with a pad save before Sautner blocked a shot and sent the Comets out of their zone. Utica came up with a good kill.

We had some back and forth before DiPietro made a stick save as the Phantoms pressed some more… and then the game dropped out entirely on me for a couple of minutes. Once things were back up and running, Connor Bunnaman let fly with a shot from a tough angle that DiPietro gloved down and held for the whistle.

At the other end, Tanner Sorenson fired a shot against the grain of play that Berube stopped and held as it handcuffed him a little. We had a string of icings and other assorted plays that resulted in whistles and stoppages before Reese Wilcox was sent off for tripping at the 9:50 mark.

The Comets rolled out a new-look power-play unit that saw Goldobin replace Bailey. Baertschi teed up a one-timer for Boucher that was swallowed up before another new power-play unit took over. This grouping saw Brisebois, Juolevi, Jasek, Bailey, and… Arseneau. I know, it might be counter-intuitive to put BigVinny on the PP, but the dude has a cannon of a shot, so why not give it a try?

The Comets were unable to make anything happen with the extra man and came up empty.

Kurtis Gabriel clobbered Sautner with a hit that the defender wasn’t keen on and DiPietro had to stop the shot that resulted from the play before shutting down a Max Willman offering from the left side.

Mark Friedman was sent off for elbowing at the 12:46 mark and the Comets were right back to the power play. We saw the same two units get things going and Rafferty had a shot tipped by Baertschi but Berube was ready with the save. He was there to deny the Reid Boucher chance that followed as well.

Brisebois unloaded with a shot through traffic that gave Berube some trouble, but the Comets came away empty once more.

The Phantoms tried to press but Bancks blocked a one-timer and DiPietro followed up with a save before German Rubtsov was whistled for tripping to put Utica back to the man advantage.

We saw another new look as Brisebois, Rafferty, Lind, Boucher, and Baertschi started things off, but DiPietro had to turn aside a Maksim Sushko backhander and the Comets had a faceoff in their own end.

Trent Cull rolled out the strangest looking power-play unit that we’ve seen from him this year as he didn’t want to give up another shorthanded goal. Hamilton, Bailey, Goldobin, Juolevi, and Sautner were the chosen ones.

Goldy had a pass attempt picked off by Gerry Fitzgerald but Sautner stayed with him and took the puck back. The Comets were unable to make anything happen.

Berube was summoned to the bench with roughly a minute remaining in regulation and the Phantoms called their timeout with 27 seconds left on the clock. Sven Baertschi put this one away with an empty-net goal. The unassisted tally was his seventh of the season.

That was it for this one as the Comets came away with the win after being outshot 10-6 in the final frame and 24-20 overall.

Your third-period shot map:

Today’s Official Boxscore

Comets Goals:

  1. Kole Lind (10) from Olli Juolevi (11) and Lukas Jasek (6).
  2. Wacey Hamilton (2) from Olli Juolevi (12) and Reid Boucher (19).
  3. Justin Bailey (11).
  4. Sven Baertschi (7). Empty-net goal.

Special Teams

Power Play: 0/3

Penalty Kill: 2/0

PP1: Baertschi, Boucher, Goldobin, Lind, Rafferty.

PP2: Jasek, Bailey, Arseneau, Juolevi, Brisebois.

PP3: Hamilton, Bailey, Goldobin, Sautner, Juolevi.

Penalty Killers: Hamilton, Bancks, Jasek, Boucher, Baertschi, Brisebois, Sautner, Juolevi, Blujus, Chatfield.

The Three Stars in the building today were:

3rd Star: Kurtis Gabriel. One goal.

2nd Star: Justin Bailey. Game-winning goal.

1st Star: Gerry Fitzgerald. One goal.

CanucksArmy’s Three Stars:

3rd Star: Wacey Hamilton. I questioned the addition of Hamilton back into the Comets lineup at the expense of Carter Camper and the veteran gave me a big middle finger with the game-tying goal to get his team back into the game while playing a solid game on the defensive side of things. Credit where it is due… even if Stevie Wonder could have scored on the pass from Juolevi.

2nd Star: Justin Bailey/Lukas Jasek. They weren’t playing on the same line today, but both players continued their strong play of late. Bailey grabbed the game-winner and now has 11 goals and 11 assists to give himself 22 points in 33 games on the season. Bailey has 11 points in 12 December games. Jasek, for his part, added another assist and now has nine goals and six helpers, giving him 15 points in 32 games. Lukas’s next goal will be his 10th for a new career-high. He now has 10 points in 12 December games.

1st Star: Olli Juolevi. Olli coughed up a puck and it ended up in his team’s net soon after, but he had a solid game today with two very nice assists. Juolevi does a great job of stretching the ice with crisp outlet passes and two of those resulted in goals for his team today. He is now up to one goal and 12 assists, giving him 13 points in 25 games to match his totals from his 18-game rookie campaign last year. Olli has one goal and seven assists in 11 December games.

Next Game

Game #34

Rochester Americans at Utica Comets

Tuesday, December 31st, 2019

5:00 pm Eastern/2:00 pm Pacific