UTICA, N.Y. – The return of Carter Camper to the Comets’ lineup couldn’t have come at a better time. Unfortunately, the Comets couldn’t capitalize on the return of their number-one center, as they give up three leads en route to a messy overtime loss to the Binghamton Devils.
The Starting Lineup
As previously mentioned, Camper rejoined the Comets starting lineup after having missed the last eight games with an upper-body injury.
|Goldobin (#77)||Hamilton (#36)||Boucher (#24)|
|Bailey (#95)||Camper (#19)||Lind (#13)|
|Perron (#27)||Jasek (#9)||Bancks (#34)|
|Arseneau (#18)||Taylor (#14)||Stevenson (#26)|
|Sautner (#6)||Chatfield (#5)|
|Brisebois (#55)||Rafferty (#25)|
|Teves (#4)||Blujus (#8)|
|Michael Di Pietro|
|Jonah Gadjovich||Seamus Malone||Olli Juolevi|
|Tanner Sorenson (unavailable)||Richard Bachman||Stefan LeBlanc||Mitch Eliot|
The Comets started strong when they opened the scoring early off a Francis Perron tip-in goal, a mere 23 seconds into the contest. The Devils rookie netminder, Gilles Senn, was positioned to stop a Brogan Rafferty blast from the blue line, but Perron’s last-second redirect caught Senn off-guard. Senn’s shift to defend the redirect opened up his pads enough for Perron’s tip-in to go five-hole and into the back of the net.
The early lead would not last, as the Comets would get scored on just 33 seconds later. The first of three, game-tying goals from the Devils came off a Brett Seney breakaway. The play began with the Comets controlling along the boards of the Devil’s end, before Comets’ forward Reid Boucher, attempted a centering pass to defenseman Ashton Sautner. The speedy Seney picked off the weak pass and drove through center ice to also go five-hole on Comets rookie netminder, Michael Di Pietro.
The Comets did, however, regain the lead with nine minutes remaining in the first period, off of a powerplay goal from Nikolay Goldobin.
The second period was where the game began to fall off the rails for the Comets’ when abhorrent defensive plays resulted in two straight unanswered goals for Binghamton.
The first goal was the Devil’s second game-tying goal of the game. It was once again, Seney, who was the difference-maker, as he was left uncontested at the crease of Di Pietro’s net to cash in on a second Comets giveaway.
The giveaway was less egregious than the Boucher giveaway. As this time, Sautner attempted to clear the zone from behind the net of Di Pietro. Unfortunately, the puck redirected off the skate of Ben Street out to Devils forward Joey Anderson, who quickly centered the puck to an uncontested Seney who trickled his own rebound past the right pad of Di Pietro.
The third goal was, again, the result of another awful turnover in the Comets end. This time the Comets Justin Bailey attempted a no-look centering feed from the half-wall. Bailey’s pass went directly onto the stick of the Devil’s Chris Conner. Conner walked to the high-slot completely uncontested and rifled a shot over the shoulder of Di Pietro’s glove side.
The Comets rallied back, however, to even things out, as the Comets fourth-line capitalized on a forced a turnover in the Devils end.
The goal came off an aggressive pinch from Josh Teves into the Devils zone that caused the Devils’ Nathan Bastian to turnover the puck. The loose puck wound up on the stick of the returning Camper. Camper sent a quick pass in the high-slot to Carter Bancks, who then turned for a wrister into the Senn’s pads. Comet’s forward, Vincent Arseneau caught the rebound at the front of his net and lifted the puck into the net with a backhand to tie the game for the third time in the evening.
The Comets got themselves an early powerplay chance after the Devils took a too-many-men penalty. The Comets couldn’t generate any significant offense, however, as they went on to register zero shots on goal over the two-minute man-advantage. Fortunately, eleven seconds after the powerplay ended, the Comets regained the lead, once again led by the Comets captain.
The tiebreaking goal came off a won faceoff draw, where Dyson Stevenson quickly played the puck back to Dylan Blujus. The veteran defenseman rifled a shot into the pads of Senn, but once again, rebound control was his downfall, as Bancks picked up the rebound for an easy wrister over the sprawling Senn.
Unfortunately, for the Utica faithful, the Comets once again failed to hold the lead. With four-and-a-half minutes remaining in the game, the Comets once again collapsed defensively en route to the Devil’s third game-tying goal. Di Pietro’s fourth goal-against came after too many Comet forwards were caught puck-watching in their end. Three Comet players chased Devils defenseman, Michael Paliotta, to the half-wall in an attempt to regain control of the puck. Paliotta capitalized on the space generated, as he set up left-winger, Brandon Baddock, for a one-timer blast from the top of the circle.
Having seen their leads evaporate three times over 60 minutes due to awful turnovers and poor defensive coverage, it only made sense that the same would happen again in overtime.
With thirty seconds remaining in regulation time, the Comets, lead by center, Lukas Jasek, attempted one last offensive drive into the Devils zone.
Unfortunately, Jasek, Goldobin, and Jalen Chatfield got caught too deep into the Devils end off of a Goldobin shot on goal. The Devils Dakota Mermis sprang Ryan Schmelzer behind the Comets defense for a breakaway. Despite Chatfield’s best efforts to backcheck and muscle Schmelzer to the ice. Schmelzer turned for a cross-ice feed to his trailer, Egor Sharangovich, who completed the Devil’s comeback with a goal over the glove of Di Pietro.
All in all, a brutal defensive display from the Utica Comets that, in all likelihood, could have been a worse result had rookie netminder Di Pietro not been as reliable as he was. His numbers at the end of the night certainly do not reflect the number of high-danger scoring chances that the Utica Comets let him face tonight.
The coaching staff will be glad to come away with any points after that effort.
With one day to discuss lapses in defensive coverage, communication, and turnovers, one has to wonder if any of the major cracks that showed in Wednesday’s effort against Binghamton will get fixed before the Comet’s weekend road-trip to Quebec.
Cody’s Three Stars of the Game
* Michael Di Pietro – 31 saves on 36 shots
** Carter Bancks – 1G, 1A, three shots in return to the lineup
*** Dylan Blujus – 0G+1A, four shots
The Comets Trajectory?
The Comets hit the road this weekend for a weekend doubleheader against the Laval Rocket. Puck drop is at 7:00 pm EDT / 4:00 pm PT.
If you want more Utica Comets coverage, you can always visit The Comets Harvest for a more detailed look into each Comets game! Follow @CodySevertson on Twitter for all things Comets and “Like” The Sin Bin on Facebook for the latest news on the AHL & ECHL.