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Comets undefeated in October

...Eight wins in eight games for the red-hot Comets

by Cory Hergott @CoryHergott / Freelance writer

What a month!

The Utica Comets came into the 2019/20 season with plenty of promise and the depth to back it up. They used that depth to run the table for the month of October and skated away with a perfect record of 8-0-0-0.

The Comets showed dominance with an 8-2 win over the defending Calder Cup champs from Charlotte, while also showing that they can win tight games like their recent 2-1 shootout win over Hershey.

Five of the team's wins came against division rivals.

The Comets have outscored the league with their 39 goals, while their goaltenders have been stingy, allowing just 14 through eight games for the fewest goals against in the AHL this season. That makes for a sparkling +25 goal differential.

The Comets have a few players who are on the league's top-ten lists. Reid Boucher sits atop the AHL with 10 goals, while Nikolay Goldobin sits second for assists with nine. Sven Baertschi sits fourth in that category with eight.

In the crease, rookie Mikey DiPietro sits sixth in the AHL with a goals-against-average of 1.62, while veteran Zane McIntyre is right behind him in eighth with a 1.78 GAA. Both have stellar save percentages as DiPietro is sitting at 0.940%, while McIntyre sports a number of 0.944%.

Utica has a fairly green blueline, but that hasn't stopped rookies Brogan Rafferty and Josh Teves from sitting at the top of the league's plus/minus category. Rafferty is tops with a +12 to his credit, while Teves is sitting in second at +11. Francis Perron, Lukas Jasek, Goldobin, and Boucher are all in the top 10 as well.

Of the 27 players who have seen game action for the Comets this season, only seven have been held pointless. Two of those are goaltenders McIntyre and DiPietro and two others, Oscar Fantenberg and Tyler Graovac have only played one game each. The Comets have been getting offensive contributions from players throughout the lineup.

The club currently has six players who have put up at least one point per game this season.

Special Teams

The Comets penalty kill has been fantastic this season, giving up just two goals while down a man 30 times to give themselves a success rate of 93.8%. That is good enough for second overall in the AHL. They have also scored a pair of shorthanded goals.

The team has been using a nice mix of veterans and kids on the kill as old standbys Carter Bancks, Reid Boucher, and Wacey Hamilton have been getting the job done along with new staples Zack MacEwen, Justin Bailey, and Lukas Jasek. Olli Juolevi, Jalen Chatfield, Guillaume Brisebois, and Ashton Sautner have been getting the job done on the backend when penalty-killing duty calls.

The Comets' power play, however, is a work in progress. It's hard to believe that a team with this much firepower has been stymied with the man advantage, but the Comets definitely need work in that department. They've scored just four goals while up a man 25 times, giving themselves a less than stellar 16.0% success rate on the power play.

The coaching staff has spread things out across the two power-play units as we've seen the top group consisting of Nikolay Goldobin, Zack MacEwen, Kole Lind, Reid Boucher, and Olli Juolevi, while the second unit has consisted of some combination of Sven Baertschi, Justin Bailey, Brogan Rafferty, Jonah Gadjovich, Francis Perron, Lukas Jasek, and Carter Camper, depending on who is in the lineup.

Utica's Top-Five Scorers

  1. Reid Boucher - 10 goals, three assists, 13 points in eight games.

  2. Sven Baertschi - two goals, eight assists, 10 points in seven games.

  3. Nikolay Goldobin - one goal, nine assists, 10 points in seven games.

  4. Kole Lind - three goals, six assists, nine points in eight games.

  5. Francis Perron - two goals, six assists, eight points in six games.

Top Plays

It's been a good start to the season in Utica, let's take a look at some highlights from the month of October.

This goal was originally credited to Reid Boucher, but it ended up being Carter Camper's. It was the first goal of the season and it gave us a glimpse into what we could expect to see from rookie Olli Juolevi this year. Peep that stretch pass...

Tweet from @UticaComets: The first goal of the season belongs to Reid Boucher!#UTIvsBNG

Jonah Gadjovich has played just three games this year as he's been dinged up, but he showed some nice hand/eye coordination on this play for his first of the season.

Tweet from @UticaComets: .@JGadjovich with a beauty of a tip for his first of the year!#SYRvsUTI

Nikolay Goldobin stops short before dishing the sweet feed to Zack MacEwen for the tap in.

Tweet from @UticaComets: This just isn't even fair. @NG078 toys with the d-man and @zmacewen11 finishes the back door feed!#SYRvsUTI

Did we mention Goldobin was the first Comet to earn AHL Player of the Week honours this season?

Tweet from @TheAHL: With eight points in three games, @UticaComets forward Nikolay Goldobin has been selected as the @CCMHockey / AHL Player of the Week. Details:

Goldobin and Sven Baertschi made sure that Brogan Rafferty's first pro goal was one to remember.

Tweet from @UticaComets: Tic-tac-toe and @brogan_rafferty has his first pro goal!#CHAvsUTI

Mikey DiPietro was getting the job done with his 3/0 record for the month of October.

Tweet from @dkeeping: Mike D with the freeeeeeeeesssssshhhhhhhh glove save! He's been good! #Comets#Canucks

That move by TheBigFella t hough...

Tweet from @UticaComets: 🤯 <->Us watching this @zmacewen11 goal.#ROCvsUTI

More of those slick Comets passes.

Tweet from @UticaComets: This was pretty. Boucher's second of the night from @SvenBaertschi and @OlliJuolevi!#ROCvsUTI

Another great use of the stretch pass by Juolevi.

Tweet from @UticaComets: The stretch pass from @OlliJuolevi. The shot from @SvenBaertschi. The finish from @fperron27. Everything about this goal is textbook.1-0 Comets!#BNGvsUTI

And finally, this play from Brogan Rafferty to set up Kole Lind's third of the year showed some impressive poise from the rookie blueliner.

Tweet from @UticaComets: Some slick passing from @brogan_rafferty and @klind13 has his third of the season!#BNGvsUTI

The Comets have a schedule of 13 games for the month of November. What will their record be after two months of play? Stay tuned to find out.

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