3/11/2020 – Utica Comets vs. Syracuse Crunch

Good evening Canucks Nation, things are looking way brighter on the west coast after that big shootout win over the Islanders, while, on the other side of the continent, things are lookin’ Willie D levels of “real gud” for the Utica Comets.

The Comets have had a roller-coaster of a season. After picking up 54 points through their first 42 games played (0.643 points-earning percentage), the Comets experience a hard slump in late-January/early-February. Across their rough patch, the Comets picked up a measly seven points over eleven games played (0.318 points-earning percentage).

How quickly this team can rebound though, as they’re now on a solid bounce-back, having picked up 12 points over their last seven games played (0.857 points-earning percentage).

The bounce-back couldn’t have come at a better time! I’ve written ad nauseam about the Comets brutal March schedule and how important it was for the team to earn points at all costs.

Leading the charge for the Comets this past seven games are Carter Camper, and Reid Boucher.

Carter Camper, in particular, is maintaining some unreal levels of production for this Comets team. In the Comets last seven games, Camper has contributed two 5v5 goals, four primary 5v5 assists, a powerplay primary assist, and two secondary powerplay assists.

Boucher, on the other hand, continues to beat franchise and his own scoring records. In the last seven games, Boucher has contributed three 5v5 goals, three primary 5v5 assists, two powerplay goals, one primary assist on a powerplay goal, and an empty netter. Before this heater, he also was on a four-game goal streak.

Visiting the Comets tonights is division rivals, the Syracuse Crunch. The Crunch have gone 6-2-1-1 in their last ten, a run that puts them three points outside of the playoff bar.

The season series against the Crunch has been all over the map. Out of the seven games played thus far, the Comets are narrowly winning by way of a shootout win back on February 8th. In their last meeting, the Comets got absolutely trounced at 5-on-5, giving up 54 shot-attempts to their 32.

Though the results skew slightly in the Comets favour, a lot of that had to do with the impressive goaltending performances from Michael Di Pietro early on in the season. In their last outing, Di Pietro was relied upon to make 40 saves on 43 shots-against. To keep the current win-streak alive, the team will have to avoid repeatedly throwing him to the wolves.

It looks like the starting lineup might be getting a bit of a shakeup, as Sven Baertschi slides out of the lineup due to knee-soreness. That’s, morbidly, a massive sigh of relief to all of the Sven Baertschi stans out there. Think everyone in Canucks nation would prefer knee-soreness, over another concussion-related injury.

With that bit of good-news/bad-news out of the way, let’s take a look at tonights starting lineup!



Goldobin (#77) Camper (#19) Boucher (#24)
Bailey (#95) Hamilton (##) Lind (#13)
LeBlanc (#3) Graovac (#44) Jasek (#9)
Perron (#27) Stevens (#16) Stevenson (#26
Brisebois (#55) Blujus (#8)
Sautner (#6) Rafferty (#25)
Petgrave (#22) Eliot (#52)
Michael Di Pietro


Vinny Arseneau (season toast) David Pope (concussion) Jonah Gadjovich (ill) Sven Baertschi (knee) Olli Juolevi (hip soreness)
Healthy Scratches
Seamus Malone Josh Teves Carter Bancks (vet)


I can’t believe the madman did it, he had Carter Bancks and Wacey Hamilton available, and chose to bench one of them over, that no-good Carter Camper!

Also, Matt Petgrave getting ice time over Josh Teves is certainly a message. That one-way contract kicking in next year for Teves is looking pretty brutal right about now.


1st period

Comets donning the Flying Comet alternates!


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

Quite shocking how many shots missed the net from Syracuse. If they shore-up on their accuracy, this Comets team might be doomed heading into the next two periods. Comets, despite their lack of puck-control through the opening frame, lead the Crunch in shots-on-goal 13-to-9.

The team ought to start tightening up defensively in their end. MDP is going to get burnt out due to the staggering number of post-to-post saves this Crunch team is forcing him to make. I’m not sure if the permissiveness allowed is caused by a lack of communication, skill, or willingness to challenge opponents man-on. Either way, the Comets can’t keep doing their rookie netminder dirty like this.


2nd Period


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

A disappointing period of play from the Comets that echoed the disappointing play of the team from the first. Comets outshot 11-to-8, an unacceptable shot-differential given the two powerplays that the team had to work with. If Cull and his coaching staff couldn’t reel the team back to their senses during that break to fix the glass, then I don’t know if I can expect anything more than what we’ve already seen so far tonight from this team. 15 shorthanded goals-against!


3rd period


Final Score: 3-1 Syracuse Crunch



Period Team Goalscorer Primary assist helper type
1st UTI Justin Bailey Nikolay Goldobin Brogan Rafferty PPG
2nd SYR Dennis Yan Otto Somppi Tyler Bird 5v5
2nd SYR Luke Witkowski SHG
3rd SYR Boris Katchouk Daniel Walcott Peter Abbandonato 5v5



There’s only one takeaway from this game. Sporting leagues across the planet are ending their seasons due to COVID-19’s rapid spread worldwide. The President denies the threat or impact of the disease, while star players are testing positive in alarming numbers, so much so that the NBA just suspended its season …fucking Tom Hanks tested positive!

The fine folks in Utica just got treated to one of the most pathetic, embarrassing, and heartless performances from their Utica Comets, I think I’ve ever seen. The Comets are a tiny organization, 3000 max per game. They had seven home games remaining, excluding any potential playoff revenue. I’m sure the Acqualini fam will help out their AHL-bro if things move into dire straits. But this was a shitty taste to leave in the mouths of fans

  • Oh yeah, MDP is a fucking beast. Sucks the team in front of him no-showed

My west coast people, please wash your hands, wear a facemask if you can, cough or sneeze into your armpit, wash your hands, avoid touching shit…. wash your hands …did I mention wash your hands??!?!

Stay safe everyone, shits about to get real nutty in the coming days…


Comets Three Stars

  • Michael Di Pietro


The Comets Trajectory?

Barring all hockey being suspended for the remainder of the season, the Comets will look to rebound from tonight’s embarrassment this Friday when they take on the visiting Belleville Senators

3/7/2020 – Utica Comets vs. Charlotte Checkers

Good afternoon Canucks Nation, it’s time for another catch-up with the Farm!

Full disclosure, I am incredibly hungover. Last night I met up with a cousin of mine, whom I had not seen in over four years!

Like the genius I am, I didn’t eat anything prior to meeting up, and then I went on to have seven or eight High Life IPA’s thanks to my good friends at the Brewhall in Vancouver!

So yeah, expect run-on sentences, grammatical inconsistencies, and spelling errors? you bet! 

Last night the Utica Comets eked out a 2-1 regulation victory over the Checkers, even after doing their usual second-period collapse where they got outshot 12-to-5.

Fortunately, stalwart rookie netminder, Michael Di Pietro, put up an impressive 33-save performance, posting a 0.971 save percentage and a 1.00 goals-against average.

Tonight, it looks like Cull will be giving Mikey a bit of a break, as Jake Kielly looks to get his first AHL start of the season.

One of the more notable things to note from the Comets win last night was Justin Bailey getting crushed along the end-boards by Cavan Fitzgerald. Last night’s Game highlights, including the hit on Bailey, and Lind stepping up to “fight” Fitzgerald..

Although this is far from the same team that won the Calder Cup last season, the Checkers are a much tougher team than their record would indicate. Comets coming away with four points off this double-header weekend will do wonders for their playoff push.

The Comets record in the second game of back-to-backs remains at seven wins, nine losses, and one shootout loss.

Slightly under a 0.500 points-earned-percentage



Baertschi (#47) Camper (#19) Boucher (#24)
Bailey (#95) Hamilton (#36) Lind (#13)
LeBlanc (#3) Stevens (#16) Perron (#27)
Stevenson (#26) Graovac (#44) Jasek (#9)
Sautner (#6) Rafferty (#25)
Petgrave (#22) Chatfield (#5)
Teves (#4) Eliot (#52)
Jake Kielly


Dylan Blujus David Pope (concussion) Vinny Arseneau (done for the season) Jonah Gadjovich (ill) Carter Bancks (lower body) Olli Juolevi (hip soreness)


Healthy Scratches
Guillaume Brisebois (technically) Nikolay Goldobin (vet) Seamus Malone


Goldobin gets the veteran-scratch for a third consecutive game. Have to feel for the guy, but hard to ignore how ineffectual he has been at 5-on-5.

With Blujus out with injury, Sautner slides back in with Rafferty as the team’s top pair. He took a dirty hit in the first period from last night’s action and is feeling the effects today. That opens the door, again, for Josh Teves and Mitch Eliot to come into the lineup to try and impress the bench boss for more ice-time.


1st period

[Comets in White]


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

Not sure I like Graovac on the first powerplay unit, the guy simply doesn’t have the legs to chase down pucks along the wall.

Overall, it was a bit of a hot-and-cold period of play from the Comets. To start, the team was giving up some high-danger scoring opportunities, but by periods-end, they managed to reel the Checkers back.

Both teams are doing well at holding each other to the outside perimeter for shots.

Have to feel for Kielly, a bit, on that opening-goal as there was literally nothing he could do to stop that one. Penalty-killers have to do better at clearing space around Kielly’s net, so he has clear sight-lines on the puck.

The dreaded enemy of the Comets, the second-period, could mean a comeback opportunity, or a full collapse. Fingers crossed its the former. Points are critical these days as two teams behind them in the standings, the Binghamton Devils and Laval Rocket, are both on decent win streaks to put them in contention for playoff spots. The Comets already got two points off this conference-foe, but another point or two could be all the difference between getting in or falling out.


2nd Period


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

So tilting, realizing I didn’t have sound captured through the first twenty minutes of play.

Despite how dull the period was, the Comets did well to generate shots on goal, as they held the Checkers to just five total. One of those being a goal, but, HEY! Can’t save ’em all!

Concerning that, Baertschi went down the tunnel with the athletic trainer seemingly unprovoked. Fingers crossed that this isn’t concussion-related.

Kole Lind and Justin Bailey have had really impressive games so far, but have been unable to capitalize on any of the multiple scoring chances they’ve created.


3rd period


The score at the end of the 3rd period: 2-2 Tie

Fantastic battle from the Comets to even things up at two apiece

I originally had a point in my second-period musings that said the Comets shouldn’t bank on getting another powerplay to try and even things up. But sure enough, that’s exactly what it took, and Reid Boucher, once again, proves the COmets hero.

Loved the compete level from Kole Lind that entire third period. It genuinely felt like he was on the ice for 90% of the time — an impressive game from him to turn this game on its head for Utica.



  • Rafferty, Jasek, Graovac the first trio for Utica
  • Not sure I’d pick the guy with one-eye, a guy coming off IR, and another guy coming off IR as my first trio to roll out in OT
  • 2 minutes into OT and the Checkers have held the puck for the entire time
  • Justin Bailey caught out on an incredibly long shift after going end to end to out-race an icing. Jake Kielly gloves down the puck at the side of the net, mercifully allowing Bailey to change
  • 1:30 left and Kole Lind finally out for OT
  • GOAL – UTICA – 3-2 Comets: Brogan Rafferty (#25) goes full god-mode as he dangles around two Checkers defencemen before drop-passing to Kole Lind (#13) for the game-winner! I audibly yelled, “what the fuck” at Raff’s absolutely disgusting display of dangles to weave the puck through the feet of the Checkers’ defencemen. Stoked to see Lind, finally, wind up on the scoresheet as he had nothing to show for an incredible game-played up until that point.


Final Score: 3-2 Utica Comets



Period Team Goalscorer Primary assist helper type
1st CHA Ryan Bourque Joey Keane Gustav Forsling PPG
2nd CHA Mark Cooper Clark Bishop Jacob Pritchard 5v5
2nd UTI Reid Boucher Brogan Rafferty Carter Camper PPG
3rd UTI Reid Boucher Tyler Graovac Carter Camper PPG
OT UTI Kole Lind Brogan Rafferty 3v3




  • Lmao, Rafferty got the first star of the evening, but after having as many giveaways as he did, I don’t know if I’d be willing to give him that much. That overtime play was certainly something though.
  • Fantastic comeback win from the Comets to earn a crucial four-points on the road. Comets finish their night getting outshot 27-to-26, but the resilience they showed in the final twenty minutes of play was really quite something. Despite their best efforts at 5-on-5, the bounces just were not going their way. Checkers’ fans can’t even argue that the Comets were gifted a powerplay to even things up, as there was a blatant non-call on Lind mere seconds before Steven Lorentz’ slashing penalty
  • I said it a few times tonight, but Kole Lind had himself a statement game. The stat-lines won’t do justice to the kind of work that Lind was putting along the end-boards that resulted in numerous scoring opportunities for the Comets. Linds OT winner was his 14th of the season, which now has him sixth on the team, with 0.54 primary-points-per-game. Reid Boucher sits first with an astonishing 1.10 primary-points-per-game.
  • Carter Camper recorded two assists tonight, which has him leading all centermen with 32 assists on the year. Should Carter Bancks return, the team is going to have to sit one more veteran. Earlier this season, I chided Trent Cull for his decision to scratch Camper in favour of having both Carter Bancks and Wacey Hamilton on the starting lineup. Please write your local MP, should Camper get taken out of the lineup, because he has been integral to the Comets goal-scoring this season.
  • Lukas Jasek looked ok in his first game back since injury/illness. He started strong, but later in the game, he looked slow, which makes me wonder if he’s entirely over whatever it was that had him sidelined?
  • Poor Sven Baertschi, I genuinely hope him leaving the game has nothing to do with head-trauma. He looked solid in the opening goings of the first period, but after that shakeup along the endboards, he became less noticeable.
  • Brogan Rafferty had a game that fully encompassed why it is tough to project how he fits in an NHL lineup. He has tremendous skating and puck handling through traffic, with the offensive flair of a power-forward and the passing skills of an NHL defensemen. Unfortunately, he also has some of the worst egregious giveaways among Comets defensemen. Everyone is understandably excited at this management group finding another NCAA free-agent d-man, who’s tearing up the AHL. Those same people have pencilled Rafferty into next-years starting Canucks lineup. However, can you imagine what Travis Green would do after seeing a tape-to-tape giveaway in the D-zone like the one Raff had tonight? Food for thought
  • Jake Kielly, too, had a really impressive showing for the Comets! 25 saves on 27 shots for a 0.926 save percentage and a 1.88 goals-against-average. Not bad at all for someone making their first AHL start! Kielly truly did set the tone for the Comets after he made those huge stops early to prevent Charlotte from generating a lead. I’m sure Trent Cull and co. are relieved to see they have a backup who may be more reliable than they had expected.


Comets Three Stars

  • Kole Lind
  • Reid Boucher
  • Jake Kielly

HM: Carter Camper


The Comets Trajectory?

The Comets win tonight moves them into second place, as they edge the Rochester Americans on regulation-wins. The Comets will look to maintain that place in the standings when they return home this upcoming Wednesday, as they take on division-rival, the Syracuse Crunch.

3/4/2020 – Utica Comets vs. Rochester Americans

The Utica Comets are inside the final 20 games of the season, and holy guacamole, do they have a month in store for them!

Two 3-in-4’s to start the month, then a Tuesday game that immediately follows a double-header weekend. Afterwards, it’s a triple header, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, mid-month, concluding with two more 3-in-4’s at the close of March and start of April.

Did I mention that only nine of those thirteen games are against divisional opponents? Meaning, the Comets can’t afford to slip up anywhere this month. A losing streak at any point this month could mean a freefall out of a Calder Playoff spot.

Hot off the heels of a disappointing drubbing by the Laval Rocket, the Comets will start this month against the North Divisions, second-place, Rochester Americans, an all too familiar foe of the farms.

The Comets’ last game against the Amerks was an interesting one. Despite getting thoroughly out-attempted at 5-on-5, the Comets managed to earn two big points via the shootout.

There is an asterisk on the game, in that, the Comets arguably should have won in regulation. The referees missed a blatant trip against Sven Baertschi as he drove with the puck towards the empty-net. The non-call denied the Comets an automatic empty-netter goal-for, and on the ensuing 6v5, the Amerks managed to score in the final 28 seconds to force extra-time.

By no means did the Comets play a clean game against the Amerks. Getting out-attempted more than two-to-one across all-strength-situations means the team was basically in survival mode all game.

Out-attempted two-to-one is the common thread between all of the Comets/Amerks matchups this season.

Out of their seven-game head-to-head this season, the Comets have out-attempted the Amerks at 5-on-5, wait for it,


No surprise, the only thing that has been separating wins from losses in this seven-game series, is goaltending.

The Comets are already seeing what can happen if they ride their goalie too hard. Mikey Di Pietro was making his ninth straight start for the Comets against Laval, pairing that with a blatantly lethargic Comets team in front of him, was a breeding ground for disaster.

Perhaps the past few days off has allowed the Comets to refill the stamina bars. Well, at least we hope they have because with two teams nipping at their heels for the third and fourth-place playoff spot, they can’t afford any more performances like they had against Laval. Its Crunch time. But not literally Crunch time, because it’s actually Amerk time …you know what, you get the idea! Let’s get into tonight’s matchup!



Baertschi (#47) Camper (#19) Boucher (#24)
Lind (#13) Hamilton (#36) Bailey (#95)
LeBlanc (#3 Stevens (#16) Perron (#27)
Malone (#17) Graovac (#44) Stevenson (#26)
Petgrave (#22) Rafferty (#25)
Sautner (#6) Blujus (#8)
Teves (#4) Eliot (#52)
Michael Di Pietro


Vinny Arseneau (done for the season) David Pope (concussion) Lukas Jasek (lower-body) Carter Bancks (lower-body) Olli Juolevi (hip soreness) Jonah Gadjovich (illness)


Healthy Scratches
Nikolay Goldobin (veteran)


So Stefan LeBlanc gets to slide back into the lineup, and impressively, moves into the top-9 alongside Stevens and Goldobin. Like the makeup of the line, a strong forechecking presence from LeBlanc could be a great compliment.

Goldobin gets the veteran scratch, which, I’m sure, is delightful for him.

Pretty surprised that Eliot and Teves can barely crack a healthy Comets roster, but when the Comets are down two d-men, they get paired together. It makes me question if its a matter of trust with Trent Cull, or if its a matter of skill. Both Teves and Eliot have looked perfectly adequate in the AHL this season. Obviously, when they are healthy, the Comets’ third pair is a tough spot in the lineup to crack. It makes me wonder why Eliot and Teves weren’t sent down to Kalamazoo to play out the entire season to get ample ice-time.

Have to feel for Olli Juolevi, man, injuries have just completely fucked up this kids’ career path. Hip soreness for the second/third time this season is a bad look.

1st period

Comets in their Away whites


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


That was a really fast-paced period of hockey, with zero penalties issued and only a few couple timeouts.

Comets still struggle mightily against the speed and size of the Amerks squad. The Comets do try to match the physicality brought by the Amerks, but, as you could see in a couple of those streamables, Amerks play a heavy game that even the veterans and toughest Comets players can’t match.

Comets still electing to play that heavy four-deep in the o-zone style that gives opponents a jarring number of odd-man rushes-against.


2nd Period


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


Yikes, that was a rough period of hockey displayed by the Comets. After 40-minutes of action, the Comets find themselves getting outshot 30 to 17. Rochester is a volume team, who uses their speed and size to open up space for shots on goal. Utica is an opportunistic team, who uses their speed and vision to capitalize on errors for scoring chances. Unfortunately, Utica’s approach to generating offense requires them to actually be in the offensive zone. Rewatch that streamable of the Comets standing still as the Amerks generate shots towards the net. The Comets fade the second they don’t regain the puck in their zone.


3rd period



Final Score: 3-1 Utica Comets



Period Team Goalscorer Primary assist helper type
1st UTI Stefan LeBlanc John Stevens 5v5
2nd ROC Taylor Leier Jean-Sebastien Dea Jacob Bryson PPG
3rd UTI Sven Baertschi Carter Camper Ashton Sautner 5v5
3rd UTI Tyler Graovac Justin Bailey Brogan Rafferty EN




  • Comets pull the classic rope-a-dope, as they withstand 40-minutes of relentless Amerks offense to earn the win with some late-game heroics from the first line. Can’t understate enough how important Di Pietro was to the Comets in this game. Amazingly, Di Pietro was only the 2nd star of the night, while Sven Baertschi got the first-star for his game-winner.
    • Di Pietro finished the game with a 0.973 save-percentage and a 1.00 goals-against-average. *larry-david-pretty-pretty-pretty-good.gif*
  • Not a pretty game shot-attempt wise, but the Comets did admirably at moving the puck up-ice when they were able to gain possession of the puck. Against this fast Amerk team, however, they weren’t afforded many opportunities to strip the puck off their opponents. Don’t think the Comets want to end up in a playoff series against Rochester, because the Amerks clearly play a style of hockey that will dominate come playoff time.
  • Underrated game for Dylan Blujus, who recorded a team-high of five shots on goal. I think he and Sautner looked, possibly, their best all season, and it might have to do with the fact that both were playing on their strong-side for a change.
  • Speaking of shots on goal, Boucher looked fantastic in his first game back after an undisclosed illness. Dynamite on the penalty-kill as usual, he had moments of standing around waiting for the puck to happen upon him. However, that asterisk can get applied to every single Comets player tonight. Love his ability to steal the puck off opponents and create chances out of thin air. He wasn’t able to land on the scoresheet, but he still remains the team’s most potent threat in the o-zone with the puck on his stick.
  • CTRL C+V my comments about Stefan LeBlanc’s play from a few games ago. Great effort, hustle, and forechecking presence that earned him the games first-goal of the night. With the Comets hamstrung by the veteran limit, and Brisebois/Chatfield up with the Canucks, I doubt Teves/Eliot’s positions are in jeopardy. A position that sucks for LeBlanc who’s opportunity has been thrown a wrench by having to play off-role. That being said, LeBlanc has performed above expectations in my eyes. Have ti imagine his performance of late has earned himself a full-time spot on the roster, whether that’s as a forward, or as a D-man.
  • Still a bit concerned that the Comets have yet to figure out a gameplan to combat the Amerks. They’ve played eight games against each other now, and I don’t know if I’m confident that the next game won’t see the Comets getting caved-in for two of the three periods. The rope-a-dope worked tonight, but in a five-game playoff series, I don’t know if that’s something a team like this should bank on
  • Graovac got the empty-netter, but boy, his skating sure does look rough still. I said after his last game that I wouldn’t harp on it. But he looked like he was skating in mud through much of tonight’s action. Probably just a reps thing where he’ll look more like himself, the more game-time he gets in.
  • Francis Perron had an underrated performance playing alongside LeBlanc and Stevens. Perron’s had a tough season, what with the eye injury that forced him out of eleven games, then he took a puck to the head in practice that took him out of another five. Perron has speed, tenacity while displaying some decent offensive chops, but he’s only managed two goals and one assist in his last 20 games played. Perron’s contract expires at the end of this season, but sadly for him, I don’t know if his streaky production has been enough to warrant another look next year.
  • Not on the Canucks, but Casey Mittelstadt is a really fun player to watch — had a couple of goofs behind the net in the Amerks zone, but his speed makes him such a massive threat whenever he blitzes into the o-zone. I don’t watch a lot of Sabres games, but I can’t imagine why his skills don’t translate into the NHL.
  • I already said it, but I genuinely just feel bad that Olli Juolevi is, once again, dealing with lingering injuries. Alongside Brogan Rafferty, Juolevi posted the best shot-attempt differential at 5-on-5 in the Comets games against Rochester and Toronto last week. Reminding you that one of those games was another against Rochester, in which the Comets were out-attempt two-to-on at 5-on-5. Godspeed to the fragile Finn in his recovery.


Comets Three Stars

  • Michael Di Pietro
  • Stefan LeBlanc
  • Dylan Blujus


The Comets Trajectory?

Comets return this weekend for a double-header road trip against David Ayers’ Charlotte Checkers, I won’t be on recap duty for the Friday game, however, as I’ll be meeting up with family whom I haven’t seen in over four years! So expect another Comets Harvest, for Saturday’s game only!