TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have hired Benoit Groulx to become the head coach of its American Hockey League affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, Crunch General Manager Julien BriseBois announced today.
Groulx, 48, was the head coach and general manager for the Gatineau Olympiques of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League during the 2015-16 season, guiding his team to a record of 46-19-2-1. The Olympiques were defeated in the 2016 QMJHL Quarter-Final by the Moncton Wildcats four games to two.
Groulx has worked 13 total seasons as a head coach in the QMJHL with the Hull/Gatineau Olympiques, posting a career record of 460-293-18-59. He led his teams to league championships in 2003, 2004 and 2008, earning QMJHL Coach of the Year honors for the 2003-04 season while coaching the Olympiques.
The Hull, Quebec native also served on the coaching staffs for Team Canada at the 2004 U18 World Championships as well as the 2014 and 2015 IIHF World Junior Championships. Groulx was an assistant coach for the Gold Medal winning Team Canada at the U18 World Championships in 2004. Groulx was also an assistant coach for Team Canada at the World Junior Championships in 2014 as Canada was defeated in the Bronze Medal game by Russia. The following year, Groulx was the head coach for Team Canada, winning the Gold Medal and earning a perfect 7-0 record during the tournament.
The Syracuse Crunch resorted to desperate hockey late in the season.
Despite a promising start, midseason injuries and call-ups left the lineup scrambling, forcing some players to play out of position and outside of their normal roles. A nine-game slide in January and February made the chances of a playoff berth a longshot, but the Crunch rallied with 18 out of 24 possible standings points in March.
Ultimately, the late season push came too late. The Crunch couldn’t keep the frantic pace and finished fourth place in the North Division with 79 points (32-29-11-4), eight away from a playoff spot.
“I don’t think we played desperate hockey early enough in the season,” Crunch forward Tanner Richard said. “It’s a good lesson for me and every other guy that’s here … You can’t wait until the last 15 or 20 games to make your playoff push. The points at the start of the season are worth the same as the ones at the end of the season, and the ones at the end are harder to get.”
Crunch go quietly into that good offseason...
Adam Wilcox allowed 4 goals on 28 shots for the loss.
LV Swavely, (3) (Goulbourne, Sanheim), 8:26
LV Brent, (10) (Conner, Willcox), 4:00
LV Aube-Kubel, (2) (Lindblom, Bardreau), 12:06
SYR Tambellini, (28) (Peca), 19:36 (SH)
LV Sanheim, (1) (Martel, Padakin), 6:43
LV Martel, (22) (Padakin), 19:09 (EN)
SYR Tambellini, (29) (Darcy, Broll), 19:43 (PP)
Jeff Tambellini finished the season just 1 goal shy of a very solid 30 goal campaign.
There were some good signs for the Crunch down the stretch of the campaign, but not enough to say for certain the team has turned the corner. Heading into 2016-2017, they're getting an infusion of more talent, but they'll remained challenged by a lack of top end speed/skill that hasn't been replaced since the Kucherov's and Namestnikov's of the world moseyed their way to Tampa Bay. The Lightning need to get back on their horse identifying more of those speed/skill players via the draft and with undrafted free agents if they want to rebuild the depth in their pipeline and have this Syracuse club playing in the postseason and getting meaningful experience next season.
Box score from AHL.com.
Peca's first multi-goal game as a pro.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 4 goals on 33 shots for the OT loss.
UTI Zalewski, (15) (Gaunce, Valk), 0:18
SYR Thomas, (1) (Broll, Darcy), 4:58
UTI Friesen, (14) , 14:10 (SH)
SYR Peca, (7) (Walcott), 3:02
UTI Zalewski, (16) (Fedun, Gaunce), 6:00
SYR Peca, (8) (Tambellini, Tammela), 14:07
UTI Gaunce, (16) (Zalewski, Fedun), 0:33
Box score from TheAHL.com.
The Syracuse Crunch battled back three times.
The Crunch answered each of the Comets’ three go-ahead goals in regulation but ultimately fell in overtime, as Syracuse lost to Utica, 4-3, in the Crunch’s home finale at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.
“I think we battled back a lot today, which was good,” Crunch forward Matthew Peca said. “Even though we put ourselves in positions to have to battle back — maybe some goals we didn’t want to give up like the shorthanded one — but I thought we battled. We didn’t give up, we tied it late. Tough break in overtime.”
Crunch cough up three unanswered in the Third Period.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 2 goals on 24 shots for the hard luck loss.
SYR Vermin, (9) (DeAngelo, Richard), 0:09
UTI Kenins, (5) (Hensick, Subban), 7:16 (PP)
UTI LaBate, (10) (Grenier, Gaunce), 15:20 (PP)
UTI Pedan, (7) (Bancks), 18:42 (EN/SH)
Syracuse's season continues to wind down. The good news is they're still playing hard despite the harsh reality they won't be headed to the postseason.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
After their junior season ended in a Game 7 loss to North Bay in the first round of the Ontario Hockey League playoffs on April 5, the Peterborough Petes defensive pairing was on the ice for Syracuse Crunch practice less than 48 hours later.
One week into their stay in Syracuse, the duo are looking to learn what they can together before they take different paths next season.
“It’s been a whirlwind so far, especially coming off a tough seven game series in the OHL playoffs,” Spencer said. “Coming right here was all pretty quick, but it’s been great. The facilities are awesome and everyone has been treating the new guys extremely well.”
Jonne Tammela stepped onto the ice for the first time in Syracuse Monday morning.
The Finnish forward, who arrived Saturday after signing an amateur tryout to finish this season with the Crunch, went through skating drills with a handful of teammates during the split practice at the Onondaga County War Memorial.
Tammela is hoping his stint in Syracuse gives him a head start in transitioning to the North American game next fall.
“I hope I can learn more about the system we play and more about North American hockey,” Tammela said. “It’s quite different in Europe, so it will be helpful for me.”
Crunch score bittersweet victory against one of the league's top teams.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 2 goals on 34 shots and stopped all 5 shooters he faced in the penalty shot session for the victory.
TOR Conacher, (2) (C. Smith, Valiev), 0:33
SYR Tambellini, (27) , 6:33
SYR Stephens, (1) (Broll), 11:53
TOR Arcobello, (25) (Corrin, Leivo), 4:45
It was a big win against a very talented Toronto team that by far and away has had the best regular season in the AHL. Unfortunately, the Crunch didn't get any help in the other games around the league and were eliminated from making the postseason. It's a shame for a Syracuse team that's really seemed to find itself in the last quarter of the regular season and had a nice stretch run. As it is, they should finish well over .500 for the campaign with some momentum going into the offseason and some nice new blood coming onto the roster.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
The Syracuse Crunch pulled out a win, but their playoff hopes were dashed.
Joel Vermin netted the game-winner in the fifth round of the shootout, as the Crunch topped the Toronto Marlies, 3-2, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday. Both Utica and Bridgeport also earned points to mathematically eliminate Syracuse from earning a spot in the Calder Cup playoffs.
“We knew it was going to be a tough stretch and we needed a (lot) of help to make it happen,” Crunch head coach Rob Zettler said. “We put ourselves in this position. … It was good to get the win, but it’s certainly disappointing that we’re in this position and not in the playoffs.”