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Photo Credit: cory hergott

CanucksArmy Utica Comets Post-Game: Comets Undone By Special Teams Once Again in 5-4 Overtime Loss to Laval

Utica Comets Post-Game Report

Game #49

Utica Comets at Laval Rocket

Wednesday, February 5th, 2020

7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific

Pre-GameΒ 

Pre-Game Predictions From Twitter

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Post-Game

Scratched Today For Utica

  1. Vincent Arseneau: LW/RW – Lower-body injury, (hip) out for the season. AHL deal.
  2. Wacey Hamilton: C – Lower-body injury, (broken foot) week-to-week. AHL deal.
  3. Nikolay Goldobin: LW-RW – Flu, (down with the sickness) day-to-day. NHL deal.
  4. Richard Bachman: G – Healthy scratch. NHL deal.
  5. Josh Teves: LD – Healthy scratch. NHL deal.
  6. Mitch Eliot: RD – Healthy scratch. NHL deal.
  7. Tanner Sorenson: W/C – Healthy scratch. AHL deal,
  8. Seamus Malone: W/C – Healthy scratch. AHL deal.

Comets Starting Lines

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

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47 – Sven Baertschi – 19 Carter Camper – 24 Reid Boucher (A)

27 Francis Perron – 9 Lukas Jasek – 13 Kole Lind

21 Jonah Gadjovich – 16 John Stevens – 11 David Pope

3 Stefan LeBlanc – 34 Carter Bancks (C) – 26 Dyson Stevenson

48 Olli Juolevi – 5 Jalen Chatfield

55 Guillaume Brisebois – 8 Dylan Blujus

6 Ashton Sautner (A) – 25 Brogan Rafferty

64 Mikey DiPietro

31 Zane McIntyre (backing up)

First Period

This was a pretty nicely paced opening frame of hockey that saw the Rocket skate into the middle frame up 2-1 after a pair of power-play goals. Special teams would play a big role in this one.

Jake Evans got things started with an early chance that Mikey DiPietro kicked aside before the Comets rookie netminder made a sprawling save on Yannick Veilleux.

Lukas Jasek was whistled for a hook at the 1:17 mark and the Comets were off to the kill. It took Laval just 10 seconds to make Lukas feel shame after Carter Bancks blocked a shot that looked to sting and Charles Hudon ripped a Xavier Ouellet pass from the right circle to put his team up 1-0. Hudon earned his 22nd goal of the season on the play, while Ouellet picked up his 13th helper of the year and Jesperi Kotkaniemi grabbed his second.

Laval kept it coming as DiPietro had to come up with a stop before steering aside the Alex Alain chance that followed. Laurent Dauphin decked Sven Baertschi in the neutral zone and was sent off for tripping.

We saw the Comets’ first unit of Rafferty, Boucher, Lind, Baertschi, and Camper get things going unsuccessfully before being replaced by Brisebois, Juolevi, Gadjovich, Perron, and Jasek. That group knotted the game at one after Jasek put the puck to the front of the net where Gadjovich made a nice play to Perron who deposited it behind Michael McNiven.

The goal was Perron’s sixth of the season, while Gadjovich grabbed his fourth helper of the year and Jasek earned his ninth.

It was the Comets’ turn to press as Gadjovich and Dyson Stevenson both had chances turned aside by McNiven before Bancks followed up with a chance that was also shut down.

Guillaume Brisebois has been having a solid season, but he made an ill-advised pass from behind his own net that was picked off and fired wide of the net. Guillaume breathed a sigh of relief.

The Rocket were pressing as Juolevi blocked a shot from Kotkaniemi before DiPietro followed up with a save through traffic. That was when Brogan Rafferty did… well, he did this…

It’s too bad that McNiven was ready with the save because that would have been a beauty of a goal for Rafferty. Kole Lind and Jalen Chatfield followed up with chances of their own that were denied by McNiven.

At the other end, DiPietro got a glove on an Ouellet point shot through traffic to keep the game knotted at one. He followed up by robbing Dauphin with a sprawling save. He wasn’t done there as he got a blocker on the next shot that came his way, as well. Laval continued to dial up the pressure.

Stefan LeBlanc was playing as a winger again today, but he came up with a timely block as a shot went off of him and rang off the iron behind DiPietro. That was when Veilleux rocked Olli Juolevi with a hit and Dyson Stevenson made him pay for his transgressions quickly. Both men were sent off for fighting and Juolevi would be okay.

DiPietro had to keep the saves coming as he kicked aside another offering from Ouellet as the Camper line was hemmed in after a long shift. That ended up with Baetschi heading off for a trip and the Comets were back to the kill.

Bancks and Stevens are the new Bancks and Hamilton for Trent Cull and that duo took a stroll in the offensive zone to kill some time before Bancks put the puck on net for an offensive zone faceoff. When the Rocket got back into the Comets’ end, DiPietro came up with a save through traffic and held it for a whistle of his own.

The foursome of Jasek, Boucher, Chatfield and Juolevi took over and were victimized by a hot shot off the stick of Hudon for his second of the game and 23rd of the season. Kotkaniemi picked up his third helper of the year on the play, while Ouellet grabbed his 14th.

The Rocket kept the pressure on and Brisebois had to come up with a smart stick to foil a Laval play in the Comets’ end before Perron and Gadjovich had chances denied at the other end during a scramble play. Juolevi and Chatfield both had late chances denied and the Comets went into the middle frame down 2-1 on the scoreboard and down 15-11 on the shot clock.

Second Period

The middle frame saw more of the same, although it would be the Comets with an edge on the shot clock for the period.

Mikey DiPietro was having a solid game today, even if he had given up a pair of goals in the first period. He gobbled up an early opportunity from Gustav Olafsson before Rafferty came up with a nice takeaway in his own end that resulted in him coming up with a nifty spinning play at the other end to set Jasek up for a chance that was denied by McNiven.

The lines were juggled a bit in the second period as Kole Lind and Jonah Gadjovich swapped lines. Speaking of lines, the Comets fourth line was giving the coaching staff everything they needed as they poured on the pressure while on the forecheck and forced the Rocket into an icing call.

Olafsson clobbered Frankie Perron with an open-ice hit and Jonah Gadjovch was quick to have words with the Rocket, although Olafsson seemed to be declining some sort of invitation from Gadjovich. That was probably wise of him.

Back to the action, DiPietro kicked out a Cale Fleury offering before gobbling up the next shot that came his way as well. The Rocket kept pressing and Juolevi did a nice job to sweep the puck off of a Laval stick to his defence partner and Jalen Chatfield cleared the zone.

Antoine Waked was dinged for a delay of game penalty at the 8:51 mark and the Comets were off to the power play.

While the first unit wasn’t able to get set up, the second unit knotted the game at two on a Guillaume Brisebois shot that went off of a defender for his fourth of the season. That’s a new career-high for Guillaume. Lukas Jasek grabbed his second assist of the game and 10th of the season, while Olli Juolevi picked up his 21st. We shouldn’t discount the work that Gadjovich was doing in the net-front on the play either.

Kole Lind was feeling his oats after the Brisebois goal and made a power move out of the corner to take the puck to the front of the net, but wasn’t able to get the biscuit to John Stevens. Jalen Chatfield followed up with a shot through traffic that was gloved down for a whistle. The Comets kept it coming with another shot from Boucher from a bad angle and McNiven smothered it for a whistle.

Gustav Olafsson was sent off for holding at the 13:19 mark and the Comets were off to the power play… unfortunately, as has already happened 12 times this season, they gave up a shorthanded goal and came up empty with the extra man.

This time it was Jake Evans doing the damage with his 11th goal of the season after he took a feed from Karl Alzner and went in to beat DiPietro glove high. Alzner picked up his 10th assist of the year on the play, while Josh Brook earned his seventh.

The Comets will need to figure out their special teams and do it quickly as they have been giving up too many shorthanded chances against and their penalty kill seems to have stubbed its collective toe of late as well.

The fourth line followed up that goal-against with an aggressive shift and the third line followed suit and saw Stevens bust in and rip one to grab his fifth goal of the season and fourth point in 11 games since joining the Comets in a trade with Bridgeport.

I’ve been picking up what Stevens has been putting down over his last handful of games and more and more I want to see the team bring him back on an AHL pact next season if he’s agreeable. Stefan LeBlanc picked up his second assist of the season on the play, while Ashton Sautner earned his ninth. Sautner is just three points shy of his career-high of 13 and his next assist will match his career-high of 10.

There was some back and forth as time wound down in the period and we saw a brief scrum between Kole Lind and Josh Brook, but cooler heads prevailed and we headed into the third period with the game knotted at three and with the Comets having outshot the Rocket 13-7 for the frame.

Third Period

This wouldn’t end up being the final frame as both teams would add another goal in the third period. We had some early back and forth as Otto Leskinenwas denied at one end before McNiven shut down chances from Lind and Blujus at the other.

Laval was bringing it as Chatfield used a well-timed stick to break up a Rocket play in the defensive zone but DiPietro still had to kick aside a shot before gloving down the Hudon offering that followed.

The Comets were getting some good use out of their fourth line as we saw Dyson Stevenson come up with a shot block, but Carter Bancks followed that up by taking a high-sticking penalty to send his team down a man. If you’ve been following along, the Comets penalty kill has not been an area of strength in this game.

It took just 36 seconds for Jake Evans to poke the puck past DiPietro for his 12th goal of the campaign. Xavier Ouellet picked up his third helper of the game and 15th of the year on the play, while Kotkaniemi grabbed his fourth.

To this point in the game, every goal had been scored while one team or the other was on the power play. That would change when Reid Boucher scored his 25th goal of the season 28 seconds after the Evans tally to knot the game at four.

Carter Camper played set-up man from behind the net on Boucher’s quick release shot and earned his 22nd assist of the season for his efforts, while Sven Baertschi picked up the other helper for his 25th of the season. More importantly, it was Baerstchi’s first points since coming back from a high ankle sprain six games ago. Hopefully, he can carry that forward to Saturday’s game against Syracuse.

The Comets kept their foot on the go pedal as Boucher had a pair of chances denied before Josh Brook was dinged for interference. The Comets power play couldn’t muster much besides a Rafferty one-timer and the resulting Camper rebound chance but both were denied and they came up empty-handed once again.

We had some good back and forth as DiPietro had to come up with an alert stop on Riley Barber before gloving down another Olafsson shot. The Comets went the other way and McNiven denied Blujus and Stevens after Kole Lind showed great hustle to beat his man to the puck in the corner and set up the scoring chance.

The Comets got another good shift from their fourth line that saw some extended time spent in the offensive zone and once again, the Stevens line came right back with more of the same.

Back in the Comets’ end, DiPietro had to make a flurry of saves as a scramble broke out in his crease. The Comets headed the other way and Jonah Gadjovich ate a hit at the benches to get the puck in deep.

The Rocket managed to break back the other way and spent some time in the Comets’ end where we saw Rafferty turn the puck over to Hudon but Chatfield was there to save his bacon and foil the Hudon attempt. DiPietro followed up with another stop on Barber to keep his team in the game.

The period came to a close after an Olafsson shot was redirected on its way to DiPietro and Mikey had another save on the books. Laval finished the period with an advantage of 12-11 on the shot clock and we were headed off to overtime.

Overtime

Well, assuming that you read the lede for this piece, you know how this played out. Ouellet had an early chance off the rush denied before he came out of the corner unmolested, walked in for a free shot and stuffed in his own rebound. Charles Hudon picked up his fifth assist of the season on Ouellet’s ninth goal of the year, while Jake Evans earned his 22nd.

That’s not the way Lukas Jasek wanted to handle that play and not the way Comets wanted this one to end, but at least they picked up a point in a loss to a divisional opponent.

Today’s Official BoxscoreΒ 

Comets Goals

  1. Francis Perron (6) from Jonah Gadjovich (4) and Lukas Jasek (9). PP goal.
  2. Guillaume Brisebois (4) from Lukas Jasek (10) and Olli Juolevi (21). PP goal.
  3. John Stevens (5) from Stefan LeBlanc (2) and Ashton Sautner (9).
  4. Reid Boucher (25) from Carter Camper (22) and Sven Baertschi (25).

Mikey DiPietro: 33 saves in the loss.

Special Teams:

Power Play: 2/4. One shorthanded goal allowed.

Penalty Kill: 0/3.

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

PP2: Perron, Jasek, Gadjovich, Juolevi, Brisebois.

Penalty Killers: Bancks, Stevens, Boucher, Jasek, Sautner, Juolevi, Chatfield, Blujus.

The Three Stars in the building today were:

3rd Star: Charles Hudon.Β Two goals, one assist.

2nd Star: Jake Evans.Β Two goals.

1st Star: Xavier Ouellet.Β One goal, three assists.

CanucksAmry’s Three Stars:

3rd Star: John Stevens.Β Stevens picked up his second goal and fourth point in 11 games since coming over in an AHL trade with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. All four of those points have come in the club’s last five games. It seems like a good time for Stevens to be finding his groove with the Comets.

2nd Star: Lukas Jasek.Β Jasek picked up a pair of assists today and is now up to 13 goals and 10 helpers on the season, putting him just six points back of his career-high of 29 put up last season in his rookie campaign. Lukas is proving to be a steady 200-foot player for the Comets as a winger playing the middle. He didn’t pick Ouellet up on the game-winner, but I don’t imagine that we will see him make that same miscue again.

1st Star: Guillaume Brisebois.Β Brisebois now has a new single-season high for goals with his fourth today and now has 14 points on the season. That has him just four back of his career-high of 18. He is currently on pace for a 22 point season. Guillaume’s plus-21 currently leads the Comets and places him sixth-overall for that category in the AHL.

Next Game

Game #50

Syracuse Crunch at Utica Comets

Saturday, February 8th, 2020

7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific