Welcome, all to the 4th edition of the Comets Harvest! The Comets are in unprecedented territory, having won three games to start their season for the first time since, well, ever! Matter of fact, the last time the Canucks farm team rattled off three wins to start the season, their affiliate was the 2012-13 Chicago Wolves! Pretty nutty.
There are some similarities between the Canucks and the Comets, beyond just the win-streak, the Comets powerplay, too, has been just awful to start the year. After three games and 15 powerplay tries, the Comets have managed only one goal-for. This past Wednesday, the team gave up their first short-handed goal. Last season the Comets led the league in short-handed goals against with 19 total in 76 games.
But let’s not drown in the negative thinking, because this team has looked solid to start the year! It’s hard to fault a team when their speed and gritty play has led to some very exciting hockey. Particular commendations have to go to the bottom six players such as Justin Bailey, Jonah Gadjovich, and Vincent Arseneau. The fourth line has been playing hard with aggressive forechecking, which has directly led to goals-for, scoring chances, and penalty-draws to give the Comets multiple powerplay opportunities.
The Comets did great in a dominant victory over their archrivals, the Syracuse Crunch. I believe the Comets caught the Crunch off-guard with their speed in the transition game. Multiple times Wednesday, the Comets caught the Crunch on slow line-changes to spring forwards on breakaway opportunities.
To defeat the defending Calder Cup Champion Charlotte Checkers, they’ll have to maintain that same transition game to try to make it four in a row. The Checkers have been playing highly undisciplined hockey (21 penalties in just four games played) but have made up for it with a league-leading penalty kill. To offset the skill of the Checkers’ league-leading penalty kill, the Comets will need to capitalize on their powerplay opportunities if they arise.
I have faith that at even-strength, the Comets have the speed and the high-end skill to win. Having an effective powerplay as back-up will just be helpful in case the even-strength game doesn’t work out.
|Boucher (#24)||Camper (#19)||Lind (#13)|
|Goldobin (#77)||Jasek (#9)||Baertschi (#47)|
|Bailey (#95)||Perron (#27)||MacEwen (#15)|
|Malone (#17)||Hamilton (#36)||Arseneau (#18)|
|Brisebois (#55)||Rafferty (#25)|
|Juolevi (#48)||Chatfield (#5)|
|Teves (#4)||Blujus (#8)|
|Michael DiPietro (G)|
Jonah Gadjovich picked up an upper-body strain during the match against Syracuse, so his status is uncertain for the weekends game. Subbing in for him is Seamus Malone, who returns after missing the entirety of training camp with an arm injury. Malone was one of the Comets lone bright spots towards the end of last season when he picked up three goals in six games before a season-ending injury to his arm.
RE: INJURY REPORT
|Jonah Gadjovich(upper-body)||Tyler Graovac (knee)||Carter Bancks (upper body)|
|Stefan LeBlanc||Mitch Eliot||Dyson Stevenson|
Comets in White
- Exciting to see MDP get two straight starts
- Comets with an early chance from Justin Bailey off a tight angle
- After some end-to-end dump-and-chase hockey, the Checkers ice the puck allowing the Comets an offensive zone draw and some light pressure
- Brogan Rafferty (#25) thinks Guillaume Brisebois (#55) is going to take the puck along the end-boards and plays the puck a lot lighter than he should have
- DiPietro with a good save on a redirected puck
- Reid Boucher almost gets sprung for a breakaway by Jalen Chatfield but his line is offside
- Olli Juolevi (#48) does well to defend the Checkers’ Julien Gauthier, Chatfield (#5) steps in to help out along the boards so the Comets can clear
- A pass from Brisebois (#55) is missed just barely by Rafferty (#25) giving the Checkers’ two scoring chances, but MDP comes up huge with the saves
- Chase Priskie gets sprung behind the defense leading to some sustained pressure for the Checkers’ but the Comets do well to clog up the center to block the shooting lanes
- In a board battle, Reid Boucher takes a cross-checking minor to put the Comets on the penalty kill
- 1st PK Group: Brisebois, Hamilton, Jasek, Blujus
- Blujus gets a takeaway off a lost faceoff draw and clears the zone for Utica
- Hamilton gets a takeaway for himself and clears the zone for the Comets to change
- 2nd PK Group: MacEwen, Bailey, Chatfield, Juolevi
- 2nd Group continues the takeaway trend and manages to deny any shot attempts by the Checkers’
- GOAL – UTICA – 1-0 Comets: Well, that’s certainly a way to open the scoring! Rafferty (#25) intercepts a pass for a no-look feed to Carter Camper (#19), who attempts to spring Kole Lind (#13) on a breakaway, but Lind can’t catch up to the puck. Fortunately for Lind, the Checkers’ goalie, Alex Nedeljkovic catches the puck, only to find he’s outside of the playable zone. Lind steals the puck at the goal line, spins around the net, and feeds a crashing Carter Camper for the one-timer blast to open the scoring. What a sequence of events!
- Nikolay Goldobin (#77) from the left-wall tries a centering feed, but no-one’s there, that is, until Dylan Blujus (#8) steps into the play to create a huge scoring chance for Utica.
- I like Blujus’ speed to step into the play and quickly return for a backcheck.
- Comets fourth line pressuring hard, Seamus Malone (#17) almost gets a steal on Nedjelkovic, who barely had a glove on the puck, before the refs blew the whistle.
- GOAL – UTICA – 2-0 Comets: The Euroline putting in work again, as Sven Baertschi (#47) puts in work along the boards to allow Nikolay Goldobin ( #77) to whisk a puck away to a crashing Brogan Rafferty (#25) who goes post-and-in for his first professional goal.
- I can’t believe that play began because of the physical play of Sven Baertschi… a sentence I’d never thought I’d write
- GOAL – UTICA – 3-0 Comets: the HITS. KEEP. COMIN! This time, Nedeljkovic again misplays the puck behind his net quite badly allowing Zack MacEwen (#15) to steal, and set up a crashing Justin Bailey (#95) who makes it three unanswered for the Comets.
- Nedeljkovic gets the hook and Anton Forsberg gets put in
- Relentless pressure again for the Comets fourth line as Blujus (#8) begins the zone-entry, followed by some nifty puck-handling from Seamus Malone (#17) that distracts the Checkers’ long enough to allow Vinny Arseneau (#18) a quick shot off Forsberg’s pads outta nowhere
- Chatfield (#5) holds the zone and plays it up to Boucher (#24) who sets up Lind (#13), all alone at the front of the net, but Lind whiffs his one-timer over the net
- Lukas Jasek (#9) with quick skates to keep the puck in the offensive zone, he then plays the puck up to Josh Teves (#4) who attempts a one-timer set up for Sven Baertschi (#47), but the pass gets disrupted along the way
- The continuing play, Dylan Blujus (#8) gets tied up with a Checkers forward while holding the offensive zone, allowing Baertschi (#47) to feed an all-alone Goldobin (#77) in front of Forsberg, but Forsberg makes the pad save. Teves then gets in a bit of a tilly with the Checkers’ Clark Bishop.
- Both Teves and Bishop pick up minors for roughing, so the game goes to 4-on-4 for two minutes
- Comets getting pressured pretty hard on the 4-on-4
- solid diving effort from Zack MacEwen (#15) to disrupt a pass that would’ve been a sure-goal for Charlotte
Score at the end of the first Period: 3-0 Comets
Well, that’s certainly one way to start a period! The team is displaying quite a versatile, well-balanced attack, with contributions coming from all four forward groups AND the three defensive pairings. Hard to find any faults with any play that Period. The 4-on-4, despite being pinned in their end, wasn’t even that bad, as they went on to disrupt practically all of the Checkers scoring chances. Digging the compete of this team.
- an early pass from Reid Boucher (#24) in the offensive zone gets picked off, and MDP is forced to make a terrific breakaway save
- Teves (#4) with a solid pass break-up to spring Goldobin (#77) and Baertschi (#47) on a two-on-one. Baertschi’s shot goes off Forsberg’s glove and wide.
- Fourth line again pressuring effectively in the offensive zone
- Arseneau (#18) bodies former Comet, Hunter Shinkaruk, and then DiPietro (G) makes a wicked glove save on Steven Lorentz
- Chatfield (#5) with an insane pass from the defensive zone
- sound gone on the stream – it’s not your computer/phone
- Brisebois overskates a loose puck, allowing a Checkers’ centering feed to Morgan Geekie, whose shot gets absolutely denied by a sprawling DiPietro (G)
- Comets are struggling to clear their zone, icing the puck numerous times and facing several shots-against. MDP coming up big this Period
- Jasek intercepts a puck and gets a breakaway feed to Goldobin and Baertschi, but the two are exhausted and elect to simply dump-and-change.
- Zack MacEwen (#15) takes exception to Max McCormick’s cross-checks and gives him a couple of his own in return. Derek Sheppard steps in to fight with MacEwen when HE takes exception to MacEwen’s exception-taking. Exceptionally underwhelming fight, conveniently stopped when MacEwen finally got his arm cocked for a haymaker
- MacEwen takes a fighting major AND two for cross-checking, putting the Comets on their second penalty kill of the night
- 1st PK Group: Hamilton, Boucher, Chatfield, Juolevi,
- First unit clears twice and manages to get a change for Hamilton and Juolevi
- GOAL – UTICA – 4-0 Comets: what’s this? A COMETS short-handed goal? Have I died and move on to a better place? Reid Boucher (#24) proving he can score pretty much, in any situation, as he steals a weak pass from two Checkers players to deke and go backhand on Forsberg for his sixth goal in 4 games.
- Boucher had been out for the entire penalty kill before getting himself the breakaway. Awesome effort from the Bouchman
- Goldobin (#77) with a steal in the neutral zone to then send a beauty backhand pass to Baertschi (#47) on Forsberg’s doorstep for a scoring chance. That would’ve been a beauty if Bae snuck that one in!
- Baertschi leads another odd-man rush but a questionable offside call gets made
- Time winds down on the second Period; Comets outshot 9-to-5
The Score at the end of the 2nd Period: 4-0 Comets
After getting dominated for the bulk of the second Period, leave it to Reid Boucher to come up huge on the penalty kill to regain the Comets momentum. After the short-handed goal, the Comets looked have regained their fire, returning to some heavy offensive zone pressure to close out the Period. Comets defensive work still holding solid while Michael Di Pietro has been making some clutch saves all Period to keep the Comets in this one. Next Period might be more dominance from the Comets as they’ll have the bench facing the offensive zone this time.
- Dylan Blujus took a holding penalty at the very end of the second Period, putting the Comets on their third penalty kill to start the Period
- 1st PK Group: Hamilton, Juolevi, Boucher, Chatfield
- Juolevi drops to a knee to block a shot… buddy, please…save your knees, just block with your face or something
- Jasek (#9) breaks up a pass on the penalty kill and springs Bailey (#95) ahead for a short-handed drive
- MDP with a big save on the penalty kill, catching the rebound off a toe-save mid-air
- GOAL – CHARLOTTE – 4-1 Comets: A good play for former Canucks’ properties, as Gustav Forsling gets the puck on the blue line and sends a shot in on Di Pietro. Di Pietro cant control the rebound as it goes out to Hunter Shinkaruk who gets an easy backhander in to cut the Comets lead to three.
- GOAL – UTICA – 5-1 Comets: The Euroline with the most casual goal I’ve ever seen. Josh Teves (#4) breaks up the play along the boards in the Comets zone to then play relay between Jasek (#9), and Goldobin (#77) who plays it up to Baertschi (#47) on the Checkers’ blueline. Baertschi (# 47)then nets his first of the season, as he goes five-hole on Forsberg.
- GOAL – CHARLOTTE – 5-2 Comets: Holy moly, before I could even finish writing up the last goal. Jalen Chatfield (#5) has a brutal giveaway in his own end that goes OFF Di Pietro onto the stick of David Gust who weaves behind the net for a pass to Eetu Luostarinen. Luostarinen’s FIRST shot gets saved by a flailing Di Pietro, but Luostorinens’ follow up shot goes off MDP’s skate as MDP tries to slide back into his net to make the follow-up save
- Comets in-rink announcer hadn’t even announced the Baertschi goal info before the Luostarinen goal happened haha
- Along the boards a scrum ensues between Vinny Arseneau and Brian Gibbons, putting the game at 4-on-4 for two minutes
- Juolevi (#48) on the receiving end of a very unlucky tripping call as he weaves along the Checkers end, only to see his stick get stuck in the skates of a Checkers defenders skates
- Charlotte gets the near minute and a half 4-on-3 powerplay
- 1st 3: Brisebois, Blujus, Hamilton
- Brisebois blocks a huge one-timer shot and dumps it down the ice for the clear
- A shot from Morgan Geekie goes up and over the glass allowing Brisebois to change off for Jalen Chatfield
- Chatfield gets a steal along the boards to dump the puck just as the Arseneau penalty ends to put the Checkers onto a brief, but regular 5-on-4 powerplay
- Goldobin ( #77) almost springs Jasek (#9) on a breakaway but its instead a turnover in tight, fortunately, the Checkers overplay it and the Comets avoid disaster
- Morgan Geekie drives down the wing and sends a shot that goes off the post
- MacEwen (#15) outraces Forsling to negate the icing, leading to a huge scoring chance for Francis Perron (#27)
- Off the offensive zone draw, Reid Boucher draws a tripping penalty to put the Comets up on their FIRST powerplay of the game
- 1st PP Unit: Boucher, Goldobin, Boucher, Juolevi, Lind
- Goldobin gets set up at the front of the net for a one-timer, but his shot just barely gets a stick on it, sending it wide of the goal
- GOAL – UTICA – 6-2 Comets: Comets on the powerplay, as Goldobin (#77), feeds MacEwen (#15) at the front of the net for a try, the rebound comes out to Lind (#13) who takes a shot, catches his rebound and sinks it for his 2nd of the night. Goldobins second three-assist night
- Goldobin is having himself a great night. Off another offensive faceoff draw, Goldy draws an interference penalty to give the Comets their second powerplay in a row
- Someone in the crowd prior to the first powerplay faceoff draw, “What’re you guys playin’ hide the hotdog?” gotta love AHLtv
- Juolevi (#48) with the sauce to Boucher (#24) as he rips a slap-pass to MacEwen (#15) for the tip-in, but it goes wide
- DiPietro (G) with an acrobatic splits save
- GOAL – UTICA – 7-2 Comets: Francis Perron (#27) wins an offensive zone draw, and the puck bounces over to Dylan Blujus (#8) who rips a shot towards net. The puck rebounds off a Checkers’ stick in front to net Blujus his 2nd goal in as many games.
- Comets are doing well to gain the Checkers’ zone and kill time. Team is in no rush to play risky hockey
- GOAL – UTICA – 8-2 Comets: Well, I guess you could say, Charlotte has really….CHECKed out! Haha, get it!? But yeah…pretty good passing play from Francis Perron (#27) along the boards to Guillaume Brisebois (#55) who casually sits in front of the Checkers’ net playing with the puck. Breezy no-look passes to Bailey (#95) on the doorstep for the easy tap-in goal.
- Comets with 8 goals on 24 shots tonight; essentially scoring on every third shot haha
- Clock winds down and the Comets dominate again to win their fourth straight
- shout out to Goldobin for looking like he about to passionately embrace MDP
Final Score: 8-2 Comets
|1st||Utica||Carter Camper||Kole Lind||—||5v5|
|1st||Utica||Brogan Rafferty||Nikolay Goldobin||Sven Baertschi||5v5|
|1st||Utica||Justin Bailey||Zack MacEwen||—||5v5|
|3rd||Charlotte||Hunter Shinkaruk||Gustav Forsling||Max McCormick||5v5|
|3rd||Utica||Sven Baertschi||Nikolay Goldobin||Lukas Jasek||5v5|
|3rd||Charlotte||Eetu Luostarinen||David Gust||—||5v5|
|3rd||Utica||Kole Lind||Zack MacEwen||Nikolay Goldobin||PPG|
|3rd||Utica||Dylan Blujus||Francis Perron||Zack MacEwen||5v5|
|3rd||Utica||Justin Bailey||Guillaume Brisebois||Francis Perron||5v5|
- Call up Goldobin. He’s got nothing to prove at the AHL level, the kids’ vision, passing, playmaking… just get him on a line with Petey and let him thrive. He has all the tools to be a fantastic compliment to Pettersson. This is two back-to-back three-assist games for Goldy, if he keeps this kind of play up I don’t see how the Canucks can justify keeping him down in the minors. Bring him up and push skill down in your lineup, don’t push them out of it.
- It’s crazy to me that Zack MacEwen can have a three-assist game of his own, and somehow fly under the radar. He was sneaky good tonight. Pure speculation, but it looks like MacEwen spent a lot of his offseason working on his defensive game, as he has looked quite sharp in his own end to start this season. He hasn’t looked nearly as lost defending in his own end as he did last year. Liking his improvements to start the year, even if offensively, it has been a bit slow going. If he and Bailey can stick together on a line, then their speed is going to give everyone in their conference fits.
- Kole Lind had himself another fantastic game. One goal and one assist with two shots on net, he looks so much more composed while controlling the puck. Last season he was quick to throw pucks away to nowhere and gave up a lot of Comets chances with risky low % plays. This season he’s looked poised with the puck, and honestly seems to be a better playmaker with Boucher than Kero did. Boucher is someone that Lind could definitely learn from; Lind still needs to improve his speed so that his vision and creativity can transfer to the NHL level. Otherwise, a great start for the kid after a brutal debut season last year.
- Dylan Blujus was great tonight, as he was last night also. It sucks he has to play behind guys like Sautner, Rafferty, and Chatfield on a regular night, because honestly, I think he’s better in the offensive AND defensive zones compared to a guy like Chatfield. He has solid positioning and solid fundamentals when it comes to controlling play in his own zone. I don’t know how long Sautner will be up with the Canucks for, but I’m glad Blujus has been able to show well in his two games this season
- Brogan Rafferty, could be a steal if he keeps improving. Plays like an NHL third pairing guy; great poise with the puck and always makes up for his errors on the ensuing play. Never has to get bailed out by his partner, always puts in the effort to make up for his mistakes. Gotta love a guy playing with tenacity and fire in both ends of the ice to establish himself.
- Josh Teves, amazingly he didn’t end up on the scoresheet tonight despite a majority of the goals-for tonight, being a direct result of his ability to clear his zone or enter the offensive with his skating. Displayed a much better sense of when to engage and disengage tonight, that he hadn’t done so in previous games. If he can find consistency where every game looks the way it did tonight, then he too could be another steal for the Canucks.
- Lukas Jasek, I think I said it in my last post that he looks uncomfortable as a center, and tonight was no different. While still sound defensively and offensively, I think his playmaking ability is better suited while playing from the wing rather than at center. He just doesn’t have the speed to play his game in the middle of the ice. I think the team also loses the benefit of having him along the wall battling for pucks, which is something he absolutely thrived in last year.
- Olli Juolevi, I put him in the so-so range only because relative to the other defensemen tonight, I thought guys like Blujus and Rafferty outperformed him. But this isn’t me saying Juolevi played terrible, I personally think he had a great game. Was killer on the penalty kill, even if I have to keep saying, “Dude…please stop blocking shots with your knees!” He had his usual finesse as a passer on the powerplay, but his speed and ability to transition the puck up the ice with his skating is still a work in progress. Because players like Teves, Blujus and Rafferty have proven to be able to transition the puck from their own end with skating as opposed to cross-ice passes, I have to put OJ in just the so-so range for tonight. Still a great game by OJ’s standards, but still some work to do for him! I’m optimistic the guy will be clutch later in the season as he’s notoriously a slow starter in every league he’s played in.
- MDP, yes, there are quite a few streamables of him making highlight saves, but still, he does need to tighten up on his rebound control. I think due to his youth and agility, he elects to go for the acrobatic save rather than the easy save. Which, don’t get me wrong, is fun as hell to watch, but like, that LUostarinen goal. I have no idea why MDP has to full-body hop in the air to make a glove save and then dive to his belly to attempt a stop of the rebound …It’s a bit excessive, but I’m sure the goalie coaches in Utica will help him to refine it. He’s a good goaltender in spite of the needlessly acrobatic saves, arguably could’ve been a shutout for him if he just tightened up on a few things.
Comets 18 Stars
- Nikolay Goldobin
- Everybody Else
The Comets Trajectory?
The Comets are back in action tomorrow for their 3rd of a four-game home-stand, when they take on their division rivals, the Rochester Americans. Fortunately, the Amurks are without Victor Oloffsson who terrorized the Comets last season. IIRC: Olofsson picked up something like 15 points in 8 or 10 games against the Comets last year.
The Comets are looking great to start the season despite some of the early adversity they’ve faced. Their wins to start this year aren’t coming against teams like the Laval Rocket or Belleville Senators, either. They’ve been coming against legit competition, so its exciting times for the farm!
If you want a more condensed version of Comets recaps, you can now find MORE of my writing at thesinbin.net
also, let me know what titles do you prefer
simplified Utica Comets (standings) vs. Opponent (opponents standings)
or a boiled down lede describing the game, like Tonights?