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Comets Monthly: February 2020

...Ashton Sautner continues to be a workhorse for the Comets on the back end.

by Cory Hergott @CoryHergott / Freelance writer

After averaging 13 games a month so far this season, the Utica Comets had a lighter schedule for February with just 10 games on the docket. That means that there were 20 points up for grabs, and after going 5-4-1-0 for the month, the team came away with 11 of them.

The Comets managed to outscore their competition in February, even if it was only by a few goals as they finished with 36 goals for and 33 against. Their power play scored 10 goals while up a man 37 times and their penalty kill allowed 10 goals with a man in the box on 34 occasions.

Second-year forward Jonah Gadjovich paced the Comets with three PP goals and one helper on the man advantage, while AHL veteran Carter Camper also picked up four points on the power play, all assists.

We saw some Comets single-season records fall this month as Reid Boucher beat the club's mark for points in a season when he picked up his 63rd of the campaign, while rookie defender Brogan Rafferty became the club's new single-season points leader by a defenceman when he earned his 41st to best the 40 points put up by Bobby Sanguinetti back in the 2013/14 season.

Tweet from @UticaComets: Another record for Reid Boucher!

Tweet from @UticaComets: With his goal tonight, @brogan_rafferty now owns the Comets��� record for points in a single season by a defenseman! Way to go, kid!#UTIvsROC

Boucher broke the record in dramatic fashion as he did it in a game where he put up three goals and two helpers for his first five-point effort at the AHL level.

Unsurprisingly, Boucher led all Comets goal scorers in February with seven to his credit, while Sven Baertschi picked up four. Jonah Gadjovich and Justin Bailey finished with three each. As far as assists go, Carter Camper led the team with eight helpers, while Baertschi had seven, Boucher had six, and Nikolay Goldobin and Olli Juolevi were knotted with four apiece.

With 13 points for the month, Boucher was tops in that category as well. Baertschi checks in at number two with 11, while Camper finished February with 10. Nikolay Goldobin and Justin Bailey ended with six and five points respectively.

Mikey DiPietro has taken the starter's job in Utica, starting nine of the team's 10 February games and finishing with a record of 5-3-1-0. He allowed 29 goals on 273 shots against in February and is now 19-10-2-1 on the season with a goals-against-average of 2.89 and a save percentage of 0.917%.

Jake Kielly, for his part, made his AHL debut in relief of DiPietro in the Comets final match of February where they dropped a 5-2 decision to Laval. Kielly fared well in his brief appearance, stopping 11 of 12 shots that he faced, including the breakaway from Laurent Dauphin that he saw as his first shot in the game.

Kole Lind continues to be the only player in Utica who has suited up for every game this season. He finished the month with one goal and three assists, but we also saw him getting a brief look on the penalty kill, which isn't something that we have seen in the past. That bodes well for Kole and the trust that he has earned from the coaching staff in his second season.

Lind is playing with far more confidence in his game this year and it shows. He is now up to 13 goals and 30 assists, giving him 43 points in 57 games this season. Last year, Kole put up five goals and 12 helpers to give himself 17 points in 51 games.

Jonah Gadjovich has now improved his point total to 13 goals and four assists this year. With just 38 games played, Jonah has had some injury issues at times this season, but when in the lineup, he has been bringing a consistent physical game and has proven to be an excellent net-front presence on the power play. Of his 13 goals, six have come while up a man, along with two of his four assists.

Lukas Jasek wrapped up February with one goal and two assists in his eight games played. Jasek has taken on a prime role on the team's penalty kill and is adjusting to his move from the wing to the middle. He gets some second-unit power-play use from time to time as well, making him an all situations player for Trent Cull and his coaching staff. Lukas scored nine goals in his rookie season but has already eclipsed that with 14 this year. He is now just two points back of his rookie total of 29 points last year as he is up to 27 this season in 54 games.

As mentioned earlier, rookie defender Brogan Rafferty is having a banger of a first season at the AHL level. He is up to seven goals and 35 assists, giving him 42 points in 53 games. Brogan missed a few games last month due to some soreness, but he bounced back with a full complement of games for February. Rafferty is now seeing some spot duty on the penalty kill, which isn't something that we've seen before this month. Offensively, this wasn't Brogan's strongest month as he put up just three points in his 10 games, but his play in his own end saw improvement.

Including Rafferty, the Comets have four rookie defenders this year. Olli Juolevi is one of those other rookies and he has been having a solid season as well. Juolevi has missed a few games this year with various ailments, but overall, his game has shown improvement when he's been in the lineup. He played seven games in February and earned four assists for his efforts. Olli has been showing a smart stick in his own end, using it to force turnovers or getting it into shooting lanes to redirect pucks out of harm's way. He has also been using his body positioning more effectively, to my eye, and that has helped him to take his man off the puck without taking a penalty in the process.

The other rookie blueliners in Utica are Josh Teves and Mitch Eliot. Both players have had a tougher time finding regular minutes in Utica, but both have had some nice moments when they've gotten into the lineup.

Eliot has a knack for getting his shots through from the point, which should, in time, lead to more scoring opportunities for himself and for his teammates from the rebounds created. He has also shown a penchant for the physical going. For a guy who isn't the largest player on the ice, Eliot does a great job of pinching forwards off along the boards and he looks like he enjoys himself immensely when he can level an opponent with a stiff hit.

Teves has not been as physical, although he hasn't shied away from confrontations after the whistle either as we have seen him get into the face of some much larger players when he doesn't like what they are up to. Teves' game looks to be based more on using his skating to get pucks out of his own end. Josh moves well on the ice and doesn't appear to have any issues with jumping up into the play when an opportunity presents itself. Both players have had stints in ECHL Kalamazoo with the Wings in order to keep them fresh.

Guillaume Brisebois, Ashton Sautner, and Jalen Chatfield continue to be workhorses for the Comets on the back end. All three are penalty killing wizards at the AHL level and this year, we are seeing Brisebois getting the odd look on the power play as well.

Brisebois picked up three points in six February games, while Sautner earned a pair in seven contests. Chatfield played all 10 games and finished with one assist.

The Comets have 19 games remaining in their season and at the time of this writing are the North Division's third-place team with 65 points. Only the top four teams from each division make the Calder Cup Playoffs and the Comets are just two points up on fourth-place Syracuse and three up on an improved Binghamton squad sitting fifth. This will make for a fascinating stretch drive as the team battles for a playoff spot. Stay tuned to this space at the end of March to find out if the Comets have improved their fortunes, or if the battle for a playoff spot continues.

Plays of the Month

Brogan Rafferty Brings The Moves

Tweet from @ChrisFaber39: Brogan Rafferty doing Brogan Rafferty things. Almost with another highlight reel goal.

Lukas Jasek With A Timely Shorthanded Marker

Tweet from @UticaComets: Always follow your shot. @LukasJasek ties the game at three!#SYRvsUTI

Mikey DiPietro Has Some Moves Of His Own

Tweet from @ChrisFaber39: Mikey DiPietro keeps it a tie game with an athletic blocker save on the breakaway.

Francis Perron With A BobbyDazzler Of A Shootout Goal

Tweet from @UticaComets: Perr🤯n

Jonah Gadjovich Makes His Living In The Dirty Areas

Tweet from @UticaComets: .@JGadjovich on the door step ties the game at one!#LAVvsUTI

Justin The Gentleman Bailey Gets In On The Action

Tweet from @UticaComets: .@JustinBailey95 shows off the wheels and net his second of the game!#UTIvsBEL

Lukas Jasek With A Nice Feed To Goldobin

Tweet from @UticaComets: .@LukasJasek finds @NG078 on the back door and he puts the Comets within one!#UTIvsSYR

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