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Utica Comets Post-Game Report

Game #31

Utica Comets at Rochester Americans

Saturday, December 21st, 2019

7:05 pm Eastren/4:05 pm Pacific

Pre-Game

Pre-Game Predictions From Twitter

Bus Load Of Comets Fans Storm Rochester

Post-Game

Scratched Today For Utica

  1. Wacey Hamilton: C/W – Upper-body injury, week-to-week. AHL deal.
  2. Dyson Stevenson: W/C – Lower-body injury, no timeframe. AHL deal.
  3. Mitch Eliot: RD – Healthy scratch. NHL deal.
  4. Josh Teves: LD – Healthy scratch. NHL deal.
  5. David Pope: LW – Healthy scratch. NHL deal.

Comets Starting Lines

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

95 Justin Bailey – 9 Lukas Jasek – 13 Kole Lind

47 Sven Baertschi – 17 Seamus Malone – 24 Reid Boucher (A)

77 Nikolay Goldobin – 19 Carter Camper – 27 Francis Perron

21 Jonah Gadjovich – 34 Carter Bancks (C) – 18 Vincent Arseneau

55 Guillaume Brisebois – 25 Brogan Rafferty

48 Olli Juolevi – 6 Ashton Sautner (A)

3 Stefan LeBlanc – 8 Dylan Blujus

32 Richard Bachman

31 Zane McIntyre (backing up)

First Period

The opening frame of this game had a great pace to it, but no scoring and no special teams work for either club.

We saw some early back and forth before Olli Juolevi had a shot tipped wide of the net. Neither team was able to get much going as the play went back and forth in the early going.

Jarrett Burton had a shot gloved down by Richard Bachman before the Comets went back the other way. Justin Bailey let fly with a backhander that sailed wide before Kole Lind came right back with a backhander of his own but Andrew Hammond was equal to the task.

Brogan Rafferty’s offensive game has been getting a lot of attention this season, and for good reason. His defensive game still shows a few warts, but things are getting much better in that regard. He showed a good stick to break up an Amerks centring feed in tight with traffic buzzing.

The Comets’ fourth line was bringing ALL of the energy in the first period as Bancks, Arseneau, and Gadjovich were taking it to the Amerks on the forecheck.

Lukas Jasek never needs any prodding to go all out on his shifts and he rolled into the Amerks zone and ripped a shot off the shoulder of Hammond.

Kole Lind has also been having a nice offensive start to his season and he is doing good things when he doesn’t have the puck on his stick as well. The second-year pro closed his gap quickly on his point man to shut down a shot attempt in the Comets end.

There was more back and forth as Bachman had to kick out a quick leg on CJ Smith for another save before Jonah Gadjovich used good hustle and a nice set of hands to dig the puck loose behind the Amerks net to set up Vinny Arseneau in the slot. Hammond was there with another save.

Casey Mittlestadt is currently suiting up with Rochester and the skilled pivot whipped out a bevy of moves in an effort to beat Brogan Rafferty but the rookie blueliner stuck with him and forced his shot wide of the net. That was a good test for Rafferty.

Kole Lind was sprung the other way and got a hot shot off that was gloved down by Hammond. Reid Boucher followed up with a spin and fire play off the left boards and Hammond said no once again. Ashton Sautner tried his luck with a heavy shot and Hammond kicked it aside for another save.

Nikolay Goldobin has a deadly wrister that he’s seen some luck with of late and he wired one off a faceoff win but Hammond was there with another stop.

The physical play kept coming as BigVinny blew up Casey Nelson behind the Amerks net.

Reid Boucher and William Borgen traded chances and Bachman and Hammond traded saves as the period was winding down.

Taylor Leier, who just happened to be the man traded for Justin Bailey last season, tried to break in for a chance but Guillaume Brisebois used a smart stick to foil his attempt. The Comets fourth line followed up with another active shift before Rafferty came up with a shot block on Leier’s next attempt. We would be hearing more from Leier as this game went on.

The period wound down with a quick leg save from Bachman and a shot block from Captain Carter. Utica showed an advantage of 9-5 on the shot clock for the first period.

Your first-period shot map:

Second Period

After neither team could muster a goal in the first period, we saw four scored in the middle frame.

Brogan Rafferty used an early pinch to set up Kole Lind for a shot that was turned aside by Hammond before Frankie Perron was dinged for a high-stick and the Comets had a penalty to kill.

Bachman came up with a quick pad save on Zach Redmond before a CJ Smith shot caught Olli Juolevi up high. The rookie defender didn’t miss a beat and stayed in the game.

Taylor Leier put the Amerks up 1-0 with his first goal of the season when he put the puck in off of Bachman’s back. Bummer. Redmond earned his 15th helper of the year on the play, while Lawrence Pilut grabbed his 13th.

We had some back and forth as Dalton Smith had a chance turned aside at one end while Goldy set Gadjovich up at the other for a shot that Jonah fired wide. Pilut came back with another offering and Bachman waved it aside with his blocker.

Sven Baertschi picked up his sixth goal of the season after Seamus Malone won a faceoff in the Comets zone, tied up his man and watched Rafferty send Boucher down the right side. Boucher used a sweet feed through the crease to Baertschi for the tieing goal. Boucher earned his 17th assist of the year on the play and Rafferty grabbed his 24th.

The Comets kept it coming as Baertschi and Malone had back-to-back chances denied by Hammond.

There was more of that good back and forth as Redmond missed wide with a shot but jumped on his rebound. Bachman stretched out for another save.

Ashton Sautner was sent off for a cross-check at the 10:25 mark and the Comets were back to the kill.

CJ Smith walked in for a chance that Bachman got his blocker on before Mittlestadt had his chance denied as well. Baertschi came up with a good play to force a turnover before he cleared the zone.

Goldobin and Bailey were out late on the kill and they found themselves with a shorthanded chance but Bailey whipped out one too many moves and nothing came of the play. The Comets had a good kill.

The Amerks kept pressing and Carter Bancks came up with a big shot block before Rafferty sent an outlet pass to Bailey who, in turn, sent Arseneau in alone for his sixth goal of the year. Nice work by all involved in that play. Bailey earned his ninth helper of the year on the play, while Rafferty grabbed his 25th.

It wasn’t long after the Arseneau tally when JS Dea had a chance to break in but Bachman whipped out the poke check to stop him. Unfortunately, the officials didn’t like the poke check and dinged Bacher with a tripping penalty.

Bachman came up with a big kick save and Juolevi had another big shot block, but the Amerks would even things up on John Gilmour’s point shot through traffic for his third of the season. Dea picked up his 10th helper, while Sean Malone earned his eighth.

Dylan Blujus got tangled up in a net-front scramble late in the period and looked a little dinged up, but he stayed in the game.

Jarrett Burton was whistled for holding at the 19:56 mark and the Comets would be starting the final frame up a man. Rochester showed a 14-5 advantage on the second-period shot clock.

Your second-period shot map:

Third Period

The Comets had nearly a full two minutes of power-play time to start the final frame, but they were unable to score the go-ahead goal. They did have some chances though as Baertschi had a chance turned aside early before Hammond shut down a Boucher one-timer.

Kole Lind followed up with a chance that was also turned aside before Rafferty let fly with a shot through traffic that Hammond stopped as well.

The second unit came out to try their luck and Goldy had a chance denied by Hammond and the Comets came up dry.

The Comets’ fourth line was full value today as Bancks, Arseneau, and Gadjovich were all throwing their bodies around and making life difficult with a heavy, relentless forecheck, but those fellows can play some hockey too as Arseneau unloaded with a heavy shot that was gloved down by Hammond.

Zach Redmond had his share of shots on the net today as he was credited with a game-high seven, but he was unable to beat Bachman with any of them, least of all the shot from the point that Bachman saw all the way and held for the whistle.

At the other end, Kole Lind was doing Kole Lind things after the whistle when he was dumped by JS Dea. The play went unpenalized, but those are the types of plays from Kole that tend to draw penalties and when he is playing that brand of game, he reminds me an awful lot of one Alex Burrows. Kole is quick to give someone the stinky glove in the face after the whistle and you can always see him jawing out there.

Kole’s antics got his team going and soon after Jonah Gadjovich was in the slot when he felt a stinger on the back of his leg. That stinger was the puck hitting him before he collected it and fired it home for his seventh goal of the season. The man who fired the original shot was Dylan Blujus, earning him his third helper of the season, while Stefan LeBlanc grabbed his first.

Things got a little more chippy after the Gadjovich tally and Lawrence Pilut was soon sent off for interference. Kole Lind fired an early blast wide of the net and the Amerks went the other way where Taylor Leier beat Bachman for his second goal of the game. The shorthanded tally was unassisted.

Jonah Gadjovich had a backhander turned aside and the Comets power play fell short.

This was when Bachman was busy as he had to swallow up a heavy shot from Redmond before Brett Murray put a shot wide and Redmond’s rebound shot was rebuffed by Bachman.

The Comets fourth line was hemmed in for a shift before Gadjovich and Arseneau broke the other way where Arseneau sent a heavy shot on net that sent a big rebound to Gadjovich. Jonah hammered his shot off the iron.

There was more back and forth before Boucher teed up a one-timer for Jasek but Hammond was there with the save. The Comets continued to press before the Amerks found a little life.

Guillaume Brisebois continues to have a solid season in all areas of the ice this year and he did great work to body his man off the puck in the defensive zone, allowing the Comets to take possession and head the other way. One of the things that people aren’t really talking about this year is how Brisebois’ solid defensive game is allowing his partner Brogan Rafferty to jump up into plays to help provide offence.

I mentioned earlier about the Utica fans who loaded up 80 or so people into a couple of busses and hit the road to Rochester to cheer on their team. Well, this was the point in the game when those fans started to rain down with UTICA… UTICA chants. They were pretty happy after the game as well.

Man, how I would love to take part in one of those bus trips!

We had more back and forth as John Gilmour rolled down the left side and unloaded with a shot that Bachman turned aside with a blocker save before Rafferty fed Lind for a play that saw Kole dish to Jasek. Hammond was there for a stick save.

The Malone line started to bring the pressure and before you know it, the Comets were up 4-3 with under a minute and a half remaining. This goal was a tough one to figure out as it started with Malone letting fly with a shot that Baertschi appeared to get a piece of. The puck went up into the air and landed behind Hammond, where apparently, Olli Juolevi swatted it over the line. The goal was originally credited to Baertschi before Olli was tapped for his first of the year. At the time of this writing, the AHL has only Malone listed with an assist on the play, for his first helper of the year, but don’t be surprised if Sven ends up getting the primary assist and Malone’s shifts to a secondary.

The coaching staff was clearly enamoured with the play of the fourth line today, and for good reason. That trio was sent out to wrap this game up as the Amerks summoned Hammond to the bench for the extra attacker. Arseneau came up with a big shot block, as did Guillaume Brisebois and the Comets skated away with a 4-3 win.

Utica held a 12-7 advantage on the shot clock for the third period and the teams finished the game with 26 shots apiece as Utica took the win.

Your third-period shot map:

Today’s Official Boxscore

Comets Goals:

  1. Sven Baertschi (6) from Reid Boucher (17) and Brogan Rafferty (24).
  2. Vincent Arseneau (6) from Justin Bailey (9) and Brogan Rafferty (25).
  3. Jonah Gadjovich (7) from Dylan Blujus (3) and Stefan LeBlanc (1).
  4. Olli Juolevi (1) from Seamus Malone (1). *Sven Baertschi may still get the primary assist.

Special Teams

Power Play: 0/2

Penalty Kill: 1/3

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

PP2: Camper, Gadjovich, Perron, Goldobin, Juolevi.

Penalty Killers: Bancks, Jasek, Baertschi, Boucher, Bailey, Goldobin, Juolevi, Rafferty, Sautner, Brisebois, Blujus.

The Three Stars in the building today were:

3rd Star: Brogan Rafferty. Two assists.

2nd Star: Taylor Leier. Two goals.

1st Star: Olli Juolevi. Game-winning goal.

CanucksArmy’s Three Stars:

3rd Star: Richard Bachman. He only made 23 saves for the win, but I was happy to see Bacher get his first win of the season after being shelled for 84 shots in his first two starts. Bachman made several key saves today and worked for that win.

2nd Star: Brogan Rafferty. Brogan grabbed another pair of secondary assists today to bring him to 29 points in 31 games. I have officially dubbed him TheSecondaryAssistKingOfCentralNewYork. Brogan is currently putting up 0.94 points/game in his rookie campaign and is now on pace for a ridiculous 71 points this season.

1st Star: Carter Bancks/Jonah Gadjovich/Vincent Arseneau. This coaching has a way of getting some solid offensive contributions from throughout the lineup and today was no different. The Comets won’t always be getting the wins because of guys like Boucher, Goldy, Sven etc. Players like today’s fourth line trio often have to do their share of the heavy lifting as well. We saw the fourth line provide two of the team’s four goals while playing a relentless, physical, forechecking game that proved too tough to handle for the Amerks today.

Next Game

Game #32

Hershey Bears at Utica Comets

Friday, December 27th, 2019

7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific

On a personal note, as this is the Comets’ last game before Christmas, I want to wish all of my readers a Merry Christmas and a safe holiday season. Enjoy your time with family and friends, but make sure to be responsible so that you can come back and read how the rest of the season goes.