Syracuse Crunch

Vermin Begins Adjustment to North American Game


By Jeremy Houghtaling

The transition to the North American style of hockey has begun for Joel Vermin.

After a nine-hour trip from Switzerland on Sunday, the forward joined the Syracuse Crunch for practice this week. The Tampa Bay Lightning’s seventh-round selection in the 2013 draft will spend the next few weeks getting acclimated to the American Hockey League.

“Everything is new for me -- small ice rink, new team -- but I’m getting used to it,” said Vermin, who is expected to make his Crunch debut this weekend. “I’m feeling pretty good.”

Vermin signed a three-year deal with Tampa Bay in September, but was assigned to Bern of the Swiss A-League instead of coming over to North America. He will likely play in the Lightning organization in America next season.

Crunch See Positives Despite Shootout Loss to Senators


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Despite falling in a shootout, the Syracuse Crunch took plenty of positives out of the past week.

The 4-3 shootout loss to the Binghamton Senators at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday snapped the team's three-game win streak, but the Crunch still have points in four straight.

For Syracuse coach Rob Zettler, it was more about the way his team played.

"I thought our team learned how to play this week," he said. "I thought we were in peoples' faces all week, we played hard, we stuck up for each other. We did a lot of really good things -- offensively and defensively. Tonight we just came out on the wrong end of it."

AHL Game Night: 3-29-14 Senators at Crunch

Winning streak snapped. Point streak continues.

BNG-4
SYR-3 (SO)

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 3 goals on 28 shots before allowing 1 of 4 to convert in the penalty shot session for the SO loss.

First Period
BNG Grant, (8) , 9:13
SYR Marchessault, (17) (Connolly, Sustr), 18:13

Second Period
SYR Nesterov, (4) (Connolly, Angelidis), 14:39 (PP)
BNG Pageau, (17) (Grant, Wideman), 19:19 (PP)

Third Period
SYR Walker, (6) (Gourde, Korobov), 9:32 (PP)
BNG Grant, (8) (Puempel, Claesson), 14:46

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
BNG- Schneider
SYR- NONE

Cedric Paquette was the game's third star.

Binghamton's the top team in the East Division, and Syracuse gave them all they could handle tonight. That's what I want to see right now. Even if this club won't make the postseason, I want to see them competitive with playoff caliber teams, and they've looked that way over the past 4 games.

Interesting to note: Brett Connolly has had multi-point nights in 5 of his last 11 games, and he has 5 goals and 14 points over that span. He's another guy, like Sustr, who could give Jon Cooper some options once he goes up top to Tampa Bay when Syracuse's season is over. Considering the way the Lightning occasionally have looked like they're running on fumes, they have to at least ponder what someone from Syracuse (or anywhere else, for that matter) could do to inject a little energy into their lineup.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Crunch Come Back to Top Phantoms, 6-4


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Despite going down by two goals in the first period, the Syracuse Crunch kept their gameplan largely the same.

Syracuse cleaned up the backcheck that had cost them early and continued to pour on the pressure at the other end. The Crunch scored three times in both the second and the third, as they rallied to top the Adirondack Phantoms, 6-4, for their third-straight win at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.

"We didn't change anything," said Syracuse forward Cedric Paquette. "We played well since the beginning and took control of the game. We didn't panic and the goals came."

AHL Game Night: 3-28-14 Phantoms at Crunch

Roller coaster Crunch back on the uphill slope.

ADK-4
SYR-6

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 4 goals on 25 shots for the victory. Goal support remains a beautiful thing.

First Period
ADK Cousins, (9) (Eddy, Manning), 9:31
ADK Noebels, (3) (Akeson, Lamarche), 17:43

Second Period
SYR Walker, (5) (Marchessault, Gourde), 7:49 (PP)
ADK Akeson, (21) , 11:54
SYR Paquette, (17) (DiSalvatore, Connolly), 14:46 (PP)
SYR Paquette, (18) (Sustr, Cote), 15:56

Third Period
ADK Holmstrom, (12) (Delisle, Noebels), 0:59 (PP)
SYR Smith, (6) (Marchessault, Langelier-Parent), 3:35
SYR Langelier-Parent, (2) (Gourde, Witkowski), 9:16
SYR Marchessault, (16) (Connolly, Witkowski), 14:03

Cedric Paquette, Jonathan Marchessault, and Yanni Gourde were the game's three stars.

Andrej Sustr also returned from injury tonight after missing over a month on the shelf, and he was joined in the lineup by J.P. Cote who has only been healthy enough to see game action in 1 game in the last month. Both defensemen had assists in the game, and both add to the list of reasons to believe this 3 game winning streak the Crunch are on might be sustainable. Also, if Sustr can finish the AHL season strong, he might give the Lightning defensive corps a shot in the arm in the depth department once he goes back up to to Tampa Bay.

The opportunity to make the playoffs is long gone for Syracuse, but they improved to 2 games under .500 with tonight's result. With everything that's happened, if the team can post a record over .500 this year, that's going to be a moral victory at least, and will help lay a foundation for success next season.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Crunch Rally For Win Over IceCaps, 3-2


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Feeling fresh with an exhausted backchecker ahead of him, Artem Sergeev decided to join the rush.

The Syracuse Crunch defenseman watched as teammate Vlad Namestnikov broke into the zone shorthanded, drew multiple St. John's IceCaps defenders to the left and slid the puck backdoor.

Sergeev easily tapped the eventual game-winner home with 2:32 remaining, as the Crunch rallied from a two-goal deficit to top the IceCaps, 3-2, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Wednesday.

"Vladdy has great vision," Sergeev said. "The goalie was looking at him, and he passed it to me. It was an empty net goal, pretty much."

AHL Game Night: 3-26-14 IceCaps at Crunch

Comeback Crunch start a positive streak for a change.

STJ-2
SYR-3

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 2 goals on 28 shots for the victory. Since returning from the Olympics, Gudlevskis is 4-2-1 with 1 SO, a 1.97 GAA, and a .934 save percentage. Suffice it to say he's really taken off since that amazing performance against Canada in Sochi.

First Period
STJ Albert, (20) (MacKinnon), 4:14
STJ Chiarot, (5) (Gordon, Samson), 16:23

Second Period
SYR Connolly, (18) (Smith, Angelidis), 0:32

Third Period
SYR Angelidis, (11) (Paquette, Namestnikov), 2:43 (PP)
SYR Sergeev, (3) (Namestnikov), 17:28 (SH)

Artem Sergeev, Vladislav Namestnikov, and Mike Angelidis were the game's three stars. Now at 42 points in 46 games, Namestnikov has doubled his point production from a season ago when he had 21 points in 44 games. As with Gudlevskis' numbers, his continued production is impressive given how the rest of the roster has obviously labored a bit this season.

This was a far more impressive result than the 3-0 shutout of Adirondack given the IceCaps reside in 4th in the Eastern Conference at 20 games over .500 for the season. This is a result that gives you far more hope that this winning streak can actually be sustained.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Day: 3-23-14 Crunch at Phantoms

Crunch pass a gut check.

SYR-3
ADK-0

Kristers Gudlevskis stopped all 31 shots he faced for the shutout victory. That's the 5th shutout of his rookie campaign and he's 4 games above .500 with a save percentage than has risen to .909. Those are especially impressive numbers given where the Crunch currently are in the standings.

First Period
SYR Rankin, (13) (Korobov, Marchessault), 6:25 (PP)

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
SYR Connolly, (17) (Nesterov, Paradis), 2:34 (PP)
SYR Paradis, (4) (Angelidis), 4:24

Gudlevskis, Philippe Paradis, and Brett Connolly were the game's three stars.

After an embarrassing 4-game losing streak where the Crunch hardly looked like a competitive AHL team, they showed some pride today to strike back for the 3-0 victory. Now, granted Adirondack is in dead last in the Eastern Conference. But, this is a team the Crunch should beat if they apply themselves and they applied themselves to the task today. That's something they definitely needed.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 3-22-14 Devils at Crunch

Has this team given up?

ALB-6
SYR-2

Cedrick Desjardins allowed 6 goals on 28 shots for the loss. Ugly all around.

First Period
ALB Hrabarenka, (7) , 3:28
ALB Larsson, (2) (Zajac, Janssen), 8:34
ALB Urbom, (1) (Hrabarenka, Zajac), 18:23

Second Period
ALB Boucher, (18) (Larsson, Whitney), 1:36
SYR Connolly, (16) (Paquette, Namestnikov), 2:56 (PP)
ALB Zajac, (9) (Wohlberg), 9:56

Third Period
ALB Sislo, (23) (Timmins, Whitney), 1:07 (PP)
SYR Marchessault, (15) (DiSalvatore, Connolly), 16:14 (PP)

There is A LOT wrong in Syracuse right now. A LOT. And although some tweaks have already been made with a view toward next season, I don't think Julien BriseBois was in Syracuse this weekend just to take in the scenery. As the second half of this season has unfolded, it's become clear changes need to be made, but this last stretch of the year may mean bigger changes. This team is fast sinking to the bottom of the conference, and it's got to be an embarrassment to the Lightning organization at this point.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Crunch Downed By Devils, 6-2


By Jeremy Houghtaling

After putting the Syracuse Crunch on the board with a power play goal early in the second period, Brett Connolly celebrated with an unenthusiastic fist pump.

The goal brought the Crunch back to within three, but the Albany Devils continued to pour on the pressure to hand Syracuse its fourth-straight loss, 6-2, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

"It's a moral victory that we played better tonight than we did last night," Connolly said. "But it's still not good enough."

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