12/31/19 – Utica Comets vs. Rochester Americans

Happy New Years Canucks Nation,

It’s time to round out a whirlwind 2019 with a recap of the Utica Comets final home-game of the decade. Tonight the farm takes on the division-leading, Rochester Americans, in a critical matchup between the two major-players of the AHL’s Eastern Conference.

The Americans sit in first place with 44 points in 31 games played, while the Comets sit 2nd in the division with 42 points in 33 games played. A win tonight doesn’t vault them into first, but it does give them the leading edge once Rochester catches up on the games in hand.

Comets are riding a wave of momentum currently, a five-game point streak with additional points coming in seven of their last ten. The Amerks visit the Adirondack bank center off a shutout loss to division-basement-dweller, the Binghamton Devils.

Last season, the Comets closed out 2018 with a 4-3 victory over the Americans, so fingers crossed they can continue this wave of momentum into the New Year, and they cement that place amongst the tops of the AHL’s Eastern-Conference.

Also, once again, my greatest appreciation to all of you in R/canucks and Canucks Nation, who gave my Botchford Project piece a read. It is still genuinely surreal to see something I wrote on a platform as large as the Canucks own site. Just over a year ago, I decided to recap and review the Comets games because I had time to kill and was genuinely interested in how the prospects were faring. Never would have expected to see it take me here. So again, my thanks and appreciation to everyone who’s spread the piece, or shared their support.

Now that the tissues are away and I’ve dried my eyes,

Let’s close out 2019 with a look at the starting lineup!

 

THE STARTING LINEUP

LW C RW
Baertschi (#47) Hamilton (#36) Boucher (#24)
Goldobin (#77) Jasek (#9) Lind (#13)
Sorenson (#74) Bancks (#34) Bailey (#95)
Gadjovich (#21) Malone (#17) Arseneau (#18)

 

LD RD
Brisebois (#55) Rafferty (#25)
Juolevi (#48) Sautner (#6)
Blujus (#8) Chatfield (#5)
G
Zane McIntyre

 

INJURY REPORT
Francis Perron (eye) Dyson Stevenson (fight related)

 

Gadjovich returns to the lineup after missing the last one with a brief illness. Gadj and Arseneau were fantastic on a line together earlier this season. Hopefully, they can pick up where they left off.

 

Healthy Scratches
Richard Bachman Josh Teves Carter Camper Mitch Eliot Stefan LeBlanc

 

Again, I still cannot fucking believe that Carter Camper is getting scratched for Wacey Hamilton’s “Penalty-killing expertise.” Genuinely do not know how Trent Cull can justify Hamilton getting taken out of the lineup. He should consider himself lucky the farm * isn’t* in Abbotsford, or he’d be raked over the coals for such a baffling roster decision.

 

1st period

 

Comets in Blue

 

The score at the end of the 1st period: 1-0 Amerks

 

Well, I guess I shouldn’t find it TOO bizarre that the Comets got outshot by a two-to-one ratio, and gave up the games opening goal off of a lazy backchecking effort. Zane McIntyre once again, being asked by the Utica Comets to stand on his head against a tough Rochester team. Just once, in the previous four games played, have the Comets controlled shot-attempts at 5-on-5. Amazingly, the Comets have split the season-record against the Amerks, thanks to incredible goaltending efforts from McIntyre and Richard Bachman. It would be quite the feat to conclude the 2019 portion of the season with a positive winning percentage against the Rochester Americans by employing the absolutely atrocious rope-a-dope tactic.

 

2nd Period

 

 

The score at the end of the 2nd period: 2-1 Comets

 

All told, an infinitely better effort in the second period from the Comets, as they go on to outshoot the Amerks ten-to-nine. Great effort from the Comets penalty-killers to negate any momentum-generation from the Amerks. Special commendations to Justin Bailey who’s speed proved mighty difficult for the Amerks’ powerplay to deal with during their two brief opportunities.

 

3rd period

 

 

Final Score: 3-2 Utica Comets

 

Scoresheet

Period Team Goalscorer Primary assist helper type
1st ROC Taylor Leier Kevin Porter Casey Mittlestadt 5v5
2nd UTI Brogan Rafferty Jonah Gadjovich Lukas Jasek PPG
2nd UTI Wacey Hamilton Sven Baertschi Reid Boucher 5v5
3rd ROC Taylor Leier Zach Redmond Lawrence Pilut PPG
3rd UTI Justin Bailey Kole Lind Sven Baertschi PPG

 

Takeaways

 

  • Comets record two shots on goal in the third period. Good for a 50% shooting percentage!
  • Goaltending was the difference in tonight’s matchup because the Comets couldn’t generate shot-attempts to save their lives. I say it every game, but I’m curious what the shot-attempt lines will look like for this one. Rochester over 60 minutes, doubled the Comets output. Were it not for McIntyre’s 0.943 save-percentage, or his 2.00 goals-against-average, this one likely could’ve been way worse.
  • McIntyre’s 0.943 save-percentage is his first SV% above 0.910 since November 15th, when he stopped 21 of 23 against Syracuse.
  • Justin Bailey had a fantastic December. Seven goals and five assists in thirteen games played. He, at best, is a career AHL’er, but it’s nice to see him utilize his strengths effectively. November was a brutal stretch where he simply did nothing with his speed. Happy to see him turn it around and become a productive contributor to the Comets penalty kill and powerplay units.
  • Comets now have three players in the top 15 of AHL scoring, with Reid Boucher topping the list for first in the AHL, tied with Drake Batherson of the Belleville Senators. Brogan Rafferty now has a four-point lead on Derrick Pouliot for AHL defenceman scoring, while being tied with Lucas Elvenes for rookie scoring, at 30 points.
  • Glad to see Lukas Jasek being given time on the powerplay unit. Kids’ confidence is likely, completely shot playing off-role as a centerman. Take him off the PK and provide him with powerplay duty to at least give him some scoring confidence because, at 5-on-5, the kid is just not having any luck whatsoever. Amongst forwards, Jasek is second-lowest on the team with a 48GF% — i.e. Jasek’s only earned points (directly contributed) to just 48% of the 33 goals he was on-ice-for. I’ve complained ad nauseam this season about getting Jasek back to his more natural position. It genuinely bothers me that this organization has no problem tossing a year of Jasek’s development into the dumpster because they didn’t satisfy a roster requirement heading into the season.
  • Jalen Chatfield had a solid game despite not ending up on the scoresheet. He was jumping up into the offensive zone quite a bit but was making quick, decisive actions to return to the blue line to defend. Rather than overstaying on the forecheck and allowing his opponents odd-man-rushes the other direction. Outlet passes looked sharp, as did his positioning and gap control. I’d venture to say, Chatfield’s gap control was at its best tonight than it had been in previous efforts. Have to think all that time with the Canucks has taught him a thing or two.
  • Sven Baertschi is probably too good to be playing in the AHL – two assists and was without a doubt, the Comet’s most dangerous player offensively tonight. Tenacious on the forecheck, and was routinely setting up his linemates with crisp passes. Not to mention, Baertschi’s time spent on the powerplay, PK and the waning minutes facing Rochester’s six-man attack. Guy was rock-solid for the Comets tonight, a great display of hard and soft skill. Whatever the fuck that is
  • Wacey Hamilton – 1 goal – 4 shots – 3 minor penalties, one of which directly resulted in a game-tying goal from Rochester. Like I said earlier, I hope Camper is simply injured, and the organization, for whatever reason, hasn’t addressed it because you can’t seriously tell me that Hamilton’s efforts as an elite penalty taker are better than Campers 4 goals and 17 assists.
  • Jonah Gadjovich and his linemates barely saw ice time in the third period due to the sheer number of penalty kills. Still, he, Arseneau, and Malone were easily the team’s most dynamic line throughout that first twenty-minute period. I really liked how his game has looked during limited ice-time. Had a couple moments where he whiffed on golden scoring opportunities, but besides those few and far between, he was aggressive in the offensive zone and creating for his linemates, which is all anyone can ask, really, of their fourth-line.

 

Comets Three Stars

  • Zane McIntyre
  • Sven Baertschi
  • Justin Bailey

 

The Comets Trajectory?

The Comets return January 3rd for a home-tilt against the Springfield Thunderbirds. However, the Comets Harvest will be taking a two-week hiatus, as I head down to Maui with my family for a much-needed vacation!

I hope to find time tracking stats while I’m away, so you can periodically check-in on how the squad is doing, here. I’ve completely overhauled the way Corsi is evaluated, simplified some of the equations, and gone through my data with a fine-toothed comb to ensure everything is A-OK.

Will be sad to miss this Thunderbirds game, as the last one was a complete doozy

First Harvest of the New Year will likely be January 18th, barring any travel difficulties.

Until then, however, I bid Canucks Nation adieu, and I wish you all a very Happy New Year! Drop your resolutions in the comments, and we’ll see how everyone held up during my next recap!

 

If you want more Comets coverage from yours truly, you can now find MORE of my writing at thesinbin.net

Leave a Reply