Photo Credit: cory hergott

CanucksArmy Utica Comets Post-Game: DiPietro Comes Up With 28 Saves in Big 3-2 Regulation Win Over Division Rival Laval.

Utica Comets Post-Game Report

Game #51

Laval Rocket at Utica Comets

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Wednesday, February 12th, 2020

7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific


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Pre-Game Predictions From Twitter


Scratched Today For Utica

  1. Vincent Arseneau: LW/RW – Lower-body injury, (hip surgery) out for the season. AHL deal.
  2. Wacey Hamilton: C – Lower-body injury, (broken foot) week-to-week. AHL deal.
  3. Francis Perron: W/C – Upper-body injury, (puck to the head in practice) day-to-day, NHL deal.
  4. Micheal Ferland: LW/RW – Healthy scratch. (will practice before playing Friday’s game). NHL deal.
  5. Seamus Malone: W/C – Healthy scratch. AHL deal.
  6. Matt Petgrave: LD – 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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77 Nikolay Goldobin – 16 John Stevens – 13 Kole Lind

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

21 Jonah Gadjovich – 9 Lukas Jasek – 11 David Pope

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

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6 Ashton Sautner (A) – 25 Brogan Rafferty

48 Olli Juolevi – 5 Jalen Chatfield

8 Dylan Blujus – 52 Mitch Eliot

64 Mikey DiPietro

31 Zane McIntyre (backing up)

First Period

The opening frame had some good moments and some dull stretches, but both clubs would find the back of the net and they finished the period knotted at one.

I have been impressed with the play of Lukas Jasek this season. He has been asked to reinvent himself as a pivot and he has done an admirable job, in my opinion. He showed great hustle on his first shift with strong work in his own end to force a turnover in the Comets favour.

Ashton Sautner has a heavy shot and he let fly with an early one that goaltender Cayden Primeau turned aside with the wave of his blocker before Mikey DiPietro steered aside a Cale Fleury offering at the other end.

Olli Juolevi has been having a steady season, for the most part, but he can still make some mistakes as evidenced by his giveaway to Yannik Veillieux early, but luckily Veillieux fired wide. Unfortunately, Otto Leskinen did no such thing when his point shot through traffic beat DiPietro’s glove to put the Rocket up 1-0.

The goal was Leskinen’s second of the season, while Josh Brook grabbed his eighth assist of the year on the play and Laurent Dauphin earned his 10th.

The Comets’ fourth line did their thing and followed up the goal with a solid forechecking shift before Laval turned the tables and applied some pressure of their own.

The Comets managed to get things together and Mitch Eliot saw his shot go off a body and wide of the net.

Back in the Comets’ end, DiPietro denied a Veillieux chance before fighting off a Dauphin offering. The Comets went the other way and we saw David Pope force a turnover with a solid hit but the Comets were unable to take advantage. It was Laval’s turn to go the other way where Carl Alzner let fly with a shot off the left side that DiPietro gobbled up for a whistle.

Sometimes we see some odd hits in an AHL game and that was what happened when Stefan LeBlanc and Olli Juolevi collided in their own end, but no harm appeared to befall either player on the play. Speaking of hits… Mitch Eliot introduced himself to Nikita Jevpalovs behind the Comets’ end with a stiff hit that forced a turnover in the Comets’ favour. Gotta love the physical edge that Eliot brings. He’s no Vincent Arseneau, but he can dish out a solid hit.

The Comets started to put a little bit of pressure on after a board battle saw the puck squirt out to Gadjovich, who took it hard to the net for a chance that Primeau turned aside before he robbed John Stevens on his rebound chance. The Rocket went the other way and DiPietro stymied Antoine Waked.

At the other end, Bancks and Leblanc worked a nifty play that resulted in a LeBlanc offering going wide. Kole Lind followed up by ringing one off the iron before Josh Brook was dinged for tripping. The Comets were off to the man-advantage.

With Brook in the box, we saw a power-play unit consisting of Boucher, Goldobin, Gadjovich, Lind, and Rafferty get started but just 25 seconds in, Phil Varone was dinged for tripping and the Comets had a two-man advantage to work with for 1:35… or did they? Nope, because Sven Baertschi was whistled for holding just five seconds later.

We had some four-on-three play that saw a Boucher bomb swallowed up by Primeau for a whistle before the Comets’ second unit of Camper, Jasek, Gadjovich, Juolevi, and Mitch Eliot took over and Gadjovich knotted the game at one with his 12th of the season from his office. Lukas Jasek continued his strong play with his fifth point in four February games with his 11th helper of the year, while Carter Camper grabbed the secondary for his 24th.

That was pretty much it for the opening frame as the Rocket showed an 8-6 advantage on the shot clock.

Second Period

Much like the opening frame, this period saw both teams grab a goal.

There was some back and forth early before DiPietro denied Charles Hudon. The Rocket kept pressing, a scramble broke out and the officials signalled a goal. Ashton Sautner let them know that they might want to have another look as he didn’t agree with their assessment and it turned out that Sautner was right and the goal was waved off.

That didn’t stop the Rocket from pouring it on as Matthew Peca dished to Riley Barber for a shot that Mikey D got his blocker on. Soon after, Sautner took a rough ride into the boards from Ryan Poehling and headed to the bench in obvious discomfort. Sauter was back out for his next shift but ended up heading down the tunnel a little sooner than the rest of his teammates near the end of the frame.

The Comets had a solid shift that saw their fourth line buzzing around like a bee in a jam jar before the Rocket made their way back into the Utica end where LeBlanc showed a well-timed stick to send the puck back out of the zone.

Kevin Lynch was sent off for interference at the 6:26 mark and the Comets were off to the power play. Things didn’t go so well as DiPietro had to make a pair of shorthanded saves before Baertschi took his club off the man advantage with a hooking call.

During the four aside play, Stevens had a chance denied by Primeau at one end before the Rocket regained possession and headed back the other way where they ran into Jalen Chatfield and his wall of defence. Chatty stretched the ice to Camper at the offensive blueline where he found Juolevi joining the rush for a chance that Primeau swallowed up for a whistle.

When Laval’s power play kicked in, DiPietro had to make an alert stop on Alex Alain but he wouldn’t be able to stop the Yannik Veillieux chance that came next and the Rocket were up 2-1. The goal was Veillieux’s fifth of the season, while Dauphin picked up his 11th assist of the year on the play and Alain earned his ninth.

Mitch Eliot was noticeable in a good way on a few of his shifts today and he came up with a heavy hit on Ryan Poehling in the defensive zone before breaking up a Laval play at the Comets’ blue line. Eliot showed well for a guy who just returned from a two-game stint in the ECHL.

This game had some sketchy moments as well as we saw Kevin Lynch crush Dylan Blujus behind the Comets’ net and he soon found himself with a face-full of Kole Lind. Lind was looking for retribution for his defender but the officials were having none of it and sent both men off for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Brogan Rafferty has gone a little quiet on the offensive front as he has just two assists to show for his last seven games, but he is still doing good work on the ice. He came up with a shot block that sent the Comets out of their end but the Rocket were soon back looking for a goal and DiPietro had to get a glove on an Olafsson shot.

Laval continued to press as Lynch used some speed to get in behind Juolevi where he took the puck to the net, only to have DiPietro bar the door. Juolevi, for his part, did good work to get back into the play to interfere with Lynch without taking a penalty.

I’ve mentioned Mitch Eliot’s shot before, but it bears mentioning again as he let fly with a heavy wrist shot that was denied by Primeau.

Former Comets’ defender Evan McEneny was dinged for goaltender interference at the 16:02 mark and the Comets were off to the power play. This time, they started out with their second unit and that group had some good pressure but were unable to alter the score. Eliot did unload with an absolute bomb of a shot, but it was off the target.

No matter, as the first unit took over and Sven Baertschi beat Primeau for his ninth goal of the season on a ridiculous feed from Kole Lind. That puck was on a string from Lind to Baerstchi for Kole’s 28th assist and 40th point of the season, while Boucher grabbed the secondary helper for his 28th of the season as well.

It was at this point when Sautner headed down the tunnel and did not return.

The period wrapped up after DiPietro stopped the puck and covered up as a crowd formed in his crease. Laval finished the period with a 9-6 advantage on the shot clock.

Third Period

The final frame saw the Rocket outshoot the Comets by a 13-7 margin, but Mikey DiPietro was equal to the task when called upon and Reid Boucher picked up his 27th goal of the season to earn the win.

With Ashton Sautner’s night over due to an injury, the Comets lines went into the blender for the third period. Stefan LeBlanc moved from the wing to his more natural position on the blue line, while Kole Lind shifted to the middle up front.

The period started off with Kole between Goldobin and Boucher and the Rocket soon found themselves down a goal for the remainder of the game. Boucher took matters into his own hands when he picked off an ill-attempted play and quickly beat Primeau for his 27th goal of the season. The unassisted tally came just 36 seconds in.

The Comets kept their foot on the go pedal as Primeau had to come up with a save and covered up with Gadjovich digging for loose change in his crease.

David Pope has been fairly nondescript in my eyes through most of the games that he’s played. There aren’t many areas of his game that jump off the screen to me. He was dinged for a cross-check at the 3:19 mark, sending the Comets back to the kill.

Once again, the Comets did some great work on the PK and Jalen Chatfield was more than pulling his weight with back-to-back shot blocks and clears before Charles Hudon rang the iron behind DiPietro. The Comets came up with another good kill.

Pope tried to make up for his penalty by letting fly with a shot that went off a body before Primeau turned it aside. Pope’s shift went a little sideways when his pass attempt was picked off and DiPietro had to bail him out with a save on Jesperi Kotkaniemi.

Reid Boucher was feeling his oats today as he already had a goal and an assist and decided that he would add a thunderous hit in the offensive zone to his stat sheet as well. The Lind line kept pressing but Goldy was making those low percentage passes that get picked off and that’s exactly what happened.

The Comets got the puck back and Rafferty dished to Lind for a chance that Primeau swallowed up for another whistle. Eliot followed up with another point shot and Primeau ate that one up as well.

Jonah Gadjovich opened the scoring in today’s game, but he knows where his bread gets buttered so he introduced himself to Josh Brooks with a board-rattling hit before DiPietro gobbled up a bouncing puck that was sent his way.

Kole Lind was whistled for tripping at the 10:10 mark and it was back to the kill for Utica. We saw more of the same from the Comets’ killers as they did what needed doing and came away unscathed.

Boucher came looking for another goal after the PK but Primeau was ready with the blocker. The Comets were applying the pressure in all three zones as Stefan LeBlanc took Olafsson off the puck with a physical play in the Utica zone.

One thing that I see a lot from Lukas Jasek is an active stick. He does a great job of getting it into passing lanes and disrupting plays. He did just that to give the Comets possession before he set Carter Bancks up for a glorious scoring chance that the Captain fired off the target.

We have talked at length this season about the pesky game that Kole Lind brings and Charles Hudon found out first hand what kind of pest Lind can be as Kole dished out a solid hit on him in the offensive zone and then proceeded to jaw at him all the way back into the Comets’ end where DiPietro came up with another stop on Lynch as a crowd formed in his crease.

Jonah Gadjovich was dinged for slashing at the 15:50 mark and once again, the Comets had a penalty to kill. Mikey D had to stop a shot from the right circle and held for the whistle as the Comets were trying to steer this one home, and came up with another good kill.

Laval called their timeout with 2:13 remaining and when things got back underway, it was nice to see Jonah Gadjovich out late in a game with a one-goal lead against a divisional opponent. I don’t think that anyone can say that the club’s younger players aren’t getting opportunities.

Mikey D came up with a timely save on Kotkaniemi and the Comets appeared to be happy to keep icing the puck and running the time off the clock with an empty net at the other end. DiPietro held the fort in the late going with a handful of saves as time wound down.

That was it for this one as the Comets skated away with a gritty 3-2 win over Laval. The Rocket held a 12-7 edge on the third-period shot clock and led the game by a 30-19 margin.

Today’s Official Boxscore

Comets Goals:

  1. Jonah Gadjovich (12) from Lukas Jasek (11) and Carter Camper (24). PP goal.
  2. Sven Baerstchi (9) from Kole Lind (28) and Reid Boucher (28). PP goal.
  3. Reid Boucher (27), unassisted.

Mikey DiPietro, 28 saves for the win. 

Special Teams

Power Play: 2/4

Penalty Kill: 4/5

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

PP2: Camper, Jasek, Gadjovich, Juolevi, Eliot.

The Three Stars in the building today were:

3rd Star: Mikey DiPietro. 28 saves for the win.

2nd Star: Sven Baertschi. One goal.

1st Star: Reid Boucher. One goal, one assist.

CanucksArmy’s Three Stars:

3rd Star: Lukas Jasek/Kole Lind. Both players picked up a primary helper to add to their collection and both played solid games against Laval today. Kole picked up his 40th point today, while Lukas grabbed his 25th. Trent Cull sent Kole and Lukas out in the final seconds of a one-goal game, so I would suggest that they have earned a little more trust from their coaching staff.

2nd Star: Mikey DiPietro. Mikey D earned his 16th win of the season today, bringing his record to 16-7-2-1 along with a goals-against-average of 2.80 and a save percentage of 0.905%. That has him sitting sixth amongst rookie netminders in the AHL. The Comets were outshot in all three periods today and DiPietro was there to give his team a chance to win the game.

1st Star: Reid Boucher. Another game, another two points for Reid Boucher. He is now up to 27 goals and 28 assists, giving him 55 points in 44 games on the season. Seems good, no? Reid was also bringing his physical side today with some solid hits and some nice awareness to pick off and pounce on the puck for his goal early in the third.

Next Game

Game #52

Utica Comets at Syracuse Crunch

Friday, February 14th, 2020

7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific