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Photo Credit: cory hergott

CanucksArmy Utica Comets Post-Game: Mikey DiPietro Makes 39 Saves in Comets 3-2 Loss To Syracuse

Utica Comets Post-Game Report

Game #52

Utica Comets at Syracuse Crunch

Friday, February 14th, 2020

7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific

Pre-Game Predictions From Twitter

Post-Game

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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. Ashton Sautner: LD – Upper-body injury, (arm) day-to-day. 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/defence pair listed started the game. The remainder are in no particular order)

47 Sven Baertschi – 9 Lukas Jasek – 79 Micheal Ferland

 77 Nikolay Goldobin – 13 Kole Lind – 24 Reid Boucher (A)

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21 Jonah Gadjovich – 19 Carter Camper (A) – 11 David Pope

 34 Carter Bancks (C)  – 16 John Stevens – 26 Dyson Stevenson

48 Olli Juolevi – 5 Jalen Chatfield

8 Dylan Blujus – 25 Brogan Rafferty

 3 Stefan LeBlanc – 52 Mitch Eliot

64 Mikey DiPietro

31 Zane McIntyre (backing up)

First Period

The opening frame was all Syracuse… full stop.

Mikey DiPietro was earning his own paycheck in the first period and might have earned those of a few of his teammates as well. Alex Barre-Boulet kicked things off with a shot from the right side that was gloved down by the Comets rookie netminder before Reid Boucher let fly from the left circle at the other end with a similar result from Scott Wedgewood.

Stefan LeBlanc was back on the blue line today and he got a shot through that Wedgewood swallowed up for a whistle and Kole Lind was quick to scrum it up… as is his way.

Ben Thomas opened the scoring early when a Juolevi pass attempt was picked off and he was able to sneak his shot over Mikey DiPietro’s blocker for his third goal of the season. Otto Somppi earned his 10th helper of the year on the play.

Micheal Ferland was in the lineup for the first of two games that he will play on his conditioning stint and he was looking a little bit rusty, as can be expected for a guy who has played as few games as he has this season. Lukas Jasek dished to Ferland for a chance but he wasn’t able to take the pass cleanly.

*Edit* Ferland would leave the game midway through the opening frame with what the team called concussion-like symptoms and he did not return.

Jonah Gadjovich had a chance denied from in tight where he makes his living and soon after, the Crunch took over.

First, DiPietro had to come up with a quick save on Peter Abbandonato in close before sprawling to stop another. Ferland forced a turnover and went the other way but put the puck a little too far out of his own reach on his breakout attempt.

A Jalen Chatfield miscue led to a Dennis Yan chance that was denied by a huge save from DiPietro before the Comets netminder turned aside the next two as Syracuse continued to pour it on.

Gemel Smith let fly from the right circle and DiPietro had another save in the books. At the other end, Juolevi had a shot from the left side kicked out.

Brogan Rafferty has gone quiet on the scoreboard of late, but there was nothing quiet about the way that he took Barre-Boulet off the puck behind the Comets net. Soon after Danick Martel and Mitch Eliot got tied up and mowed over DiPietro. Eliot made sure to let Martel know that he wasn’t having it and the two men were each dinged for roughing and we had some four aside play.

Taylor Raddysh dished to Dominik Masin for a big shot that DiPietro swallowed up before he denied the next chance from Ben Thomas. The shots kept coming from Syracuse and so did the saves from DiPietro as the Comets rookie netminder swallowed up a Ross Colton offering before sprawling out for another save and covering up with a crowd forming. Logan Roe tried his luck next and received the same treatment from DiPietro.

As time was winding off of the clock, Mitch Eliot came up with a nice physical play to take Raddysh off the puck in the Comets’ end. Syracuse outshot the Comets by a 17-6 margin in the first period.

Second Period

As mentioned above, Micheal Ferland didn’t make it out of the first period before being removed from the game with what the team called concussion-like symptoms. That isn’t good news for Ferland, who has been battling concussion issues for far too long. Hopefully, the player can take the time that he needs to get healthy and move hockey to the back burner for the time being. All the best to Ferland.

With Ferland unavailable, the Comets were once again asked to finish a game with a short bench and the line combos were in the blender. Baertschi came out with Camper and Jasek and that trio saw Alex Barre-Boulet whip out a spin and fire move for a shot that DiPietro was wise to.

Dominik Masin was dinged for hooking just 1:02 in and the Comets had an early power play to work with. We saw the usual suspects on the first unit but it was Barre-Boulet picking off a bad play between Goldobin and Boucher and breaking in for a shorthanded chance that he fired off the target.

At the other end, Rafferty teed up a one-timer for Boucher that was turned aside before a Goldobin pass attempt was gloved down by Wedgewood for a whistle. Kole Lind and Luke Witkowski had some words after the whistle and Kole ended up being ushered to the box for a slash. So much for that power play.

It wasn’t long after the four aside play concluded and the Crunch moved to the power play when Gemel Smith put his team up 2-0 with his 20th goal of the season. Taylor Raddysh earned his 14th assist of the year on the play, while Ross Colton grabbed his 23rd. The Comets lost that board battle.

That’s probably not the way that Trent Cull drew things up in the room between periods.

Dylan Blujus let fly with a shot through traffic that Wedgewood turned aside before DiPietro denied another Raddysh chance in the Comets’ end. The Crunch turned up the heat as Martel had a shot from the high slot kicked aside.

Jalen Chatfield had a long shot turned aside and it was right back to the Utica zone where Ross Colton whipped out a nice move for a backhander that DiPietro shut down with a sprawling save that saw him lose his bucket.

I have said it in nearly every game that he has played this season, but I enjoy the edge that Mitch Eliot plays with. He isn’t running around like a heat-seeking missile, but he makes simple, effective physical plays to take his man off the puck on a regular basis. If you are coming down his side, there is a decent chance that he will introduce himself to you with a stiff hit. He did just that to take his man off the puck in the Comets’ end.

Unfortunately, the Comets were having a heck of a time getting out of their own end and DiPietro had to fight off another chance from Dennis Yan. The Crunch kept it coming and DiPietro came up with another save before Baertschi used a well-timed lift of a stick to break up a play and finally clear the zone.

Mitch Eliot… remember him? Well, I bet Jimmy Huntington will as well after Eliot filled him in with a solid hit.

Dylan Blujus can unload a heavy shot and he let fly with a bomb that was turned aside before Carter Bancks was dinged for tripping at the 13:26 mark.

The Comets did great work on this kill and even managed a shorthanded chance from Goldobin late in the kill that Wedgewood did well to stop. The Comets came up with a good kill.

We saw a bit of back and forth as time wound down where Dennis Yan got in behind Juolevi for a scoring chance that was stymied by DiPietro. At the other end, Jonah Gadjovich trucked Danick Martel in the corner. That was it for the middle frame as the Comets were once again outshot, this time by a margin of 16-7. Yikes! The Crunch were up 33-13 on the shot clock after two.

Third Period

The Comets were not making things easy for Mikey DiPietro as he had to come up with a big save early when Jimmy Huntington found himself all alone in front with enough time to grow a beard bigger than Colton Saucerman’s.

That save sparked the Comets and soon after, Nikolay Goldobin was celebrating his 18th goal of the season after his one-timer beat Wedgewood. Lukas Jasek played set-up man with a nifty cross-ice feed for his 12th helper of the year, while Carter Camper earned his 25th.

Carter Camper, John Stevens, and David Pope had an extended shift in the offensive zone but were unable to add to the score. Stefan LeBlanc did nice work to hold the blue line before getting a shot away that Baertschi redirected wide of the net.

As we have seen from so many Comets’ players this year, Reid Boucher coughed up the puck and Mikey D had to bail him out with another stop on Ross Colton. This is a theme with this team. With the puck in the defensive zone, Olli Juolevi shouldered Otto Sompii off the puck before Masin let fly with a shot through traffic that DiPietro stopped and held for the whistle.

It was the Comets’ turn for some offensive zone time when Blujus unloaded with another shot that saw Wedgewood come up with a save while Baertschi and Boucher were digging for loose change. Juolevi had a shot through traffic go off a leg and wide as the Comets had the right idea, even if their execution was a little off.

Lukas Jasek and Carter Camper were both denied as the Comets were applying some pressure and that pressure would pay off in the form of a Reid Boucher steal and score to even the game at two. The unassisted tally was Boucher’s 28th of the season.

Jonah Gadjovich has looked a little bit better with each game this season. He seems to have a few very noticeable plays in most games of late. He did some fantastic work on the forecheck that led to a Comets chance that didn’t go, before DiPietro had to gobble up a Peter Abbandonato chance at the other end.

Ross Colton came looking for a wraparound goal and DiPietro said no… but soon after Taylor Raddysh put the Crunch back on top and that’s where they would stay for the remainder. The Raddysh goal came after none of Chatfield, LeBlanc, or Jasek could pick up the man and the Crunch took advantage. The goal was the 16th of the season for Raddysh, while Boris Katchouk earned his 16th assist of the year on the play and Ben Thomas grabbed his 12th.

Nikolay Goldobin was looking to get that one right back with his second of the game but he was robbed by the blocker of Wedgewood. Eliot followed up with a chance that Wedgewood was ready for as well. At the other end, Barre-Boulet walked around Juolevi… have we heard that before?… and was denied by DiPietro… I think we’ve heard that before as well.

Jonah Gadjovich was dinged for a trip at the 17:31 mark and the Comets would have to finish the bulk of the remainder down a man.

I was thrilled to see Trent Cull tap Kole Lind for some penalty killing duty right off the bat in a game down a goal to a division rival with less than three minutes remaining. The next PK unit that rolled over the boards consisted of Baertschi, Jasek, Goldobin, and Rafferty. That is some outside the box thinking from the coaching staff and I like it. They really had nothing to lose and everything to gain with that move… although they would not be able to score a shorty to even the game.

DiPietro was summoned to the bench with just under 20 seconds remaining and the Comets swarmed the Syracuse zone, but they would finish up on the wrong side of this 3-2 score.

The Crunch held a 9-8 advantage on the third-period shot clock and a 42-21 advantage for the game. Big thanks to Mikey D for keeping the score respectable in this game.

Today’s Official Boxscore

Comets Goals

Nikolay Goldobin (18) from Lukas Jasek (12) and Carter Camper (25).

Reid Boucher (28) unassisted.

Mikey DiPietro: 39 saves in the loss. 

Special Teams:

Power Play: 0/1

Penalty Kill: 2/3

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

Penalty Killers: Bancks, Stevens, Jasek, Baertschi, Goldobin, Boucher, Lind, Rafferty, Juolevi, Chatfield, Blujus, LeBlanc.

The Three Stars in the building today were:

3rd Star: Mikey DiPietro. 39 saves in the loss.

2nd Star: Ben Thomas. One goal, one assist.

1st Star: Taylor Raddysh. One goal, (game-winner), one assist.

CanucksArmy’s Three Stars:

3rd Star: Trent Cull/Coaching staff. The coaching staff is getting the third star based solely on the penalty killers that they used in the waning minutes of this game. To see Kole Lind getting a look at that time of such an important game is a nice development. To see the coaching staff go all-in with three forwards and a defender who rarely sees PK time in an effort to pull out a goal isn’t something that we have seen from this group before. I like the outside of the box thinking on that one.

2nd Star: Mitch Eliot. Mitch Eliot was not credited with any shots on goal today… well, I beg to differ as I saw a couple that got through… as Eliot has a way of doing. It is his physical play, however, that always seems to impress me when Eliot gets the opportunity to see the ice. As I said early in this post-gamer, he isn’t out there making dangerous hits for the sake of making the boards rattle, rather he has a way of using his body effectively to remove his opponent from the puck. I am looking forward to seeing how his season goes the rest of the way and how he makes out next season when the Comets blueline could have yet another makeover.

1st Star: Mikey DiPietro. Dude made 39 saves in this loss. The first goal that beat him today wasn’t one that he will be thrilled about, but he was full value the rest of the way. DiPietro gives the Comets their best chance to win right now and with so many games against division rivals left on the schedule, it will be fascinating to see how the coaching staff chooses to handle the rotation.

Next Game

Game #53

Utica Comets at Rochester Americans

Sunday, February 16th, 2020

3:05 pm Eastern/4:05 pm Pacific