Photo Credit: cory hergott

CanucksArmy Utica Comets Post-Game: Mikey DiPietro Bounces Back With 36-Save Effort to Pick Up His 20th Win of the Season in 3-1 Victory Over Rochester

Utica Comets Post-Game

Game #58

Utica Comets at Rochester Americans

Wednesday, March 4th, 2020

7:05 pm Eastern/4:05 pm Pacific


Pre-Game Predictions From Twitter

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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. David Pope: LW/RW – Upper-body injury, (concussion symptoms) week-to-week. NHL deal.
  3. Carter Bancks: W/C – Assorted ailments, day-to-day. AHL deal.
  4. Lukas Jasek: C/W – Lower-body soreness, day-to-day. NHL deal.
  5. Olli Juolevi: LD – Hip soreness, day-to-day. NHL deal.
  6. Jonah Gadjovich: LW/RW – Illness, day-to-day. NHL deal.
  7. Nikolay Goldobin: LW/RW – Veteran scratch. NHL deal.

Today’s Comets Lines

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

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

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95 Justin Bailey – 36 Wacey Hamilton (A) – 13 Kole Lind

17 Seamus Malone – 44 Tyler Graovac – 26 Dyson Stevenson

3 Stefan LeBlanc – 16 John Stevens – 27 Francis Perron

6 Ashton Sautner (A) – 8 Dylan Blujus

22 Matt Petgrave – 25 Brogan Rafferty

4 Josh Teves – 52 Mitch Eliot

64 Mikey DiPietro

29 Jake Kielly (backing up)

First Period

The opening frame took a bit of time to get going, but we eventually saw some decent back and forth and the Comets would finish the period up 1-0.

Carter Camper’s line had some good early pressure but was unable to make anything happen before being replaced by the Hamilton unit. That trio went to work and we saw Mitch Eliot put the puck to the front of the net with Hamilton and Lind digging for loose change.

The Comets kept the pressure on when Reid Boucher was denied twice by Andrew Hammond.

At the other end, Mikey DiPietro was making his 10th consecutive start and he did good work to shut down an Andrew Oglevie chance. Play continued and Stefan LeBlanc forced a turnover at the offensive blueline but his line couldn’t take advantage and the Amerks headed the other way where DiPietro stopped and covered a Dalton Smith offering with a crowd forming in his crease.

There was a bit of back and forth before CJ Smith let fly from the slot and DiPietro kicked his shot aside with traffic in front of his net.

Stefan LeBlanc was having a solid game today, but he was robbed by Hammond in close… LeBlanc would get the last laugh before the period finished. Josh Teves was back in the lineup today after a brief trip to Kalamazoo to get some games in and he was also denied by Hammond.

Dylan Blujus snuck a shot through traffic but Hammond swallowed it up for the whistle.

I have mentioned it in nearly every game that he has been in the lineup this year, but Mitch Eliot was dishing out the hits again in the opening frame. He used a smart stick to take the puck off the opposing forward before riding him into the boards with a stiff hit.

The Amerks were getting their chances as well. Taylor Leier flipped the puck through a crowded Utica crease but DiPietro was wise to his act and steered the puck out of harm’s way. The Comets went the other way and Hammond denied a Reid Boucher chance to keep the game knotted at zero.

Zach Redmond has been piling up points in the AHL for a long time and he let fly with a couple of shots that DiPietro turned aside before Stefan LeBlanc put the Comets up 1-0.

The LeBlanc tally, his second of the season came after John Stevens forced a turnover and used a sweet feed for a LeBlanc tap-in for his seventh helper of the year.

Justin Bailey was looking to make it two quick goals when he had the puck come to him in close and tried a spin and fire play that Hammond was ready for with another save. At the other end, DiPietro was sharp to get a piece of a redirected shot to keep his team up by a goal.

The LeBlanc goal gave the Comets a bit of jump, but DiPietro would have to finish the period with timely stops on Casey Mittelstadt and John Gilmour. Rochester finished the period up 13-9 on the shot clock.

Second Period

The middle frame saw one more goal scored, but this time it came off of the stick of an Amerk. The Comets can thank Mikey DiPietro as this game could have gotten out of hand if not for him with the Amerks showing a 17-8 advantage on the second-period shot clock.

Rochester had some pressure early as DiPietro had to get a glove on a Casey Nelson shot before kicking out an Eric Cornel two-on-one opportunity as well. He didn’t stop there as he also gloved down the Rasmus Asplund chance that followed.

The Comets made their way into the Amerks’ end, only to see Hammond send Scott Wilson on a break with a stretch pass but once again, Mikey D was equal to the task.

The Comets ended up back in the Rochester end where we saw Carter Camper and Sven Baertschi nearly hook up on a pretty play but Andrew Oglevie stymied them with a smart stick.

At the other end, DiPietro had to come up with a huge save on Dalton Smith in tight.

Josh Teves was dinged for interference at the 5:15 mark and the Amerks tied the game at one just 31 seconds later. Taylor Leier was the goalscorer after he took a feed from JS Dea and lifted a backhander over the glove of DiPietro for his ninth goal of the season, Dea grabbed his 23rd helper of the year on the play, while Jacob Bryson earned his 20th.

Things looked like they might go from bad to worse when Frankie Perron lost the puck to Dalton Smith who broke in for another freebie but he put his offering wide of the net. The Amerks kept pressing and DiPietro turned aside a chance from Asplund in tight.

We had some back and forth before DiPietro had to come up with another save, this time on Gilmour with a flash of the leather.

Justin Bailey was whistled for slashing at the 10:05 mark and it was back to the penalty kill for Utica. DiPietro denied Mittelstadt in close before turning aside a shot from distance as well. The Comets came up with a good kill.

Matt Petgrave had a strong shift in his own end, breaking up a play with his stick before crushing his man with a physical play behind the net. The Comets headed the other way and we saw Camper tee up a one-timer for Boucher but Hammond swallowed it up for a whistle.

Josh Teves came up with another good pinch, which is something that we have seen from him a few times this year, unfortunately, the Comets couldn’t take advantage and the Amerks started to press.

The Comets withstood the storm and Frankie Perron tried his luck as he skated out from behind the net and let fly with a shot that clanged the iron.

Back in the Comets’ end, Casey Nelson lobbed a shot from the blueline that Mikey D stopped and held for the whistle before gloving down the wrister that followed as well. CJ Smith followed up with a chance that Mikey kicked aside as the Amerks pushed the pace.

Brogan Rafferty blew a tire at the offensive blueline and the Amerks went the other way for yet another two-on-one where DiPietro stuck it to Dalton Smith with yet another save. The Comets went the other way and Hammond denied a Kole Lind chance.

The Comets finished the period with some pressure of their own as Hammond had to come up with big stops on Baertschi and Perron to keep the game knotted at one. The Amerks held a 17-8 edge on the second-period shot clock.

Third Period

The Amerks put the pressure on early in the third and DiPietro was there to bar the door. He came up with a blocker save on Asplund… and then my AHLTV stream froze up and then dropped out completely for a few seconds.

When things were back up and running, we saw Tyler Graovac whip out the moves to beat his man but he couldn’t get a clean shot away. The Comets stayed with it and Graovac dished to LeBlanc for a shot the was turned aside by Hammond.

With Vinny Arseneau on the shelf for the rest of the season, we haven’t seen as many big hits as we’ve become accustomed to when he is in the lineup. Dyson Stevenson is one of the players who will need to step up in BigVinny’s absence and he did his best when he blew up Sean Malone in the Amerks’ end.

We had some back and forth before Boucher forced a turnover, spun and fired but his shot was redirected out of play. At the other end, Mikey D denied JS Dea on a chance off the rush before gobbling up a Remi Elie backhander. The saves kept coming as the Comets rookie stopper made a sprawling save on Zach Redmond after the veteran defender took a nice feed from Bryson.

The Comets were looking to take the lead but it wasn’t going to come off of the muffin that Rafferty lobbed toward the net, but it looked like he was hoping to get an offensive-zone whistle for a line change on the play.

Frankie Perron hasn’t had the best luck this season. He’s had to miss significant time with injuries, he’s played out of position at times, and his play has been hot and cold. He made a shifty move to beat Andrew MacWilliam but was unable to make anything more of the play and the Amerks broke the other way.

Dylan Blujus has been a steady defender for the Comets since he earned an AHL deal off of a PTO a couple of years back. He unloaded with a shot through traffic with Graovac in front, but the big pivot couldn’t get a piece of the shot and Hammond had another save in the books. The Graovac line kept it coming and we saw him send a nice pass to Dyson Stevenson for a shot that was fired over the net.

At the other end, Brett Murray tried his luck with a shot and DiPietro crushed his dreams with another save. The Comets went the other way as Boucher and Baertschi had a two-on-one. Boucher called his own number and went five-hole… but Hammond was there with the save.

Josh Teves had some good moments in this game and one of those was a nice stretch pass to Boucher but Reid wasn’t able to make anything happen on the play. We had some back and forth as DiPietro came up with a save at one end before LeBlanc forced a turnover behind the Amerks’ net and fed Matt Petgrave for a point shot that was denied by Hammond. Perron followed up with a shot that was fired wide of the net.

Dylan Blujus let fly with another point shot, but with no traffic in front, Hammond had an easy save. No matter, however, as Sven Baertschi would put the good guys up 2-1 with a beautiful backhander after taking an equally nice feed from Carter Camper to make it happen. The goal was the 13th of the season for Sven, while Camper grabbed his 29th helper of the year on the play and Ashton Sautner earned his 11th.

DiPietro would swallow up a Casey Nelson point shot and soon after, with 2:10 remaining in the game, the Amerks called their timeout and kept Hammond on the bench for the extra attacker when the game resumed.

The Comets were doing nice work to keep the Amerks to the outside, limiting their chances before Tyler Graovac put this one home with an empty-net goal. The goal was Gravy’s second of the season, while Justin Bailey hit a new AHL high with his 46th point of the year off of his 19th assist. Wacey Hamilton earned the other helper for his seventh of the season.

That was all she wrote in Rochester as the Comets came away with a big win for their playoff race. The North Divison is extremely tight, so every point counts. Utica finished the period with an advantage of 10-7 on the shot clock, but Rochester held a 37-27 advantage for the game.

Today’s Official Boxscore

Today’s Comets Goals

LeBlanc (2) from Stevens (7).

Baertschi (13) from Camper (29) and Sautner (11).

Graovac (2) from Bailey (19) and Hamilton (7). Empty-net goal.

Mikey DiPietro: 36 saves for the win.

Special Teams

Power Play: 0/0.

Penalty Kill: 1/2

Penalty Killers: Hamilton, Stevens, Graovac, Boucher, Baertschi, Sautner, Blujus, Rafferty, LeBlanc.

The Three Stars in the building today were:

3rd Star: Andrew Hammond. 24 saves.

2nd Star: Mikey DiPietro. 36 saves.

1st Star: Sven Baertschi. Game-winning goal.

CanucksArmy’s Three Stars:

3rd Star: Dylan Blujus. He doesn’t get a ton of shine, so I thought I’d give Blujus a nod today for the solid season that he has been having with the team. He was credited with seven shots on goal today… and it isn’t often that many Comets can say that they put up more shots than Reid Boucher and Blujus did that and then some by nearly doubling Reid’s four shots.

2nd Star: Stefan LeBlanc. TheGingerUtilityKnife had a good game today for the Comets and was rewarded with his second goal of the season for his efforts. LeBlanc has played 29 games this year, bouncing seamlessly back and forth between being a defender or a winger depending on what is required of him for a given game. Some games, he even goes back and forth between the two to kill penalties, as he did today. With the work that he has done this year, I would not be surprised if he’s back again next season.

1st Star: Mikey DiPietro. After getting yanked in his last outing, DiPietro did as I expected today and bounced back with a strong performance and gave his team every opportunity to come away with a win. Mikey finished with 36 saves and a few of them were of the big-time variety. DiPietro earned his 20th win of the season today and doing so as a rookie is something that only Joacim Eriksson and Thatcher Demko have done before him in Utica.

Next Game

Game #59

Utica Comets at Charlotte Checkers

Friday, March 6th, 2020

7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific