Round 1: Playoff Notebook
by Mark Caswell, Jr.May 3, 2015
Stay tuned here for updates from the Comets first round series against Chicago. Follow @UticaComets on Twitter and Instagram for photo updates.
SUNDAY, 5-3 – RECOVERY DAY ….kind of.
11:17am: How about Benn Ferriero? He skated around The AUD applauding Comets fans while in a Wolves sweater post-game. A very cool thing from a great person who gets it.
10:42am: It should go without saying that there will be no practice today. The guys will be back at it tomorrow where we will have a brand new Notebook ready for you.
What we do know is, the next two games the Comets will play, will be at The AUD.
What we don’t know yet is our opponent. Grand Rapids and Toronto square off at 5pm in a Game 5. If Grand Rapids wins, the Comets will welcome the Oklahoma City Barons for Game 1 on Thursday. If the Marlies take the series, we’ll start Round 2 Wednesday night at The AUD.
Some quotes from last night:
Travis Green: “I’m really happy for him (Gaunce). I’m proud of him. It’s not an easy situation when you’re not playing.That’s part of the learning curve of developing and it’s part of winning. You need to have good players that aren’t playing and they have to keep the right attitude and you hope when you put a guy in the line-up that he responds. That was one of the biggest responses we’ve seen out of our group in a long time. I’m really proud of him.”
Brandon DeFazio: “It’s an exciting moment for all of us in Utica. We feel part of this community. We see the people on the way to the game and after the game. We want to make sure we represent them well and it’s a great feeling.”
DeFazio on final moments: “It’s nerve-wracking to be honest. The last minute there it’s so loud you can’t hear what people are saying or what’s going on. You just want the puck to get down the ice and into that open net and then maybe we can breathe a little. It’s surreal. The way they (the fans) treat us here is second to none.”
SATURDAY, 5/2 – GAME-DAY – Puck drop 7pm ET
11:31pm: A large amount of fans waited for the Comets players in the lobby, to congratulate them on the win. Really cool scene with fans chanting and cheering about an hour after the game ended.
11:12pm: We’ve got a lot to cover so I hope you have plenty of time. First off, what an unbelievable show of class by the Chicago Wolves’ communication and broadcast team. Each one of them shook my hand, as well as every one of our off-ice officials’ hands and said thanks for the hospitality, congratulations, and then commented on the crowd and what an experience it was. Hats off to all of them.
As for the game. WOW. Have you ever been on a more emotional roller coaster due to a sporting event? I certainly haven’t. Make sure you send your videos to us through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or YouTube via the #BuiltForThisMoment hashtag. We’re going to make a great video for you. Two shorter ones have already been made for Archibald’s OT winner, and Sanguinetti’s OT winner.
10:41pm: What a surreal scene as to end that game. The building was bumping, the player’s tunnel was PACKED with scratches, members of the Vancouver Canucks’ brass, and Rob Esche, who were all excitedly high-fiving the players coming off the ice and celebrating arguably the biggest win The AUD has ever seen.
One quote stuck out, and I won’t say who because it was an off the cuff remark, but it was worth sharing. “This building is the best atmosphere in all of sports.”
The locker room was a hectic scene with lots of hugs, smiles, and dancing. One player jokingly asked if the city was going to burn down tonight.
The Utica Comets advance to the Western Conference Semifinals with a roller coaster 4-2 win in Game 5.
12:17pm: Morning skates are in the book, and not much looks different. Neither team had many players skating this morning, looked like just the scratches from last night. Expect Markstrom vs. Binnington (duh!). Just guessing, but you might see a line-up change for the Comets and see a fresh Gaunce in the line-up. Other than that I don’t expect much difference for either team.
8:53am: Well, today’s the day. One thing is guaranteed, this series ends tonight. Winner takes all. A quirky stat from the regular season shone bright last night. The Wolves owned the third worst power-play while home (11.6%), while they were the best power-play team on the road (23.1%).
Friday, 5/1 – GAME-DAY – Puck drop 7pm ET
12:04am: Well a loss is a loss, whether in OT in a game where you severely outplayed the opponent, or a 10-4 blowout like you saw in the Hershey-Worcester game last night. The only thing that matters is the Comets live to see another day. Reactions from the locker room:
Travis Green on the OT too many men penalty: “It was a good call. The players on the ice had no bearing on the play but there were six guys on the ice.”
Travis Green on what he told the guys: “It stings. It’s supposed to hurt. It’s not a regular loss. You lose in OT in this situation, it’s not easy, it’s supposed to hurt, but we have to have short-term memory in the playoffs. You work all year to play at home in deciding game.”
Travis Green on having home-ice advantage: “It’s big to have home ice advantage. It doesn’t guarantee anything but give me the choice and I know what I’m choosing, especially with our fans and our building.”
The Comets dropped the game to the Wolves by a score of 4-3 in OT. The decisive, and final, Game 5 is scheduled for tomorrow night at 7pm.
11:43am: Wolves skate is complete, Jordan Binnington not only practiced but was the first goalie off the ice. That should quell the injury rumor for today. Also of note, Brent Regner did not take part in morning skate, but Benn Ferriero did. So we may be seeing the 2015 playoff debut of the former Comet.
10:21am: Lots hootin’ and hollerin’ from the boys in practice, which means a lot of positive vibes are buzzing through the locker room right now. A few quick notes.
-Sanguinetti did not take part in morning skate. As we said before, morning skates are usually optional. This doesn’t mean he’s out tonight. Look for him in pre-game warm-ups.
-No surprise, Jacob Markstrom was first goalie off the ice. He’ll be your starter tonight.
-Andrey Pedan took part, once again, without a non-contact jersey on. His return appears to be close.
8:08am: The rumor mill has been spinning the past couple of days with questions on if Wolves’ red-hot goaltender Jordan Binnington is injured. Just before Archibald’s game-winning goal, reports say Binnington took a stick to the back of the head and was slow to get up. It’s playoff hockey so the Wolves have not said anything about the possible injury yet. We’ll keep an eye on morning skate to see if he takes some shots.
Also, a lot of questions about the status of Bobby Sanguinetti. Just like the Wolves, the Comets aren’t saying a peep. We’ll watch morning skate and let you know if he skates.
Keep in mind that morning skates are typically optional. It’s very likely we won’t have a conclusive answer on both of these players until puck drop.
7:49am: Somehow I missed this awesome quote from Comets forward Darren Archibald during Wednesday night’s press conference. If you don’t think fans have an outcome on games this may sway you the other way.
“Most of the game we were down 1-0 and the fans are still chanting ‘U-TIC-A’. They are awesome. That definitely gets you an extra boost when you hop over the boards. We definitely have the loudest barn in the league.” -Darren Archibald
Thursday, 4/30 – OFF-DAY –
3:53pm: The Goal – question mark?: A lot of talk, mostly from the Chicago side, from last night’s game centers around Adam Clendening’s game-tying goal in the third period. A very good read from “the enemy” viewpoint can be found right here: Wolves Playoff Blog. Let’s discuss the facts first.
1. The ref initially, and immediately called it a goal.
2. The goal judge turned the red light on.
3. The ref has video replay available for situations exactly like what happened.
4. The referees convened and were 100% convinced it was a goal, so they declined to look at the overhead angle.
A common question we received over social media asked us why we did not show the overhead view replay on the videoboards. The simple answer is, we can’t. Both by rule, and technologically. The AHL has rules in place that does not allow our production team to tap into that feed. That feed/angle is ONLY available for the referees.
Now earlier in the third period the Comets had a goal that was disallowed due to a high stick. The play in question saw Sven Baertschi redirect an Alex Biega wrist shot past Binnington to tie the game at 1. The puck appeared to deflect off of the part of Baertschi’s stick that was well below the crossbar, but the ref immediately ruled no goal. Here’s the facts:
1. The puck crossed the goal line.
2. The ref immediately waved it off.
3. All 4 officials convened and agreed that it was no goal.
4. That call, once made, CANNOT be overturned by video replay.
So, while the Hockey Gods took a third period goal away from the Comets, indications are they were given one back. Bottom line, the Comets overcame a 40-minute deficit and in the process did something no team has done to the Chicago Wolves since December 28, 2013, a span of 49 games. The absolute bottom line? Propelled by arguably the loudest fans in the AHL, the Utica Comets lead the series 2-1, and can close out the series as soon as Friday night at The AUD in front of ANOTHER sold out crowd decked in white.
11:53am: The Chicago Wolves have signed Ivan Barashev. The forward joins the Wolves following the completion of his junior season with Moncton in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The Wildcats were eliminated in the third round of the QMJHL playoffs Tuesday. He registered 24 points (13G, 11A) in 16 games, ranking second in the league in postseason goals and third in points.
11:14am: Optional skate for the guys today. Chicago has a practice scheduled for 1pm.
11:04am: Since we all know you’re not focused on your work, here’s a lot of fresh new Comets content for you to enjoy:
Recap: Archibald’s Heroics Catapults Comets to 2-1 Series Lead | Photos
CometsTV: New Pump-Up Video
CometsTV: Xavier in the Crease – Playoff Edition
Round 1 – Game 5 or Round 2 – Game 1 Tickets on Sale Now
Wednesday, 4/29 – GAMEDAY – Puck drop at 7pm ET –
12:24am: Brendan Burke’s audio:
12:16am: We’re here into the wee hours of the night. WOW…what a game! Below are the reactions from those involved.
Adam Clendening: “That’s the best crowd I’ve ever seen in this league. It was really, really fun to play in front of them.”
“We have home ice advantage in front of the best fans in the league. You hear the kids chanting Utica, it’s gives you an extra boost.”
Andrey Pedan: “What an unbelievable atmosphere at the AUD tonight, fans are the best!! Big W!”
Darren Archibald: “I was just trying to get the puck on the net and use the defenseman as a screen.”
Travis Green: “”It’s an exciting game. I thought we played a hell of a game tonight.”
Comets win an OT thriller 2-1, to take a 2-1 series lead. Darren Archibald played the hero in OT.
4:34pm: The parking lot is filling up already, the earliest tailgaters got here around 2:15 this afternoon. Lots of white already! 11:38am: Jordan Binnington first one off the ice for the Wolves. Game 3 looks like Markstrom vs. Binnington again. Former Benn Ferriero, the birthday boy, looks to be scratched again tonight. 10:42am: Surprise, surprise. Jacob Markstrom first goalie off the ice. He’s your starter tonight. Additional late game skaters, usually scratches, are Hutton, Pedan, Negrin, Andersson, and Eriksson. 9:47am: FINALLY! The much anticipated WHITEout at The AUD night is upon us. There’s A LOT to catch-up with from yesterday, so here’s everything in one spot. New pre-game intros and videos: Fans Asked to Arrive Early Pre-game party with K-ROCK: Pre-game WHITEout Party Extended post-game show: Fans Can Call-In 9:13am: Everything you need to know for today’s game: Preview Tuesday, 4/28 – Practice Day – 12:40pm: Quotes from various Comets: Sanguinetti on the fans: “We’re going to feel the energy for sure. It’s tough to describe until you feel it, but we can’t wait for it.” Sanguinetti on the power play: “We have to get more traffic in front of their goalie to make it more difficult for him to see the puck.” Green on the addition of Sven Baertschi: “He gives us more scoring depth in our line-up. We’re at our best when we can roll four full lines, and when we have four lines that can score.” Green on expected atmosphere in The AUD: “The fans have been incredible for two years now. Nothing surprises me with them. Tomorrow will be real exciting.” 11:21am: More power play work again today. Sven Baertschi a big piece back for that unit. 10:26am: Practice is scheduled for 11am. We’ll have quotes and comments for you after practice. 9:17am: There has been a lot happening over the past 24 hours. Here’s a quick recap, with links, so we’re all on the same page. WUTR: Weather Report Request: Comets Fans Asked to Arrive Early and Be Seated by 6:45pm Transactions: Sven Baertschi Returns to the Comets | Ty Rattie, Lundstrom Returned to the Wolves Comet Tales: Cory Conacher is No Stranger to the Playoffs Monday, 4/27 – Off-Day – 2:52pm: The St. Louis Blues have officially re-assigned Ty Rattie and Niklas Lundstrom to the Wolves. Rattie is a huge addition. Has recorded 42 points in just 59 games, good for third on the team.
12:16pm: It’s official. Sven Baertschi has rejoined the Comets playoff push in time for Wednesday. He’ll physically arrive tonight, and will practice with the team tomorrow morning. No word on Kenins yet.
9:40am: Most players have an optional skate today, those who did not play last week are skating. Pretty light day before a full practice tomorrow.
Sunday, 4/26 – Practice Day –
6:03pm: With the St. Louis Blues being eliminated from the NHL Playoffs by the Minnesota Wild, expect the Wolves to get second-leading goal-scorer, Ty Rattie, back in time for Wednesday.
Born Feb 5 1993 -- Calgary, ALTA
Height 6.00 -- Weight 178 -- Shoots Right
|2008-09||Portland Winter Hawks||WHL||10||1||0||1||0||--||--||--||--||--|
|2013-14||St. Louis Blues||NHL||2||0||0||0||0|
|2014-15||St. Louis Blues||NHL||11||0||2||2||2|
|2015-16||St. Louis Blues||NHL||11||3||2||5||4|
12:06pm: A few guys still lingering around the ice but for the most part practice has wrapped up for the day. 11:52am: The team portion of practice has concluded. About half the team stayed on for extra work. Conacher and Shinkaruk are working on a tip drill with Head Coach Travis Green. 11:37am: Lots of power play work today. Much needed as the Comets are 0-for-9 in the playoffs with the man advantage, and in an 0-for-12 rut currently. 11:03am: Practice is underway at The AUD. Full participation including Andrey Pedan. This is the first full practice the team will have since Monday before leaving for Chicago.
Saturday, 4/25 – OFF-DAY –
6:24pm: Thoughts & musings. You only need to look at the split series score (4-4), to see just how tight this series is. Of course, if you read the first round playoff preview you knew it would be (shameless plug: First Round Preview). If the Comets can get the power play working, and hit that three-goal mark, it’ll be tough for the Wolves to leave The AUD with a win. In two games they’ve only amassed 54 shots. It’s clear they are trying to butter their bread with their defense this series.
How the NHL Playoffs effects our series. With five days off between games, there’s plenty of time for the NHL playoffs to effect the Comets-Wolves series. By the time the Comets hit the ice again, the Vancouver Canucks series will be over. If the Flames capture the series victory (currently leading the series 3-2), only Sven Baertschi and Ronalds Kenins are eligible to return for the AHL playoffs. On the other hand, if the Blues get eliminated (currently losing their series 3-2) on Sunday, Ty Rattie, the Wolves second leading scorer, is eligible to return to the Wolves. Sunday is a big game, if the Blues win, their Game 7 is scheduled for Wednesday.
11:45am: Home Sweet Home. We’re finally back at The AUD. If there is any doubt about how serious everyone is taking this series, there shouldn’t be anymore. Every coach had their laptops open and were re-watching, and tracking last night’s game, on the way home. Today will be a total off-day, and tomorrow a full practice is scheduled for the morning.
8:36am: On the plane and preparing for take-off. Talking with Cory Conacher a bit on the flight him as he drew the short straw and has been seated next to me. After asking me if there is a WHITEout happening on Wednesday, he expressed that he is looking forward to seeing it. He’s always sporting quite the shiner from this play last night.
7:03am: Wake up call comes early today. The flight is scheduled for 8:47am out of O’Hare. A lot of tired faces here, but quite a bit of excitement to get home.
Friday, 4/24 – GAMEDAY – Puck drop 8pm ET
11:38pm: That’ll be our final update of the evening unless something drastic happens. Flight is set for 7:47am central time, so there’s an early wake-up call for all of us here. We’ll get in touch with you in the morning with pictures (follow us on Twitter and on Instagram both @UticaComets), and comments from the travel day. Utica, we’ll see you tomorrow.
11:32pm: After discussing tonight’s game (check the recap for those quotes), Travis Green turned his attention to Utica fans. “We need the fans to do what they’ve done all year. The create a lot of energy and I’m sure the boys will feed off of that.”
11:26pm: Cal O’Reilly on returning the series to Utica. “We know our fans will be rowdy and we can’t wait to get in front of them.”
11:22pm: Brandon DeFazio on the WHITEout “We’re really excited for the whiteout and to play in front of our fans. We’ve seen what they’ve done the past two years and we can’t wait to see them.”
11:15pm: As you can imagine a lot quieter of a locker room. Usually how it is after a loss. Some frustrated comments, and noises coming from the guys. But that’s hockey. Quite a bit of positivity emerged as the talks shifted to headed home, and the next three games being played at The AUD.
Comets lose 2-1 to the Chicago Wolves. The series now heads back to Utica tied at one game apiece.
6:43pm: Wherever you are watching the game from tonight, make sure to send us video on all of our social media accounts, using the #BuiltForThisMoment hashtag. We want to see what you see.
6:15pm: Everyone is at Allstate Arena and focused on tonight’s game. There was some talk about “Would love to be up 2-0 headed home to our fans.” Buckle up, less than two hours away.
12:46pm: Peter Andersson, John Negrin, Ben Hutton, Joe LaBate are still on the ice. They are the expected scratches for the Comets.
12:33pm: No surprise here, Jacob Markstrom is the first goalie off of the ice. He’ll be starting tonight for the Comets. Jordan Binnington was the last goalie on the ice, so it’s a a re-match in net.
12:12pm: Morning pre-game skate is underway. Full participation.
11:57am: Prior to hitting the ice for morning practice we caught up with Alex Biega and asked him what he expects for tonight’s game: “Every game in the playoffs you get teams that come out hard, especially in their building. In playoff hockey we prepare like every day is our last. We’re looking to put together a great first shift and building from there.”
9:52am: “Also, you’re going to want to check out the #BuiltForThisMoment video: CometsTV
9:46am: Good morning Comets fans! Hope you caught up on your sleep yesterday because we’re back at it tonight. Pre-game skate is scheduled for 12pm ET. We’ll have quotes and reports from practice closer to then. In the mean time, check out the plan for Wednesday at The AUD, and how you can win great prizes both at the game, and this week on social media: White Out at The AUD.
Thursday, 4/23 – OFF-DAY –
3:45pm: After enjoying an afternoon in the gorgeous Windy City, everyone is back and getting back to business. A team meeting to review last night’s game film is underway at the team hotel.
11:20am: Team trip to downtown Chicago is scheduled after a stretch at 11:30am. Check out Instagram and Twitter for pictures.
9:52am: Word is starting to circulate about the whiteout awaiting the players back at The AUD on Wednesday night. A wide-eyed Hunter Shinkaruk noted, “That’s going to be AWESOME!”
8:14am: Early morning rumor is canceled practice due to how late last night’s game went, and that there will be a team trip into downtown Chicago.
Wednesday, 4/22 – GAMEDAY – Puck drop 8pm ET
12:45am: Kent Huskins: “That was a heckuva a way to open the playoffs.”
12:15am: Travis Green on importance of winning Game 1: “It’s always important to win the first game of a series, even more so in a shorter series and on the road.”
Travis Green on what he said after the third period: “It’s always tough to be a second away from a win like that, but we talked about it. It’s going to happen, it’s playoff hockey. I told them to refocus and play like we did all night.”
12:11am: Bobby Sanguinetti on what that was like: “After letting one in late, that was a real nice one to get. A big win for us.”
Bobby Sanguinetti on the game-winning goal: “I saw lots of open ice and Grenier battling behind the net with their defenseman, so I slid down to the slot and the puck popped out to me. It worked out for us.:
12:09am: Adam Clendening: “It felt like just a matter of time before we got one. I thought we were the better team all night.”
12:05am: The game-winning goal was scored just five minutes ago the locker room is all smiles. There is A LOT of excitement and positive energy going around. Amidst all the hoopla is Jacob Markstrom who is grinning ear-to-ear and thanking Bobby Sanguinetti. Wacey Hamilton wants to know how many tweets we sent out, which grabs a couple laughs. Brandon DeFazio asks if I’m tired. Nevermind me buddy, you guys are the ones who did the work.
After allowing a goal in the last second of the game, literally, the Comets pull out a double overtime win to take a 1-0 series lead.
6:14pm: I haven’t forgotten about you there just has not been much to report, unless you want status updates about naps. (Down right creepy if you do!) Anyways, everyone is up, everyone is ready to go. Players are starting to filter out of the hotel and into the Allstate Arena. Warm-ups are about two hours away!
12:35pm: Eriksson the last goalie on the ice, indicates Markstrom gets the nod. Markstrom is 8-1 all-time vs the Wolves including playoffs (3-0).
12:12pm: Optional morning skate at Allstate Arena. Everyone is accounted for here including Peter Andersson. Everyone is good to go tonight except for Andrey Pedan and Will Acton.
8:45am: The Comets morning skate is scheduled for an 11:15am start.
8:38 am: Happy gameday folks! I can feel the excitement from Utica here in Chicago. It’s going to be a great day. Late last night the Chicago Wolves added seven players to their roster. They are all ATO’s (amateur tryouts), so do not expect to see them play against us. For the sake of knowledge, the players signed are: Zach Pochiro, Ryan Tesink, Samuel Blais, Jaedon Descheneau, Chandler Yakimowicz, Thomas Vannelli and Dmitrii Sergeev.
2:45pm – The Comets just got off the ice for practice. Full participation with the team looking forward to tomorrow’s tilt. More updates to come.