Syracuse Crunch

Crunch Beat Comets, Win North Division Crown


By Jeremy Houghtaling

In a season filled with overcoming adversity, the Crunch were able to achieve one of their goals on the final day of the season.

Syracuse, which has dealt with a barrage of injuries and call-ups all season, rested many of their top players but still managed to pull out a 5-2 win over the Utica Comets, as the Crunch clinched the North Division championship at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

Syracuse begins a best of five series against St. John’s in the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs on Wednesday.

“We’re very proud of those guys. Obviously, with all the challenges we have faced this year, the way they responded is awesome,” Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx said. “We managed to get points in our last five games to put ourselves in position with the last two games at home with a chance to clinch the division. We did it.”

AHL Game Night: 4-15-17 Comets at Crunch

Crunchning Death Star wins North Division crown on final night of regular season.

UTI-2
SYR-5

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 2 goals on 25 shots for the victory.

First Period
5:24 SYR Ikonen (6), (Racine, Froese)
5:34 SYR Howden (3), (Vermin, Brodeur)

Second Period
3:31 SYR Kurtz (5), (Ikonen, Richard)
4:07 UTI Goldobin (18), (Robak)
10:04 SYR Vermin (13), (Froese, Blujus)(PP)
18:46 UTI Goldobin (19), (Virtanen, Sautner)

Third Period
17:28 SYR Erne (14), (Froese, Richard)(EN)

Gudlevskis, Henri Ikonen, and Joel Vermin were the game's three stars. Scary thing is, this wasn't the full Crunchning Death Star lineup with Gourde and Conacher out, and they still rolled a Utica club that was desperate to make it into the postseason.

Things get interesting now. I don't entirely know what to make of this team because it's a brand new, incredibly deep roster, that's only been together the final 4 or so games of the regular season. The North Division was obviously the weak stepsister of the Eastern Conference, so on the face of it the division title isn't super-impressive when you hold the Crunch up against clubs like Pens, Phantoms, Bears, and Bruins. BUT, the Crunch team that played the bulk of those games was often playing defensemen at forward or short of players because of injuries up top. The Crunchning Death Star absolutely has the depth and quality to compete with those teams, but they'll need to develop chemistry on the fly in the postseason in order to do so.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Groulx Likes Result But Not Effort in Crunch's Win


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Syracuse Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx liked the result, but not the effort.

The Crunch picked up a 4-1 win over the Binghamton Senators at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday, but Groulx believed they could have played better.

Syracuse remains one point behind Toronto for first place in the North Division with one game remaining in the regular season.

“Very average,” Groulx said of his team’s performance. “I thought we were a one effort hockey club tonight.”

“We’ve got to be a second effort hockey club in the three zones,” Groulx added. “That was not the case tonight.”

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.

AHL Game Night: 4-12-17 Crunch at Comets

"Now witness the firepower of this fully ARMED and OPERATIONAL battle station!"

SYR-7
UTI-2

Mike McKenna allowed 2 goals on 25 shots for the victory. Sweet, sweet goal support. Let it wash all over you.

First Period
1:20 SYR Condra (14), (McGinn, Peca)
14:30 UTI Carcone (4), (Rendulic, Billins)

Second Period
8:31 SYR Taormina (15), (Gourde, Conacher)
16:33 UTI Cassels (6), (Hamilton, Pedan)

Third Period
2:03 SYR McGinn (10), (Peca, Howden)(PP)
6:22 SYR Bournival (8), (Vermin, Brodeur)
9:07 SYR Conacher (17), (Erne, Gourde)
15:36 SYR Erne (13), (Conacher)(EN)
18:25 SYR Dotchin (4), (Taormina, McKenna)(PP)

Tye McGinn, Cory Conacher, and Yanni Gourde were the game's three stars.

Syracuse scored 5 unanswered goals in the Third Period, keyed in part by the return to Syracuse of several players who finished the regular season with Tampa Bay. They contributed 4 goals and 6 assists, by my count, to Syracuse's winning effort tonight.

Syracuse pulls back to within 1 point of Toronto for the North Division title with both teams having just 2 regular season games left to go.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Yan Getting First Pro Experience With Crunch


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Dennis Yan didn't look out of place in his pro debut.

After finishing his junior season with Shawinigan of the QMJHL earlier this month, the winger took the ice in the Syracuse Crunch's 3-2 win over the Albany Devils Saturday night.

Yan is focused on gaining valuable experience as he begins his pro career.

"I think it was a pretty good game for me," Yan said. "I played physical. I played simple, a bit more than juniors because it's a lot different level. It's professional. It's faster and more physical.

"I think I'll get some more games and I'll be more confident and play my game."

Howden Scores First Pro Goal, Crunch Top Devils


By Jeremy Houghtaling

In just his second pro grame, Brett Howden was focused on doing what he was told.

Drive to the net with his stick down.

Howden did just that and Tanner Richard found him on the back door with 3:22 remaining in regulation and the 19-year-old recorded his first pro goal, as the Syracuse Crunch topped the Albany Devils, 3-2, and moved closer to clinching a postseason berth at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

“He’s been telling me these last two games to just go to the net with my stick on the ice,” Howden said of Richard. “He’s been trying real hard to feed it to me, and he found the seam there.”

AHL Game Night: 4-8-17 Devils at Crunch

Syracuse finally gets on the right side of a key divisional tilt.

ALB-2
SYR-3

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 2 goals on 26 shots for the victory.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
5:20 ALB Auvitu (5), (Quenneville, Camper)(PP)
10:51 SYR Richard (14), (Kurtz)(SH)
17:14 SYR Masin (3), (Condra, Peca)
19:12 ALB Rooney (12), (Gibbons, Stollery)(SH)

Third Period
16:38 SYR Howden (1), (Richard, Comrie)(PP)

Brett Howden, Dominik Masin, and Tanner Richard were the game's three stars. Howden's game winner was also his first professional goal.

Syracuse now pulls to within 1 point of Toronto for the North Division crown with both clubs having just 3 regular season games left on their schedules. Syracuse finishes with Utica on Wednesday, Binghamton on Friday, and the regular season finale against Utica, again, on Saturday. Utica is in a street fight with two other teams for two playoff spots while Binghamton is out of the playoff race.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 4-7-17 Crunch at Senators

Crunch choke in ongoing listless crawl to the finish line.

SYR-3
BNG-4 (OT)

Mike McKenna allowed 4 goals on 26 shots for the loss. My goodness was he awful tonight.

First Period
9:28 BNG Varone (15), (Akeson, Blunden)
16:22 SYR McGinn (8), (Richard, Blujus)

Second Period
14:57 SYR Ikonen (5), (McGinn, Thomas)

Third Period
9:22 SYR McGinn (9), (Condra)(PP)
15:45 BNG Akeson (20), (Varone, Rumble)
15:54 BNG Rodewald (18), (unassisted)

Overtime
1:01 BNG Paul (15), (Rumble, McCormick)

Tye McGinn was the game's second star.

At this time of year, if you get to under 6 minutes left in a game with a 2 goal lead, that's got to get you 2 points in the standings. Having failed to accomplish that, the Crunch still linger 3 points back of Toronto for the lead in the North Division. Syracuse will make the postseason, but a 3-4-1-2 record in their last 10 points to the probability they won't stick around long unless they find some consistency and some ability to make some situational plays in a hurry.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 4-5-17 Crunch at Devils

Organization-wide limp to the finish line continues.

SYR-0
ALB-3

Mike McKenna allowed 3 goals on 32 shots for the loss. Just a little goal support, please.

First Period
17:40 ALB Lappin (10), (Quenneville, MacDonald)(PP)

Second Period
2:12 ALB Lappin (11), (unassisted)(SH)
9:14 ALB Gibbons (14), (Lappin)(SH)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Yet another critical divisional loss for the Crunch puts them 4 points back of Toronto for the top spot in the North Division. The big tell is Syracuse's -6 goal differential for the year, which speaks to the fact they might not be quite the club their 10 games over .500 mark suggests they are.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

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