Utica Comets Post-Game Report

Game #38

Lehigh Valley Phantoms at Utica Comets

Friday, January 10th, 2020

7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific


Pre-Game Predictions From Twitter


Scratched Today For Utica

  1. Francis Perron: W/C – Upper-body injury, (eye) week-to-week. NHL deal.
  2. Dyson Stevenson: W/C – Lower-body injury, (ankle) week-to-week. AHL deal.
  3. Seamus Malone: W/C – Upper-body injury, (undisclosed) week-to-week. AHL deal.
  4. Vincent Arseneau: LW/RW – Undisclosed injury, no timeframe. AHL deal.
  5. Carter Camper: C – Veteran scratch. AHL deal.
  6. Richard Bachman: G – Healthy scratch. NHL deal.
  7. Stefan LaBlanc: LD – Healthy scratch. AHL deal.
  8. Josh Teves: LD – Healthy scratch. NHL deal.
  9. Dylan Blujus: RD – Healthy scratch. AHL deal.
  10. Tanner Sorenson: W/C – Healthy scratch. AHL deal.

Comets Starting Lines

(1st forward line/defence pair listed started the game. The remainder are in no particular order)

21 Jonah Gadjovich – 16 John Stevens – 15 Zack MacEwen

47 Sven Baertschi – 36 Wacey Hamilton (A) – 24 Reid Boucher (A)

77 Nikolay Goldobin – 13 Kole Lind – 95 Justin Bailey

11 David Pope – 9 Lukas Jasek – 34 Carter Bancks (C)

48 Olli Juolevi – 5 Jalen Chatfield

6 Ashton Sautner (A) – 25 Brogan Rafferty

55 Guillaume Brisebois – 52 Mitch Eliot

64 Mikey DiPietro

31 Zane McIntyre (backing up)

First Period

With the General Manager of the big club in attendance, the Utica Comets came out flying in the opening frame and got a pair of goals from the speedy Justin Bailey.

Newcomer John Stevens was making his Comets debut and started the game between Jonah Gadjovich and Zack MacEwen. Stevens showed an appetite for an offensive rush when he took the puck down the right side early and went to the net with it. Unfortunately, he was unable to actually get his shot away.

At the other end, Reese Willcox took the puck to the net as well, but he took himself along with it and was whistled for goaltender interference to give the Comets an early power play.

Justin Bailey wasted no time in putting his team up 1-0 with his 14th of the year after sneaking a point shot through a leaky Alex Lyon. Brogan Rafferty earned his team-leading 28th assist of the season on the play.

Bailey kept the shots coming as he let fly with another that Lyon turned aside before he put his team up 2-0 with his second of the game and 15th of the season after taking a sweet pass from Kole Lind. Lind picked up his 21st assist of the year on the play, while Nikolay Goldobin grabbed his 18th.

That feed from Lind, though…

That was it for Lyon as he was replaced by JF Berube.

The Comets kept the pressure on but the Phantoms would end up pulling to within a goal when Chris Bigras fired a point shot that dribbled through Mikey DiPietro and was banged in by Connor Bunnaman. The goal was Bunnaman’s fourth, while Bigras grabbed his sixth helper of the year and Isaac Ratcliffe earned his fifth.

It was the Phantoms’ turn with some pressure and DiPietro had to come up with a stop and he covered for a whistle.

At the other end, Lind teed up a shot for Sautner from the high slot that Berube gloved down before Boucher ripped one off the Phantoms’ goaltender’s mask.

Jalen Chatfield was active in the opening frame and he sent a pair of shots Berube’s way that the netminder denied. The Stevens line followed up with a good shift in the offensive zone before Berube gloved down a MacEwen shot off the rush.

Lukas Jasek has done a nice job of forcing turnovers all season long and he did just that and got the puck to Boucher for a chance that he fired wide.

Mitch Eliot was back in the lineup today and he sent a feed to Brisebois for a shot that was tipped. Berube was there with the save.

Back in the Comets end, Boucher came up with a physical play to take his man off the puck before DiPietro came up with a pair of saves and held for a whistle.

The Comets line of Gadjovich, Stevens, and MacEwen has some good size and we saw Jonah and Zack sandwich their man before MacEwen got a shot away with Jonah looking for loose change. Once again, Berube was equal to the task. During that play, Kole Lind was scrumming it up with Andy Andreoff away from the play. What a surprise…

Isaac Ratcliffe let fly with a shot that DiPietro got a glove on before the duo of Baertschi and Hamilton were shut down at the other end.

Reid Boucher made it a 3-1 Utica lead after taking a Sven Baertschi rebound and putting it behind Berube for his 22nd of the season. Baertschi picked up his 24th helper of the year on the play, while Olli Juolevi was credited with his 14th.

Kurtis Gabriel was dinged for interference just 12 seconds later and the Comets were off to the power play. Boucher had an early chance blocked before Berube denied his next opportunity. Kole Lind followed up with some great second effort to get a shot away while being tied up, but Berube was there with the save.

Reid Boucher has been having a great season for the Comets, but even he can make a mistake from time to time. That’s what happened when he coughed up the puck to Mikhail Vorobyev and the Phantoms pulled to within a goal. the unassisted tally was Vorobyev’s sixth of the season.


The shorthanded chances kept coming as this time it was Juolevi with the gaff, but no harm was done.

Zack MacEwen hasn’t [played in quite some time, and he showed a little rust when he was sent off for interference at the 15:20 mark and the teams were off to some four aside play. Juolevi had a nice chance vacuumed up by Berube off the left side before Gabriel exited the box and the Phantoms had their extra man.

DiPietro came up with a save before Chatfield put his team down two men after being sent off for a high-stick. Mikey D came up with a pair of saves to help the Comets come away unscathed and the period came to a close.

Utica outshot the Phantoms by a 14-7 margin.

Second Period

It didn’t take long for the Comets to get back into the driver’s seat as Jonah Gadjovich had an Ashton Sautner centring feed go in off of him for his eighth goal of the season and the home team was up 4-2. Sautner earned his seventh helper of the year for the lone assist.

The Comets kept their foot on the go pedal and Goldy found Lind for a chance in close that Berube was sharp to turn aside before he swallowed up a Carter Bancks backhander. At the other end, DiPietro smothered a muffin from Nate Prosser.

TJ Brennan was sent off for tripping at the 4:39 mark and it was back to the power play for Utica. TheBigFella tried his luck with a lacrosse style goal and he ended up drawing a penalty on the play when he was slashed by Tyler Wotherspoon for his efforts… unfortunately, Zack took exception to the slash and was also sent off for roughing after giving Wotherspoon a piece of his mind.

What was left of the Comets’ power play wrapped up without any change on the scoreboard, but they got some nice pressure out of their fourth line for a shift afterwards.

Sven Baertschi left the ice… and the bench for a few shifts but he would return before the period would end.

Pascal Laberge had a chance off the rush swallowed up by DiPietro before Bunnaman got behind the Comets defence for a shot that DiPietro turned aside. The Phantoms were applying some pressure and soon enough, Ashton Sautner was dinged for a cross-check.

I don’t know if this was because Jim Benning was in the building, or what was up, but we saw a penalty-killing unit that had Olli Juolevi and Brogan Rafferty as a pair. Juolevi has been a PK staple all season in Utica, (when he has been available) and Rafferty has been sprinkled in of late, but we have never seen the duo as a pair at evens, let alone on the kill.

Newcomer John Stevens was also on the kill and he showed a smart stick to force a turnover, getting the puck to Lukas Jasek for a shorthanded chance that was denied with a flash of the leather from Berube. The Comets came up with a good kill.

The good news on this kill was that Sven Baertschi also made an appearance after missing some time. He would end up leaving the game early in the final frame and did not return. Ben Birnell, (@OD_Birnell) had this from Trent Cull after the game.

There were some Canucks fans on Twitter who suggested that “nicked up” might be code for “traded mid-game” but I would be surprised if that was the case with the way things played out.

We saw a bit of line juggling in this game because of the power plays/penalty kills and players coming and going to the dressing room. One of those line combos saw Lind between Goldobin and MacEwen for a shift and Lind had a chance from the side of the net denied. Berube followed up with another save after MacEwen Jasek up for a chance.

Mikey DiPietro was taking his lumps in this game as he was run down yet again, this time by Pascal Laberge. Jalen Chatfield had some words… and a few well-placed chops of the lumber for Laberge before cooler heads prevailed.

The next shift saw Lind back in his spot between Goldy and Bailey and Bailey made the hats rain down with his third of the game and 16th of the season. Goldy set this one up with a nasty feed for his 19th of the year, while Kole Lind also earned a helper for his 22nd.

That goal came late in the frame and Berube would have to deny one more from Boucher before time wound down on a period that saw the teams credited with seven shots apiece.

Third Period

The third period opened with a scramble in the Comets’ end that saw DiPietro come up with an early save before some decent back and forth broke out.

It was also at this time when EagleEyesBirnell spotted Sven leaving the game for the remainder.

Justin Bailey was having a game and he wasn’t about to slow down. The speedy winger was denied by the quick leg of Berube before DiPietro shut down a Morgan Frost backdoor play at the other end.

Once again, DiPietro took a bump, this time from Max Willman and Carter Bancks had seen enough. The captain wrangled Willman and gave him a stern talking to… or something along those lines. No penalties were called on the play.

Jonah Gadjovich had already scored his eighth goal of the season earlier in the game, but he was looking for more after forcing a turnover in the neutral zone and breaking in for a shot that Berube gobbled up for a whistle.

Mitch Eliot was getting a look again today and he was bringing his shot when he was able. Goldy set him up for a point shot and Eliot unleashed a bomb off the blocker of Berube before the Hamilton follow-up was smothered for another whistle.

At the other end of the ice, Guillaume Brisebois laid out to stifle a Phantoms attempt at a play before Rafferty was whistled for slashing. With Rafferty in the box, former Comet Cal O’Reilly ripped a shot off the iron before Andy Andreoff took his club off the man advantage when he was dinged for interference.

With the teams at four aside, MacEwen, Jasek, Brisebois, and Juolevi had some nice pressure in the offensive zone before Stevens, Gadjovich, Chatfield, and Sautner took over. Tyler Wotherspoon had a chance kicked out by DiPietro before the Comets had a brief 40-second power play to work with.

The power play went nowhere and Andreoff exited the box and tried to make a break for it before Brisebois shut him down. The play eventually ended up in the Comets end, DiPietro came up with a save and Brisebois took a poke in the mumbles from Andreoff for spoiling his fun earlier in the shift.

Mikey D was having a solid game and he did good work to get his shoulder on a shot off of a Phantoms faceoff win.

Zack MacEwen hasn’t played in a while but that didn’t stop him from bringing a physical edge on some of his shifts today. He came up with a stiff hit in the offensive zone before the play headed back the other way.

With the play in the Comets’ end, Bailey used a good stick to force a turnover but TJ Brennan ended up with the puck anyway and unloaded with a bomb of a point shot. DiPietro said no. The rookie netminder followed up with a blocker save on a shot from distance before steering aside a Laberge offering from the left side.

Andreoff was sent off for a cross-check at the 15:49 mark and the Comets had another power play to work with. Rafferty had a one-timer swallowed up by Berube and the Comets power play was left wanting once again.

DiPietro wrapped this game up with a trio of saves as the Comets skated away with a 5-2 win on home ice. The Phantoms held a 14-8 edge in shots for the final frame, but Utica was up 29-28 overall.

At the time of this writing, the Utica Comets are sitting atop the North Division.

Today’s Official Boxscore

Comets Goals

  1. Justin Bailey (14) from Brogan Rafferty (28). PP goal.
  2. Justin Bailey (15) from Kole Lind (21) and Nikolay Goldobin (18).
  3. Reid Boucher (22) from Sven Baertschi (24) and Olli Juolevi (14).
  4. Jonah Gadjovich (8) from Ashton Sautner (7).
  5. Justin Bailey (16) from Nikolay Goldobin (19) and Kole Lind (22).

Mikey DiPietro, 26-saves for the win.

Special Teams

Power Play: 1/5.

Penalty Kill: 4/4.

PP1: Baertschi, Boucher, Bailey, Lind, Rafferty.

PP2: MacEwen, Goldobin, Jasek, Gadjovich, Juolevi.

PP3: Goldobin, Boucher, Bailey, Lind, Rafferty.

PP4: MacEwen, Jasek, Gadjovich, Juolevi, Eliot.

Penalty Killers: Bancks, Hamilton, Stevens, Jasek, Boucher, Baertschi, Bailey, Goldobin, Brisebois, Sautner, Chatfield, Rafferty, Juolevi.

The Three Stars in the building today were:

3rd Star: Kole Lind. Two assists.

2nd Star: Reid Boucher. One goal.

1st Star: Justin Bailey. Three goals.

CanucksArmy’s Three Stars:

3rd Star: Nikolay Goldobin. Goldy picked up a pair of helpers today and his pass to Bailey for his third goal was the sauciest of saucer passes. Goldobin is now up to 13 goals and 19 helpers, bringing his season total to 32 points in 32 games. After going pointless for six games, he now has four points in his last two contests.

2nd Star: Kole Lind. TheShaunavonShiftDisturber grabbed another pair of helpers today and now has 10 goals and 22 assists, giving him 32 points in 38 games this year. Kole has been playing out of position for his last two games as a center for the Comets and he’s put up four points in that span. Could this be a permanent switch for Kole? Probably not, but if he can show well enough in spot duty, it will only help his chances for minutes at the next level. Kole is currently on pace for a 64 point season. Seems good, no?

1st Star: Justin Bailey. Bailey sure picked a good night to grab his first pro hattrick with Jim Benning in attendance. He also did some good work on the penalty kill for the team. Bailey is now up to 16 goals and 17 assists, giving him 27 points in 37 games. He’s on pace for a 55-point season, which would be a new career-high for him. Bailey started out this year with some streaky play, but he has been steady of late and is bringing a nice, complete game to the table. He is also second on the team to Reid Boucher in shots on goal with 83 on the season.

Next Game

Game #39

Belleville Senators at Utica Comets

Saturday, January 11th, 2020

7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific