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.
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
|Seamus Malone (arm)||Francis Perron (DTD)|
|R. Bachman||A. Biega||D. Blujus||S. LeBlanc||M. Eliot||N. Goldobin||S. Baertschi|
Comets in Blue
- Guillaume Brisebois registers the first shot on goal for the 2019-20 Comets regular season
- Vincent Arseneau (#18) with a decent start to the regular season as he gets a good setup from Wacey Hamilton (#36) and sends a one-timer off the pads of Evan Cormier
- Yikes, not a great start for Jonah Gadjovich (#21), as he catches the puck along the end-boards and gets boarded HARD by Binghamton’s Michael Paliotta
- Paliotta picked up a 2-minute minor but has to leave the rink to get stitches as he appears to have taken Gadjovich’s stick to the face as Gadjovich was going down.
- 1st Powerplay Unit: Juolevi, Boucher, Lind, Camper, and MacEwen
- On the powerplay, the puck hops past Olli Juolevi (#48) along the blue line, and he’s forced to chase a shorthanded rush by Binghamton’s Ryan Schmelzer
- Binghamton with a successful defense of the Comets first unit
- 2nd Powerplay Unit: Brisebois, Bailey, Jasek, Graovac, Gadjovich,
- GOAL – UTICA – 1-0 Comets – Upon further review – refs declare that the puck was kicked in and thus we still have a tie game
- Alternate angle showing the kicking motion as Jasek (#9) was hauled down in front of the net cause his leg to make a kicking motion
- Unlucky bounce but positive looks for the Comets sophomore squad on those two powerplay units
- A weak shot from Jalen Chatfield (#5)is blocked by Brett Seney, losing the Comets the offensive zone
- Close call, as Jonah Gadjovich gets pressured in his own zone, he goes for the clear but breaks his stick on the pass allowing the Binghamton Devils a chance to pressure
- Devils, Blake Speers high-sticks Olli Juolevi and the Comets are off to their second powerplay of the night
- First unit looking a bit awkward on their 1st try; bunch of missed passes and a general lack of communication between the bunch, resulting in being unable to gain the zone on their try
- Great powerplay shift from Lukas Jasek (#9), just watch him move all over the ice to make things happen for his second unit, solid passing and a decent shot attempt on goal
- Unfortunately, the powerplay ends when Gadjovich (#21) gets a little too handsy with his forechecking, earning himself a holding penalty and putting the Comets on the PK
- 1st PK Unit: Bancks, Sautner, Hamilton, Chatfield
- Ashton Sautner (#6) with solid work on the powerplay, being physical, breaking up two passes and springing Carter Bancks (#34) ahead for a shorthanded try
- 2nd PK Unit: Brisebois, Bailey, Graovac, Juolevi
- Bailey with some good work to poke the puck out past the blue line to allow for a change to
- GOAL – BINGHAMTON – 1-0 Devils: Wacey Hamilton (#36) blocks a shot, but misses the loose puck that redirects off his body, where Mikhail Maltsev then gets a smooth cross-ice feed to Nathan Bastian who gets an easy powerplay goal for the Devils
- Lot to digest on that goal
- 1. McIntyre is comically late to react to the cross-ice pass.
- 2. Hopefully, this was some brutal communication error between Chatfield and Brisebois, because I have no clue why Chatfield gave up on following his check towards the left circle
- Gadjovich (#21) with a beautiful drive down the right-wing for a backhand on Evan Cormier that’s blockered aside
- some beautiful vision and patience from Kole Lind (#13) as he weaves the puck around center ice to spring Carter Camper (#19) behind the defense for a solo drive on net only to be denied by Evan Cormier – great pass from Lind as well, looking very confident so far after one period
- Comets get a few more runs to the Devils end starting from their own zone but the period ends without much offensive flair
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.
- Communication lapse between Sautner (#6) and Juolevi (#48) over who should retrieve the puck, almost resulting in the Devils 2nd of the night
- GOAL – UTICA – 1-1 Tie: The 1st line for the Comets finally makes it happen! Kole Lind (#13) receives a pass from Reid Boucher (#24) on the blue line, wades into the top of the circle, and curls it back to Carter Camper (#19) whose wrister redirects off the leg of Boucher for his first of the season.
- GOAL – UTICA – 2-1 Comets: Lookout AHL, Kole Lind has arrived! Jalen Chatfield (#5) with a poke check in his own zone to spring the Comets on an offensive rush; Lukas Jasek (#9) with a beauty saucer pass to Kole Jasek (#9) on the left wing who turns at the bottom of the circle for a beauty of a pass himself as he sets up a crashing Reid Boucher (#24) for his second in 53 seconds.
- Wow that was a great display of passing and playmaking from the Boucher, Lind and Jasek group
- oh man Utica is firing on all cylinders as the 4th line rolls out and starts DOMINATING the Devils in their own end just hemming them in their own end
- Arseneau (#18), on the 4th line with a clapper that rises high over Evan Cormier
- The first line comes back out for some pressure; Boucher drives into the Devils zone, only to get hauled down with no call; Lind does well to hold the puck in the Devils zone, ending with Lind sending the puck around the boards to Camper who sets up Brisebois (#55) for the one-timer on net
- Gadjovich (#21) holding it down at the front of the net, where he gets a tip attempt on goal and then has a huge scoring chance denied by Evan Cormier as Gadjovich was turning for a quick wrister through traffic
- GOAL – UTICA – 3-1 Comets: Comets truly on all cylinders now. After the Devils FINALLY break into the Comets zone (no joke this was the first time they broke into the Comets zone this period), Josh Teves (#4) springs the puck up ahead to Carter Bancks (#34) who sends Justin Bailey (#95) down the left-wing alone, Teves joins the rush down the right side for added pressure, but Bailey doesn’t need it as he goes 5-hole on Cormier to increase the Comets lead.
- Devils coach calls for the time out to get his teams heads in order
- Vinny Arseneau (#18) with a CRUSHING hit along the boards, Brandon Baddock tries to bait Arseneau for the scrap but he has none of it
- Devils gain the Comets zone for just the 2nd time in the period but nothing comes of it
- Justin Bailey (#95) with a solid play to bail out his defender, Josh Teves (#4) after he blows a tire on a Brett Seney breakaway down the right-wing
- GOAL – UTICA – 4-1 Comets: Why was no one taking Kole Lind? A great question indeed as Kole Lind (#13) receives a Carter Camper (#19) pass and skates to the wing and does a brilliant job keeping the puck in Comets control, under pressure from 2 Binghamton players, he plays the puck along the boards to Reid Boucher (#24), who sets up a crashing Guillaume Brisebois (#55) for the goal to give the Comets the 3 goal lead.
- Third assist for Lind in one period…kid is doing a great job to make people forget about last season… wow
- Delayed penalty RIGHT off the ensuing face-off draw and the Comets are going to continue the pressure with their 3rd powerplay of the night
- Penalty is a 4 minute double minor for high sticking – so someone on the Comets must’ve been bleeding for this one
- Olli Juolevi (#48) a bit lackadaisical bringing the puck out of his own end on the powerplay almost leading to a Devils shorthanded goal
- Comets legitimately looking a bit tired on this powerplay – might be a bit of exhaustion setting in from sustaining the kind of offensive pressure they’ve had this period alone
- Good pressure from the Comets 4th line, as Dyson Stevenson (#26) manages to draw a tripping penalty on the Devils Josh Jacobs
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.
- Comets starting the period exactly where the left off with the powerplay and controlling the puck in the Devils zone
- Brogan Rafferty (#25) sets up Wacey Hamilton (#36) at center ice, but he loses control of the puck. Rafferty follows up on the play to regain possession and attempt a zone entry only to put Arseneau (#18) offside accidentally
- Arseneau (#18) with a shot block off some sustained devils pressure; followed by Sautner (#6) taking an interference penalty trying to clear McIntyre’s net
- 1st PK unit: Chatfield, Boucher, MacEwen, Brisebois
- Zack MacEwen (#15) with a solid defensive effort to strip Brett Seney of the puck and get he and Reid Boucher (#24) an odd man shorthanded chance the other way; Mac’s pass goes off a Devils skate and comes precariously close to the net but goes just wide
- Devil’s Yegor Sharangovich with a shot that goes off the inside of Jalen Chatfield’s knee
- Justin Bailey (#95) with some insane NHL speed, as he drives the puck from his own end to the Devils doorstep as he almost gets his 2nd of the night
- Brogan Rafferty (#25) with a calm breakaway pass to Reid Boucher (#24) behind the Devils defenceman, but gets denied by Evan Cormier
- Ashton Sautner (#6) with a flip pass up the right side to Lukas Jasek (#9) who casually rattles a shot that goes off the crossbar and out of play
- MacEwen (#15) with a great bank pass from down on his knees to Tyler Graovac (#44) who’s shot from center goes off Devils tendy Evan Cormier
- Chatfield (#5) shoves Marian Studenic into Zane McIntyre, and Reid Boucher (#24) comes over to give Studenic a couple crosschecks and whacks for his troubles
- Somehow Studenic picks up a penalty in all of this hahaha
- Rafferty (#25) with a filthy dangle in the Devils end to set up Brisebois (#55) for a shot on Evan Cormier
- GOAL – BINGHAMTON – 4-2 Comets: Tyler Graovac (#44) gets roughed up along the boards and fails to do anything to defend his man in Michael McLeod when he reset at center ice, allowing Josh Jacobs an easy redirect goal to cut the Comets lead.
- Graovac hovered around the tunnel immediately after the goal was scored and left, not a good sign given his place as the team’s de facto #2 center
- A giveaway from Guillaume Brisebois leads to a huge shot block from the Captain Carter Bancks (#34) which bounces out to Lukas Jasek (#9) who flips it up to Justin Bailey (#95) for a breakaway on net where once again his backhander gets denied by Evan Cormier
- Kole Lind (#13) in the offensive zone gives the Devils Brett Seney a shove to the face and then gets choke slammed to the ice by Michael Paliotta in a bit of a comical sequence
- Binghamton fans aren’t pleased but, bitch please this guy had an “A” for you last year
- Comets to the PK as Lind sits in the box for roughing
- Comets with a successful PK off some clutch shot-blocking and poke checks from Sautner, Hamilton, and MacEwen
- Devils pull Cormier for the extra man
- GOAL – BINGHAMTON – 4-3 Comets: On the man-advantage, the Devils are able to capitalize as Chris Conner gets left alone by Olli Juolevi (#48) on the right side of McIntyre’s net, allowing Brett Seney and Joey Anderson to combine on a centering pass to put them within 1
- Devils pressuring hard late
- Justin Bailey once again manages to poke the puck loose for a breakaway, but this time it is broken up in the neutral zone
- Time winds down as Chatfield and Sautner tie up the puck along the end boards to close this one out.
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
|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|
- 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.
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.