Syracuse Crunch

Bolts Ink Forward Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed free agent forward Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond to a one-year, two-way contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.

Letourneau-Leblond, 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, played in 52 games with the Albany Devils of the American Hockey League last season, notching a goal and six points. His 131 penalty minutes led the team. Letourneau-Leblond also played in three Calder Cup Playoff games.

The Levis, Quebec native has played in 41 career NHL games with the New Jersey Devils, Calgary Flames and Pittsburgh Penguins, recording three assists and 101 penalty minutes. Letourneau-Leblond has also played in five Stanley Cup Playoff games. He has skated in 448 career AHL games with the Devils, Albany River Rats, Lowell Devils, Abbotsford Heat, Norfolk Admirals and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. He has recorded 26 goals, 65 points and 1,692 penalty minutes. Letourneau-Leblond has played in 14 career Calder Cup Playoff games.

Letourneau-Leblond was drafted by the New Jersey Devils in the seventh round, 216th overall, of the 2004 NHL Draft.

Lightning Start Depth Signings with F Michael Bournival

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed free agent forward Michael Bournival to a one-year, two-way contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.

Bournival, 5-foot-11, 194 pounds, played in 20 games with the St. John’s IceCaps last season after suffering an injury. He recorded a goal and eight points while in St. John’s.

A native of Shawinigan, Quebec, Bournival has spent his entire professional career in the Montreal Canadiens organization. He has skated in 89 career NHL games with Montreal, notching 10 goals and 19 points. Bournival registered career highs of 60 games played, seven goals and 14 points in 2013-14. He also appeared in 14 Stanley Cup Playoff games that season. Bournival has played in 104 career AHL games with the Hamilton Bulldogs and St. John’s, netting 16 goals and recording 50 points.

Bournival was drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in the third round, 71st overall, of the 2010 NHL Draft.

Bolts Extend Two Key Organizational Depth Players

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed forward Tye McGinn and defenseman Matt Taormina to one-year, two-way contracts, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.

Lightning Qualify 7 Pending RFAs; Release F David Broll

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have issued qualifying offers to seven players today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.

Players receiving qualifying offers were forwards Yanni Gourde, Alex Killorn, Nikita Kucherov, Tye McGinn, Vladislav Namestnikov, defenseman Nikita Nesterov, and goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis.

The deadline for NHL clubs to issue offers is today. By issuing qualifying offers to the aforementioned players, the Lightning are given the right of the first refusal or draft choice compensation should the player sign an offer sheet with another NHL club.

Forward David Broll was not issued a qualifying offer and will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2016.

BP Commentary (Chad): Really no huge surprises here. McGinn is a nice depth forward who will continue to help Syracuse. Gourde was not part of the Black Aces last year despite being a call-up earlier in the season, but he was hurt. He's also nice depth, a year removed from leading the Crunch in goals. Nesterov was a no-brainer though he's been passed by Slater Koekkoek, but again, depth. Broll's exit isn't surprising. Boko Imama could take his spot as the Crunch's pugilist, though he doesn't have a contract. Boko can go back to Saint John as an overager, or he could be signed to an AHL deal and have his rights retained, and therefore wouldn't count against the organization's 50-man roster. The guess here is Tampa Bay is in a wait-and-see mode over the summer.

Lightning Name Benoit Groulx as 9th Head Coach of the Crunch

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.

Crunch Wrap-Up: Syracuse's 'Desperate Hockey' Came Too Late


By Jeremy Houghtaling

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.”

AHL Game Night: 4-17-16 Crunch at Phantoms

Crunch go quietly into that good offseason...

SYR-2
LV-5

Adam Wilcox allowed 4 goals on 28 shots for the loss.

First Period
LV Swavely, (3) (Goulbourne, Sanheim), 8:26

Second Period
LV Brent, (10) (Conner, Willcox), 4:00
LV Aube-Kubel, (2) (Lindblom, Bardreau), 12:06
SYR Tambellini, (28) (Peca), 19:36 (SH)

Third Period
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.

AHL Game Night: 4-16-16 Comets at Crunch

Peca's first multi-goal game as a pro.

UTI-4
SYR-3 (OT)

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 4 goals on 33 shots for the OT loss.

First Period
UTI Zalewski, (15) (Gaunce, Valk), 0:18
SYR Thomas, (1) (Broll, Darcy), 4:58

Second Period
UTI Friesen, (14) , 14:10 (SH)

Third Period
SYR Peca, (7) (Walcott), 3:02
UTI Zalewski, (16) (Fedun, Gaunce), 6:00
SYR Peca, (8) (Tambellini, Tammela), 14:07

Overtime
UTI Gaunce, (16) (Zalewski, Fedun), 0:33

Matthew Peca was the game's third star. Ben Thomas also notched his first goal as a pro while "The Cobra" Jonne Tammela had his first North American pro point on a helper on Peca's second goal.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Crunch Battle Back Three Times, But Fall to Comets in OT


By Jeremy Houghtaling

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.”

AHL Game Night: 4-15-16 Crunch at Comets

Crunch cough up three unanswered in the Third Period.

SYR-1
UTI-3

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 2 goals on 24 shots for the hard luck loss.

First Period
SYR Vermin, (9) (DeAngelo, Richard), 0:09

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
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.

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