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

 

THE STARTING LINEUP

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

 

INJURY REPORT
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.

 

Overtime

  • 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

 

Scoresheet

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

 

Takeaways

 

  • 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.

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