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!
- Keppen has not played since March 11th 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!
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.
- 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.
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- Bärtschi rocking an umlaut jersey!
- Big hit from Gadjovich on his opening shift!
- Bärtschi attempts a shot from the crease, but Luukkonen pushes it aside
- Good pressure early from the Comets
- Bit of a slowdown during the next couple of shifts.
- Gadjovich line pressuring again in the offensive zone
- Currently getting matched up against the Amerks tweener line of Elie, J.S Dea, and Jack Quinn
- Lukas Jasek gets caught dishing a high-stick off of a faceoff, and gets sent to the box for a double-minor.
PK1 – Kaspick, McKenzie, Teves, Eliot
- PK1 wins the draw behind the net of Kielly, and they manage to clear the zone
- Will Lockwood (#10) pestering the Amerks as they try to move through the neutral zone
PK2 – Nolan and John Stevens, Tucker, Woo
- Comets doing great on the PK; killing the first half of the double-minor effectively.
- Josh Teves (#4) with a great stick to poke the puck off of the stick of Jack Quinn as Quinn attempts to wheel around the Comets d-zone
- GOAL – ROCHESTER – 1-0 Amerks: Oskari Laaksonen notches a powerplay tally off of a one-timer from the point. Kielly late to react as the puck rolls past a few bodies past his right skate. Tough one.
- At the blue line, Tyler Tucker (#2) catches the missed shot of Lukas Jasek (#9) and tee’s up a shot. Tucker’s shot gets blocked by Matej Pekar, who races past Tucker and into the Comets zone for a backhander. Jett Woo (#22) with a decent recovery effort but this was an ugly one.
- Amerks generate a four-on-two opportunity, but Rathbone (#3) and Reinke (#28) tie up their checks effectively. Shot goes wide.
- A tough shift for the Nolan Stevens, Carson Focht, Will Lockwood line as they struggle to break the puck out of their zone. Fortunately, the Amerks first-line overplay the puck and force themselves into their end.
- Close call as J.S. Dea throws a shot through traffic that barely glances off of the right arm of Kielly and wide of the net.
- Comets are really struggling to make tape-to-tape passes (reasonably so)
- Sven Bärtschi (#47) with a gorgeous pass between his legs to Mitch Eliot (#52), who absolutely obliterates the far-side post with a wind-up from hell! Jasek (#9) then catches a loose puck in the high slot for a one-timer of his own!
- Kielly puts himself way out of position while trying to track Jack Quinn, and gives the Amerks a wide-open scoring opportunity.
- Comets pressuring again, and Mitch Eliot again winds up for a one-timer. This one, however, goes high above the bar
- The broadcast booth is being very complimentary to the Comets play through the opening 15. They’re playing fine all things considered… but this is not the best game they’ve played all season, haha.
- Josh Teves (#4) attempts a cross-ice pass through the neutral zone, but Matej Pekar steals. Pekar then drives into the Comets zone for a wrister, but Jett Woo (#22) positions himself to block the shot.
- Good pressure from the Lockwood line, but they can’t generate any shots on goal
- Jack Rathbone (#3) steps up into the offensive zone, strips J.S Dea, quickly settles, and rips a wrister that gets deflected wide of the goal.
- Another solid shift from this Gadjovich, Stevens, Anas line
- Gadjovich line comes out late in the period and Gadj sets up a dangerous rebound chance for Sam Anas.
- Less than ten to go in the period, and Josh Teves (#4) shows terrific patience before floating a wrister in on Luukkonen. Gadjovich again at the net-front seeking those greasy rebound chances.
- Carson Focht (#19) wins the draw back to Jack Rathbone (#3), and he sets up Jett Woo (#22) for a shot off the line. Woo’s shot gets redirected several times on the way to the net, and the Comets end up with an empty-netter opportunity of their own!
- Wild conclusion to this period! Comets really pouring it on late.
- Comets close the opening period with double the number of shots-on-goal, sixteen to eight
- Gadjovich (#21) showing off some decent breakaway speed to escape Casey Fitzgerald, and into the Amerks zone
- Jasek (#9) picks off the Amerks breakout attempt, then runs a little stifling job on Brett Murray to allow the Comets to reset.
- Long shift for the Jasek line
- This Focht, Stevens, Lockwood line cannot string a pass to save their lives. Really ugly minutes spent in the d-zone, even if the Amerks aren’t generating much with it.
- Rathbone (#3) picks up his first penalty minutes of his pro-career after getting his stick caught in the skates of Remi Elie. Comets to their second PK of the game
PK1 – Kaspick, John Stevens, Tucker, Woo
- Comets win the draw and manage to clear the zone, PK showing well this game despite the one goal against
- Lockwood (#10) with another impressive PK shift
- Lockwood pokes the puck off of J.S Dea’s stick in the neutral zone, the puck rebounds off of Lukas Jasek’s body and Lockwood cruises into the offensive zone for a chance. Lockwood a little slow on his deke attempt and loses possession, but, nonetheless, a good look!
- Kielly stops the redirect attempt on the doorstep
- GOAL – UTICA – 1-1 – Tie: Wow, Sam Anas (#7) with a gorgeous zone-entry into the Amerks zone before absolutely undressing Matthias Samuelsson. Anas throws the puck to the crease, and it deflects off of John Stevens (#16) and into the net. Jonah Gadjovich picks up a secondary assist for the initial breakout feed to Anas from the d-zone.
- Lockwood line out, and once again, they struggle to string a pass together.
- Josh Teves throws a hit to the numbers of Michael Mersch. Tanner Kaspick then somehow becomes embroiled in a scrap with Brett Murray. Just a tiny size discrepancy between the two.
- Michael Mersch throws an aggressively high elbow on Josh Teves (#4) off the ensuing draw. Gadjovich (#21) races up ice before hitting the brakes to set up Sam Anas (#7) with a pass. Amerks regain possession, and the Comets are off to their first powerplay of the night.
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
- Not a great start to the 5-on-3. Comets caught forcing the puck, and get pushed out of the zone on back-to-back drives
- Rathbone (#3) tee’s up the one-timer on the powerplay!
- Anudda one!
- Matthias Samuelsson with a massive blocked shot on Mitch Reinke to force the Comets to reset in the neutral zone
PP2 – Teves (yes, Teves), Jasek, Nolan Stevens, McKenzie, Eliot
- Nine seconds left in the 5-on-3, and the Comets roll out the above
- Curtis McKenzie (#81) with a great cross-ice feed to Lukas Jasek (#9), who has his one-timer denied by Luukkonen.
- Jasek gets hauled to the ice along the Amerks end boards and the refs call him for closing his hand on the puck on this play.
- Four-second 4-on-4 before the Comets head to their third PK of the night.
PK1 – John Stevens, Woo, Tucker, Lockwood
- Comets clear early, then on the ensuing entry hold the Amerks to the outside effectively.
- Nolan Stevens and Curtis McKenzie step on for a PK shift and generate a shorthanded chance.
- Anudda penalty! This time, Matej Pekar takes a hooking penalty! The game heads to a brief 4-on-4.
- Seven minutes left in the period, and the Comets are crushing the Amerks in shots-on-goal; 26 to 11
- Jasek’s penalty ends, and PP1 steps on: Gadjovich, Bärtschi, Anas, Reinke, with Jasek.
- Gadjovich with a nice intentional/uninentional puck-exchange along the left wall before driving to the net for a rebound chance
- GOAL – UTICA – 2-1 Comets: Who else, but Jonah Gadjovich! Sam Anas (#7) clowns on Remi Elie along the right wall before driving towards the goal line for a pass. Anas slips the puck past Ryan Jones to Gadjovich (#21), who taps the puck past Luukkonen.
- Comets pressuring hard after the Gadjovich goal
- Rathbone (#3) makes a risky pinch on the blue line, giving the Amerks a rush chance, but Jett Woo (#22) races to cover for his partner. Fantastic effort by Woo on this play
- GOAL – ROCHESTER – 2-2 Tie: Michael Mersch ties it up for the Amerks after some pretty bad defensive miscues by the Comets. Tyler Tucker (#2) stops to pick up his stick along the wall and Lukas Jasek (#9) is late to recognize. Curtis McKenzie is caught flat-footed on his backcheck as Michael Mersch wades into the slot for a one-timer.
- Anas (#7) gets a little fancy in the offensive zone and ends up giving the Amerks a breakaway opportunity. Solid effort to get back and defend, as the Amerks generate nothing with the opportunity.
- Josh Teves picks up a hooking penalty, and the Comets close the final two minutes of the second period on the PK
- Comets PK, again, putting in work to keep the Amerks to the outside.
- Amerks generate just one shot on goal over the final two minutes of the period
- Despite the scoreline, the Comets controlling shots-on-goal again, 28 to 14
- 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
- More nothing on the powerplay.
- Mitch Reinke steps on in the final 10 seconds of the powerplay and drills a one-timer into the body of an Amerk defender, but that’s the only offence they can muster over two minutes. Ugly.
- Jasek (#9) attempts to go end-to-end. Though he does lose possession, he recovers the puck enough to backhand a shot on goal, earning the offensive zone faceoff.
- GOAL – ROCHESTER – 3-2 Amerks: Oof, the Amerks break up a very slow third frame with a gorgeous tiebreaker goal. Again, bad defensive coverage from Curtis McKenzie after he stops moving his feet in the neutral-zone. A backchecking Lukas Jasek cannot catch his check and both Mitch Eliot and Josh Teves goof on their assignments promptly afterwards.
- Jett Woo drops off for Jonah Gadjovich at the Amerks blue line, but they steal and generate a two-on-one the other way. Rathbone (#3) pulls a ‘Tyler Myers’ to break up the rush and just barely gets a piece of the puck to disrupt the Amerks chance.
- Comets seemingly doing ok with possession, but just struggling to set up inside the offensive zone
- Ryan Jones takes a holding penalty with seven minutes left in the third, and the Comets get a golden opportunity to even things up late
PP1 – Reinke, Anas, Bärtschi, Jasek, Gadjovich
- Comets with another faceoff win (they’ve been really good in the circles tonight)
- Bärtschi accepts a pass and wades in for a shot only to break his stick on the attempt. Amerks clear the loose puck.
- The second powerplay unit comes out after Luukkonen gloves down a shot from Jasek
PP2 – Rathbone, Focht, McKenzie, Anas, Nolan Stevens
- Second powerplay unit pressuring a tired PK group; Anas overplays the puck before Carson Focht (#19) whips a shot wide of the goal.
- Tyler Tucker goes for the Hamhuis hip-check
- Play getting frantic in the final four minutes of this one. Comets controlling heavily, but are being corralled inside their zone by the Amerks.
- Tyler Tucker (#2) baybee what is you doin?
- 1:45 left, and Kielly leaves for the bench
- Comets enter the Amerks zone for the 6-on-5
- Comets with a late chance on the man-advantage before JS Dea nearly clears the puck, rink wide, into the empty-net.
- Rathbone, Anas, Reinke, Jasek, Baertschi, Gadjovich are the Comets six for the final minute of play
- OOF. Sam Anas dekes out a defender near the crease, but as he’s about to generate a shot, Luukkonen knocks the net off his moorings when he goes post to post.
- GOAL – ROCHESTER – 4-2 Amerks: OOF. Not a big fan of the dump-in here from Jonah Gadjovich while on the man advantage. Remi Elie picks up the loose puck around the boards and turns and flips the puck into the empty net. This one is over.
Rochester Americans Defeat Utica 4-2 in Regulation
- 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
- Sam Anas
- Sven Bärtschi
- 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!
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