Photo Credit: cory hergott

CanucksArmy Utica Comets Post-Game: Comets Drop Disappointing 3-1 Decision to Syracuse During Tight Playoff Race

Utica Comets Post-Game Report

Game #61

Syracuse Crunch at Utica Comets

Wednesday, March 11th, 2020

7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 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. Olli Juolevi: LD – Lower-body injury, (hip soreness). NHL deal.
  4. Jonah Gadjovich: LW/RW – Illness, day-to-day. NHL deal.
  5. Sven Baertschi: Lower-body injury, (knee soreness) day-to-day. NHL deal.
  6. Carter Bancks, W/C – Veteran scratch. AHL deal.
  7. Josh Teves: LD – Healthy scratch. NHL deal.
  8. Seamus Malone: W/C – Healthy scratch. AHL deal.

Today’s Comets Lines

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

77 Nikolay Goldobin – 19 Carter Camper – 24 Reid Boucher (A)

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

27 Francis Perron – 16 John Stevens – 26 Dyson Stevenson

3 Stefan LeBlanc – 44 Tyler Graovac – 9 Lukas Jasek

55 Guillaume Brisebois – 8 Dylan Blujus

6 Ashton Sautner (A) – 25 Brogan Rafferty

 22 Matt Petgrave – 52 Mitch Eliot

64 Mikey DiPietro

29 Jake Kielly (backing up)

First Period

There was not a lot of scoring in the opening frame, but it was a pretty solid period of back and forth action that saw the Comets head into the room up 1-0.

The Comets came out firing as Justin Bailey and Reid Boucher were both denied early by Spencer Martin, as was Brogan Rafferty soon after before Gemel Smith broke the other way for a chance that was denied by Mikey DiPietro. Smith can thank a Brogan Rafferty miscue for his chance.

The Crunch were looking to keep some pressure on as Boris Katchouk let fly from point-blank range and DiPietro came up with another save. Luke Witkowski unloaded with a shot from the blueline that was gobbled up by Mikey D for a whistle.

At the other end, Matt Petgrave jumped on a loose puck and let fly but Martin was there with the save. Justin Bailey followed up with a chance and it was turned aside as well. Petgrave came right back with another and Martin said no once again.

The Crunch went the other way where Alex Barre-Boulet tossed the puck on the net and DiPietro marked down another save before Cameron Gaunce was sent off for tripping. Rafferty had an early chance kicked out before Goldobin set Tyler Graovac up in the slot for a one-timer that was denied by the wave of Martin’s blocker.

The Comets second unit took over and we saw Kole Lind show a smart stick to regain possession in the offensive zone before getting the puck to Frankie Perron for a shot that Martin came up huge on for another save. The Comets came up empty.

Barre-Boulet came right back with a shot that DiPietro got a piece of as the Crunch applied some pressure. Ben Smith had a chance turned aside before Gemel Smith was dinged for roughing and the Comets had another crack at the power play. This time, they would make no mistake as Nikolay Goldobin sent a sweet feed in front to TheGentleman for his 28th goal of the season. Goldy grabbed his 31st helper of the year on the play, while Brogan Rafferty earned his 38th.

Matt Petgrave was paired with Mitch Eliot today and that made for some rough moments for Syracuse forwards in the Comets end as the duo made sure to dish out some lumps when the opportunity presented itself.

We saw some late back and forth as DiPietro denied a chance from Tyler Bird before Denis Yan clanged a shot off the iron and the Comets went the other way. Rafferty fired a shot off the blocker of Martin late and the period finished with the Comets up 1-0 on the scoreboard and up 13-9 on the shot clock.

Second Period

The middle frame didn’t go as well as the first for the Comets as they found themselves down 2-1 after giving up an early tally and a late shorthanded goal.

The Hamilton line applied some early pressure along with the duo of Petgrave and Eliot, but they were unable to make anything happen. The Crunch went the other way to knot the game at one after Otto Somppi looked like he was going to try a wrap-around before getting the puck to Denis Yan and he buried it for his 10th goal of the season. Somppi grabbed his 13th helper of the year on the play, while Tyler Bird earned his second.

They came right back looking for more and DiPietro came up with a sprawling stop before Ross Colton was whistled for delay of game when he fired the puck over the glass. The power play would be short-lived as Matt Petgrave let fly with a shot that was redirected by Kole Lind and Martin was there with the save. Lind was sent off for slashing soon after and we had some four aside play.

Mathieu Joseph had a shot gloved down and held by DiPietro and the Comets had to kill off the 35-seconds remaining on Lind’s penalty. Kill it they did.

The Crunch kept the pressure on and Cal Foote fired a shot that was tipped wide before Rafferty coughed up the puck to Tyler Bird for a shot that was fired off the iron. Those giveaways from Rafferty will need to slow down before he can expect to get a look with the big club, in my opinion.

At the other end, Graovac dropped a nice pass to Stefan LeBlanc for a shot that Martin kicked out. The Crunch went the other way where DiPietro fought off a shot from Alex Volkov before stopping and covering the followup chance.

The Comets were trying to answer back when John Stevens sent a pass to Ashton Sautner on the rush but Martin was equal to the task. Ross Colton tried his luck with a toe drag that beat Dylan Blujus but DiPietro was there with his glove when the shot came. Dominik Masin followed up with a big shot that was swallowed up by Mikey D. Cameron Gaunce came back with a shot through traffic that DiPietro kicked out.

The chances kept coming for the Crunch as they came back in two-on-one and DiPietro made a sprawling save as Syracuse pressed.

At the other end, Goldobin had a shot turned aside before Stevens and Perron played whack-a-mole with the puck loose in the Syracuse crease, but Martin would cover for a whistle.

The Comets would get a late power play, but it would come back to bite them. Carter Camper and Justin Bailey had chances with a scramble in the Syracuse crease but were unable to take advantage before the Crunch started to get some shorthanded chances. First, it was Gemel Smith being shut down by DiPietro before Joseph was denied as well.

The third time was the charm as Luke Witkowski picked off a Kole Lind play attempt and walked in to beat DiPietro for his second goal of the season. The goal was unassisted.

The Comets power play came up empty and they finished the period down 2-1 on the scoreboard while Syracuse also held an 11-8 lead on the second-period shot clock.

Third Period

Things didn’t get any better for the Comets in the third period as they would give up one more goal on their way to a 3-1 loss in an important game in their playoff drive. The Comets need to pick up every point they can get their hands on and losing two to Syracuse could end up being the difference between making the playoffs and being stuck on the outside looking in.

Mikey DiPietro would finish this game with 23 saves on 26 shots and one of those saves came on an early offering from Barre-Boulet that was stopped and held by the Comets’ keeper. At the other end, Justin Bailey fired a shot wide before Rafferty let fly with a big shot that Martin denied.

Tyler Graovac’s line followed up with an active shift in the offensive zone that didn’t result in any goals for and soon after, Guillaume Brisebois was sent off for holding.

The Comets did good work on this kill and ended up getting a shorthanded scoring chance from the duo of Lukas Jasek and Reid Boucher but Martin was there with another save. The Comets came up with a good kill.

He may have taken the loss in this game, but Mikey DiPietro was making some big saves and I’m not sure that any were bigger than this diving effort on Denis Yan.

The Comets turned up the heat as Bailey had a chance stopped and covered before Martin made back-to-back stops on Boucher and Sautner. Carter Camper tried his luck with a shot from distance that Martin gobbled up as Boucher cruised through his crease looking for loose change.

We had some back and forth before Kole Lind came away from a board battle behind the Syracuse net and found Wacey Hamilton in front for a chance that was fired wide. At the other end, Ben Thomas had his point shot kicked aside by DiPietro before Brisebois showed a smart stick to break up a Syracuse play.

The Comets were looking to knot the game at two when Carter Camper and Nikolay Goldobin worked a nice passing play that ended with one-too-many passes from Goldy and the play died with no change to the score.

The Comets didn’t quit as Frankie Perron dished to John Stevens in front for a chance that was turned aside by Martin as the Comets pressed.

Syracuse kept pushing back and Boris Katchouk slipped off of Justin Bailey long enough to get open and he made no mistake, beating DiPietro for his 14th goal of the season. Daniel Walcott grabbed his 12th helper of the year on the play, while Peter Abbandonato earned his sixth. The goal came at the 16:39 mark.

Trent Cull summoned Mikey D to the bench with 2:52 remaining and we watched the Crunch try their luck at the yawning cage a few times but their shots were fired high or wide of the target. The Comets called their timeout with 1:15 left in the game, but they were unable to even the score and watched the Crunch skate away with a 3-1 win.

Utica held a 7-6 edge on the third-period shot clock and a 28-26 edge overall.

Today’s Official Boxscore

Comets Goal

Justin Bailey (28) from Nikolay Goldobin (31) and Brogan Rafferty (38). PP goal.

Mikey DiPietro: 26 saves in the loss. 

Special Teams: 

Power Play: 1/4. One shorthanded goal allowed.

Penalty Kill: 2/2.

PP1: Boucher, Goldobin, Bailey, Graovac, Rafferty.

PP2: Camper, Perron, Lind, Jasek, Petgrave.

PP3: Boucher, Graovac, Camper, Lind, Rafferty.

PP4: Goldobin, Perron, Jasek, Lind, Petgrave.

Penalty Killers: Hamilton, Stevens, Boucher, Goldobin, Jasek, Brisebois, Sautner, Blujus, LeBlanc, Rafferty.

The Three Stars in the building today were: 

3rd Star: Justin Bailey. One goal.

2nd Star: Spencer Martin. 27 saves for the win.

1st Star: Luke Witkowski. Game-winning goal.

CanucksArmy’s Three Stars:

This was a bit of a tough one for me today. I find myself looking up and down the lineup and not seeing anyone who really jumped out to me today. I feel like the team missed the boat today and didn’t bring enough energy to win this game. Goldy sent a nice pass to Bailey for the Comets’ lone goal, but that alone isn’t going to earn him a star. This was a game that Goldy should have used to make a statement after sitting as the team’s veteran scratch for the past couple of outings. The effort wasn’t good enough from him, or from many of his teammates today. They will need to do a lot better the rest of the way if they intend on playing post-season games.

Next Game

Game #62

Belleville Senators at Utica Comets

Friday, March 13th, 2020

7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific