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Photo Credit: cory hergott

CanucksArmy Utica Comets Post-Game: Comets Let Early Lead Slip Away… Again, in 5-2 Loss to Belleville

Utica Comets Post-Game Report

Game #45

Belleville Senators at Utica Comets

Friday, January 24th, 2020

7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific

Pre-Game

Pre-Game Predictions From Twitter

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Post-Game

Scratched Today For Utica

  1. Wacey Hamilton: C – Lower-body injury, (broken foot) 6-8 weeks. AHL deal.
  2. Dyson Stevenson: W/C – Lower-body injury, (ankle) week-to-week. AHL deal.
  3. Dylan Blujus: RD – Upper-body injury, (chest) day-to-day. AHL deal.
  4. Vincent Arseneau: LW/RW – Upper-body injury, (concussion protocol) no timeframe. AHL deal.
  5. Guillaume Brisebois: LD – Upper-body injury, (broken fingertip) day-to-day. NHL deal.
  6. Mikey DiPietro: G – Healthy scratch. NHL deal.
  7. David Pope: LW/RW – Healthy scratch. NHL deal.
  8. Seamus Malone: W/C – Healthy scratch. AHL deal.
  9. Mitch Eliot: RD – Healthy scratch. NHL deal.
  10. Josh Teves: LD – Healthy scratch. NHL deal.
  11. Joe Roberts: PxP – Healthy scratch, (Just became a father for the first time. Congrats to Joe and his family… and welcome to the world, Norah Roberts!)

Comets Starting Lines

(1st forward line/defensive pair listed started the game. The remainder are in no particular order)

95 Justin Bailey – 16 John Stevens – 13 Kole Lind

47 Sven Baertschi – 9 Lukas Jasek – 27 Francis Perron

77 Nikolay Goldobin – 19 Carter Camper – 24 Reid Boucher (A)

21 Jonah Gadjovich – 34 Carter Bancks (C) – 15 Zack MacEwen

 6 Ashton Sautner (A) – 25 Brogan Rafferty

48 Olli Juolevi – 5 Jalen Chatfield

3 Stefan LeBlanc – 22 Matt Petgrave

31 Zane McIntyre

32 Richard Bachman (backing up)

First Period

The opening frame went by fairly quickly in what was a fairly well-paced period of action.

Francis Perron got things started by breaking down the right side for a shot that was swallowed up by goaltender Filip Gustavsson. Nikolay Goldobin was soon sent off for his first of two penalties of the period when he was dinged for hooking just 1:48 into the game.

Zane McIntyre was the man between the pipes today for the Comets and he had to come up with a sharp stop through traffic before robbing Logan Brown’s shot through a crowd from the right circle.

Brown would get the last laugh, however, as he was soon celebrating his fifth goal of the season after his one-timer from the right side beat McIntyre. Erik Brannstrom played set-up man for his 12th assist of the year, while Drake Batherson picked up his 31st.

The Comets were looking to get that one back as Lukas Jasek dished to Zack MacEwen in the right circle for a shot that was denied by Gustavsson.

The Sens put on a little pressure before the Stevens line did the same at the other end, but the Comets were having a tough time mustering chances. MacEwen tried to change that as he rushed down the right side and centred for Gadjovich, but the second-year winger was tied up. The line kept the pressure on and Matt Petgrave got a shot away that was gloved down. Petgrave was playing his first game of the season for the Comets today.

Justin Bailey has been on fire of late and that didn’t slow down today… not that Bailey does anything slowly on the ice. The speedy winger was set up on a nice play by John Stevens off the rush and scored his 23rd goal of the season to knot the game at one. That ties Bailey’s career-high for AHL goals in a season. Stevens, for his part, made a nice play to earn his third assist of the season and first point as a Comet. His second would come later in the period.

The wheels on Bailey to get this play started though…

Jordan Murray didn’t do his club any favours by taking a holding penalty less than a minute later and the Comets were off to the power play. The first unit kicked things off as Rafferty and Boucher had chances turned aside before Goldy put one off the blocker of Gustavsson. The second unit took over and fared no better and the Comets came up empty.

Utica pressed a bit after the power play ended and we saw Carter Bancks fire wide with Gustavsson out of position before Bailey wheeled the puck back into the offensive zone with Petgrave right there with him. Bailey fed Petgrave but the defender couldn’t hook up with a rushing Kole Lind and the play died.

Bailey was a man on a mission as he used his speed and a good stick to force Logan Brown into turning over the puck, but the Comets couldn’t keep the play going.

Nikolay Goldobin took his second penalty of the period when he was sent off for hooking at the 15:17 mark.

Erik Brannstrom unloaded with a one-timer that McIntyre gobbled up and soon after, the Comets were celebrating a shorthanded goal. Carter Bancks and John Stevens worked a shorthanded play that saw Stevens come away with his first goal in a Comets uniform and third of the season. Bancks grabbed his seventh helper of the year on the shorthanded tally.

Bancks did nice work along the boards to start this play and Stevens did well to followup and bury his own rebound for the goal.

There was still time to kill off of the Goldobin penalty and kill it they did after McIntyre shut down a Vitaly Abramov chance. The period came to a close after a chance for Sven Baertschi and Francis Perron was denied. The Comets showed an impressive edge in shots for the period of 15-5.

Second Period

We had some early back and forth that saw Goldobin fire wide with a wide-open net before Michael Carcone was sent off for roughing. Trent Cull started things off with his second unit and they couldn’t get anything going and ended up giving up a shorthanded chance to Parker Kelly. Thankfully, McIntyre was ready with a save.

The first unit took over and Kole Lind dished to Boucher for a shot that was put wide of the target. The Comets came up empty, and to add insult to injury, Carcone darted out of the box and broke in to beat McIntryre for his 10th goal of the season. Morgan Klimchuk grabbed his seventh assist of the year on the tying goal while Jack Dougherty earned his eighth.

Vitaly Abramov was looking for the go-ahead goal immediately after but McIntyre said no.

Ashton Sautner was whistled for slashing at the 4:20 mark and the Comets were back to the kill. We saw Boucher and Goldobin spend some shorthanded time in the offensive zone but there would be no shorthanded goal for them. The Comets came up with another good kill.

Jonah Gadjovich had a chance swallowed up and after the ensuing faceoff, he crushed his man behind the net, leading to Andreas Englund taking exception. The two men dropped the mitts and went for a canoe ride that saw Jonah break out The Jackhammer with some rapid blows before Englund got the takedown.

Just under 30 seconds later, Logan Brown was whistled for a hook and the Comets were off to the power play. The Sens use an aggressive kill and after a Kole Lind chance that was denied, Kelly had a shorthanded chance denied by McIntyre. The Comets came up empty again.

We saw an incredible burst of speed from Bailey before he dished to MacEwen for a chance that Gustavsson came up with a big save on. Kole Lind followed up with a chance of his own but Gustavsson was equal to the task once more.

For what it’s worth, I can assure you that Mr. Keeping knew that he was talking about Justin Bailey and not Josh Bailey when sent that tweet.

At the other end of the ice, Abramov let fly from the right circle with a shot that McIntyre turned aside. The puck went the other way but soon after, Ashton Sautner was picked by Alex Formenton and the Sens rookie streaked in for a shot that was denied by McIntyre before the Comets netminder flashed the leather for a save on Christian Jaros.

This wasn’t Olli Juolevi’s strongest game today, but he did make a nice defensive play by using his body and stick well to keep Logan Brown wide in the defensive zone until Jalen Chatfield poked the puck from his stick for a clear.

Michael Carcone already had one goal today and he came looking for a second off the right side but McIntyre kicked his offering away. Sautner had seen enough of the former Comet and stood him up with a stiff hit in the corner.

Carter Bancks was whistled for a hook at the 17:38 mark and the Comets would head back to the penalty kill. Soon after, however, the Sens were dinged for having too many men on the ice and we had 44 seconds of four aside play as the period wound down. Belleville showed a 9-6 edge in shots for the middle frame.

Third Period

The teams went into the final frame knotted at two, but it was the Sens with the edge in play for the final frame.

Zack MacEwen threw a solid hit on a Sen between the benches as he was trying to up the physical play.

Michael Carcone followed up by breaking into the Comets’ end and took the puck to the net, taking it off the pegs as his teammate was about to throw the puck into an empty net. That teammate was Christopher Clapperton. Can we just take a second to recognize how awesome the last name Clapperton is for a hockey player… I sure hope that Christopher has a booming shot.

Back to the hockey activities, Filip Chlapik got a shot away from the right side that McIntyre gloved down. At the other end of the ice, Matt Petgrave had a shot denied by Gustavsson as we had a bit of back and forth.

Patrick Kelly collided with Justin Bailey near the Comets’ net and Stefan LeBlanc was having none of it as the defender went full ginger on Kelly, taking him to the ice and giving him a rough go. Both men were sent off for roughing. Good on LeBlanc for jumping in when he didn’t like the way his speedy winger was hit.

The Sens were pressing again as Max Lajoie sent a feed to Chlapik for a shot that McIntyre got a glove on before Boucher cleared it. Unfortunately, the Sens kept pressing while the Comets seemed to fall asleep and it was soon 3-2 in the Sens’ favour. Jordan Murray let fly with a hot shot that blew past McIntyre to give his team the lead. They would not relinquish it.

Murray earned his fourth goal of the season on the play, while Logan Brown grabbed his 19th helper of the year and Max Lajoie picked up his seventh.

LeBlanc was back out of the box by this time and he unloaded with a one-timer that was waved aside by the blocker of Gustavsson.

As if the play by the Comets wasn’t bad enough on the go-ahead goal by Murray, Zane McIntyre let in a clunker from a bad angle and the Sens were up 4-2. It was Patrick Kelly doing the damage with a shot that should not be beating an AHL goaltender for his seventh tally of the season. Joe LaBate earned his 10th assist of the year on the play as well.

The Sens were not letting up as McIntyre made back-to-back stops on Lajoie. I was in the middle of making a note at this point about how the Sens were pressing and the Comets weren’t pushing back… and that was when Ashton Sautner and Filip Chlapik had a little toe-to-toe behind the play. Both were given five for fighting.

Roughly a minute and a half later, Joe LaBate tried to engage Justin Bailey in a fight. Bailey, being The Gentleman, declined his invitation and a frustrated LaBate was given two for roughing and Bailey’s team was off to the man advantage… not that it would do them any good.

With the Comets up a man, Rafferty had a shot swallowed up with Bailey looking for loose change in the net-front before the Comets defender’s next shot was denied as well. The second unit took over and Morgan Klimchuk accepted a gimme from Juolevi and scored a shorty for his ninth goal of the season. Juolevi was trying to clear the puck but was picked off. The Comets were down 5-2 and came up empty on their power play.

Jalen Chatfield followed up the shorthanded goal with a nice stretch pass to send Jonah Gadjovich in but Jonah didn’t have the wheels to get a scoring chance. The Comets tried to muster some offence, but Lind had his shot steered aside before LeBlanc’s offering was shut down as well.

That was it for this one as the Comets fell 5-2 to a good, young Sens squad. This is a game that the Comets could have won, however, so it is a disappointing loss to take against the team they are fighting with for the first spot in the division.

Belleville held a 12-7 edge on the third-period shot clock, but Utica had a 28-26 advantage in the game.

Today’s Official Boxscore

Comets Goals

  1. Justin Bailey (23) from John Stevens (3).
  2. John Stevens (4) from Carter Bancks (7). Shorthanded goal.

Special Teams

Power Play: 0/5, one shorthanded goal allowed.

Penalty Kill: 3/4, one shorthanded goal for.

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

PP2: MacEwen, Perron, Camper, Gadjovich, Juolevi.

Penalty Killers: Bancks, Stevens, Boucher, Goldobin, Jasek, MacEwen, Baertschi, LeBlanc, Rafferty, Juolevi, Sautner, Chatfield.

The Three Stars in the building today were:

3rd Star: John Stevens. One goal, (shorthanded) one assist.

2nd Star: Morgan Klimchuk. One goal, one assist.

1st Star: Logan Brown. One goal, one assist.

CanucksArmy’s Three Stars:

3rd Star: Justin Bailey. Bailey had a solid game in a contest where I’ve been having a bit of a tough time finding my third star, so he gets it today. He used his speed well, as is his way, and picked up another goal to match his previous single-season high of 23 in the AHL set back in his rookie campaign. He is now up to 38 points in 44 games this season for Utica. ‘

2nd Star: Stefan LeBlanc. LeBlanc isn’t going to get many of these stars over the course of a season, but I felt like he was deserving of one today. He wasn’t credited with any shots, but I beg to differ with whoever was keeping track for the AHL today. He made some nice defensive plays, stuck up for Bailey when he felt he needed to and finished as a plus-2 in a game where his team gave up five goals.

1st Star: John Stevens. Stevens also finished as a plus-2 today and had a solid game. He picked up his first goal with the Comets, a nice shorty, and set Justin Bailey up for his tally. Stevens has done some nice work on the defensive side of the puck and is quickly becoming a penalty-killing staple for the Comets. The fact that he plays the middle helps as well on a team that is paper-thin at the position.

Next Game

Game #46

Utica Comets at Belleville Senators

Saturday, January 25th, 2020

7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific.