Koekkoek, Slater

NHL Preseason Game Day: 9-24-17 Panthers at Lightning

Peca makes his case.

FLA-4
TB-2

Petr Budaj allowed 3 goals on 27 shots for the loss.

First Period
5:39 FLA McGinn, (McCoshen, Bjugstad)

Second Period
14:30 TB Volkov, (Peca, Killorn)
15:02 FLA Dadonov, (Huburdeau, Barkov)

Third Period
4:34 FLA Vrbata, (Hawrlyuk, Malgin)(PP)
12:44 TB Volkov. (Killorn, Peca)
18:55 FLA Huburdeau, (Petrovic)(EN)

Matthew Peca was the game's third star.

Tonight's lineup looked to be a little closer to Tampa Bay's first choice defense playing with a more Syracuse-flavored forward corps.

Mathieu Joseph was -1 with 2 penalty minutes in 17:05.

Slater Koekkoek was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, and 2 blocked shots in 17:14.

Brett Howden was 56% on 9 draws in 15:52.

Ben Thomas was -1 with 2 penalty minutes, 3 shots, and 1 blocked shot in 17:44.

Matthew Peca had 2 helpers and was +1 with 1 shot and 1 blocked shot and he was 30% on 10 draws. Peca's had a solid camp and preseason with his play in all three zones and seems to be making a serious challenge to make the big league squad.

Mitchell Stephens had 1 shot in 11:30.

Anthony Cirelli was -3 and 54% on 13 draws in 16:03.

Adam Erne was -1 with 2 shots and 2 hits in 16:37.

Alexander Volkov had a pair of goals and 4 shots and 1 blocked shot in 15:25. He's played well throughout camp and the preseason. His first goal was a wraparound which might've been a bit of a soft goal gift that Florida's netminder should've gotten to. His second goal was pretty much a tap in driving to the net on a nice backhand feed by Killorn. He'll be an interesting player to watch in Syracuse this season.

Mikhail Sergachev was -1 with 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 23:46. The ice time doesn't lie. The Lightning have big league plans for young Sergachev.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Preseason Game Night: 9-20-17 Lightning at Hurricanes

Junior Lightning strike back in Carolina.

TB-4
CAR-3

Petr Budaj allowed 2 goals on 20 shots through the first 40 minutes before giving way to Michael Leighton who allowed 1 goal on 12 shots the rest of the way for the back door win.

First Period
6:33 TB Erne, (Brown, Dumont)
12:37 CAR Wallmark, (Lindholm, Necas)(PP)

Second Period
2:29 TB McGinn, (Stephens)
4:28 TB Sergachev, (Point, Conacher)
9:25 CAR Ryan, (Miller, Hanifin)

Third Period
12:02 TB Katchouk, (Cirelli, Howden)
18:24 CAR Aho, (Skinner, Linholm)(PP)

Mikhail Sergachev and Anthony Cirelli were the game's first and second stars. Nice to see a younger Lightning lineup pull out a game on the road against a Carolina lineup that included more of their first choice players in front of their home crowd. These back-to-back games, if anything, have helped confirm the quality of the Lightning's prospects as many of these players move into their seasons in the junior and minor league ranks.

Slater Koekkoek had 2 penalty minutes, 1 hit, and 4 blocked shots in 19:01.

Boris Katchouk had the GWG and was +1 with 1 shot in 12:52.

Libor Hajek had 1 shot in 17:47.

Brett Howden had a helper and was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 12:19. He was also 38% on 8 draws.

Cal Foote was -1 with 1 shot and 5 blocked shots in 18:36.

Matthew Peca had 2 shots and 1 hit in 17:28. He was also 43% on 7 draws.

Mitchell Stephens had a helper and was +1 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 11:10.

Cirelli had a helper and was +1 with 9 penalty minutes, 4 shots, 3 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 16:01. He was also 17% on 6 draws. His penalty minutes game for a brawl started after boarding a Hurricanes opponent.

Adam Erne notched his second of the preseason and was +1 with 3 shots, 4 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 12:54. It will be tough, waiver eligibility being a concern, for Erne to make the Lightning out of camp. That said, I feel he gives the team a dimension it lacks as a creative power forward and from a pure hockey standpoint, he'd be on my first choice 23-man roster.

Erik Cernak was +3 with 2 shots, 7 hits, and 4 blocked shots in 20:27. The stay-at-homer's dream box score.

Sergachev had a goal and was +3 with 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, and 2 hits in 22:16. I'm not shocked. He's the real thing. I don't believe a 30+ point season is a reasonable expectation for Sergachev as a rookie, if he makes the squad, but I do believe he can be a solid minutes eater in his premiere campaign if the team keeps him in Tampa Bay.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Lightning Give Slater Koekkoek One-Year Extension

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed defenseman Slater Koekkoek to a one-year, one-way contract worth $800,000 today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.

Koekkoek, 6-foot-2, 193 pounds, played in 29 games with the Lightning in 2016-17, recording four assists. He also skated in 48 contests with the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League, notching two goals and 13 points. Koekkoek also appeared in 22 Calder Cup Playoff games and registered a goal with seven points as the Crunch reached the finals.

The Winchester, Ontario native has played in 41 career NHL games, all with Tampa Bay, and recorded five assists. He has also skated in 10 Stanley Cup Playoff games and dished out one assist in those contests. Koekkoek has played in 180 career AHL games, all with the Crunch, recording 12 goals and 54 points. He has appeared in 25 career Calder Cup Playoff games and registered a goal and eight points.

Koekkoek, 23, was drafted by the Lightning in the first round, 10th overall, of the 2012 NHL Draft.

AHL Playoff Game Night: 6-13-17 Crunch at Griffins

Crunchning Death Star runs aground in Grand Rapids.

SYR-3
GR-4

Grand Rapids Wins the Series 4-2

Mike McKenna allowed 4 goals on 26 shots for the loss.

First Period
14:09 SYR Gourde (8), (Conacher)

Second Period
0:18 GR Ford (8), (Nosek)(PP)
7:51 SYR Taormina (5), (Bournival, Lynch)
11:50 GR Callahan (6), (Street)
18:10 SYR Gourde (9), (Masin, Taormina)

Third Period
3:50 GR Bertuzzi (9), (Frk, Nosek)
12:41 GR Frk (5), (Lashoff, Nosek)

Yanni Gourde was the game's third star.

It's a painful way for the season to end. The Crunch were 20 minutes away from forcing a somewhat improbable Game Seven encounter before the wheels finally came off. It's been a special team and a special, likely one-off, moment in time for Syracuse. The Crunch are likely to have a youth movement next season, particularly at forward. This veteran laden team will likely move along to the NHL, in a few cases, or to other teams/leagues in quite a few others. The big upside of this run for the Tampa Bay Lightning? In my opinion, it's a lot of quality minutes in pressure situations played by defenseman prospects like Slater Koekkoek, Jake Dotchin, Dominik Masin, and Ben Thomas.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Playoff Game Night: 5-17-17 Marlies at Crunch

Five unanswered goals, and the Crunchning Death Star sets course for the Eastern Conference Finals.

TOR-3
SYR-6

Syracuse Wins the Series 4-3

Mike McKenna allowed 3 goals on 17 shots for the victory. Sweet, sweet goal support!

First Period
6:26 SYR Dumont (3), (Thomas, Brodeur)
17:37 TOR Griffith (2), (Moore, O'Reilly)
18:57 TOR Leipsic (4), (Oleksy)

Second Period
11:03 TOR Johnsson (6), (Kapanen)
13:30 SYR Taormina (2), (Peca, McGinn)
15:14 SYR Erne (3), (Conacher, Taormina)(PP)

Third Period
0:08 SYR Peca (4), (Dotchin, Koekkoek)
18:19 SYR Conacher (4), (Gourde, Condra)
19:29 SYR Gourde (2), (unassisted)(EN)

Matthew Peca, Gabriel Dumont, and Jake Dotchin were the game's three stars.

Syracuse's playoff life was in doubt for about a three and a half minute span of the Second Period tonight. Down 3-1, the team looked to be in potentially dire straits. Then the comeback started, and five goals later the Crunch had made their statement. This team may just win it all. How'd they do it? After leaning heavily on their veterans for most of this run, the Crunch youth have started to chip in on the scoresheet, making an unbelievable deep team even more lethal.

Matthew Peca is starting to build a legacy in these playoffs as a big goal, big game player. If you're wondering how we celebrated his game winning goal, assisted by fellow Bolt Prospects Jake Dotchin and Slater Koekkoek: Chad had to go take a cold shower, I smoked a cigarette, and Tim demanded the misses, "Now go fix me a sammich!" We were happy/excited.

Syracuse will play the Providence Bruins for the AHL Eastern Conference crown. Providence was actually the fourth seed in a very deep and very talented Atlantic Division. It'll be a very tough series for the chance to advance to the organization's third Calder Cup Final of the Yzerman/BriseBois regime.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Playoff Game Night: 5-13-17 Marlies at Crunch

Crunchning Death Star thrives on imperial home ice.

TOR-1
SYR-5

Syracuse Leads the Series 3-2

Mike McKenna allowed 1 goal on 27 shots for the victory in the kind of bounceback game you need from your goaltender in playoff time after the odd rough outing (which happens in a long playoff run).

First Period
8:26 TOR Oleksy (1), (Findlay, Clune)
11:24 SYR Peca (3), (Condra, Racine)

Second Period
3:18 SYR Vermin (4), (Conacher, Gourde)
9:25 SYR Lynch (1), (Walcott)

Third Period
1:35 SYR Racine (1), (Gourde)(SH)
16:22 SYR Dumont (2), (Condra, Bournival)(EN)

McKenna, Slater Koekkoek, and Gabriel Dumont were the game's three stars.

With the chips down the Syracuse Crunch brought their best effort to the rink tonight in an absolutely critical Game Five tilt in a tied up series. Mind you, this series should be over right now were it not for the Crunch's late game collapse in Game Three, but that contest is water under the bridge at this point. Now Syracuse gets Jake Dotchin back from suspension heading into a potential closeout game. It's never easy to finish off a good opponent on the road at playoff time, but champions typically find a way.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 4-14-17 Senators at Crunch

Crunchning Death Star destroys Bingo.

BNG-1
SYR-4

Mike McKenna allowed 1 goal on 29 shots for the victory.

First Period
19:08 SYR Bournival (9), (Peca, Thomas)

Second Period
9:26 SYR Condra (15), (Conacher, Taormina)(PP)
11:09 SYR Peca (12), (Taormina, Condra)(PP)
13:01 BNG Gagne (2), (McCormick, Flanagan)(PP)

Third Period
18:17 SYR Howden (2), (McGinn, Vermin)(EN)

Matthew Peca, Erik Condra, and Slater Koekkoek were the game's three stars.

With 1 game to go on each team's schedule, Syracuse remains 1 point back of Toronto for the North Division crown. Toronto holds the ROW tiebreaker, so Toronto will have to lose their final contest in regulation for the Crunch to pull out the title. Syracuse closes out tomorrow night at home against Utica. Toronto is in St. John's to play the IceCaps tomorrow night. Interesting to note the IceCaps and Comets are both battling for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Crunch's Koekkoek Focused on Having Long Playoff Run


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Slater Koekkoek isn't sitting around and waiting for his phone to ring.

Unable to be called up unless there are injuries to the Tampa Bay Lightning's defensive corps, the Crunch defenseman has embraced more of a leadership role with in Syracuse.

With six key North Division games remaining in the regular season, Koekkoek's main focus is taking the Crunch deep into the playoffs.

"Any time a guy comes down here, they're hoping it's not for long," Koekkoek said. "I'm not sitting here and pouting about it. I'm trying to make the most of it. I love the guys down here. We're working hard and hopefully go on a long playoff run."

AHL Game Night: 3-29-17 Crunch at Senators

Roller coaster goes back up.

SYR-6
BNG-1

Mike McKenna allowed 1 goal on 21 shots for the win, making that 2 quality starts in his last 3 outings, by my count. Getting better.

First Period
7:06 BNG Akeson (19), (White, Nehring)(PP)

Second Period
1:02 SYR Peca (11), (Taormina, Thomas)
2:22 SYR Kurtz (4), (Taormina)
15:31 SYR Bournival (7), (unassisted)

Third Period
0:31 SYR Condra (13), (Brodeur, Koekkoek)
10:07 SYR Lynch (4), (Brodeur, Koekkoek)
19:17 SYR Hajek (1), (Richard)

Matt Taormina, Slater Koekkoek, and Mathieu Broduer were the game's three stars, as the Crunch D showed out tonight. That included Libor Hajek notching his first pro goal, as well.

Syracuse moves back into a tie with the Toronto Marlies at 79 points atop the North Division, with Toronto holding a 4 game lead in ROW for the tiebreaker.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 3-18-17 Devils at Crunch

Peca delivers critical divisional victory for Syracuse.

ALB-1
SYR-2 (OT)

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed just 1 goal on 42 shots for the victory, helping the Crunch overcome a 42-28 shot disparity. Since the trade deadline, Gudlevskis has suddenly been locked in while veteran Mike McKenna has struggled, begging the question of who will really be the team's number one goaltender heading into the playoffs.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
2:10 SYR Peca (9), (Bournival, Condra)
17:09 ALB Gibbons (13), (Stollery, Helgeson)

Overtime
1:13 SYR Peca (10), (Taormina, McGinn)(PP)

Gudlevskis, Matthew Peca, and Slater Koekkoek were the game's three stars.

With the victory, the Crunch move out to a 3 point lead in the North Division over Albany with the Devils now holding a game in hand.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

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