11/2/19 – Utica Comets vs. Rochester Americans

The November Injury plague has begun. Last night, Quinn Hughes tweaked his knee in the Canucks game against Anaheim. His uncertain status required the Canucks to return Oscar Fantenberg from his very brief conditioning stint.

That wasn’t the only action to happen last night, either. During the Comets shutout loss to the Bruins, the Comets lost their top-scoring forward, Reid Boucher, to a knee injury, midway through the second period. Joining Boucher on IR after last night’s loss to Providence is defenceman Josh Teves, who is out of tonight’s match-up for undisclosed reasons. Could be just a healthy-scratch to get Stefan LeBlanc some ice time.

Since the Comets win over the Hershey Bears, they’ve now lost, Ashton Sautner, Sven Baertschi, Adam Gaudette, and Oscar Fantenberg to call-ups. With Carter Camper and Reid Boucher joining Jonah Gadjovich on the Injured Reserve.

Coming into the 2019-20 season, the Canucks spoke highly of their organizational depth. Tonight, that organizational depth gets put to its first test, as they face a division rival without a bevy of their star players.

The Amurks currently sit 3rd in the AHL’s North Division. The Amurks are presently riding a one-game win streak after defeating the Binghamton Devils 4-2 at home. The Comets experience their first loss of the season last night in a shutout loss to Providence.

Returning tonight for the first time since the team’s season-opener is center, Tyler Graovac. The return of Graovac couldn’t have come at a better time, as the team was effectively down to one natural center among the lineup with the absences of Camper and Gaudette from the daily rotation.

Slotting into the opening lineup for the first time this year is defenceman Mitch Eliot. Eliot was an undrafted free agent from the Sarnia Sting signed in December of 2018. Eliot has spent the majority of his season alternating time between the Comets and Kalamazoo Wings.

All that background info out of the way! Let’s get into tonight’s starting lineup, and the game at hand as the Comets look to bounce back from their first loss of the season.

THE STARTING LINEUP

LW C RW
Bailey (#95) Perron (#27) Goldobin (#77)
Jasek (#9) Graovac (#44) MacEwen (#15)
Bancks (#34) Hamilton (#36) Lind (#13)
Arseneau (#18) Malone (#17) Stevenson (#26)
LD RD
Juolevi (#48) Chatfield (#5)
Brisebois (#55) Eliot (#52)
Blujus (#8) Rafferty (#25)
G
Zane McIntyre

Bailey’s stellar play has earned him a bump up to the first line with Goldobin and Perron. Jasek gets bumped back to the left-wing, thankfully. Also, I’m surprised to see them put rookie d-man Mitch Eliot with Guillaume Brisebois. Would it not have been better to pair the rookie with an experienced producer at the AHL level in a guy like Dylan Blujus? Don’t get me wrong, I think the Blujus/Rafferty pairing could be the best of the three, think for Eliot’s development, he should get time with someone who’s not as hot/cold as Brisebois.

RE: INJURY REPORT

Injury Report
Jonah Gadjovich(upper-body) Reid Boucher (knee) Carter Camper (upper-body)
Healthy Scratches
Stefan LeBlanc Richard Bachman Josh Teves

Pretty shocked to see that Teves was scratched for tonights’ game for both Eliot AND Blujus to slot into the lineup. Teves has been one of the teams most consistent players to start the year. If it is a matter of getting Eliot playing time, then I’d rather him down in Kalamazoo playing a full season. As opposed to taking away ice time from one of the team’s most reliable d-men.

I can only assume that, because the team has banked all these wins early, they’re not afraid to experiment this month. We’ll see if the experiment pays off against the Amurks.

1st period

Comets in their home Whites

Score at the end of the First Period: 3-0 Amurks

Yikes. Comets outshot 14 to 11 after twenty minutes; they go 0-for-2 on the powerplay while giving up a shorthanded goal. Pretty much the worst start you could probably have at home, haha. Normally, I’d try and stay positive, but this team has gotten progressively worse looking as the season’s gone on — no clue how they come back from a three-goal deficit without their best players in the lineup. McIntyre ought to get pulled after that period. Poor rebound control throughout and that reaction time on the shorthanded goal made plate tectonics seem quick by comparison.

2nd Period

  • Lot of puck chasing around the rink through the first two minutes
  • Wraparound attempt on McIntyre gives the Amurks an offensive zone draw
  • Comets get a shot from Wacey Hamilton 10 feet wide of the goal but it’s the most they’ve gotten in the opening four minutes
  • Dylan Blujus gets clipped with a high-stick and the Comets are off to their third powerplay of the night
  • 2nd group gets the start for this one: Jasek, Bailey, Graovac, Arseneau
  • GOAL – ROCHESTER – 4-0 Americans: Right off the powerplay draw, the Comets lose possession, as a clearing attempt from Casey Nelson goes off the stick of Tyler Graovac (#44) to Curtis Lazar. Lazar races on a two-on-one breakaway and wrists a shot under the glove of McIntyre.
  • Another weak goal against, the Comets second shorthanded and McIntyre gets the yank
  • long ass skate to the tunnel for McIntyre.
  • Comets are playing with absolutely zero intensity tonight. Good luck to the rookie netminder as he tries to save this tire fire
  • I forgot this was a Comets powerplay — they generated nothing
  • Speed and size of the Amurks is killing this Comets young core. They’re struggling to muscle the Amurks off the puck in their end. Amurks firing off shots on goal at will
  • Francis Perron takes a slashing penalty and the Comets are off to the PK
  • GOAL – ROCHESTER – 5-0 Amurks: Rochester uses their size and speed to set up a cycle in the Comets end. Tage Thompson catches a loose puck. While surrounded by the entire Comets penalty-kill, Thompson turns in the slow to rifle a shot over the glove of Di Pietro.
  • Comets fourth line comes out with six minutes left in the second and start lying some hits
  • Dyson Stevenson takes a slashing penalty trying to goad an Amurk into a scrap.
  • Not sure if the “rally the boys with a tilly” shit is going to help this crew overcome a five-goal deficit
  • GOAL – ROCHESTER – 6-0 Americans: After a TV timeout, the Amurks win back the draw to Casey Nelson on the blueline. Nelson’s wires a shot that goes off the body of Jarrett Burton, high into the air. Dylan Blujus (#8) gives a shove to Burton as he wraps around the body of Di Pietro, who tries to glove down the puck. Burton knocks the puck out of Di Pietro’s glove, and it bounces out and into the net. Carter Bancks tries to argue for goaltender interference, but rule it a good-goal.
  • William Borgen takes his second interference penalty of the night and the Comets are onto their fourth powerplay of the night
  • Comets get one shot on goal before Kole Lind takes a slashing penalty chasing the puck around the end-boards of the Amurks zone.
  • Comets get a three-on-one rush during the brief 4-on-4, and I feel like it’s a metaphor for the team’s performance tonight. As Justin Bailey (#95) has all the time and space for a shot-on-goal only to go cross-ice to Mitch Eliot (#52) who promptly fans on the one-timer
  • Juolevi with a decent backcheck. For clarity, at the start of this sequence, Juolevi had been on the ice for 31 seconds prior.
  • time winds down on the period

The Score at the end of the 2nd period: 6-0 Amurks

Pathetic effort from the Comets tonight, thus far. Skating of Juolevi is completely suspect. Either his knee is healthy enough to play pro-hockey, or it’s not. You don’t “rehab” your knee by playing in a league as physical and speed-reliant as the AHL. He’s been on the ice for four of the Amurks six goals against, and that’s no coincidence. I want Juolevi to succeed as much as anyone, but it’s hard to find positives when he only has them when paired up with fringe NHL defencemen. Comets outshot 12-to-5 in the second period.

3rd period

Final Score: 6-0 Rochester

Scoresheet

Period Team Goalscorer Primary assist helper type
1st Rochester Brett Murray Andrew Oglevie Kevin Porter 5v5
1st Rochester Scott Wilson Casey Fitzgerald SHG
1st Rochester Rasmus Asplund Tage Thompson Casey Fitzgerald 5v5
2nd Rochester Curtis Lazar Remi Elie Casey Nelson 5v5
2nd Rochester Tage Thompson Lawrence Pilut Kevin Porter PPG
2nd Rochester Jarrett Burton Casey Nelson Remi Elie 5v5

Takeaways

  • Not much to take away from tonight’s game. The entire Comets collective laid an egg. Some players looked worse than others, but there’s no point in evaluating individual performances when the whole team elected to not show up to tonight’s game.
  • Strength of this team’s blueliners appears to be a huge problem. Rochester walked all over them in their end tonight. Hard to prevent scoring chances if the Comets don’t have the speed to match, nor the strength to push opponents off the puck.
  • The next couple weeks could be rough for this young Comets club should the injuries to Boucher and Camper be long-term.
  • I warned in previous Comets Harvest Recaps, that the stellar goaltending of McIntyre and Di Pietro would eventually come back to earth. Tonight it did as Zane McIntyre looked quite average. The team did McIntyre no favors tonight, but a few of the goals he did let in were quite weak.
  • glad I get to roll this one out again. Because oh boy, after a summer of praising the depth of the organization, it would be quite ironic for them to then go on a massive losing streak the second injuries start to occur. If Quinn Hughes comes back healthy, please send Reid Boucher your legs so he may return to the starting lineup.

Comets Three Stars

cough cough

The Comets Trajectory?

The Comets return Wednesday night against the Binghamton Devils. Fingers crossed no other injuries occur to this lineup, or else this shutout streak might last as long as their undefeated one did through October!

As always, if you want to read up on this Comets Harvest or the 2018-19 Farmies editions, you can find them all at my Comets Harvest Blog here

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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