COMETS HARVEST: RETURN OF THE (SHORT) KING

Arise, arise, Riders of Utica!
Sticks shall be shaken, shinguards shall be splintered,
a stick-day, a red day, ere the sun rises!
Skate now, skate now, skate! Skate for ruin and the season’s ending!
Death! Death! Death!
Forth Eorlingas!

DiPietro’s battle cry was heard echoing through the hallways of the Adirondack Bank Center as he made his triumphant return to lead his team onto the ice Friday night.

DiPietro looked to harness everything he had learned during his lengthy stay in Vancouver. After months and months of one-on-one time with Ian Clark, DiPietro finally put his practice to good use.

As a quick refresher, DiPietro’s last real game-action came against the Syracuse Crunch back on March 11th, 2020.

The team in front of him laid an egg in front of a sold-out home crowd. At the time, I criticized the team for such a pitiful effort in what could be the last game of their 2019-20 season.

The words proved prophetic, as the Comets would not return to the Adirondack Bank Center until February 17th, 2021.

With rumours that the Utica Comets might move to the westfold, it felt poetic that DiPietro would return once more to the Adirondack Bank Center and backstop the team to a dominant victory. A victory that was ower to the Utica faithful some 415 days ago.

Tonight’s game was wild. It was carnage. And it had everything you could expect from a hockey game.

Penalty shots.

Fights.

Game misconduct galore.

More fights.

Multi-point nights from debuting rookies.

Sven Bärtschi instigating a scrum.

And Vincent Arseneau manning a powerplay unit before attempting to murder someone with a body check in the final two minutes of a 7-1 blowout.

The game was pure entertainment. And, like the Rohirrim’s charge, it felt great to see the good guys get a big W for once.

DO SOMETHING

Tonights do something was a holdover from the last game.

“Anyone other than Gadjovich, please score at 5v5!” – Sincerely, me.

STARTING ROSTER

  • DiPietro SZN baybeeeee
  • Nikita Alexandrov makes his anticipated debut with the Comets on a pretty decent-looking second line with Gadjovich and Jasek!
  • Dakota Joshua joins Nolan Stevens and Will Lockwood on the third line, and my god, their speed will give Rochester problems.
  • Did I mention it was DiPietro szn!?

 

Here is tonight’s lineup noting the 5v5 CF% and Goals-For rates minus some of the line changeups.

    • Note the 5v5 goals-for and against for what I mean by “this team needs 5v5 goal production from people not named Jonah Gadjovich.”

 

  • Bärtschi and Anas have a 44.53 CF% together without John Stevens
  • Gadjovich and Jasek have a 63.93 CF% together without the debuting Nikita Alexandrov
  • Nolan Stevens and Will Lockwood have a 53.64 CF% without Dakota Joshua
  • Curtis McKenzie and Carson Focht have a 51.75% CF% without Vinny Arseneau

Don’t feel like reading? Click here for spoilers!!

GAME 20:

1st period:

PP1 – Bärtschi, Jasek, Gadjovich, Brisebois, Anas

  • An errant pass loses the zone for the Comets, then Gadjovich fans on a pass that forces them to reset from the d-zone. Ugly powerplay

PP2 – Alexandrov, Focht, McKenzie, Woo, Nolan Stevens

  • Time winds down on the period, and the Amerks players look frustrated as all hell.
  • Comets finish the period up in shots, eight to six, and up on the scoreboards three to one.

2nd period:

  • Gadjovich switched to a line with Nolan Stevens and Will Lockwood to start the second.
  • Jonah Gadjovich asks Matej Pekar to honour “THE CODE,” and Pekar obliges.
  • Joshua (#11) with a dangerous chance in Lekkas’ crease only to send his shot wide of the goal.
  • GOAL – UTICA – 4-1 COMETS: Nikita Alexandrov with his first pro-goal on North American ice! Jasek (#9) starts the play by digging the puck out of a board battle that Alexandrov is engaged in. Jasek then passes back to Josh Teves (#4), who instantly slaps a shot towards Lekkas that gets tipped by Alexandrov and goes five-hole. Great play from Alexandrov to win the battle and get to the net for his first!
  • Utica College head coach Gary Heenan pointing out during the break that Cull likely put Gadjovich out with Stevens and Lockwood for the faceoff so that he could fight Pekar.
    • Code things
  • Ryan Jones with a hit from behind on Arseneau that comes nowhere near the play
    • Arseneau gives Jones several whacks with the stick in retaliation. Refs turn a blind eye on the ruckus.
  • Dakota Joshua drives on goal for a scoring chance, and Nick DeSimone gets called for hooking Joshua on the attempt.
    • Comets are off to their second powerplay of the game.

PP2 – Focht, Woo, Alexandrov, McKenzie, Nolan Stevens

  • GOAL – UTICA – 5-1 COMETS: Four seconds onto the powerplay, and the Comets add another one to the tally. Woo (#22) corrals a clearing attempt and quickly relays over to Carson Focht (#19), who rifles one that redirects off the leg of Griffin Luce and into Lekkas’ pads. McKenzie (#81) picks up the uncontrolled rebound and quickly puts it over a sprawled Lekkas to continue the rout.
  • Amerks head coach opts not to change goalies, which seems rather cruel at this point.
  • Brett Murray trips Eliot in the neutral zone, and the Comets are right back onto the powerplay.

PP1 – Jasek, Gadjovich, Bärtschi, Anas, Brisebois

PK1 – Tucker, Jasek, Wesley, John Stevens

  • Quick gloved shot by DiPietro

PK2 – Joshua, Lockwood step on for Jasek/Stevens

PK3 – Teves, Eliot, McKenzie, Nolan Stevens

PP1 – Gadjovich, Anas, Bärtschi, Jasek, Brisebois

PP2 – Focht, Woo, Alexandrov, McKenzie, Nolan Stevens

  • I mean, good lord! Lekkas is just getting zero support around the net!

3rd period:

PP3 – John Stevens, Tucker, Joshua, Lockwood, Arseneau

 PP2 – Alexandrov, Focht, Woo, McKenzie, Nolan Stevens

  • Shot from Focht comes just as Welsh leaves the box

PP3 – Lockwood, Tucker, Arseneau, Joshua, John Stevens

RESULT:

Utica crushes Rochester 7-1

SCORESHEET:

GAME THOUGHTS:

  • That’s one helluva game to make your return! The Utica Comets didn’t need DiPietro that much tonight, but he came up huge for them when they did.

  • Personally, I’m looking forward to Quadrelli’s review of DiPietro’s game! I’m no goalie expert, but I thought he looked infinitely more calm, poised, and controlled in the crease. Last season, he was like 2016-17 Markstrom, flopping all over the ice to make flashy and acrobatic saves on routine shots. Tonight, he was calculated in his movements, hugged his posts hard and rarely let himself get into positions where he was flopping on his belly to make wild calf-muscle saves on one-timer opportunities.

  • My fanfiction Theoden speech might have actually happened?

  • A bit of an understatement! Lockwood was wheeling around the rink tonight, making the Amerks defender look foolish on practically every zone entry of his. I had a feeling that the trio of Lockwood, Joshua, and Nolan Stevens would give the Amerks fits. But, I did not expect them to cave them the way they did as often as they did. It was a  slaughter every shift. The brief third-period powerplay look was a bit clunky and awkward for Lockwood, but I won’t hold that against him. His speed is a separator at the AHL level. I think he might be closer to an NHL look than Gadjovich with his speed. Although, Lockwood’s one deficiency is his hands can’t keep up with his feet. But, if you’re entering the zone at will with speed like that, then who cares! Just dish it off and let your linemates do the rest of the cycling. I’ve been pleased with his turnaround these past few games!

Lockwood’s Per-60 Rates Relative to Team Average
  • Lockwoods production chart and shot-control metrics are now starting to look very promising
  • Lukas Jasek looked good with Gadjovich and Alexandrov! He needed a game like tonight where he just controlled play heavily in the offensive zone. Alexandrov was a great fit with the two of them. Alexandrov has a nose for the net, good speed, a good shot, and above-average skating, a perfect complement to Jasek’s distributing and  Gadjovich’s shot and vision. It was great to see him immediately bounce back from the lone goal-against with a 5v5 goal of his own. Jasek’s shooting luck has been atrocious this season, and I wonder if it’s a confidence issue. Hopefully, tonight’s goal is the pat on the back that he needed for a return to form.
  • Woo struggled again tonight as he got caught being indecisive several times in the neutral zone, which led directly to dangerous breakaway chances for Rochester. Not sure if it’s the d-partner adjustment or what, but he’s had an uncharacteristic number of blunders in the neutral zone as of late. Chalk it up to rookie growing pains for now.
  • Carson Focht had a good night with Arseneau and McKenzie. Bizarre trio to put together, and frankly, I think someone like Tanner Kaspick ought to keep his spot in the lineup for his speed and utility as a penalty-killer. The Comets penalty kill didn’t get tested often tonight, but against a goalie like Lekkas, I believe Kaspick could’ve made swiss cheese out of him.
Teves and Eliot’s Per-60 Rates Relative to Team Average
  • Always good to see the depth D on the team step up big for the Comets; Tucker, Teves, Eliot, and Wesley were providing big minutes on the PK and at 5v5 for the club. Teves and Eliot have sneakily been one of the club’s most reliable duo against the opposing team’s depth.
  • Because I know I will be asked about it, yes, Gadjovich needs to work on his skating. No, he isn’t a complete write-off. But, his skating is a hindrance. He has been doing much better this season at keeping pace, but even comparing his wheels to Will Lockwood, and there is a sizeable difference. Fortunately, he’s found a way to use his size and positioning to rack up goals for the club. But getting that positioning is worlds-different at the NHL level than it is at the AHL level. We can all be happy that Gadjovich has found a niche as an elite AHL goalscorer. But, as we’ve seen before with elite AHL goalscorers. Sometimes, it’s just not enough.
  • Brisebois was Brisboi-ok on the powerplay, but otherwise, he’s unspectacular to watch. He had a couple of good backchecking moments to recover for his partner, Woo, but otherwise. Meh.
  • As you all know, the Comets Harvest is a big fan of Vinny Arseneau, but that hit in the dying minutes of a blowout game was really gross. I imagine the AHL is going to levy quite a few suspensions once they’ve reviewed the tape. It was an ugly game. I still blame the Amerks’ head coach Seth Appert for this one. He left in a goalie that gave his team zero chance, and his skaters were blatantly frustrated after the first period with the goaltending they were getting. It won’t ever happen, but Appert should face some kind of discipline for this.
    • As should Matej Pekar for his cheap shot from the bench on Arseneau.
  • Also, leave Sven Bärtschi alone. Who the fuck tries to throw an elbow on Bärtschi after all he’s been through with concussions?

Bärtschi’s Per-60 Rates Relative to Team Average
  • The Seattle Kraken are 100% going to have Bärtschi in their lineup next season, aren’t they?
    • Paging Namita Nandakumar. Give Bae a chance!

COMETS HARVEST THREE STARS

  1. Will Lockwood
  2. Nikita Alexandrov
  3. Michael DiPietro

HM: Jonah Gadjovich and the whole gang!

Next Up on the Docket

The Comets are back in action this Sunday, 3 PM EST/12 PM EST. I will probably be very hungover, so don’t count on a game recap.

Plugs

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter for your daily dose of memes, sarcasm, stats, and both Comets and Canucks gameday clips!

You can also catch me on Podcast format with Lachlan Irvine at the Creasecast! Please give us a follow on your go-to podcast platform and rate, like and subscribe to help us out!

And if you’re more of a visual person! You can check out the Youtube channel, where we upload all of our podcasts in video form!

Cheers for tuning in, despite some shitty fights and code-related things; it rocked!

COMETS HARVEST: Jonah Goaldjovich Does the Thing! Twice!

The Comets look to rebound from a devastating 7-1 loss to the Syracuse Crunch when they face off against the *checks notes* Syracuse Crunch.

Yeah, the schedule gets pretty bland and repetitive from here on out.

Six of the next eleven games come against either Syracuse or Rochester, so variety will be out the window.

Back to the Comets’ last game against Syracuse; The Comets actually out-shot Syracuse quite considerably at 5v5. Unfortunately, they couldn’t capitalize and wound up on the wrong end of the scoresheet.

Thems the breaks.

Weird to link my tweets, but I’m exhausted and don’t feel like re-typing something I already wrote out, haha.

On top of the above, the Comets face a litany of call-up and injury issues that might make tonight’s game just as ugly as Sunday’s.

The Blues recalled one of the Comets’ minute-munching all-situations defenders in Mitch Reinke.

Reinke hasn’t been spectacular at 5v5 offence by any stretch. Still, he offers a ton of utility for the team as a powerplay point-man, penalty-killer, and stable partner to inexperienced rookie d-men.

Even with the addition of Guillaume Brisebois back into the Comets lineup, the Comets lack significant veteran leadership on their back-end.

This one could be pretty ugly.

DO SOMETHING

I don’t think I can stress enough how badly the Comets need 5v5 goalscoring elsewhere in their lineup.

Jonah Gadjovich leads the pack with eight goals at 5v5.

The runners-up? John Stevens (his current center) and Vincent Arseneau who are both tied at three 5v5 goals apiece.

Yea. It’s pretty fucking bleak, to say the least.

Given how watered down the talent pool is in the AHL this season, you’d hope to see a lot more 5v5 offence spread throughout the lineup. However, there just hasn’t been any. And they need it. Badly.

Though they’re facing off against a streaking Syracuse Crunch team, now would be a great time to see some others notch some 5v5 goals.

STARTING ROSTER

  • Returning to the lineup is Sam Anas – sliding out is Sven Bärtschi, who is out due to injury.
  • Making his debut tonight is St. Louis Blues’ 2019 5th Round draft pick, Keean Washkurak.
    • Washkurak spent most of this season playing in the 2nd tier Slovakian hockey league, where he managed to pick up 110 penalty minutes in 21 games.
      • Not even sure how that’s possible, haha.
  • It looks like most of the OHL players are on the scratch list, except for Washkurak, who makes his pro-debut tonight.
  • The team should hopefully have Di Pietro and Joshua for Friday’s game.

Don’t feel like reading? Click here for spoilers!!

GAME 19:

1st period:

PK1 –  Jasek, Kaspick, Tucker, Wesley

  • Kielly gloves down a shot to allow his PK group to change

PK2 – Lockwood, John Stevens, Teves, Brisebois

2nd period:

PP1 – Gadjovich, Jasek, N. Stevens, Brisebois, Anas

  • Syracuse wins the faceoff, and they’re content to cycle the puck around the rink to close out the second period.
  • Despite a bevy of offensive-zone pressure, the Comets finish the second frame down in shots thirteen to seven, 24 to 17 overall.

3rd period:

  • Comets start the final frame with a minute-thirty on the powerplay.
  • GOAL – UTICA – 1-0 COMETS: One second after the Comets powerplay expires, Jett Woo (#22) uncorks a bomb from the point that gets tipped at the last second by Jonah Gadjovich (#21). Comets try the goal-line tip twice in a row before they resort to the basics. Gadjovich picks up his thirteenth goal of the year while Woo picks up his first assist of the season.

 

PP1 – Anas, Jasek, Gadjovich, N. Stevens, Brisebois

PP2 – Focht, Woo, McGing, McKenzie, John Stevens

  • Oh boy. Boris Katchouk races around Jett Woo (#22) for another dangerous scoring chance. Hofer makes another huge save on Katchouk’s backhander.
  • GOAL – SYRACUSE – 1-1 TIE: Tough break for Joel Hofer, who was making elite saves against Syracuse on the Comets powerplay. A risky pinch into the offensive zone by Tyler Tucker (#2) allows Taylor Raddysh to move the puck up-ice and into the Comets zone. Joel Hofer makes the initial stop on Raddysh’s shot, but Chase Priskie picks up the uncontrolled rebound and ties this game with less than three minutes remaining in the final frame.
    • Comets handed the momentum to the Crunch during that powerplay
  • Comets are peppering Martin with shot attempts in the final few minutes as they try to regain some momentum for themselves.
  • Comets ice the puck with less than two seconds in the period, but this one heads to overtime.
  • Comets close the gap but still end up out-shot 30 to 27.

Overtime:

 

RESULT:

Comets defeat Syracuse 2-1 in Overtime

SCORESHEET:

GAME THOUGHTS:

  • Comets had a feeling I would criticize their 5v5 offence and scored the most “Canuck-ian” 5v5 goal ever. One second after the powerplay concluded, haha. Jonah Gadjovich adds two more goals to his tally, and the question becomes, is anyone else on this team capable of scoring goals?
  • I kind of adore that Gadjovich’s future brother-in-law is the starting goaltender for the Crunch. It must be a very awkward family chat, post-game, when Gadj scores two, including the game-winner!
  • Carson Focht and Will Lockwood both had incredible games, even if the latter didn’t wind up on the scoresheet. Focht was electric all night. I am looking forward to tracking this game just to see how many shot attempts he set up from the corner.
  • Joel Hofer came up huge for this club tonight, came in cold midway through the first and effectively stopped Syracuse from running away with the game late in the third.
  • Not a Canucks prospect, but I thought Keaan Washkurak looked pretty decent in his very limited ice-time! Decent wheels, good tenacity, and had a couple of good setups early in the first period.
  • The first two periods were a slog to watch, was getting heavy Canucks/Senators vibes. Shoutout to Jett Woo for his point shot to kick the game up a notch.
  • Brisebois looked pretty decent on a pair with Jett Woo. The latter of whom had a tough night dealing with the speed of the Crunch’s attackers. There were a couple of moments where Woo’s indecisiveness around the neutral zone led to him getting beat clean on the outside. Woo has been one of the Comets’ better skating defenders this season, so it was a bit surprising to see him beat cleanly as often as he was tonight. I’m sure the coaches will look over the tape and just tell him to move his feet earlier and not stop moving his feet when facing the rush—not concerned.

  • I’m pretty baffled over how Ryan Lohin ends up as the third-star on tonight’s scoresheet.

  • Big shoutout to the man, Chris Faber, for actually asking Gadjovich this question in the Comets post-game media availability. King shit.

  • The answer in question, haha.
  • Also, what an unfortunate way to end Kielly’s sophomore season in the AHL. He didn’t put up great numbers, but it sucks that such an innocuous hit from his teammate would end his season this way.

COMETS HARVEST THREE STARS

  1. Jonah Gadjovich
  2. Carson Focht
  3. Joel Hofer

Next Up on the Docket

Comets are back at it this Friday against the Rochester Americans at 7 PM EST/4 PM PST!

Plugs

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter for your daily dose of memes, sarcasm, stats, and both Comets and Canucks gameday clips!

You can also catch me on Podcast format with Lachlan Irvine at the Creasecast! Please give us a follow on your go-to podcast platform and rate, like and subscribe to help us out!

And if you’re more of a visual person! You can check out the Youtube channel, where we upload all of our podcasts in video form!

COMETS HARVEST: The Gang Opens the Floodgates

Following their gruelling shutout victory over the Binghamton Devils, the Utica Comets look for their second straight win tonight against the Rochester Americans!

The ‘Merks and the ‘Mets…wait, that doesn’t sound right.

The ‘Merks and the Comets have split wins through six games this season, with Utica barely edging the ‘Merks by a single point, thanks to one shootout loss back in February.

    • Their current record head-to-head record: 3W-2L-0 OTL-1 SOL

It’s been a tough road for the farm team post-COVID layoff, with the Comets seemingly hit hard by the fatigue factor and the depleted roster.

Since I haven’t caught up on micro stats tracking yet, this graphic will suffice.

Over their last three games, the Comets have struggled to produce offence at 5v5 while giving up excessive shots to their opponents.

It’s certainly no coincidence either that this massive uptick in 5v5 shots-against came immediately following Jack Rathbone’s call-up to the Canucks.

Without Rathbone in the lineup, Trent Cull and his coaching staff are forced to cobble together a defensive group that is underwhelming at producing 5v5 offence and very meh at preventing 5v5 offence.

Definite “Wolverine lying in bed meme” vibes while looking at Jack Rathbone’s placement on the above chart.

The Comets just aren’t generating much 5v5 offence from the back-end.

In the seven games since returning to play, the Comets have eighteen goals total, with ten goals coming at 5v5 (a good balance). However, the defence has picked up points on only ten of those total goals.

If you subtract Jack Rathbone from the equation, it’s only six goals

When you boil it down to goals at 5v5? It’s just two.

Just two goals scored at 5v5 in the return-to-play that had the defencemen contributing.

DO SOMETHING

There were going to be hundreds of question marks on this team’s abilities after missing an entire month due to a COVID outbreak.

I can’t stress enough how badly the Comets need offence from their defencemen at 5v5.

The number of 5v5 shots on goal has slowly decreased since game two of the return to play, and while it’s great that Joel Hofer picked up his first pro shutout, relying on him to put up 40 save performances every night to give them a chance is unrealistic.

The Comets skaters need to do their rookie netminder a favour tonight and get the early advantage on the scoresheet. 5v5, powerplay, shorthanded, whatever avenue, they need to do it!

I’m not sure if my brain can handle two death marches from one organization.

STARTING ROSTER

  • Let me know in the comments if you like the added 5v5 goals for and against information on the starting lineup card!
  • Comets moved a bunch of guys off of IR and are healthy scratches tonight! Possibly the healthiest the roster has been in weeks.
  • Comets will be glad to have Sven Bärtschi back in the lineup!
  • The Comets sticking with Gadjovich, Stevens, and Lockwood, is the right call; I really liked what they were bringing on Wednesday!
  • Kielly starts for the first time since April 9th; he spent the last week and a bit “banged up,” according to head coach Trent Cull.

Don’t feel like reading? Click here for spoilers!!

GAME 17:

1st period:

PK1 – Kaspick, Tucker, Lockwood, Wesley

  • Off of the faceoff, Tucker immediately takes a high-stick to the face and goes down hard.
  • PK1 forces Rochester out to neural ice, and Comets change their PK units after they ice the puck on an entry attempt

PK2 – Jasek, John Stevens, Teves Eliot

PP1 – Anas, Jasek, Gadjovich, Bärtschi, Reinke

PP2 – Focht, McGing, McKenzie, Woo, Nolan Stevens

  • GOAL – UTICA – 1-0 COMETS: What a start for PP2! Carson Focht (#19) rifles a one-timer on Billy Christopoulos while McKenzie (#81) screens. Focht’s shot rebounds out to Hugh McGing (#14), who slips his shot past Chritopoulos’ blocker side and into the net. Talk about gaining the early advantage for the team!

2nd period:

PP1 – Bärtschi, Jasek, Gadjovich, Reinke, Anas

PK1 – Lockwood, John Stevens, Wesley, Teves

PK1 – Lockwood, John Stevens, Wesley, Eliot

  • Lockwood, vibing, wins a puck battle and pushes the Amerks powerplay into their zone for a reset.

PK2 – Jasek, Kaspick, Teves, Reinke

  • Interesting that Cull elected to swap Teves with Wesley — I’m assuming this is some calculation made due to Tyler Tucker’s absence.
  • Jasek picks off two passes in a row to foil any powerplay setup from the Amerks.
  • Twenty-seven shots, six goals, two fighting majors, and one game misconduct later; the second period concludes.
  • Comets finish the middle frame up in shots, seventeen to ten, and up in goals, five to three.
    • They’re possibly up in pride/60 too, but it’s hard to say.

3rd period:

PK1 – Kaspick, Reinke, Wesley, Jasek

  • Kaspick, with his trademark excellent penalty killing as he forechecks into the Amerks zone, then plays rink wide pass with Josh Wesley to chew time off the clock.
  • GOAL – ROCHESTER – 6-4 COMETS: The Amerks get themselves back within two via a powerplay goal from Dominic Franco. Remi Elie whips a shot towards Kielly, and though Mitch Eliot (#52) drops to block the shot, he only gets a piece of it. Franco picks up the puck and takes one whack then another that sneaks past Kielly.
  • Comets pull Christopoulos for the extra attacker. Comets facing the 6-on-5 with less than three remaining in the period
  • GOAL – UTICA – 7-4 COMETS: John Stevens picks off a pass in the neutral zone and sinks the empty-netter to re-re-re-regain the three-goal lead for Utica.
  • Mitch Eliot takes a slashing penalty, and the Comets will finish this one facing a 6-on-4 for the final two minutes of the game.
  • GOAL – ROCHESTER – 7-5 COMETS: With a minute twenty left in the game, Michael Mersch redirects a slap pass behind Kielly to make a twelve-goal game and put the Amerks back within two.
  • Nolan Stevens (#17) sets up Anas (#7) for a late chance on Christopoulos. Anas’ shot goes into Christopoulos’ glove, but he elects to play the puck so that the Amerks may get the extra attacker.
  • Comets ice the puck with ten seconds left in the game
  • Jasek wins the final faceoff, and Wesley smothers the puck along the end boards; this chaotic-ass game comes to a close
  • Comets register five shots to the Amerks twelve over the last twenty minutes of play.

RESULT:

UTICA DEFEATS ROCHESTER 7-5

SCORESHEET:

GAME THOUGHTS:

  • Wildly chaotic game, but par for the course when you have atrocious goaltending on one side of the table and bad bounces on the other side.
    • Kielly wasn’t great, so we’re clear, but a couple of those goals resulted from awful puck-handling by his skaters.
    • Christopoulos is going to get exposed hard if he plays against the Comets again. That glove side of his is begging to be lit up.
  • Truly, a fantastic game from Will Lockwood and the Comets’ second line. I loved how aggressive they were on the forecheck and how they created havoc for the Amerks defenders. I had my doubts that Lockwood’s shorty from Wednesday would be an actual “opening of the floodgates.” But now I’m wondering if that actually did the trick. He looked outstanding. Two goals, four shots, and a Plus-3 on the night. The fact that Lockwood is also the first guy out for the Comets penalty kill is excellent news for this team and the Canucks organization. If Lockwood can go on a scoring heater late in the season, that bodes well for Lockwood’s training camp aspirations for the 2021-22 season. I have been high on his skating, compete, battle, and utility as a penalty killer. All that was missing was proof that he could do something with his physical talents, and these last two games have been very promising that he can.
    • Gadjovich looked solid again, trying to play the same role as Lockwood instead of being a one-trick triggerman.
    • John Stevens ended his night with one goal and two assists and largely thanks to the efforts of Lockwood and Gadjovich. This second line could be deadly for the Comets facing subpar AHL competition down the stretch.
  • Ethan Keppen looks like he could probably use a break. He’s a big boy, and there are some shifts where he gets caught out for just a bit too long, leading to him looking incredibly lethargic with his skating. Unnoticeable for most of the night.
  • Jasek continues to struggle. He puts up good underlying shot-control metrics but has had a tough go trying to produce offence. Coaches need to get this kid shooting his shot.
  • Bärtschi was largely unnoticeable for the evening, but that was to be expected given his time off due to injury.
  • Another night where I come away impressed with the work of Teves and Eliot
  • Kaspick had a quiet night post-fight but was still lethal on the Comets penalty kill. Have to wonder if the fourth-line didn’t see much ice time because of an injury concern with Kaspick’s hand; He was shaking it out in the penalty box post-fight.
  • Jett Woo was quiet for the night, but I noticed his outlet passes and defensive positioning quite often. Had several instances where he could’ve done “the AHL thing” by double-teaming a skater in the defensive zone by giving up the net-front. But he played it safe every single time. The lone 5v5 goal that he was on-ice for came after a clearing attempt that got deflected off of Lukas Jasek’s stick past Kielly. Hard to really fault him on that one.
  • I critique Tyler Tucker’s play quite often, but he’s kind of like Tyler Myers. Unspectacular, mostly, but he eats minutes like a workhorse at 5v5 and on the penalty kill. You have to hope that he comes away from that boarding unscathed; it was truly an ugly hit from behind.
  • Sam Anas finally breaks his goal-scoring slump with two tonight on six shots. This might sound weird, but Anas was unnoticeable for most of the night but in a good way. Usually, he’s noticeable because he’s constantly throwing offence at the net or giving the puck away in the neutral zone. He barely threw the puck away tonight, which is an excellent step in the right direction for him.
  • Carson Focht had himself an excellent first two periods, but he disappeared in the third. He’s got a sneaky good two-way game and was lethal on the forecheck for Utica in the early goings of this game. His play, combined with Nolan Stevens’ play, made the Comets’ second and third lines the most dangerous on the evening.
    • Focht finished the night with one assist and one goal on four shots
  • Shoutout to the Comets play-by-play guy Jason Shaya, whose commentary made this chaotic game even more entertaining. I’m still cackling over the call on that shorthanded goal the Comets gave up.

 

COMETS HARVEST THREE STARS

  1. Will Lockwood
  2. Carson Focht
  3. John Stevens

HM: Sam Anas, Nolan Stevens

Next Up on the Docket

The Comets are back in action this Sunday against the Syracuse Crunch at 3 PM EST/12 PM PST.

Depending on how stats tracking on these last three games goes, I’ll see if I feel up to recapping!

Plugs

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter for your daily dose of memes, sarcasm, stats, and both Comets and Canucks gameday clips!

You can also catch me on Podcast format with Lachlan Irvine at the Creasecast! Please give us a follow on your go-to podcast platform and rate, like and subscribe to help us out!

And if you’re more of a visual person! You can check out the Youtube channel, where we upload all of our podcasts in video form!

COMETS HARVEST: Utica Comets Exorcise Some Demons

Fresh off of back-to-back losses against Providence and Syracuse, the Utica Comets return to action for a home game against the Binghamton Devils.

For those unaware, there is much discussion in upstate New York surrounding the crumbling relationship between the New Jersey Devils and their current affiliate Binghamton.

Special shoutout to former CanucksArmy Comets contributor Cory Hergott for mining this little nugget of gold.

It would appear as though Robert Esche, the Comets president, is posturing in case the Canucks opt out of the remainder of their six-year deal.

As reported by the Province’s Patrick Johnston, the current deal between Utica and Vancouver was signed after the 2018-19 season and included an opt-out clause that allowed the Canucks to explore moving their farm team to a different location after the 2020-21 season.

Something to watch out for in the coming weeks as the AHL does have a board of governors meeting soon.

Vancouver would have to table a move of their farm team to another location and be accepted by the board of governors before the New Jersey Devils farm team could transfer from Binghamton to Utica.

Utica has a bit of a rocky history with the New Jersey Devils ownership and their previous AHL farm team, the Utica Devils (original, I know).

The Adirondack Bank Center has always been a rowdy barn whenever I recap games. This season’s games are certainly missing the charm of the boisterous Utica faithful. So hopefully, if New Jersey does takeover, they show the Utica faithful a bit more respect than they did the last time they were in town.

Whether it’s Vancouver or New Jersey, one team is getting one helluva fanbase out of this.

If it’s New Jersey? Promise the city of Utica that you won’t fuck them over like you did the last time!

And if it’s Vancouver? Please promise you’ll find a way to keep the Utica Comets logo and branding for wherever they move to next.

DO SOMETHING

The Comets have unsurprisingly hit a wall in their return from their COVID layoff.

Pre-COVID layoff, the Comets were 6-2-0-1 with a +93 shot-attempt differential at 5v5!

Post-COVID layoff, the Comets are 2-4-0-0 with a +23 shot-attempt differential at 5v5.

They’re trying to fight through a tough stretch, but the schedule, fatigue, and a depleted defence-core are playing against them.

With Jack Rathbone recalled by Vancouver, the Comets have only one defenceman with a positive 5v5 goal-differential; Jett Woo.

Jett Woo has been a very reliable defenceman for the Comets at 5v5, but his current partner, Josh Wesley, is not an AHL defender; a massive downgrade on what Rathbone brought to the table.

For that reason, tonight, the person that needs to do something is…

Mitch Eliot!

Eliot has put up solid underlying metrics on a pair with Josh Teves. He has a massive one-timer shot from the point, but he’s struggled mightily to hit the net.

Among all Comets skaters, Eliot has the fifth-worst on-net percentage. Just 18 of his 44 shot attempts across all situations have hit the net.

Without Jack Rathbone in the lineup, the Comets have zero players with a heavy shot on the blueline after Eliot.

Tyler Tucker is not an answer, nor is Reinke, Teves, or Wesley; Maybe Jett Woo can be that guy, but he hasn’t shown he can unleash clappers the way Eliot can.

I would like to see Eliot get a spot as a shooter on the powerplay to try and get him on the board. He needs a confidence boost so the Comets can get something from their blueliners down the stretch here.

STARTING ROSTER

  • I’m digging the look of this first line if they can get going. Maybe Gadjovich sparks Lockwood’s offensive instincts a bit.
  • D pairings are a massive yikes for me. When Teves/Eliot is your best pair at controlling shot attempts, you’re in trouble.
  • Bärtschi and Arseneau confirmed as being unfit to play, so I’ve moved them into the IR section.
  • Kudos to the Utica Observer-Dispatches Ben Birnell for notifying me that Shawn Cameron is on a contract with the Blues, not on an AHL PTO.

Don’t feel like reading? Click here for spoilers!!

GAME 16:

1st period:

PK1 – Kaspick, Lockwood, Tucker, Wesley

  • Kaspick wins the draw and chases down a rink-wide dump-in, scaring goaltender Mareks Mitens into leaving his net and playing the puck up into the neutral zone.
    • Good pressure from Kaspick

PK1 – Stevens Brothers, Teves, Eliot

  • Devils are struggling to set up in the Comets zone. Comets kill off the first minute of the double-minor without facing much action.
  • PK clears the zone then Hofer makes a big stop with his body

PK3 – Jasek, McKenzie, Woo, Reinke

2nd period:

PP2 – Focht, McGing, McKenzie, Woo, John Stevens

  • Comets lose the faceoff and then ice the puck. PP2 not off to a great start.
  • Comets break in off of a Woo bank-pass off the endboards. Good control displayed by him along the blueline
  • PP2 forced out to reset, and PP1 comes out

PP1 – Jasek, Anas, Reinke, Gadjovich, Nolan Stevens

 

  • With one second left in the period, Gadjovich runs into Mitens. Again, no fight ensues. However, the game has been quite chippy thus far.
  • Comets finish the period, having been outshot eleven to nine.

3rd period:

PP1 – Reinke, Anas, Jasek, Gadjovich, Nolan Stevens

  • GOAL – UTICA – 2-0 COMETSMitch Reinke (#28) makes it two-nil for Utica with a wicked wrister from the point. Lukas Jasek (#9) hands off from the slot and runs a sneaky bit of interference while Reinke walks the line for his shot. Reinke picks up his second of the year.

 

  • Tyler Tucker gets issued a holding minor less than forty seconds after the Reinke goal, and the Comets are off to their fourth PK of the game.
  • Comets penalty killers are stifling the Devils offence generation very well on this powerplay opportunity.
    • Devils with one shot-attempt that sails wide of the net.
  • Tough break for Utica as John Stevens gets called for hooking at the end of a long shift while trying to clear the zone.
    • Comets facing a brief 5-on-3 opportunity
  • Joel Hofer with two massive saves after the 5-on-3 faceoff draw.
  • Tucker leaves the box just as Binghamton fumbles the puck along the goal line and have to reset
  • GOAL – UTICA – 3-0 COMETS: What a way to score your first professional goal! Will Lockwood (#10) take a bow! While pressuring the Devils in the neutral zone, Lockwood forces a giveaway to Mitch Reinke (#28), who sends Lockwood in behind the Devils defence for the breakaway. Lockwood dekes forehand backhand on Mitens for a beauty to make it three-zip.

 

  • With time still remaining on the John Stevens penalty, Curtis McKenzie gets called for goaltender interference, and he absolutely LOSES IT on the refs, haha.
    • Broadcast calls out Mitens for the flop.
    • Comets to a 5-on-3 kill
  • Tanner Kaspick with two massive diving clearing efforts to kill the 5-on-3 as John Stevens steps out of the box.
  • Another fantastic PK for the Comets
    • They hold the Binghamton Devils to three shots total across four minutes of PK time.
  • Another solid shift from Will Lockwood. Binghamton rifles the puck from center-ice on Hofer in frustration at how this one turned out.
  • Binghamton pulls Mitens for the extra attacked with three minutes to go in the third.
  • Gadjovich is defending the 6-on-5 and has an empty-net opportunity but takes the unselfish play for the pass. Unfortunately, the pass is nowhere where it needed to be.
  • Comets frustrating the Devils by keeping them inside the neutral zone
  • With three seconds left in the period, Jett Woo takes a high-sticking penalty.
  • Tanner Kaspick wins the final faceoff on the 6-on-4, and Joel Hofer records his first professional shutout. Brilliant performance from him after some early fumbling.
  • Comets finish the game getting outshot 41-to-18 but up on the scorecard 3-zip.

RESULT:

UTICA COMETS DEFEATS BINGHAMTON 3-0

SCORESHEET:

GAME THOUGHTS:

  • An incredible effort from Joel Hofer tonight to pick up his first pro-shutout. He certainly didn’t make it look easy as there were quite a few misplay blunders behind the net that gave Binghamton dangerous scoring opportunities. Twas no easy task, stopping 40 of 40; quite the game to pick as your first shutout!
  • Will Lockwood with a fantastic game for Utica tonight. Dominant on the forecheck, even if he had a few offensive blunders. He came up big for the team on the penalty kill and was rewarded with his first pro-goal for his efforts.
  • Speaking of “rewarded for your efforts,” another Comets penalty killer who had himself a game was Tanner Kaspick. Tremendous effort on the PK to stifle the Devils’ offence. Kaspick threw his body on every loose puck to clear the zone on the penalty kill. Eventually, he got rewarded with that layup opportunity from Ethan Keppen for his first of the season.
  • Ethan Keppen looked okay tonight! His skating stride is a bit ugly, but he manages to get around the ice rather quickly for a guy his size. Great play on the Kaspick goal for his first pro point. He could be a force for Utica’s bottom-six if he can use his speed to create rush chances for his line.
  • Mitch Eliot and Josh Teves were solid tonight. I loved that one backchecking effort of theirs after the miscue with Lockwood in the offensive zone. You know these two were on the outs with the coaching staff last season for their adventuring and their half-hearted defensive play. While there are still many kinks to figure out, their efforts have been way more noticeable this season. As a penalty-killing duo, they’ve been very effective, having stepped up considerably in the wake of Juolevi/Chatfield graduating to the NHL.
  • A tough game for the Lukas Jasek line. Generally didn’t notice them at all in either zone. Jasek’s shot still remains problematic. Tonight wasn’t the first time he’s had golden one-timer chances from the slot that sailed wide of the goal.
  • Gadjovich looked pretty good tonight. Maybe the first time I’ve noticed his off-puck activity. With elite puck distributors, Gadjovich opts into an opportunistic sniper role. Guys like Sam Anas do a lot of the puck retrieval grunt-work while Gadj sets up shop at the front of the net for rebounds. Tonight, he made a concerted effort to be more involved in the grunt-work to be a set-up man for Lockwood/Stevens, moving away from being simply a stationary trigger-man. Overall, it was a great role-pivot from him tonight. Though he didn’t end up on the scoresheet, his net-front presence was definitely a big factor in the Reinke goal.
  • Tyler Tucker mystifies me. He’s a massive guy, who doesn’t really throw his body around that much, throws an outrageous amount of volume towards the net, though he never seems outwardly dominant with his shot. He kills penalties, skates fast, and has all the attributes that a coach loves. But he’s so frustrating to watch when he coasts in the defensive zone or throws blind backhand passes to no one. He should arguably have much more to show with his physical toolkit but just seems to be a guy who can eat lots of minutes without doing much in either end. He and Jett Woo had very little chemistry. Though the little chemistry they did show was better than anything the Woo/Wesley pairing showed.
  • Mitch Reinke had himself a great game. Solid on the PK, scores a powerplay goal, minute-eater, pretty much everything you want from a top-pairing AHL defender.
  • Comets powerplay without Bärtschi, Lind, and now Rathbone lacks serious firepower. It is hard to really fault the Comets on this as they really don’t have many elite options to build a better first-powerplay unit. I still think Eliot should get a look as a forward one-timer specialist, but creativity might be outside the scope of what’s expected from the coaching staff this season. Exhaustion is going to settle in really quick, if it hasn’t already, with some of these players playing big 5v5 minutes, powerplay minutes, and shorthanded time.
    • Powerplay and PK: Stevens Bro’s, Jasek, Woo, Reinke, McKenzie
    • Powerplay only: Anas, Gadjovich, Focht, Bärtschi, Jackson
    • PK only: Lockwood, Kaspick, Wesley, Eliot, Teves, Tucker
    • None: Arseneau, Cameron, Keppen, McGing
      • Arseneau is what he is, but he has a good shot. I’d give him a look on PP2 with Eliot.
      • Keppen is a big body who arguably could get a look as a net-front guy
      • Cameron has fantastic wheels and should arguably be on the PK, same with McGing
  • The above point is just to say that there are shooters not being used for the powerplay and grinders with speed who aren’t being used on the PK. With thirteen games remaining in the schedule, no Calder playoffs, and no player returns in sight, it makes sense for the coaches to “get weird with it.” For Trent Cull, you might as well see what gold you can mine out of this group. Especially with reports of an ownership group that is content with spending very low on their next coach. A coach that might not even need NHL experience to qualify for the position.

 

COMETS HARVEST THREE STARS

  1. Joel Hofer
  2. Tanner Kaspick
  3. Will Lockwood

HM: Mitch Reinke, Ethan Keppen

Next Up on the Docket

The Comets are back in action this Friday when they visit the Rochester Americans; 7 PM EST/4 PM PST.

In theory, I should be good to recap that one! But last week, I overworked myself to exhaustion trying to squeeze the tracking of five games around three evenings, so I might bail and opt to recap the Sunday game against Syracuse instead.

Plugs

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter for your daily dose of memes, sarcasm, stats, and both Comets and Canucks gameday clips!

You can also catch me on Podcast format with Lachlan Irvine at the Creasecast! Please give us a follow on your go-to podcast platform and rate, like and subscribe to help us out!

And if you’re more of a visual person! You can check out the Youtube channel, where we upload all of our podcasts in video form!

Cheers for tuning in, and I’ll catch you all this Friday or Sunday, OR BOTH!? Probably neither, I’m very tired.

Or am I?!

Yes.

COMETS HARVEST: Woo-Gang Ain’t Nuttin To F**k Wit

– Utica Comets Post-Game Tuesday, April 13th, 2021

After posting last night’s recap, I stayed up until midnight recording a deadline recap episode of the CreaseCast podcast. Check it out!

After a 5:30 AM  wakeup, safe to say I’m feeling pretty exhausted.

Thus, this will probably be a lowkey game recap that relies a lot on gifs to summarize my thoughts instead of words.

Comets run it back against the Syracuse Crunch tonight, with both teams running the same lineups.

DO SOMETHING

Still keep shaking off those cobwebs, boys!

STARTING ROSTER

  • The only switch-up in tonight’s lineup is the starting netminders.
    • Starting his first game of the season for Utica is Evan Fitzpatrick.
    • Starting for Syracuse is Spencer Martin, the soon-to-be brother-in-law of Jonah Gadjovich!

Don’t feel like reading? Click here for spoilers!!

GAME 13:

1st period:

2nd period:

  • So the Comets and Crunch will play the remaining 2:30 of the first period before the officials roll the clock over and the goalies switch sides.
  • Antoine Morand picks up a roughing minor penalty with less than 50 seconds remaining in the “first period.”

PP1 – Bärtschi, Anas, Gadjovich, Jasek Reinke

  • Comets are forced out of the offensive zone and end up facing off a high-danger scoring chance from the Crunch’s penalty-killers. Not a great start
  • PP1 generates nothing as the first-period session expires
    • PP2 takes the second-period faceoff

PP2 – McKenzie, McGing, Focht, Rathbone, N. Stevens

  • GOAL – UTICA – 1-1 TIE: The Comets rookie powerplay group tie the game at once apiece off some crisp passing plays between Carson Focht (#19), Jack Rathbone (#3), and Nolan Stevens (#17). Spencer Martin kicks out a Rathbone point-shot right onto the tape of Stevens stick. Stevens buries the puck under Martin’s blocker side. Great set up from the Comets young forwards and an excellent finish from Stevens.

PK1 – Kaspick, Lockwood, Woo, Tucker

  • PK1 kept in their end for a solid minute, but they deny any shot attempts by the Crunch. Great work by them to keep the Crunch to the perimeter looking for outlets.

PK2 – Stevens Bro’s, Eliot, Wesley

PK3 – Jasek and McKenzie sub on for the Stevens Bro’s

  • A scrambly moment in the crease of Martin’s net, and he gets up shaking his head after the whistle.
    • Being put to work in tonight’s matchup is Spencer Martin
  • Comets are just completely pouring on the offence in this period. Syracuse looks entirely out of sorts with the long change.
    • Syracuse then gets caught with too many men on the ice. Comets to their third powerplay of the game
  • PP1 starts for this powerplay
  • Gadjovich (#21) screening well to allow Anas (#7) to put a shot off Martin’s glove.
  • PP1 is caving the Crunch on this powerplay. Crunch players look completely gassed trying to clear the zone.
    • Syracuse’s first PK group finally dump the puck and change personnel with less than thirty left on the powerplay.
  • Spencer Martin “loses” his helmet and takes his precious time putting it back on. Brilliant play to buy his team some reset time.
  • PP2 gives up a shorthanded rush to the Crunch before time expires on the powerplay. Tremendous pressure despite the lack of scoring on this one.
  • Tyler Tucker gets into a shoving match with Gabe Fortier after Fortier gets a little too close to Fitzpatrick off of a save.
  • Sean Day rips a shot that echoes off of Fitzpatrick’s goalpost
    • Shots heavily favour Utica, but that bomb almost undid a ton of work put into this period by the Comets
  • Focht (#19) with a solid defensive effort to break up a two-on-one play.
  • Grigori Denisenko puts his crossovers to work to race around Rathbone (#3) for a wraparound attempt on Fitzpatrick.
  • Time winds down on the period, and the Comets are legitimately crushing Syracuse in shots on goal.

  • Syracuse had a couple of good looks late in the period. Comets hopefully won’t try to sit back with the one-goal lead.

3rd period:

PK1 – Stevens Bro’s, Tucker, Reinke

  • Nolan Stevens with a good shot block to force the Crunch out into the neutral zone for a reset
  • Lockwood and Kaspick step on for the Stevens Bro’s
  • Katchouk claps iron! Close call for the Comets!
  • Comets kill Woo’s penalty, and we’re back at 5v5 with less than six minutes remaining in the game
  • 2:38 left, and a giveaway from Mitch Eliot in the d-zone prompts Syracuse to pull Martin for the extra attacker
  • Tyler Tucker attempts to hit the empty net but ices the puck
  • Josh Wesley (#24), without his stick, ties up his man at the front of the net to deny a prime scoring chance for Syracuse. Comets just barely miss the empty net.
  • GOAL – SYRACUSE – 3-2 COMETS: With less than fifty seconds remaining in the game, the Crunch’s Boris Katchouk rifles a shot, bar down, past an exhausted Tyler Tucker (#2) and over the shoulder of Evan Fitzpatrick.
  • Crunch pull Martin after winning the faceoff draw
  • Comets put out Rathbone and Woo to close the game out and do a great job tying the puck up along the wall.
  • Syracuse put themselves offsides on an entry attempt. The final faceoff at center-ice is mostly a formality as there is only one second left on the clock.
  • Comets dominate in back to back outings
  • The Final shot totals 40 to 18, favouring Utica.

RESULT:

Utica Comets def. Syracuse 3-2

SCORESHEET:

 

GAME THOUGHTS:

  • Watered down forward, defence, and goalie talent aside, it is quite impressive that this Comets team has come back from a month-long layoff with two dominant games in a row. Especially considering these past two games followed two very concerning games in a row over the weekend. Doubling an opponent in shots on goals is hard when fully healthy, let alone in back-to-backs after missing a month of play due to COVID-19—really impressed by the resiliency of this group these past two games. I might have to lift my moratorium on the DO SOMETHING section of my game recaps; the rust appears to have been shooketh away.
April 13th, 2021 SOG
April 14th, 2021 SOG

  • Lukas Jasek and Sven Bärtschi looked great together tonight. Jasek’s play reminds me of Bärtschi, though the difference in their shot quality and their overall utility as players remain the separator.
  • Jack Rathbone was flexing all night on every shift. He led the Comets in shots on goal with seven total.
  • This is blowing my mind.

  • Quiet night from Will Lockwood again. Two nights in a row with zero shots on goal. I’m still hesitant with my critique as none of us know the extent of COVID’s impact on this Comets roster.
  • Carson Focht with another solid effort tonight. Crisp passing on display whenever he was in the offensive zone and even displayed solid defensive chops on the few times when he was tasked with playing D. Which honestly wasn’t often tonight at the Comets thoroughly dominated the Crunch in all facets of the game.
  • I wonder if the Comets would get more out of Mitch Eliot if they put him on PP2 as a one-timer option. He has the second-best slapshot among blueliners (second to Rathbone) and is one of the team’s only high-volume shooters. If the Comets re-jigged their powerplay units so that Eliot could slide in as, essentially, a forward to take one-timers, then I think they might get more use out of him than as just a 3rd pairing penalty killer.
  • Overall, impressive work rate from this young Comets group. They didn’t get rattled by that late goal from Syracuse, and kudos to the coaching staff for trusting the rookies, Woo and Rathbone, to shut down that final minute of play for the team. Good stuff. You love to see it.
  • Really pulling for this kid. Hope his goal tonight opens the floodgates!

 

COMETS HARVEST THREE STARS

  1. Jett Woo
  2. Lukas Jasek
  3. Evan Fitzpatrick

HM: Sven Bärtschi, Nolan Stevens, and Evan Fitzpatrick

Next Up on the Docket

The Comets will be back in action this Friday when they take on the Providence Bruins at 3 PM EDT.

I won’t be recapping this one because I have a full-time job. But Check out Chris Faber on Twitter, as he’ll likely have gifs of all the goals!

Plugs

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter for your daily dose of memes, sarcasm, stats, and both Comets and Canucks gameday clips!

You can also catch me on Podcast format with Lachlan Irvine at the Creasecast! Please give us a follow on your go-to podcast platform and rate, like and subscribe to help us out!

And if you’re more of a visual person! You can check out the Youtube channel, where we upload all of our podcasts in video form!

Hope everyone enjoyed this recap. Unfortunately, the next one won’t be coming until this Monday when I cover yet another game against the Syracuse Crunch.

COMETS HARVEST: Multi-Point Madness!

The Comets are two days removed from a tough return-to-action this past weekend—a weekend in which they picked up losses to both the Rochester Americans and the Syracuse Crunch.

On Friday, against the Amerks, the Comets dominated play for most of the first two periods. Unfortunately, evaporating energy levels led to some poor defensive coverage, allowing the Amerks to surge past the Comets for a 4-2 regulation victory.

On Saturday, against the Crunch, the Comets honestly had nothing to offer. They were lethargic and slow from the get-go. With rookie netminder Joel Hofer between the pipes, the Comets gave up the game’s opening goal within the first thirty seconds and not once afterwards did they appear “in it.”

The Saturday game might be an omen of things to come, a team coming off a lengthy COVID-outbreak layoff asked to play a ridiculously condensed schedule to satisfy… something?

Utica Comets Schedule

I mean, seriously? What is the impetus for this? Did the league really deem it essential to squeeze a game on the 13th? A Sunday game on the 25th? Maybe the two games squeezed into their existing April schedule doesn’t look that bad. But then you factor in what they did to their May schedule it looks quite ridiculous.

Utica Comets May 2021 Schedule

From April 9th to April 25th, the Comets play nine games in 17 days.

From April 29th until May 14th, they play ten games in 17 days. Why?

Who thought that May Schedule was a good idea?! Five games in seven days?

I was pulling my hair out, trying to understand why the league deemed this necessary.

Right now, there might be in-division “playoffs,” a.k.a more of the Comets playing Syracuse or Rochester.

These aren’t the legitimate Calder Cup Playoffs. The stakes aren’t nearly as high as they’ve been in non-COVID years.

So who is asking for 19 games in the next 36 days?

 

A team like the Utica Comets, who had to shut their operations down for an entire month due to a COVID outbreak should not be playing a schedule this overloaded.

The lingering effects of their COVID layoff played a significant role in the team’s last weekend performances and for all we know, might factor into tonight’s as well.

Utica begins their second double-header in six nights tonight against the same team that dominated them this past Saturday.

Fingers crossed that some of the layoff rust has been shaken off thoroughly. Otherwise, I fear for what the rest of this season will look like.

A ‘rest of the season’ that demands a whole lot without much in return.

 

DO SOMETHING

No “do something” for anyone on this team until it looks like they can play a full 60 without being completely gassed.

 

STARTING ROSTER

  • Joel Hofer starts the second game in a row for the Comets
  • The lineup essentially unchanged, except Mitch Eliot slides back into the lineup for Josh Teves.
  • The Syracuse Crunch called up Alex Barre-Boulet and Mitchell Stephens prior to the NHL trade deadline which means the Comets avoid playing them in tonight’s action. Though Syracuse still has a deep roster full of speedy players, the absences of ABB and Stephens will be quite noticeable.

Don’t feel like reading? Click here for spoilers!!

 

GAME 12:

1st period:

  • Live stream not working, good stuff.
  • Sven Bärtschi takes a high-sticking minor penalty TWELVE seconds into the game, and the Comets are off to an early PK
  • Comets kill the penalty, but the Crunch completely pin the Comets into their zone.

PK1 – Jasek, Kaspick, Wesley, Eliot

  • Twenty seconds left in the PK and Mitch Eliot finally clears the zone for the Comets to change.

PK2 – Tucker, Woo, McKenzie, Lockwood

  • Comets kill the PK but don’t push the puck out into the neutral zone until 16:42 of the first period. Syracuse is just smothering Utica early.
  • Oh god, this game is getting ugly… Crunch back into the Comets zone pressuring along the boards, and John Stevens takes a hooking penalty as the Comets desperately try to regain possession. Second PK less than five minutes into the game

PK1 – Nolan Stevens, Eliot, Wesley, Kaspick

  • Syracuse just playing on fast forward while the Comets watch
  • Lukas Jasek is able to hop on for Nolan Stevens, Jett Woo, and Tucker hop on for the d-pairing.
    • Hofer gloves down the puck, allowing Kaspick to change finally
  • Comets kill the Stevens penalty – Rathbone out for his first shift of the game, haha.
  • Syracuse’s Henry Bowlby gets dinged for hooking after the Comets finally manage to enter the Crunch’s zone. Comets with their first powerplay of the game

PP1 – Anas, Bärtschi, Gadjovich, Jasek, Reinke

PP1 – Bärtschi, Jasek, Gadjovich, Anas, Reinke

PP2 – McKenzie, Focht, N. Stevens, McGing, Rathbone

PK1 – Jasek, McKenzie, Eliot, Wesley

2nd period:

PP2 – Rathbone, McGing, Focht, McKenzie, Nolan Stevens

  • PP2 loses the faceoff draw and struggle to break into the Crunch’s zone
  • The refs actively hate 5v5 hockey or some shit
  • Refs call a hooking penalty against Taylor Raddysh. Comets get their fourth extended 5-on-3 powerplay in three games.
  • Crunch clear the puck, and the 5-on-3 generates nothing
  • Gabe Fortier blocks a shot by Sam Anas, and the Comets have to reset from their zone
  • GOAL – UTICA – 1-1 Tie: Despite close to ten minutes of powerplay time in the first thirty minutes of play, the Comets finally get on the boards! Curtis McKenzie (#81) ties the game at one apiece after having a shot-attempt deflected above the Crunch’s net and behind the goal line. Dmitry Semykin attempts to clear McKenzie’s deflected shot, but it floats between his legs. McKenzie hooks the puck past a scrambling Sam Montembeault, who had zero clues as to where the puck was coming from.

PP1 – Jasek, Gadjovich, Bärtschi, Anas, Reinke

  • GOAL – UTICA – 2-1 Comets: LOL, Sam Anas (#7) finds Jonah Gadjovich (#21) in his sweet spot, and the Comets somehow go from getting blown out in the opening of this game to carrying a one-goal lead with less than two minutes to go in the second period. Comets 2/6 on the powerplay tonight and destroying the Crunch in shots on goal; 20 to 1 so far.

3rd period:

  • Early pressure from the Comets in the opening minute
  • GOAL – UTICA – 3-1 Comets: Jonah Gadjovich with his second of the night! Sam Anas (#7) is the real hero on this goal as he singlehandedly draws in the entire Syracuse team towards his center-ice dangles. The puck trickles out to the left-wing for Gadjovich (#21) to sink his team-leading eleventh goal of the season.

 

  • GOAL – UTICA – 4-1 Comets: Well, to quote the great poets Smashmouth, “they don’t stop comin’, and they don’t stop comin’.” Sven Bärtschi unloads an absolutely filthy top-shelf snipe past Montembeault off of an offensive zone faceoff draw. Lukas Jasek and Curtis McKenzie likely pick up assists on the play. Gorgeous snipe.

PP1 – Reinke, Anas, Bärtschi, Gadjovich, Jasek

  • An appropriate eyebrow raises from Tyler Tucker (#2)
  • Crunch pressuring through the final two minutes, but the Comets are doing well to keep their shots to the outside.
  • The Comets overcome a sloppy first period of play and ultimately dominate the Syracuse Crunch over the remaining forty minutes. Impressive comeback effort from a very young club.
  • Comets absolutely destroy the Crunch over the final two periods, outshooting them 38 to 11 over forty minutes.
    • Joel Hofer gets his first professional win

RESULT:

Utica Comets def. Syracuse Crunch 5-1

SCORESHEET:

 

GAME THOUGHTS:

  • I was convinced this game would be another complete write-off after that opening period. The team came out looking completely flat. They didn’t touch the puck once, and they were chasing play endlessly. I put the timestamps in the game recap for a reason because it was truly remarkable how much time the Comets spent trapped in their d-zone.
  • Nonetheless, this was a really encouraging sign that the team may have shaken off the cobwebs of a month-long layoff. The team was buzzing in the second and third periods. No doubt, thanks to some fortunate penalty calling by the referees, but that’s out of their hands.
  • Tanner Kaspick spent most of his night on a line with ECHL PTO Shawn Cameron and blues rookie prospect Hugh McGing, yet managed to make himself useful to the entire team. Kaspick drew two penalties for the Comets and played an integral role as a first unit penalty killer.
    • The PK went 6/6 tonight, completely shutting the Crunch’s offence out.
    • The powerplay ended up going 2/9
  • Curtis McKenzie had himself a game and a half, one goal and one assist on NINE shots on goal! McKenzie has been a very useful “all-situations” player for Trent Cull. He isn’t the fastest, but he’s great at stealing pucks at 5v5 and shorthanded. His PK unit with his brother Nolan is pretty fun to watch. Also very neat that Nolan assisted on Curtis’ goal tonight. Really solid game from him.
  • Sam Anas showed why he’s an elite AHL player and why he’s likely not earning himself NHL minutes. A creative puck distributor with fantastic wheels, Anas picked up two primary assists tonight to give him ten total on the season. However, like many undersized forwards, Anas’ problem is his ability to be knocked off the puck. During the opening period, Anas was constantly being stripped of the puck by the Crunch. Anas eventually got his feet beneath him in tonight’s game, and generally, he remains an elite quad-A AHL player. Still, it’s impossible to deny that his propensity to get knocked off pucks isn’t what keeps him from reaching that next level. I think he could still get a look as a niche powerplay specialist fourth-liner (a la Gagner), but I highly doubt a team like the St. Louis Blues are the team to try that out. Overall, terrible first period and glaring turnover issues aside. He played well.
  • Jonah Gadjovich played okay. He had two goals, yes, but can you honestly look at the tape and tell me he was the driver of the bus on either? The powerplay tally was him standing still at the front of the net, and the second one was the result of Sam Anas drawing an entire defensive group towards him. Gadjovich has a knack for being in the right place at the right time to score. That’s an excellent skill to have, especially at the AHL level, where positioning matters almost as much as speed.
  • Speaking of speed, Gadjovich’s skating, for me, will be what holds him out of legitimate NHL call-up consideration. This season his skating has looked ok, but the difference between Gadjovich’s wheels and even a Zack MacEwen is a large chasm. And Canucks fans know just how much MacEwen has struggled to find his footing this season. Right now, Gadjovich is a net-front goal-scoring specialist. I don’t know if that’s even remotely close enough to warrant NHL ice time.
    • Again, still a great game from him tonight! But there’s a lot of attributes in Gadjovich’s game that need proof of concept.
  • Jack Rathbone was fantastic at both ends of the ice, and his skating remains an impressive separator. His ability to skate backwards faster than some skate forwards is quite something. He wasn’t at his best in the weekend back-to-back, but tonight was a massive return to form from him. I still don’t understand keeping him on PP2 as PP1 legitimately only has one shooting threat in Gadjovich. Bärtschi, Anas, Jasek, and Reinke are puck movers/distributors. They’re not snipers. They need someone like Rathbone, who can launch bombs on goal from the blue line.
    • Too bad the Canucks didn’t call him up before the TDL. I would’ve liked to see what he could do in the Canucks meaningless 19-in-30 stretch.
  • Joel Hofer played a great game tonight. He might have stolen the starter role from Jake Kielly with his play tonight. He legitimately kept the team alive in that brutal first period with timely saves.
  • Will Lockwood hasn’t shown much at 5v5 since the Comets return, though he has been an effective penalty killer for the Comets. His play at 5v5 leaves a lot to be desired. Nonchalant is how I would describe his play at 5v5 over the past three games. And for someone whose upside is. “Tyler Motte, but younger,” I’d like to see way more activity from him at evens to back up his strong shorthanded play.
  • Carson Focht had a solid game. I still want to see some more confidence in his offensive play, but Saturday’s game and tonight were positive signs that he’s figuring things out.
  • Jett Woo was a bit quiet tonight but was solid on the PK.
  • Sven Bärtschi was great. It’s too bad we don’t live in a timeline where the team doesn’t give up on him just to sign the same player with even worse health concerns to the same deal. Oh well, some team is probably going to get him on a bargain contract next season.
  • Also, refs baybee, what is u doin?

COMETS HARVEST THREE STARS

  1. Joel Hofer
  2. Jack Rathbone
  3. Sven Bärtschi

HM: Tanner Kaspick, Curtis McKenzie, Jonah Gadjovich

Next Up on the Docket

The Comets are back at it against Syracuse tomorrow at 7 PM EST/4 PM PST.

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Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter for your daily dose of memes, sarcasm, stats, and both Comets and Canucks gameday clips!

You can also catch me on Podcast format with Lachlan Irvine at the Creasecast! Please give us a follow on your go-to podcast platform and rate, like and subscribe to help us out!

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COMETS HARVEST: First Blood Part 2

A quick turnaround for the Utica Comets as they return to action for the first time in a month with a back-to-back.

I’m not sure what the impetus was to jamming the Comets schedule with games?

Including last night’s game against Rochester, the Comets are in the midst of a four-in-six stretch; they play eleven games 22 days through April.

There are still no concrete plans to host Calder Playoffs as of today; Therefore, the Comets, Amerks, and Crunch are mostly playing to stay fresh for their NHL squads and get reps in.

With that context in mind, what is the sense in getting the Comets playing three games in five nights?

Let me re-phrase: Why is the league forcing three games in five nights on a team that is just returning from a month-long layoff due to COVID?

There are no playoffs! There’s absolutely no need to have the Comets playing a schedule this dense after a COVID outbreak.

Anyways, tonight’s opponent for tonight, and the next three games, is the Syracuse Crunch, a team coming off of a four-game series against the Rochester Americans.

In that series, the Crunch dominated the Amerks, winning three of four.

  • 2016 2nd rounder, Boris Katchouk, picked up three goals and four assists
  • 2015 2nd rounder, Mitchell Stephens, picked up one goal and four assists in three games since joining off of Tampa’s IR
  • The AHL’s leading scorer from last year, Alex Barre-Boulet, had one goal in each of the four games

The Lightning’s roster situation has allowed their farm team to load their top-six with talent.

The Crunch come into tonight’s matchup on three nights rest.

Like last night’s game, not expecting much from the Comets.

They dominated the first two periods against the Amerks but fumbled on defensive coverage at very inopportune moments that gave the Amerks the win.

They definitely deserved a better result for their efforts.

Let’s see how they do on tired legs in their first back-to-back in over a month!

DO SOMETHING

Again, no pressure on anyone! These first couple of games here are about the players finding their legs and getting back up to game speed!

STARTING ROSTER

 

  • Joel Hofer gets the start between the pipes! His first start since March 8th, 2020!
  • Mitch Eliot slides off of that pairing with Josh Teves — likely because of this read on the game-winning goal against Rochester.
    • Besides the above gaffe, I thought Eliot looked strong. Stronger than Tyler Tucker, who was responsible for this baffling read.
    • Sliding in for Eliot is Josh Wesley, son of former Carolina Hurricane Glen Wesley, who looks suspiciously identical to head coach Trent Cull.
*x-files music intensifies*
  • Comets Harvest favourite, Vincent Arseneau, gets back into the lineup
  • Other than that, the lineup remains unchanged

Don’t feel like reading? Click here for spoilers!!

GAME 11:

1st period:

PP1 – Bärtschi, Jasek, Anas, Gadjovich, Reinke

PP2 – McGing, Woo, Focht, McKenzie, Nolan Stevens

 2nd period:

  • Cull starts the Lockwood, Focht, Stevens line, recognizing that they are one of the few lines operating with some jump in their step tonight.
  • An early penalty was called against Boris Katchouk for high-sticking. Comets to another powerplay!

PP1 – Jasek, Anas, Bärtschi, Gadjovich, Reinke

  • Will Lockwood gets dinged for tripping shortly after Rathbone’s goal, and the Comets are off to their first PK of the night.

PK1 – John and Nolan Stevens, Teves, Wesley

  • Comets win the draw and force the Crunch out to the neutral zone for a reset.
    • Comets clear twice more to force the Crunch to reset from their zone
  • Jett Woo (#22) gets called for hooking while on the PK, and Syracuse gets a 52-second 5-on-3 powerplay

PK2 – Tucker, Reinke, John Stevens

PP2 – Rathbone, Focht, McGing, McKenzie, Nolan Stevens

  • McGing and McKenzie collide with each other off the faceoff, and the Crunch easily clear, forcing the Comets to reset from the neutral zone
    • PP2 then put themselves offside on their entry, and PP1 comes out to replace a very weak 30-second effort
  • Reinke (#28) throws the puck away to Boris Katchouk while trying to break the puck out 
  • OOF, just atrocious powerplay for Utica
    • zero shots on goal
  • Josh Wesley cruises down the right-wing for a shot into the chest of Montembeault.
    • I will say this, Montembeault makes every save look very difficult.
  • Barre-Boulet snaps a shot off the post while being pressured by Jett Woo. Kids shot is deadly.
  • With less than twenty to go in the period, Will Lockwood draws a slash against Odeen Tufto to put the Comets on their fifth powerplay.
  • Sam Anas with a wrister that deflects off a foot and over the net. Syracuse clears the puck as time expires.
    • Comets will start the third period with a minute and forty-seven seconds left on the powerplay.
  • Comets generated just six shots on goal through the middle frame.
    • The team just looks absolutely gassed. Josh Teves looks winded every time he’s on the ice.

3rd period:

  • Rathbone still not getting PP1 time, which is baffling to me. Rathbone hasn’t stood out by any stretch in this game at 5v5. He is surely way more dynamic and valuable to your first powerplay group than he is on a powerplay featuring *checks notes* Curtis McKenzie, Nolan Stevens, and Hugh McGing.
  • Jasek with a point-blank opportunity that gets blockered aside by Montembeault
  • Wow, Sam Anas drives towards the net, and the refs call a trip against Noah Juulsen.
    • Comets get their second 5-on-3 of the game, third in two games. Have yet to score on any of them.

PP1 – Anas, Bärtschi, Gadjovich, Jasek, Reinke

PK1 – Kaspick, Lockwood, Tucker, Woo

  • Comets clear, and Kaspick ties the puck along the end boards in the Crunch’s zone.
  • The Stevens brothers step on for Kaspick/Lockwood and play give-and-go while shorthanded to generate a shot.
  • Jasek picks off a pass in the d-zone and rifles it down the ice as McGing hops out of the box. Good kill.
  • Jasek, Anas, and Gadjovich out as a trio; they pressure in the offensive zone for a bit but don’t generate much
  • GOAL – SYRACUSE – 5-1 Crunch: Jeez…look at how exhausted this Comets team is. Josh Wesley (#24) accidentally backhands the puck right to Mitchell Stephens, who gives Josh Teves (#4) the ole dipsy-doo before setting up Boris Katchouk for his seventh of the year.
  • Vinny Arseneau is apparently back on the ice for a shift? He looked in a bad way when he left the ice not ten minutes ago?
    • I am very curious about what happened in the last ten minutes that convinced the medical staff to let Arseneau back on the ice.
  • Jett Woo (#22) gives Luke Witkowski a hard shove to the number from behind, and Witkowski goes hard into the boards. He leaves the ice under his own power, but that did not look pleasant. 
  • Crunch pressuring late. Comets content just to clear the zone and kill off the clock
  • Tough loss against a fresher and faster opponent.

RESULT:

Syracuse Crunch Def. Utica 5-1

SCORESHEET:

GAME THOUGHTS:

  • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • I said in the preamble that the result didn’t matter. It was just about getting up to game speed. This was ugly. And through no fault of the Comets, really. The league should be ashamed of themselves for scheduling back-to-backs immediately, for a team recovering from a month-layoff due to COVID-19. Despicable. There are literally no stakes in the AHL season, and there are hardly even fans in the buildings. There was absolutely no need to have the Comets playing back to back.
    • Further to the above, the league dropped the news that the Canucks will resume their season on April 16th with a 19-in-30 schedule. What the actual fuck is that? After watching this game, I don’t even want to think about what the Canucks are about to go through. Is it even worth playing?
  • Props to Joel Hofer, he did what he could, and most of the time, looked pretty stable in net. The Comets just had absolutely nothing to match the Crunch’s speed.
  • Jack Rathbone’s goal was pretty nice, but otherwise, he was pretty invisible at 5v5.
  • Outside of his pretty dicey hit on Witkowski, Jett Woo played probably the best out of all the Comets defenders. He displayed some decent speed late in the game, and overall I really liked his defensive play.
  • Gadjovich looked very slow tonight, as did the fourth line, Wesley, Reinke, and Josh Teves. Oh, man… Josh Teves looked absolutely gassed from the first period. He just had no legs under him whatsoever.
  • Carson Focht had a much better game tonight than he did on Friday. Had some decent wheels on him tonight, good passing, good entries and playmaking attempts. Spent most of his game in the offensive zone trying to set up with Stevens and Lockwood until the wheels came off in the early part of the second period.
  • The gameplay was ugly, but these guys are coming off a month layoff into the stupidest schedule imaginable. I can’t really make any judgements on their gameplay since everyone was on the same playing field.
  • Get Reinke off PP1 if it isn’t a mandate from the Blues that he has to be there.
  • Wear a mask
  • Stay safe, everybody.

COMETS HARVEST THREE STARS

  1. Joel Hofer
  2. Jett Woo
  3. Sam Anas

Next Up on the Docket

The Comets run it back against the Crunch this upcoming Tuesday and Wednesday night! It will be a jam-packed schedule, and for some reason, I’ll be tasking myself with tracking four games of data between now and then… My poor wife, haha.

Plugs

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter for your daily dose of memes, sarcasm, stats, and both Comets and Canucks gameday clips!

You can also catch me on Podcast format with Lachlan Irvine at the Creasecast! Please give us a follow on your go-to podcast platform and rate, like and subscribe to help us out!

And if you’re more of a visual person! You can check out the Youtube channel, where we upload all of our podcasts in video form!

Cheers for tuning in, and I’ll see you all Tuesday, April 13th, for post-NHL-trade-deadline AHL action!

COMETS HARVEST: The Return…

Nah, it hasn’t been that long, but it has been 30 days exactly since the last time the Utica Comets took the ice to face off against an opponent.

Yes, the Comets will finally crack the ten-game marker of their season.

Their last opponent and, conveniently, opponents tonight, the Rochester Americans, have played five times since losing in the Comets’ shootout on March 10th.

That game is where most assume that the Comets contracted COVID-19 from a positive player on the Amerks.

Since returning from their COVID layoff, the Amerks have won once in five outings.

The Comets will undoubtedly have some rust on their blades tonight, so I’m personally not expecting much of anything.

On top of the layoff, there were many roster additions/subtractions due to the ongoing COVID outbreak on the Vancouver Canucks.

  • Kole Lind was recalled to the Canucks Taxi Squad after completing the rehab of his broken nose
  • Sam Anas was returned to the AHL after a lengthy stint, so the Comets top six will be a bit of a net-neutral trade with Lind’s departure
  • Dakota Joshua, Jon Gillies, Steven Santini, and Nathan Walker all remain on the taxi squad of a depleted St. Louis Blues team
  • Shawn Cameron was added on a PTO from the ECHL’s Greenville Swamp Rabbits (elite logo btw)
  • Ethan Keppen was added to the team on an Amateur Tryout contract
    •  Keppen has not played since March 11th last year
      • In his D+1 year, Keppen rocked a rather unimpressive 0.66 points-per-game on a Flint Firebirds team that was second in their division before the season was shut down.
    • I remember Keppen looking perfectly average in a pre-season game last year!

The lack of a bonafide starting goaltender, the team’s lengthy break, and any lingering health effects from COVID-19; all likely combine tonight for a tough return-to-play.

Again, health and safety come first, so let’s all cross our fingers that they come away from tonight’s action unscathed!

DO SOMETHING

No one is obligated to do anything.

They just have to try their best! And hopefully there won’t be any lingering effects from COVID-19.

STARTING ROSTER

G10lineup

  • I wonder how the Blues feel about two of their prospects (McGing and Wesley) getting benched for an AHL PTO, signed by the Comets in Shawn Cameron?
  • Interesting that Joel Hofer immediately gets backup duty
  • Like the composition of the top-six. Though this lineup further cements how desperate the Comets are for goal scorers. Gadjovich the only bonafide goal scorer of this bunch.

Don’t feel like reading? Click here for spoilers!!

GAME 10:

1st period:

PK1 – Kaspick, McKenzie, Teves, Eliot

PK2 – Nolan and John Stevens, Tucker, Woo

2nd period:

PK1 – Kaspick, John Stevens, Tucker, Woo

PP1 – Gadjovich, Anas, Jasek, Bärtschi , McKenzie, Reinke

  • Oh wow, Brandon Biro takes a slashing penalty less than 25 seconds into the Comets powerplay. Comets now with a minute and a half long 5-on-3.

PP1 – Reinke, Bärtschi , Gadjovich, Rathbone, Anas

PP2 – Teves (yes, Teves), Jasek, Nolan Stevens, McKenzie, Eliot

PK1 – John Stevens, Woo, Tucker, Lockwood

3rd period:

  • Early pressure favouring the Comets
  • Kielly caught cheating heavily on one side, again. Amerks can’t capitalize.
  • Amerks starting to turn the pressure on as the Comets are beginning to look a little late on each play
    • Comets playing like they’re defending a one-goal lead. Bit odd. Surely exhaustion factoring in heavily this period.
  • Michael Mersch picks up a holding penalty, and the Comets are heading to the powerplay with less than fifteen to go in the game

PP1 – Reinke, Jasek, Bärtschi, Gadjovich, Anas

  • Still not sure why Rathbone isn’t getting PP1 duty
  • Comets powerplay not generating much of anything

PP2 – Cameron, Focht, Rathbone, McKenzie, Nolan Stevens

PP1 – Reinke, Anas, Bärtschi, Jasek, Gadjovich

PP2 – Rathbone, Focht, McKenzie, Anas, Nolan Stevens

RESULT:

Rochester Americans Defeat Utica 4-2 in Regulation

SCORESHEET:

scoresheet

GAME THOUGHTS:

  • Considering the above and the fact that some of these guys were playing their first game in over 30 days. And I’d say tonight wasn’t a bad showing at all. The Comets badly outshot the Amerks in the first two periods, and only when their lethargy caught up with them did they give up goals.
  • Hard to really get into any thorough analysis or critique of the Comets game, to be honest. It really isn’t fair to a team that was waylaid by a global pandemic for the last month.
    • The tape-to-tape passes weren’t there? COVID layoff.
    • The goaltending was not sharp by any stretch! COVID layoff.
    • The powerplay was not effective! COVID layoff.
  • I liked what I saw from Josh Teves and Mitch Eliot for the most part. Really dominant in the offensive zone and effective on the Comets PK together. Eliot was hunting for a goal in the first two periods, but exhaustion hit him as the game progressed (as it did most Comets players).
  • Gadjovich displayed some decent skating here and there, but nothing game-changing
  • Sam Anas, by comparison, was wheeling and dealing all over the ice tonight. For a guy who hasn’t played a game since February 18th, I thought he had great pep in his step!
  • Will Lockwood looked solid on the PK but was largely unnoticeable at 5v5. His line with Focht and Nolan Stevens just got crushed in possession at evens. The shot-metrics might not even be against them as the Amerks really did nothing with the possession they did have, but these three couldn’t string a pass to save their lives. That line was constantly chasing play in the d-zone and the neutral zone. It wasn’t pretty. But, I don’t expect this to stick. Once they shake off the rust these three will be back to looking decent enough. Tonight just wasn’t their night.
  • Jett Woo looked stable. He still really needs to work on his shot though. Couple times he had golden opportunities walking down the wing only to throw a shot into the chest of Luukkonen.
  • Bärtschi looked good, and his passing was easily the best of the bunch; his ability to transition the puck up ice with tips through his legs, the bank passes off the boards, threading passes through defencemen to his linemates… he was crisp. Unsurprisingly. It probably wasn’t an easy game for him knowing the Canucks signed an equivalent contract to Tanner Pearson not 24 hours earlier. A deal that will probably age about as well as Bärtschi’s deal did.

  • Something for Canucks fans to look forward to! Ethan Keppen likely wont suit up in Saturdays action, barring injuries to anyone from tonight’s action. Still, we could be seeing him in some games as soon as this upcoming Tuesday!

COMETS HARVEST THREE STARS

  1. Sam Anas
  2. Sven Bärtschi
  3. Jonah Gadjovich

HM: Jett Woo

Next Up on the Docket

Pending any delays due to an overabundance of COVID-19 caution, the Utica Comets will be back in action tomorrow at 7 PM EST/4 PM PST against the Syracuse Crunch!

Plugs

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter for your daily dose of memes, sarcasm, stats, and both Comets and Canucks gameday clips!

You can also catch me on Podcast format with Lachlan Irvine at the Creasecast! Give us a follow on your go-to podcast platform and rate, like and subscribe to help us out!

And if you’re more of a visual person! You can check out the Youtube channel, where we upload all of our podcasts in video form!

Cheers for tuning in, and we’ll see you tomorrow night!