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Stephens, Mitchell

AHL Playoff Game Night: 4-25-18 Crunch at Americans

Bye, Rochester.

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

SYR-6
RCH-3

Syracuse Wins the Series 3-0

Connor Ingram allowed 3 goals on 36 shots for the victory in his playoff debut.

First Period
3:25 RCH Redmond (2), (Porter, Blackwell (2) (PP)
19:16 SYR Peca (2), (Masin, Joseph)

Second Period
7:48 RCH Bailey (2), (Malone)
8:17 SYR Foote (1), (Verhaeghe, Joseph)
8:36 SYR Archambault (2), (Stephens, Peca)
10:49 SYR Stephens (1), (Dumont, Verhaeghe)

Third Period
6:05 SYR Joseph (2), (Volkov, Dumont)(PP)
13:50 RCH O'Regan (1), (Porter, Griffith)
19:08 SYR Volkov (3), (Peca, Condra)(EN)

Mitchell Stephens, Matthew Peca, and Gabriel Dumont were the game's three stars.

Well that was an interesting series considering the bluster from the Americans coming into the series based on their late regular season play against the Crunch. One of these teams clearly had an extra gear or two and the other was Rochester.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 3-24-18 Comets at Crunch

Ingram blanks Comets in goaltending duel.

UTI-0
SYR-2

Connor Ingram stopped all 23 shots he faced for the SO victory. The performance raised his save percentage up for the season to the .910 plateau.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
12:21 SYR Stephens (19), (Dumont, Masin)
19:57 SYR Cernak (5), (Peca, Condra)(EN)

Ingram and Mitchell Stephens were the game's first and second stars. Stephens with the gritty GWG to break a 12 game goalless drought and put him just one shy of the 20 goal mark for this rookie campaign.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 2-26-18 Maple Leafs at Lightning

Before the new acquisitions come, Tampa Bay plays a wild one for the fun of it.

TOR-3
TB-4 (SO)

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 30 shots before stopping all 3 in the penalty shot session for the SO win. Stopped a Third Period penalty shot. Stopped an OT breakaway. Was a one man kill on a Second Period 5-on-3 PK. No complaints here.

First Period
1:41 TB Kunitz (11), (Sustr, Stamkos)
8:49 TOR Van Riemsdyk (26), (Hainsey, Rielly)
9:52 TOR Marner (17), (Gardiner, Zaitsev)

Second Period
3:52 TB Johnson (18), (Gourde)
15:18 TB Erne (2), (unassisted)

Third Period
5:27 TOR Bozak (10), (Marner, Rielly)(PP)

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
TOR- NONE
TB- Point

Yanni Gourde and Adam Erne were the game's first and third stars.

Fun game. Wild game. The Lightning entered the game without the services of the departed Vlad Namestnikov with new acquisitions McDonagh and Miller still en route. Toronto was without the services of Austen Matthews, which was quickly balanced by the departure of Nikita Kucherov with an upper body injury. So, the script got thrown out early and this just ended up being a fast, physical, intense hockey game. Lots of goalmouth thrills. Lots of near misses. Some intrigue when Tyler Johnson left the game taking a refs skate to his leg, dropping Tampa Bay to just 9 forwards at one point. Crazy. Ultimately Vasilevskiy was the difference, with an assist to the all-powerful Espo Rule.

Brayden Point is pure filth in the shootout.

By my math, the Lightning need just about 7 points more to punch their ticket for the postseason.

Now we move into the final 19 games of the year with the Lightning coaching staff having the considerable challenge of integrating McDonagh and Miller into the squad. The Lightning came into the trade deadline needing a faceoff man, a right handed D, and some PK help. You could argue they've addressed all three to varying degrees, but it's going to fall on Bowness, in particular, to make some oddly fitting pieces all work. I think, most obviously, the Lightning PK will be way better following these deals and soon they'll get Ondrej Palat too, which will also help. That's the most obvious hole that got filled today. The RHD spot is a little more iffy. The Lightning have a very solid #1 and #2 LHD situation, and I suspect with Hedman as the clear top pair guy, McDonagh can get his time trimmed down from the 23-24 minutes he was playing in New York to more reasonable levels in the regular season that'll keep him fresher and healthier. Problem is, the only RHD they have you can absolutely trust is Stralman. The coaching staff will surely also tell you Girardi, as a well-seasoned vet, is dependable, but I would tell you only on well-managed levels of ice time. So I'll just throw this out there: time to move Sergachev to RHD and have him play his off hand. It's not an odd thing for European players, and particularly Russians, to do. It makes for better passing and shooting angles for an offensive-minded d-man. I think it's worth an experiment. Whatever the Lightning choose to do, with Hedman and McDonagh in the fold they now can be assured of having a #1 caliber d-man on the rink 45-50 minutes out of every 60 minute game. That doesn't stink. Last, faceoffs. Welp, here's where the fix is probably the shakiest. Miller is 54% on draws this year, which is nice, but he's just 49% for his career. It might be an addition by subtraction situation, though, because Namestnikov might well have been the worst faceoff man the Lightning had.

The loss of Howden and Hajek in the deal isn't insignificant, but it's also not a death knell for the Lightning prospect system. They have excellent centermen like Mitchell Stephens and Anthony Cirelli performing well in Syracuse and with Dominik Masin quietly having a whale of a season for the Crunch, the situation at LHD still looks good, too.

Slater Koekkoek was +1 with 2 shots in 7:49.

Erne had a goal and was +2 with 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 14:57. He played a heck of a game on a strong forechecking line with Gourde and Johnson. Very strong on the puck and on the cycle.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 2-11-18 Crunch at Sound Tigers

Third Period excellence allows Syracuse to pull out a winning weekend.

SYR-3
BRI-2

Eddie Pasquale allowed 2 goals on 29 shots for the win.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
12:21 BRI St. Denis (11), (unassisted)(PP)
14:55 SYR Masin (7), (Stephens)
16:52 BRI Dal Colle (6), (Bernier, Burroughs)(PP)

Third Period
3:02 SYR Stephens (17), (Volkov, McNeill)
8:01 SYR Yan (9), (Cernak, Masin)

Dominik Masin, Mitchell Stephens, and Dennis Yan were the game's three stars.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Stephens Shining on Crunch's Scoring Lines


By Jeremy Houghtaling

For Syracuse Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx, Mitchell Stephens may have been on the fourth line, but he wasn't a fourth-liner.

With a glut of healthy forwards and Tampa Bay not calling for reinforcements early this season, Groulx had the rookie center the team's fourth line. Once the inevitable injuries happened, Stephens earned more time on the Crunch's scoring lines.

With a point in 12 of the last 15 games, Stephens has become one of Syracuse's most consistent contributors offensively.

"I remember sitting down with him at one point and telling him that we had no injuries, no call-ups, and it's not because he was playing on the fourth line that we saw him as a fourth liner. ... We had four healthy lines and those lines were made in order to have the team balance," Groulx said. "We didn't see him as a defensive player. I think he needed those 10 games to get more confident and feel the water a little bit to see what it's like to play in this league. Then he started scoring and putting up points. He hasn't stopped since then."

AHL Game Night: 1-24-18 Crunch at Rocket

Stephens continues to scorch the AHL.

SYR-3
LAV-2

Connor Ingram allowed 2 goals on 27 shots for the victory.

First Period
19:14 LAV Scherbak (7), (Taormina, Cracknell)(PP)

Second Period
7:03 SYR Yan (7), (Stephens)
16:25 SYR Cirelli (7), (Joseph, Stephens)(PP)

Third Period
2:47 SYR Stephens (15), (Joseph, Bodie)(PP)
18:50 LAV Audette (9), (unassisted)

Mathieu Joseph and Mitchell Stephens were the game's first and second stars. Since New Year's Eve, Stephens has 9 goals and 14 points in 11 games.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 1-19-18 Marlies at Crunch

Erne-less Crunch drop key game against division-leading Marlies.

TOR-4
SYR-1

Connor Ingram allowed 3 goals on 24 shots for the loss.

First Period
2:25 TOR Moore (6), (Mueller, Rychel)(PP)

Second Period
4:30 TOR Smith (18), (Kapanen, Liljegren)(PP)
10:08 SYR Stephens (14), (Cirelli, Yan)(PP)
15:54 TOR Greening (9), (Marchment, Moore)

Third Period
16:41 TOR Johnsson (16), (Moore)(PP)(EN)

Mitchell Stephens was the game's second star after scoring his team-leading 14th goal of his rookie pro campaign.

Syracuse got Anthony Cirelli and Dennis Yan back in the lineup, but with Adam Erne still nicked up the Syracuse attack continued to sputter tonight against the division leaders from Toronto.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 1-17-18 Crunch at Senators

Crunch winning streak snapped in goaltending duel.

SYR-1
BNG-2 (OT)

Connor Ingram re-entered the nets for the Crunch after Louis Domingue's return to Tampa Bay and stopped 23 of 25 shots for the OT loss. That snapped a personal six game winning streak for Ingram.

First Period
3:22 SYR Stephens (13), (Joseph, Bodie)(PP)

Second Period[b]
18:55 BEL O'Brien (10), (McCormick, Chlapik)

[b]Third Period
NO SCORING

Overtime
2:13 BEL McCormick (6), (O'Brien, Burgdoerfer)

The Crunch offense may have been a little off kilter tonight with Adam Erne, Anthony Cirelli, and Dennis Yan all nicked up with injuries and out of the lineup. The club did get Mitchell Stephens' 13th goal of the season, Stephens has quickly and quietly ascended to the top of Syracuse's goalscoring list on the back of seven goals in his last eight games. His roughly three week rampage surely makes him yet another prime recall option for the Lightning's vacant roster spot, whenever they should choose to fill it.

With the point tonight, the Crunch are within three points of Rochester for second in the North Division with a game in hand on the Americans and five points back of first place Toronto with the Marlies holding a game in hand. The team's 9-1-0 run in their last ten games has put them within whisper's distance of catching the division's lead pack, which seemed nearly impossible just a couple of months ago when the team was languishing around last place.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 1-13-18 Americans at Crunch

Dominguenator helps Crunch run winning streak to eight.

RCH-0
SYR-4

Louis Domingue stopped all 27 shots he faced for the shutout win. That's how you work a conditioning start with style and flair.

First Period
7:20 SYR Joseph (8), (Stephens)(PP)

Second Period
2:11 SYR Erne (12), (Joseph, Peca)
14:21 SYR Stephens (11), (Joseph, Domingue)
14:59 SYR Volkov (11), (Verhaeghe, Stephens)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Domingue, Mathieu Joseph, and Mitchell Stephens were the game's three stars. With news of J.T. Brown's impending assignment to Syracuse, there's a forward spot open in Tampa and darned near every single guy you'd hope to step up and throw their resume across Yzerman's desk found the scoresheet tonight.

Tonight's big win moves Syracuse to within spitting distance of the Americans for the second spot in the North Division. They're now 4 points behind Rochester and seven points back of first place Toronto with a game in hand on each club.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Day: 1-7-18 Crunch at Bruins

Comeback Crunch sweep the weekend.

SYR-4
PRO-3

Connor Ingram allowed 3 goals on 24 shots for the victory.

First Period
0:17 SYR Bournival (10), (Erne, Thomas)
12:51 PRO Beleskey (3), (Cave, Cross)
14:31 SYR Peca (8), (Joseph, Walcott)

Second Period
4:36 PRO Cehlarik (5), (Karlsson, Cross)
12:50 PRO Bjork (2), (O'Gara, Karlsson)(PP)

Third Period
3:48 SYR Stephens (10), (Verhaeghe)
7:26 SYR Erne (10), (Lynch)

Adam Erne and Matthew Peca were the game's first and third stars. Both Erne and fellow winger Mitchell Stephens potted their 10th goals of the season. Stephens has 4 goals in the past 3 games and appears to be yet another forward throwing their resume on Steve Yzerman's desk for a second half cup of coffee with Tampa Bay.

With the win, at this hour, the Crunch have clearly separated from the pack behind them and sit on an island in third place in the North Divison 6 points up on Laval and 8 points up on Utica. They sit a full 7 points behind second place Rochester and 9 back of first place Toronto, although they hold a game in hand on the Americans and two games in hand on the Marlies.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

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