10/26/19 – Utica Comets vs. Hershey Bears

Well, the Comets are off to quite the insane start! Last night the Comets defeated the Binghamton Devils, 5-1, to win their sixth straight game. After Friday’s victory, the Comets now lead the AHL in goals-for.

 

Last night was a quiet one for the team’s star players. Gaudette had some flashes of speed and a couple shots on net, but otherwise remained pretty invisible. Fairly reasonable, for him to be a little rusty, given how much time he’s spent sitting on the bench in Vancouver. Jasek had himself a really good defensive game, but offensively his line was denied repeatedly by Evan Cormier’s impressive goaltending.

 

As I wrote last night, the Comets really succeeded off the work their fourth line was putting in with their aggressive forechecking. The Devils did not have an answer for that line, and it paid dividends for the Comets scoresheet. Hershey is the 2nd best team in the AHL’s Atlantic division, so this could be the first real litmus test for the Comets.

That being said, I thought the Syracuse and Charlotte games were going to be the real litmus tests, and those two games were complete blowouts in favor of the Comets, so who knows! Over the past several games, the Comets have had lapses in defensive coverage only to be bailed out by stellar goaltending, The Comets will eventually have to shore up on that area of their game. It works now, but consistency with goaltending isn’t something a farm team should ever rely on. Look at what happened with the team just last season when their tandem for the better part of the season was a near-retiree and a steady rotation of ECHL PTO’s.

 

Until that “come-down to earth” moment happens, I’m going to keep appreciating this iteration of the Comet’s ability to score at an outrageous clip to win games in dominating, exciting fashion.

Speaking of winning games! Let’s get into tonight’s matchup and see if the boys on the farm can make it seven straight to start the season!

 

LW C RW
Boucher (#24) Camper (#19) Goldobin (#77)
Lind (#13) Gaudette(#88) Baertschi (#47)
Bailey (#95) Jasek(#9) MacEwen (#15)
Arseneau (#18) Perron (#27) Bancks (#34)
LD RD
Brisebois (#55) Rafferty (#25)
Juolevi (#48) Sautner (#6)
Teves (#4) Chatfield (#5)
G
DiPietro (G)

 

After last night, I didn’t expect too much line-shuffling. The coaches, however, want to get Gaudette going, and what better way than by reuniting Gaudette with Sven Baertschi, and Kole Lind. If you remember, Lind and Gaudette had some incredible chemistry to start last season, before Gaudette was called up.
Jasek now returns to a line with the speed-demons in Bailey and MacEwen. Jasek, as always, was great defensively in last night’s game against Binghamton but struggled to contribute offensively from center-ice. Last season, Jasek was at his best playing along the wings, due to his fantastic puck-control along the boards. As a center, there isn’t a way for him to utilize that highly underrated aspect of his game. He’s still got a great two-way game, and he needs to find some consistent offense as a playmaker from the center.

 

RE: INJURY REPORT

 

Injury Report
Jonah Gadjovich(upper-body) Tyler Graovac (knee) Carter Bancks (upper body)

 

Healthy Scratches
Stefan LeBlanc Dyson Stevenson Dylan Blujus

 

1st period

 

Comets in Blue

 

 

Score at the end of the First Period: 1-0 Comets

 

Comets lead, but the problems that were beginning to show in the game against Binghamton were made more apparent against this aggressive Hershey team. Too often, the team has been caught playing way too far up neutral-ice. The blue-liners have missed multiple cross-ice passes, resulting in poor defensive coverage in their end. The numerous drives from Bears players’ has resulted in many Comets’ looking lost while chasing the play in their end. Fortunately, Di Pietro has been solid tonight as he stopped seven of seven dangerous shots. The Comets are likely exhausted from their midnight bus-ride to Hershey. So, I don’t know if (moving into the second period) the team will be able to sustain the same kind of offensive prowess that they’ve had in previous efforts. One thing is for sure, they will need to shore up on these defensive lapses if they intend to remain undefeated.

 

2nd Period

 

 

The Score at the end of the 2nd Period: 1-0 Comets

 

Pretty awful period for the Comets forwards group. Michael Di Pietro bailed them out repeatedly in this period. Comets outshot 14-to-4 after twenty minutes. Not much to say about this period…it was not good. Shades of last season with the abysmal defensive coverage displayed. Not sure if they’ll be able to find that extra gear in the third, but here’s hoping, because MDP deserves a win with this performance.

 

3rd Period

 

 

Fourth line out to close the final 15 seconds says it all. This team just absolutely barraged over 40 minutes of play. Nothing much to say. No clue how they do in Overtime as the team looks completely gassed.

 

Overtime

 

 

One shot on goal in overtime. MDP with six saves. It’s genuinely incredible the Comets are getting any points out of this game — brutal effort from the Comets over 45 minutes. Comets outshot 39-to-20 over the full 65.

 

Shootout

 

 

It took the ringer, Reid Boucher, to win it in the shootout. Comets swarm MDP after this one because they know he’s the reason they earned any points tonight. Trent Cull should consider himself lucky the Bears didn’t put out Pilon or Maillet in the shootout as they were dynamite in tonight’s action for the Bears. The Comets will take the freebie, though.

 

Final Score: 2-1 Utica Comets

 

Scoresheet

 

Period Team Goalscorer Primary assist helper type
1st Utica Adam Gaudette Sven Baertschi Guillaume Brisebois 5v5
3rd Hershey Phillippe Maillet Steve Whitney Alex Alexeyev 5v5

 

Takeaways

 

  • Not much to write about in this one. The concerns I had about the team’s defensive coverage were brought to light in a significant way in tonight’s game. After the first period, the team’s forward groups displayed atrocious back-checking through the remaining 45 minutes of play. Defensive pairings did no better as they were just horrific at controlling the puck and clearing the zone with safe passes. Looked like everyone tonight was trying to be the hero instead of playing as a team. I get that the Comets are hyped to be off to such a stellar start, but the goalscoring has come from effective playmaking as a group, not playing selfishly.
  • Michael Di Pietro had a remarkable game playing behind an atrocious Comets group. The AHL doesn’t track it, but I’m willing to bet that at least 55-75% of the Comets shots-against were considered “high-danger” chances. This was the kind of performance that leads to goalie controversy, and I loved every minute of it. The game itself was an absolute slog to watch, don’t get me wrong, but MDP’s performance; save, after save, after save was a treat to watch. I was impressed with his finesse in tracking the puck tonight. He still tends to overplay on his saves, but he’s a showman, and the acrobatics made his performance tonight the most compelling thing about the game. He was certainly robbed of a shutout performance. The Comets should count themselves lucky to have come out of tonight’s game with any points at all.
  • I don’t even know if it’s worth getting into who did good and who did bad, because, on the whole, the team, collectively did pretty terrible. Wasn’t much to like from anyone, although I would argue that Zack MacEwen and Reid Boucher had the best performances from the forward groups, but it wasn’t pretty.
  • Despite the team’s lethargic play tonight, I still think this team is really good. Like I said, the team had a midnight bus-ride from Utica to Hershey in preparation for the game, so I have to think their efforts from last night, combined with a brutal sleep schedule played a major factor in tonight’s result. and hey, they still won! so I mean, quit complaining THRILLHOIAF right?

 

Comets Three Stars

  • Michael Di Pietro
  • .

HM: Zack MacEwen or Reid Boucher, I guess?

 

The Comets Trajectory?

The Comets return home next Wednesday for the third of eight matches against the Binghamton Devils. The Devils play the other undefeated AHL team, the Toronto Marlies tonight at home.

 

If you want a more condensed version of Comets recaps, you can now find MORE of my writing at thesinbin.net

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