10/5/19 – Utica Comets @ Binghamton Devils

Welcome, all to the Farmies rebrand – the Comets Harvest thank you so much to all that voted and helped me pick out a name! It was a close vote, but it was way easier to rebuild my graphics on the fly, then do a complete rebuild. Also, the name rolls off the tongue better than everything else, so once again, thank you to those who voted and who continue to read Comets content that I write!

 

Also completely unrelated, but MAJOR shout out and props go out to Nate from the Canuck’s discord server for the absolute BDE move of drafting Loui Eriksson in the Canuck’s discord fantasy hockey pool. Seriously check out the Discord channel; if you haven’t already, there’s some fun to be had there!

Now let’s get into some AHL hockey, shall we!

 

After what felt like a lifetime, the longest offseason in Vancouver Canucks history has FINALLY ended, and tonight the Utica Comets 2019-20 AHL season starts anew. The Comets 2018-19 Season was an unmitigated disaster, to say the least; a season mired in injuries. From the get-go, the Comets never seemed to gain any form of traction, despite featuring a lineup that ended with THREE 50+ point-getters, the Comets simply lacked the necessary depth in ALL areas of their lineup to be able to stop pucks from going into their own net adequately.

 

This year, the Canucks management believe they’ve finally cracked the depth code; with NHL properties, Sven Baertschi, Nikolay Goldobin and Alex Biega joining the Comets to start the season, the Canucks believe that when injuries occur (and trust us, THEY WILL occur), the healthy competition for spots on both the AHL and NHL roster means they’ll be able to supplement BOTH their NHL and AHL roster in the event another injury-apocalypse occurs, akin to the injury-apocalypse that occurred throughout their 2018-19 campaigns.

 

Optimistically speaking a healthy competition for spots will be good for the AHL club, no one wants to ride the bench in the AHL, nor does anyone want to get demoted to the ECHL either, whether they have healthy competition in the right areas of the lineup though is entirely up for debate.

 

The last time we saw the Comets in the regular season, they were battling their hearts out to win a tightly contested match against the league’s 2nd best team, for their retiring blue liner Jaime Sifers. They split their preseason against Binghamton, going 1-1-0-0, but of course the win wasn’t broadcast so we can only hope that their success in that game is something that can translate over to the regular season, and with a roster of sophomore players looking to re-stake their claim on the tops of the prospect depth charts, the season should be a feisty one, with numerous guys looking to make a name for themselves, and carve out a fulltime position on this 2019-20 Utica Comets roster.

 

With all that preamble aside, let’s get into tonight’s game against the Binghamton Devils. The Comets lost the season head-to-head against the Devils last season, going 3w-5L and getting outscored 27-24 across all 8 contests.

 

Starting Lineup

 

LW C RW
Lind Camper Boucher
Gadjovich Graovac MacEwen
Bailey Jasek Bancks
Arseneau Hamilton Stevenson
LD RD
Brisebois Rafferty
Juolevi Sautner
Teves Chatfield
G
Zane McIntyre

 

Lines aren’t in any particular order to start just how they were in the warm-up skate. Liking the mixture of vets with the young guns up and down the lineup; REALLY dicey looking defensive group though…the most experienced guy being Ashton Sautner and his 189 AHL and 22 NHL games. The D-corps did alright against the Binghamton B-squad last week in preseason, but the pressure will be on tonight as they face their full AHL squad here tonight.

 

RE: INJURY REPORT

 

Injury Report
Seamus Malone (arm) Francis Perron (DTD)

 

Healthy Scratches
R. Bachman A. Biega D. Blujus S. LeBlanc M. Eliot N. Goldobin S. Baertschi

 

1st period

 

Comets in Blue

 

 

Score at the end of the first period: 1-0 Devils

 

A strong start for the Comets, despite the scoreline; impressive, confident play from the sophomore group, and it showed on the stat sheet as the Comets outshot the Devils 13 to 6 over 20 minutes. I’m liking the lines that Trent Cull and go have put together for tonight’s match, hoping that the first line has shaken off the cobwebs and can start getting some more pressure in the offensives zone. The second and third lines were really the story of the period as Jasek, Bailey, Gadjovich, and Arseneau shined in their attempts to set up plays and get pucks in the net.

 

2nd Period

 

 

The Score at the end of the 2nd period: 4-1 Comets

 

Domination is a phrase that doesn’t even do that period justice. That was 20 minutes straight of the Utica Comets controlling the tempo of play, all three zones…the Devils honestly had no answer and completely turtled the entire period… impressive periods from Kole Lind, Reid Boucher, Justin Bailey, and Brogan Rafferty. I don’t have too much tape on Rafferty, but he plays like a veteran out there, very poised, calm and controlled…rarely has he ever made any kind of rushed decision with the puck, very calculated in his distribution.

 

3rd period

 

 

The exhaustion definitely set in, but the Comets held it together and earn a thrilling 4-3 victory on the road to start off their 2019-20 campaign.

 

Final Score: 4-3 Utica Comets

 

Scoresheet

 

Period Team Goalscorer Primary assist helper type
1st Binghamton Nathan Bastian Mikhail Maltsev Julian Melchiori 5v5
2nd Utica Carter Camper Kole Lind Olli Juolevi 5v5
2nd Utica Reid Boucher Kole Lind Lukas Jasek 5v5
2nd Utica Justin Bailey Carter Bancks 5v5
2nd Utica Guillaume Brisebois Reid Boucher Kole Lind 5v5
3rd Binghamton Josh Jacobs Michael McLeod 4v4
3rd Binghamton Joey Anderson Brett Seney Chris Conner 6v5

 

Takeaways

 

  • Comets young group of sophomores were playing like they had something to prove and boy did they ever. Impressive two-way games from the sophomore players, Lind, Jasek, and Gadjovich. Lind especially had himself one hell of a night, dazzling in the offensive zone with his calm playmaking under pressure. If Lind can maintain gameplay like he did tonight and he and Boucher find that spark akin to the one Boucher and Kero had last season, then oh boy, it’s going to be a dynamite sophomore season for Kole Lind.
  • Justin Bailey arguably is too good to be playing 2nd line AHL hockey; his speed is miles above the majority of his team, just rewatch some of those breakaway streamable’s, he might actually be able to bump himself up the call-up sheets if he manages to maintain this kind of gameplay over the course of the season.
  • Reid Boucher looks to have not taken a step back from his 31 goal campaign last season, and he seems to have definitely stepped up as a leader on this young squad. Was in every scrum the team got into, had Kole Lind’s back multiple times, had his goalies back, even when arguably he could’ve dialled it back, but I like this Reid Boucher. Consistency for him will always be the key, and like I said for Lind, if they’re able to capture lightning in a bottle with that pairing on the first line, then they will be a force to be reckoned with.
  • Lukas Jasek looked OK at center, he certainly still has some growing pains to go through getting used to face-offs mostly, but he looked dangerous from the circle, rattling off 3 shots on the night, creating some high danger plays and generally being one of the teams better transition players through neutral ice. Looking forward to his deployment as the season progresses to see how he adapts to the new role; I think with a player like Justin Bailey on his wing, a big body who can win face-offs and who can wheel like no other on the team, I think Jasek will be in good hands under his leadership ability.
  • Quiet night from Olli Juolevi, not to say he had a bad game, he did have a few unforced errors in his own end that directly led to scoring chances and goals against for Binghamton, but his passing game never looked better, his ability to find teammates rink wide hasn’t gone away, and his ability to step up into the offensive for a blast on the net is still there… still needs to work on his physicality though, on quite a few occasions he appeared to wilt under the pressure of an aggressive forecheck, that being said, the Binghamton Devils DO run a BIG team relative to the Comets, but given the Comets face off against the Devils 8 times this season , it would be a good idea for OJ48 to start working on his strength to be able to compete against their physical play.

 

Comets Three Stars

  • Kole Lind – three assists and a game worthy of silencing all the critics and doubters that wrote him off at the end of last season
  • Justin Bailey – strong two-way game and speed for days, was a dangerous force every time he was on the ice
  • Brogan Rafferty – a standout in tonight’s game on the blue line, it may not have shown in the number of clips, but Rafferty was solid in all aspects of the game tonight; 2 shots on net, several fantastic outlet passes to his forwards for high danger scoring chances, incredibly calm defensive efforts to deny the Devils from scoring opportunities. Rafferty might be one of the first guys to get a call-up this season
    Honourable Mentions: Reid Boucher, Lukas Jasek, and Carter Camper, who had one goal and led the Comets with shots on net.

 

What’s Next?

 

The Comets are on the road again next Saturday as they visit the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. The Penguins are coming off a similar win in their season debut, as they defeated the Hershey Bears 4-3. The Comets might also see the appearances of Nikolay Goldobin, Alex Biega, and Sven Baerstschi next week. The question after tonight’s impressive victory being, who slots out of this squad to make the space? Until that day, though, let us appreciate what was, a great season debut for a Comets team that struggled down the stretch last season.

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