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Photo Credit: cory Hergott

CanucksArmy Utica Comets Post-Game: Comets Come Out Flat to Drop 3-2 Decision to Rochester

Utica Comets Post-Game Report

Game #53

Utica Comets at Rochester Americans

Sunday, February 16th, 2020

3:05 pm Eastern/12:05 pm Pacific

Pre-Game

Post-Game

Scratched Today For Utica

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  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, (head) day-to-day. NHL deal.
  4. Ashton Sautner: LD – Upper-body injury, (arm) day-to-day. NHL deal.
  5. Micheal Ferland: LW/RW – Upper-body injury, (concussion-like symptoms). NHL deal.
  6. Olli Juolevi: LD – Illness. NHL deal.
  7. David Pope: LW/RW – Healthy scratch. NHL deal.

Comets Starting Lines

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

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

77 Nikolay Goldobin – 9 Lukas Jasek – 13 Kole Lind

21 Jonah Gadjovich – 16 John Stevens – 34 Carter Bancks (C)

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 3 Stefan LeBlanc – 17 Seamus Malone – 26 Dyson Stevenson

22 Matt Petgrave – 25 Brogan Rafferty

3 Stefan LeBlanc – 5 Jalen Chatfield

4 Josh Teves – 52 Mitch Eliot

64 Mikey DiPietro

31 Zane McIntyre (backing up)

First Period

The Comets dug an early hole for themselves after going down 2-0 after a flukey one by Remi Elie beat DiPietro just 2:13 in before his teammates gave Eric Cornell all the time in the world to score the second.

The Elie goal came after a strange play in the slot that saw Remi earn his sixth goal of the season. William Borgen grabbed his eighth helper fo the year on the play, while Casey Mittelstadt picked up his 11th.

The shots kept coming as Jacob Bryson let fly with a shot that Mikey DiPietro swallowed up for a whistle. Lukas Jasek was between Goldy and Lind today and that trio had a solid shift in the offensive zone that saw Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen deny a Goldobin chance from the slot.

Back in the Comets’ end, DiPietro denied another shot from Elie before gloving down a muffin from Brett Murray. Rochester was pushing the pace in the early going.

Brett Murray was dinged for a high-stick on Matt Petgrave and the Comets were off to the man advantage. We saw the usual suspects kick things off as Boucher had a bomb of a shot kicked out before Luukkonen got a glove on a Baertschi offering that Goldy set up. The second unit of Camper, Gadjovich, Jasek, Eliot, and Petgrave took over but was unable to make anything happen. The Comets came up empty.

We had some back and forth that saw DiPietro deny a backhander before Eric Cornell was left all alone for his 10th goal of the season. Scott Wilson picked up his 10th helper of the year on the play, while Sean Malone grabbed his 16th.

The Comets were looking to get that one back with a Brogan Rafferty shot that was redirected but Luukkonen was there with the save. Gadjovich followed up with a shot that was denied as well. Carter Bancks was having a physical shift… so physical, in fact, that I saw him dish out a heavy hit in the neutral zone that made my AHLTV stream drop out… or at least something did at this point in the game for a couple of minutes.

Once things were back up and running, Rafferty was unloading with a shot from the high slot that Luukkonen turned aside. Gadjovich followed up with a shot off the blocker of Luukkonen as the Comets were getting a few shots through.

The Stevens line had a solid shift in the offensive zone but couldn’t make anything happen.

Rafferty was getting his share of shots through today and one of those was a hot one from the high slot that was denied by a flash of the leather from Luukkonen. Petgrave followed up by hammering a one-timer that was soaked up for a whistle.

Sven Baertschi did well to slip away from an open-ice hit that sent the aggressor flying… I’m glad that hit didn’t connect, as I think it might have separated Sven’s head from his body.

The Amerks applied some pressure in the late going, but the period wrapped up with both teams showing 10 shots on goal.

Second Period

We have some good news and some bad news after the middle frame wrapped up. The good news? The Comets grabbed a goal… the bad news? So did Rochester.

The Comets got some decent pressure in the offensive zone early on from the Camper line but they were unable to alter the score.

The Amerks, however, were able to add to their lead after an ill-advised pass from Jonah Gadjovich led to a Comets’ turnover and soon after Taylor Leier had his seventh goal of the season. JS Dea picked up his 19th assist of the year on the play, while Zach Redmond earned his 24th.

That’s not the start that the Comets were after. We had some back and forth before Seamus Malone forced a turnover at the side of the Amerks’ net but his shot from in close was turned aside by Luukkonen.

Stefan LeBlanc sent his team to the penalty kill at the 3:58 mark when he was dinged for holding and the Comets were down a man… and three goals. They would manage to kill this one off without allowing the Amerks to really set up.

There seemed to be a lack of urgency from the Comets for the first half of the period… and the first half of the game, for that matter.

Brandon Hickey gave the Comets a chance to get on the board when he was whistled for holding on Goldobin at the 7:08 mark, but Utica couldn’t get anything going and came up flat once again.

The Amerks followed up their kill with some extended zone time in the Comets’ end before Jalen Chatfield blocked a shot and sent his team out the other way. LeBlanc let fly with a shot off the right side that was denied by Luukkonen, as was the chance from Stevenson that followed. Brogan Rafferty tried his luck with a shot that went off the glove of Luukkonen for another save.

At the other end, DiPietro found himself out of position on a play but still managed to make a clumsy save on a spin and fire chance from Redmond.

John Stevens got the Comets on the board with a slick backhander after Sven Baertschi stole the puck to set him up for his sixth of the season. Sven, for his part, earned his 27th assist of the year on the play.

CJ Smith was looking to get that one right back when he charged to the net with the puck, but Mikey D was there with another save.

The Comets started to show more life as Rafferty blocked a shot at one end before getting one of his own at the other but Luukkonen said no. LeBlanc followed up by taking the puck to the net where he too, was denied. Lukas Jasek jumped on a loose puck, charged to the net and let fly with a shot that Luukkonen had trouble with. Jasek followed up on his own rebound but the Amerks netminder shut him down once again as Kole Lind was digging for loose change.

Luukkonen denied Jasek once more as the Comets almost looked like they were on a power play for a shift. Carter Camper had a one-timer gobbled up by Luukkonen before Sven Baertschi was sent off for interference at the 19:26 mark. The Comets finished the period down 3-1 on the scoreboard but up 10-7 for shots in the period.

Third Period

Nothing happened…

That was what I had originally written for my third-period recap until Nikolay Golodbin managed to beat Luukkonen for his 19th goal of the season with about seven minutes remaining in the game.

This was not a good game for the Comets and aside from the nice work to make the Stevens goal happen, this one was a dud for the team from Utica. The team looked to lack any sense of urgency and the Amerks took advantage.

The Comets still had the remainder of Baertschi’s penalty to kill off and they managed to do that by keeping the Amerks to the outside and not allowing them much room to create. Baertschi exited the box and found himself on a mini breakaway until Redmond caught up to him and forced him into a backhander that was denied by Luukkonen.

The Amerks turned it on and DiPietro had to come up with a save on Redmond that saw the rebound go right to Brett Murray for another chance that went off the iron.

We had some back and forth without much going on before the Amerks had an odd-man rush foiled by a smart stick from Matt Petgrave. Reid Boucher followed up by turning the puck over with an unforced error that led to another Amerks shot, but this one was fired off the target. The shots kept coming as Brandon Hickey ripped a shot off the iron as well.

There had only been seven shots on net credited between the two teams at this point before DiPietro came up with an alert blocker save on Taylor Leier.

Nikolay Goldobin pulled his team to within a goal at the 12:37 mark when his 19th of the season found its way behind Luukkonen. Jalen Chatfield played set-up man for his fourth assist of the season, while Dylan Blujus earned his fourth helper of the year on the play as well.

Any momentum that the Goldobin tally might have provided the Comets was scuttled when Boucher was dinged for a high stick roughly 20 seconds later. DiPietro soaked up another offering from Redmond before Goldy put his team down by two skaters when he was whistled for tripping a little over a minute later.

The Comets PK has been up and down this season, but it was good today and shut the Amerks down once again.

Matt Petgrave was playing a decent game today and was noticeable on a couple of plays. One of those came when he used good body positioning to take the Amerks puck carrier from the front of the net right into the corner where he rode him off the puck with a solid hit.

Lawrence Pilut let fly with a shot from the left side that DiPietro whipped out a mitt to deny before he was summoned to the bench for the extra attacker with roughly 45 seconds left in the game. The Comets had some quality chances in the late going from Baertschi and Camper, but the Amerks held on for the win.

The teams finished the third frame tied with eight shots each, while the Comets held a 29-25 edge for the game.

Today’s Official Boxscore

Comets Goals

John Stevens (6) from Sven Baertschi (27).

Nikolay Goldobin (19) from Jalen Chatfield (4) and Dylan Blujus (4).

Mikey DiPietro: 22 saves in the loss.

Special Teams

Power Play: 0/2.

Penalty Kill: 4/4.

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

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

Penalty Killers: Jasek, Bancks, Boucher, Stevens, Baertschi, Rafferty, Teves, Blujus, Chatfield, LeBlanc.

The Three Stars in the building today were:

3rd Star: Nikolay Goldobin. One goal.

2nd Star: Eric Cornel. One goal.

1st Star: Taylor Leier. Game-winning goal.

CanucksArmy’s Three Stars:

3rd Star: Sven Baertschi. There wasn’t a lot to like in today’s game, from my perspective, but I thought that Sven showed reasonably well. He made some nice plays, including the one to get the Stevens goal started. He also had some nice moments on the physical side of the puck. Sven is one player on the Comets roster to watch as the trade deadline approaches. The Canucks have been looking to move him all season and might not want to carry his contract into another offseason. A trade will not be easy to make with Sven’s salary, but stranger things have happened.

2nd Star: Nope.

1st Star: Nope.

Sorry, folks… I just didn’t really see a whole lot from the Comets that blew my hair back today. For a team that has all but six of their remaining games against divisional rivals in an extremely tight playoff race, this group has been coming out flat in far too many starts. They certainly have players on the roster with the skill and pedigree to turn things around, but those players need to shake out the cobwebs that seem to have formed and get down to playing hockey. Two consecutive years out of the playoffs would not be a good look for this team… especially with the roster of players who have been available to them for the bulk of the season.

Next Game

Game #54

Utica Comets at Belleville Senators

Friday, February, 21st, 2020

7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific