Welcome, Canucks Nation, to the hungover edition of the Comets Harvest.
pre-emptive sorry for the sentence fragments. This edition took like five hours to write, and my brain is fried, haha
Last night, dreading having to write words about the team’s fifth straight loss, I thought it was for the best that the Comet’s and I got some alone time. The Comet’s went and played against Binghamton for the fifth time this season, while I instead played Overcooked while completely intoxicated.
Editors note: that game is really, really hard.
The time apart did both of us well, as the Comets decided to snap the streak in my absence! So let’s get into Saturday Night’s matchup and see if we can pick out some good and some bad in the team’s streak ender!
THE STARTING LINEUP
|Goldobin (#77)||Graovac (#44)||Lind (#13)|
|Bailey (#95)||Hamilton (#36)||MacEwen (#15)|
|Bancks (#34)||Jasek (#9)||Perron (#27)|
|Arseneau (#18)||Taylor (#14)||Stevenson (#26)|
|Juolevi (#48)||Sautner (#6)|
|Brisebois (#55)||Rafferty (#25)|
|LeBlanc (#3)||Eliot (#52)|
Trent Cull proves to be one of my readers, as he elected to change nothing from his forward lines. The lone change he made was subbing out Josh Teves for defenceman Stefan LeBlanc. LeBlanc was a late addition to the Comets last season via trade with the Marlies for struggling forward Tanner MacMaster. LeBlanc was a solid stay-at-home defenseman for the Comets last season. I can only imagine that his addition into Saturday’s lineup was to get things settled down from the D, out. I like Teves, but I understand the move, the team can’t handle having five of its six defenceman joining the forwards for rushes on net.
According to Thomas Drance in his Utica Comets Armies, Jonah Gadjovich isn’t expected back until early December due to back spasms! Given Gadjovich’s physical playstyle, the amount of time he’s spent injured is quite concerning. He had a wicked good start to his season too, fingers crossed he recovers fully and can play out the remainder of the season unencumbered.
RE: INJURY REPORT
|Jonah Gadjovich(upper-body)||Reid Boucher (knee)||Carter Camper (upper-body)|
|Josh Teves||Richard Bachman||Seamus Malone||Dylan Blujus (family matter)|
Comets in their Green/White thirds
- early shot into the basket of Louis Domingue from Justin Bailey
- MDP with an early giveaway as he plays the puck behind his net, but Stefan LeBlanc (#3) recovers
- Lukas Jasek with a rebound chance on Domingue. Amazingly, this doesn’t count as a shot on goal? Not sure how that works!
- PTO Justin Taylor (#14) with a nice saucer pass to the front of the net for Vinny Arseneau (#18). Arseneau’s two shot attempts get blocked by Binghamton sticks. Good pressure from the fourth line
- Brogan Rafferty loses the puck on a breakout attempt, but hustles from neutral ice and back behind Di Pietro to recover
- Tyler Graovac (#44) with excellent puck control as he weaves around three Binghamton bodies to break out of the defensive zone for Utica. Graovac’s entry results in a shot on goal from Justin Bailey (#95). Clean play from the big guy
- Goldobin fans on a shot at the Devils blue line then repeats moments later at his own blue line while under pressure
- Lukas Jasek (#9) with a slick pass to Brogan Rafferty (#25) from the bottom of the Devils left-circle. Rafferty bounces a pass off the end boards for a Francis Perron (#27) rebound but misses the chance
- Zack MacEwen (# 15) enters the Devils zone and gets a beauty backhand pass to Justin Bailey (#9 5)for a shot on goal
- Goldobin loses the puck in the Devils zone, giving them an odd-man-rush the other way, but rookie D-man Mitch Eliot (#52) intercepts a cross-ice pass to break up the play
- GOAL – BINGHAMTON – 1-0 Devils: Oof, once again, a Comets defender makes a bad pinch, prompting an odd-man-rush the other direction that leads to a goal. This time, Stefan LeBlanc (#3) attempts a pinch along the Devils blue line but misses the puck. The Devils Ben Street cruises down the right-wing for a blast off the shoulder of Di Pietro. The rebound goes right out to Joe Morrow, who roofs it over the blocker side of a sliding Di Pietro.
- great save from Mikey on that first shot, but no help on that rebound from his team, as once again the Comets forwards, casually stroll into the defensive zone to watch the play unfold
- Comets fourth line once again sustaining pressure against the Devils. Brogan Rafferty (#25) with a calm pass to hold the zone, after the Devils attempt to clear
- Ashton Sautner (#6) with a brutal giveaway from behind the net of Di Pietro after he attempts a no-look backhand pass. Fortunately, Olli Juolevi (#48) gets his stick on a Devils cross-ice pass to recover
- Lukas Jasek gains the Devils zone but gets flagged for hooking after losing control of the puck. Comets off to their first PK of the night
- GOAL – BINGHAMTON – 2-0 Devils: an easy tic-tac-toe goal for Binghamton as Joey Anderson zips a pass straight past the stick of Olli Juolevi (#48) to Ben Street. Street gets the easy one-timer goal to give the Devils an early two-goal lead.
- a scrum ensues after Michael McLeod drills Justin Bailey (#95) head-first into the boards. Bailey and McLeod picked up roughing and cross-checking minor penalties, respectively.
- Nikolay Goldobin (#77) playing physical to force a Devils turnover inside the Comets blueline. The turnover allows the Comets to gain the Devils zone and set up a cycle
- Goldobin (#77) crisscrossing with Guillaume Brisebois (#55) to create space and allow for a Breezy shot on goal
- Brogan Rafferty (#25) loses track of the puck after the Devils Chris Conner goes for a drive on net. Di Pietro with two huge saves in a row.
- Brett Seney whips around Mitch Eliot (#52) to catch the rebound of his shot but crashes into Di Pietro on the drive-in. Stefan LeBlanc (#3) gives Seney a face-wash for his troubles. Comets to the powerplay after the goaltender interference
- Nikolay Goldobin (#77) catches a Domingue clearing attempt right in front of the net, but his backhander goes wide of the goal
- Comets with good pressure on the powerplay but alas they’re unsuccessful
- Brogan Rafferty (#25) with a nice evasive pass behind the net of Di Pietro. Tyler Graovac (#44) attempts to tip the pass to a racing Lukas Jasek (#9), but it’s behind him. The Devils get a huge scoring opportunity off the loose puck, but MDP makes the save
- LOL, Justin Taylor (#14) wins the defensive zone faceoff ingeniously by backhanding a shot on MDP
- Taylor wins the follow-up faceoff draw and the fourth line, again, pressures the Devils hard in their zone
- Fourth line with fantastic pressure culminating in a shot from Mitch Eliot (#52) and a rebound backhander from Taylor (#14) that goes off the dome of Domingue
- Devils pressure late in the Comets end but it’s mostly just the Comets getting their breakout passes poked away. First-line eventually gets it done, and pressure in the Devils end
- The Devils Joey Anderson rips a shot that goes off the bar and out. Could’ve been it right there
- Kole Lind finds himself transitioning the puck into the Devils zone, but he takes a slash to the legs and goes down. Slash wasn’t that hard, so maybe he was trying to draw the tripping call? If not and his legs are that weak…yikers
- Brogan Rafferty banks a puck off the glass in the Comets end and Wacey Hamilton is off to the races as he tries to negate the icing. He gets interfered with by Joe Morrow, and the Comets will end the first with a powerplay
- 1st peeper unit: Goldobin, Juolevi, Rafferty, Graovac, MacEwen,
- MacEwen ends the period with a shot on Domingue just as time expires
Score at the end of the First Period: 2-0 Devils
Score doesn’t reflect the compete level from the Comets after the first twenty minutes of play. Liked what I saw from LeBlanc and Eliot on the third pair, as well as Rafferty, as he continues to impress on the right side. Bailey and MacEwen have noticeably better chemistry. Fourth line once again appears to be dominant.
Overall, an incredibly active period, with the Devils outshooting the Comets 14-to-12. By my counts, however, the Comets finally started throwing everything they can on the net, as they out-chanced the Devils 34-to-21. That stat includes all shots, blocked and unblocked shots, and misses. I’ve been tracking this data for my Comets CORSI project which I’ve had in the works since the season started! Look for more of that data in future recaps once enough of a sample size has been put together!
- Comets starting the period with a minute-and-a-half long powerplay
- starters: Eliot, Juolevi, MacEwen, Graovac, Goldobin
- Goldobin and Graovac attempt a give-and-go play but they wind up losing possession of the puck and eventually lose the zone
- Jasek (#9) rings the puck along the boards to Wacey Hamilton (#36 )in the Devils zone. Jasek then crashes the net for a backhander on Domingue
- Rafferty (#25) with a fantastic drive from the Comets end to the Devils, where he catches his own dump-in to then center the puck for Wacey Hamilton (#36). Hamilton, unfortunately, makes one extra move and has the puck poked off his stick.
- Rafferty (#25) with a one-timer blast on goal from the blue line
- Zack MacEwen (#15) in a knee-on-knee collision with Chris Conner on the Comets blue line
- Conner then runs into Juolevi behind the net of Di Pietro, getting called for interference. Comets off to their third powerplay
- 1st peeper unit: Goldy, Perron, MacEwen, Eliot, Juolevi,
- Two giveaways blow the first units powerplay try, second unit out to replace
- 2nd unit: Rafferty, Bailey, Lind, Brisebois, Perron stays on
- Rafferty (#25) and Brisebois (#55) take turns with one-timer blasts on Domingue
- Great pressure from the second powerplay unit as they rattle off four shots and one miss on the powerplay
- Ashton Sautner (#6) takes a VERY late shove from Michael McLeod after the whistle
- Rafferty (#25) lays Ryan Schmelzer out behind the net of Di Pietro
- Goldobin (#77) cuts across center to set up Ashton Sautner (#6) for a one-timer blast that goes off the leg of a Devils player
- Sautner (#6) chases his check along the right wall in the Comets end, which opens the ice up for a two-on-one play for the Devils. Juolevi (#48) gets a stick on his man to disrupt the play, but it’s a backchecking Tyler Graovac (#44) who prevents the goal
- Stefan LeBlanc (#3) with the wheels as he carries in the puck, then hits the brakes to pause for a shot
- MDP with two huge stops
- Ashton Sautner takes a holding penalty and with five minutes remaining in the second, the Comets are off to the penalty kill
- Binghamton looking lethargic on their powerplay try as the Comets get some key blocks from Rafferty and Juolevi on their way to an easy two-minute kill
- Time winds down on the period without much action
The Score at the end of the 2nd period: 2-0 Devils
A slightly less competitive period from the Comets, but they manage to avoid getting scored on, so I guess that’s a positive! They did register eight shots on goal to the Devils six and generally controlled the pace of play, but things did slow down heavily for them in the latter ten minutes of the period. Still really impressed with Rafferty’s game he’s having (had).
- MacEwen (#15) with a huge early chance as he sends a puck through the open crease of the Devils
- Devils get an offensive zone faceoff and spend the following four minutes pressuring the Comets hard. Di Pietro stands strong as he repels several shots
- Di Pietro with a stretch save after a routine shot through center redirects off the stick of MacEwen
- Goldobin ( #77) with the flash and panache as he weaves around the entire Devils team for a shot on Domingue
- Thirteen minutes left in the game and the Comets still struggling to crack the defense of Domingue
- Ashton Sautner (#6) goes hard into the board, he wants a call, but looks more like he just stumbled
- GOAL – UTICA – 2-1 Devils: After being a healthy scratch through the Comets first twelve games of the season Stefan LeBlanc (#3 finally gets the Comets on the board with a beautiful tap-in goal. LeBlanc started the play off with a great carry-in and then stuck around the net waiting for the tap-in as the Devils ignored him. First AHL goal for LeBlanc. He’s had a great game, and gets rewarded for his efforts!
- Comets playing with some extra energy down just a goal with more than eleven minutes remaining in the game
- Ashton Sautner ( #6) gets clipped by a high-puck and stops dead in his tracks. Brett Seney capitalizes on the misplay and races down the left-wing for a scoring chance. Goldy rides his man into the boards, and fans go nuts as no call gets made
- Have to wonder if there’s lingering PTSD with Sautner after his horrible facial injuries last season.
- Things getting chippy between Lind (#13), Goldobin (# 77)and Brett Seney. Seney took exception to a shoulder check from Lind.
- refs may have let this one get out of hand a bit
- Interesting, refs give the Comets an “abuse of officials” minor penalty haven’t seen that before
- Comets to the PK with ten minutes remaining
- Justin Bailey with a huge block on the PK to force the Devils out of the zone
- He stays on the ice to continue his shift and gets another rink wide clear. Great shift from him on this crucial PK
- Stefan LeBlanc (#3) in a physical battle in front of the net of Di Pietro
- LeBlanc with the always hysterical, Dumb & Dumber style, hit from behind
- GOAL – UTICA – 2-2 Tie: Damn, the Comets tie it up off a beautiful blind snipe from Tyler Graovac (#44).Whole play started after a blocked centering feed from Justin Bailey (#95) wound up on the stick of Graovac’s. Despite being tied up by two Devils defenders, Graovac spun with the puck at the bottom of the circle for a perfect snipe over the shoulder of Domingue.
- sigh, seconds later, Wacey Hamilton does what Wacey Hamilton does, and takes an absolutely braindead goaltender interference penalty. Comets back onto the PK with six minutes remaining in the third
- MDP with a huge save on the Comets PK. Bancks (#34) with the wheels as he gets a new stick after loaning his to Juolevi (#48)
- Chaos in the crease as MDP dives to glove down the puck, but it’s loose! Amazingly, on a wide-open net, Nathan Bastian backhands a shot over-top of the goal
- Comets kill off the penalty after a ridiculous number of high-danger chances for the Devils
- Stefan LeBlanc (#3) muscles Brandon Baddock off the puck after a rink wide breakaway feed. Hamilton blocks a shot to make up for his previous, awful penalty
- Domingue with the absolute robbery on Graovac! Comets first line pressuring off a rush from Brogan Rafferty (#25). Rafferty drops off for Goldobin, who hands off to the trailer, Zack MacEwen (#15). MacEwen’s shot gets blocked and deflects wide to Tyler Graovac (#44) who’s one-timer blast somehow gets stopped by Domingue
- time winds down on the period as the Comets withstand the late push from the Devils and nearly seal it late
The Score at the end of the 3rd period: 2-2 tie
The bounces finally start to go the Comets way, as the offensive pressure from all four lines finally pays off with two unanswered goals to force OT. I am definitely getting flashes of the October Comets with this gutsy performance. Love to see them battle hard and not give up after a tough first two periods. The final five minutes of the period were brutal on the team with that penalty kill.
- First trio: Hamilton, Lind, Brisebois. Genuinely shocked, Hamilton is getting any ice time with the way he played the final ten of the game.
- Lind (#13 gets burned on the right win by the Devils, Joe Morrow. He makes up for it with a takeaway and drive into the Devils zone
- Rafferty (#25) with a great shift in overtime, showing off his poise with the puck as he sets up Justin Bailey (#95) for a shot on goal
- MDP with a huge two-on-one save
- HE CAN’T KEEP GETTING AWAY WITH THIS! Louis Domingue caught way out of his net, as he scrambles to get to his crease to stop a blast from Zack MacEwen (#15). Mac’s shot goes off his FACE. Massive save in OT for Domingue
- GOAL – UTICA – 3-2 Comets: the streak is over! The top left of the streamable is live, as Goldobin hands off to Zack MacEwen for a drive on goal. Ashton Sautner (#6) drives to the net with MacEwen and gets slightly shoved into Domingue as MacEwen backhands one over his shoulder.
- Utica, comically, leaves the ice before the call is official, haha. Refs confer, but the ruling stands, Comets win in overtime.
- the replay makes it look so much worse, Dakota Mermis barely touched Sautner who was crashing the crease of Domingue
- apparently people were hucking shit on the ice at MacEwen and the refs after the game was over. Mucho classy from the Binghamton faithful.
Final Score: 3-2 Utica Comets
Gutsy win from the Comets as they overcame some serious, late pressure from the Devils and two periods of awful puck luck to win it in overtime — great games from LeBlanc, Rafferty, MacEwen, Goldobin, Eliot, and Bailey.
|1st||Binghamton||Joe Morrow||Ben Street||Colton White||5v5|
|1st||Binghamton||Ben Street||Joey Anderson||Brett Seney||ppg|
|3rd||Utica||Stefan LeBlanc||Wacey Hamilton||Mitch Eliot||5v5|
|3rd||Utica||Tyler Graovac||Justin Bailey||Brogan Rafferty||5v5|
|OT||Utica||Zack MacEwen||Nikolay Goldobin||Ashton Sautner||3v3|
- Talk about a comeback. The Comets come back from an early two-goal deficit, withstand some insane late pressure on the penalty kill in the third, to win it in overtime. A great win that hopefully leads to better performances from the team down the line
- Wasn’t a perfect game from Stefan LeBlanc in his season debut, but when he stepped up to contribute offensively or defensively, he made it count. Like Brogan Rafferty, the timing of when to pinch is still a work in progress, but I liked his game tonight given his 12-game stint of sitting in the press box.
- Much better game from Zack MacEwen than previous instances. Mac looked to be playing way more like we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from him over the past season and a bit.
- Beginning to wonder what Jalen Chatfield’s place on the right-side of the Comets defense. Mitch Eliot has shown to be adept in both the offensive and defensive side of the game. With LeBlanc and Teves showing they can handle PK duties in Chatfield’s absence, I have to wonder if he’ll find himself in the press-box by the time he returns. It’s certainly nice to have two guys on the right side who can actually land shots on goal from the blue line.
- Shout out to Goldobin for looking involved everywhere tonight. Defensively he was playing way more physical. In the offensive zone, he finally stopped playing overly selfish and let chances be created off his shots-on-goal, instead of reacting to others shots-on-goal from his passing.
- The last two losses for the Comets came because the team wasn’t throwing enough on heat on their enemy goaltenders. Tonight they were the polar opposite, that first period had the Comets throwing everything they had at Domingue to try and get themselves on the board. They may have slowed down over the final two frames, but they persevered to make it happen, so you have to appreciate it.
- Wacey Hamilton is lucky the Comets have a dearth of centers at their disposal. Otherwise, he’d be my first pick to be in the press-box. Guy just takes the dumbest penalties constantly. If he could do anything other than skate fast and penalty kill, I wouldn’t mind, but his stick is weak on the puck, and numerous times tonight, great scoring opportunities died when the puck touched his stick. Fortunately for him, the return of Camper cant be confirmed anytime soon, so he’ll consistently find himself playing with players way above his skill ceiling.
- Francis Perron was quite invisible tonight, really don’t remember him doing much of anything besides being on the ice for a couple powerplays. Still, think he’s best suite to center Arseneau/Stevenson.
- Speaking of which, the Arseneau, Stevenson, and Taylor line put in work Saturday against the Devils. I think only one time did they ever not hem the Devils into their zone with pressure. Otherwise, these three were creating passing plays that would make the top-nine jealous. Justin Taylor had a glorious chance early and showed some decent speed throughout the night. For development’s sake, I’d prefer Malone back in that spot, but I appreciate that he’s instantly meshed with Arseneau and Stevenson and been effective in his role, so thoroughly.
- On Dyson Stevenson; I think if you go back to one of my first Harvest’s of the season, I thought that Dyson Stevenson was playing like he could not hack it at the AHL level. Crazy to me that just thirteen games later, and he, alongside Arseneau, combine to be two of the team’s most dominant forwards. I’m still collecting data, but after tracking shots, both blocked, unblocked, misses, for and against, over the last thirteen games. I can confidently say that Arseneau and Dyson Stevenson are controlling play with CF% of 58% and 56%, respectively at even-strength. Even the Devils head-coach was rolling out his first-line to take faceoffs against the Comets fourth-line. The Devils first-line wasn’t enough to prevent the Comet’s fourth from establishing control in the Devils zone. Their hard-pressing, relentless physical-forecheck has proven to be problematic against every team they’ve faced this season, win or lose. That’s going to be a huge advantage for this team as the season chugs along if their fourth-line can earn them as many offensive-zone draws as they have this season. Longwinded way of saying, I’m very happy to eat my words on my thoughts on Stevenson’s ability.
- Kole Lind continues to be a mystery player to me. Some times, he looks like a completely different player to the one he was last year. To games like tonight, where he looked weak and ineffective every time he touched the puck. For a guy with an agitator side to him, he absolutely needs to get stronger on the puck. He cannot be blowing tires every time he finds himself alone with time and space to transition the puck up ice. He looked ok, for the most part, tonight, but all of his problem areas that were glaringly obvious last season reared their heads against the Devils.
- Juolevi only got burned twice tonight, so he had that going for him. He’s quickly being passed over on the depth chart’s by more sound defenceman on the left-side like Brisebois and Teves. I know people want to say that he’s still recovering from knee surgery. Well then somebody tell him to stop blocking shots on the PK with his bloody knees. It can’t go both ways. You can’t argue that his knees need time to recover, while he simultaneously blocks 8-12 shots a night with those very same knees.
Comets Three Stars
- Brogan Rafferty
- Stefan LeBlanc
- Zack MacEwen
The Comets Trajectory?
I’ll be back at it again tomorrow afternoon when the Comets return to face off against the Syracuse Crunch at home. Syracuse is coming off a shutout loss to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Utica dominated Syracuse in their last outing when they beat them at home in a 6-2 stomp. Not sure if this current lineup can exude that kind of dominance without the likes of Baertschi, Boucher, Camper, or Fantenberg in the lineup. Fingers crossed, however, that they show the kind of gumption that they showed off Saturday against Binghamton.
Again, sorry for the lateness on this one! Duty calls, and that duty…was booze and buddies.
If you want a more condensed version of Comets recaps, you can now find MORE of my writing at thesinbin.net