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

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