Syracuse Crunch

Tampa Bay Add Physical Depth Signing Alex Gallant to Two-Way Deal

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

Gallant, 6-foot, 177 pounds, played in 29 games with the San Jose Barracuda last season, recording two assists. He has played in 56 career AHL games, all with San Jose during the previous two seasons, registering a goal and three points. Gallant has also skated in two career Calder Cup Playoff games with the Barracuda.

The Summerside, Prince Edward Island native has also played in 34 ECHL games with the Utah Grizzles and the Orlando Solar Bears from 2014 through 2016, recording a goal and three points.

Gallant originally went undrafted.

Lightning Ink D Jamie McBain to Two-Way Contract

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

McBain, 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, played in three games with the Arizona Coyotes last season. He spent the majority of the year with Arizona’s AHL affiliate, the Tucson Roadrunners, recording eight goals and 43 points. He ranked second on the team for assists with 35 and was tied for third for points. McBain also added four power-play goals.

The Edina, Minnesota native has played in 348 career NHL games with the Coyotes, Los Angeles Kings, Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes. He has registered 30 goals and 110 points. McBain also played in four career Stanley Cup Playoff games, all with the Kings during the 2016 playoffs. He has also skated in 150 career AHL games, recording 18 goals and 90 points with seven power-play goals.

McBain was drafted by Carolina in the second round, 33rd overall, of the 2006 NHL Draft.

Bolts Ink Veteran Goalie Michael Leighton to a One-Year Two-Way Contract

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

Leighton, 36, appeared in four games with the Carolina Hurricanes last season, compiling a record of 2-2-0 to go along with a 3.43 goals-against average and .870 save percentage. The 6-foot-3, 186-pound goaltender has played in 110 career NHL games, posting a record of 37-43-4 with 10 ties, to go along with a 2.98 goals-against average and .900 save percentage. Leighton has also appeared in 16 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, registering a 8-4 record to go along with a 2.54 goals-against average and .912 save percentage. He started for the Flyers during the 2010 Stanley Cup Final, losing to Chicago in six games.

The Petrolia, Ontario native also played in 23 games with the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League during the 2016-17 season, posting a record of 11-7-3 to go along with 2.17 goals-against average and .921 save percentage. Leighton has appeared in 318 career AHL games over 10 seasons, compiling a record of 157-120-32 to go along with a 2.41 goals-against average and .918 save percentage. He’s also played in 16 career Calder Cup Playoff games, posting a record of 7-8 to go along with a 1.79 goals-against average and .947 save percentage.

Leighton was originally selected by the Chicago Blackhawks in the sixth round, 165th overall, at the 1999 NHL Draft.

Lightning Acquire Prospect F Carter Verhaeghe from Islanders

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have acquired forward Carter Verhaeghe from the New York Islanders in exchange for goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.

Verhaeghe, 21, skated in 45 games with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the American Hockey League, recording 16 goals and 29 points with 20 penalty minutes. The 6-foot-1, 182-pound forward ranked tied for third on the Sound Tigers for goals and tied for fifth for power-play goals with four. He set career highs for games played, goals, assists, points and power-play goals during the 2016-17 season. Verhaeghe also played in 16 games with the Missouri Mavericks of the ECHL, collecting 12 goals and 32 points.

The Toronto, Ontario native has appeared in 77 career AHL over the past three seasons with the Sound Tigers and Toronto Marlies, collecting 22 goals and 45 points. Verhaeghe played four seasons with the Niagara IceDogs of the Ontario Hockey League prior to turning pro, recording 83 goals and 224 points in 262 career games.

Verhaeghe was originally drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the third round, 82nd overall, at the 2013 NHL Draft.

AHL Playoff Game Night: 6-13-17 Crunch at Griffins

Crunchning Death Star runs aground in Grand Rapids.

SYR-3
GR-4

Grand Rapids Wins the Series 4-2

Mike McKenna allowed 4 goals on 26 shots for the loss.

First Period
14:09 SYR Gourde (8), (Conacher)

Second Period
0:18 GR Ford (8), (Nosek)(PP)
7:51 SYR Taormina (5), (Bournival, Lynch)
11:50 GR Callahan (6), (Street)
18:10 SYR Gourde (9), (Masin, Taormina)

Third Period
3:50 GR Bertuzzi (9), (Frk, Nosek)
12:41 GR Frk (5), (Lashoff, Nosek)

Yanni Gourde was the game's third star.

It's a painful way for the season to end. The Crunch were 20 minutes away from forcing a somewhat improbable Game Seven encounter before the wheels finally came off. It's been a special team and a special, likely one-off, moment in time for Syracuse. The Crunch are likely to have a youth movement next season, particularly at forward. This veteran laden team will likely move along to the NHL, in a few cases, or to other teams/leagues in quite a few others. The big upside of this run for the Tampa Bay Lightning? In my opinion, it's a lot of quality minutes in pressure situations played by defenseman prospects like Slater Koekkoek, Jake Dotchin, Dominik Masin, and Ben Thomas.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Crunch Set Tone With First Shift, Beat Griffins in Game 5


By Jeremy Houghtaling

The Syracuse Crunch’s offense set the tone on the first shift.

Kevin Lynch’s goal 17 seconds in got the Crunch rolling and the team netted five goals before the first intermission, as Syracuse routed the Grand Rapids Griffins, 5-1, in Game 5 of the Calder Cup Finals at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

The Crunch cut the Griffins’ series lead to 3-2, with Game 6 set for Tuesday in Grand Rapids.

“That first 17 seconds was unbelievable,” Crunch goalie Mike McKenna said. “We got the puck deep. We got four or five hits — they looked like the Hanson Brothers — and then it’s in the net. What that does for your bench and seeing Kevin’s raw emotion after scoring that goal? It’s huge, for sure. It really sets the tone.”

AHL Playoff Game Night: 6-10-17 Griffins at Crunch

Crunchning Death Star destroys one last opponent in the home barn this year.

GR-1
SYR-5

Grand Rapids Leads the Series 3-2

Mike McKenna allowed 1 goal on 37 shots for the victory. That's a quality performance at a moment the team really needed it with their backs against the wall.

First Period
0:17 SYR Lynch (3), (Dumont, Bournival)
4:33 SYR Brodeur (1), (Erne, Walcott)
14:05 SYR Froese (6), (Gourde, McGinn)
17:19 SYR Conacher (12), (Thomas, Gourde)(PP)
19:16 SYR Thomas (5), (Gourde, Conacher)

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
5:58 GR Street (8), (Hicketts, Paetsch)

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

It's not surprising that Syracuse was able to dig deep and have this kind of performance in an elimination, or that Grand Rapids had a slight let down after getting out to a 3-1 series lead. As an aside, this makes those three one goal losses sting all the more. Syracuse finds themselves in the position of being a solid +3 in goal differential in this series despite being down 3-2.

The bottom line for Syracuse is that if they stay out of the box and play with their best energy, they've still got a shot to win this series. The key is to not fall in the media trap/frame of thinking about "winning two games in Grand Rapids." You have to focus solely on Game Six and proving you can win one game in Grand Rapids. If you do, of course it's possible to pick off the second one. Tuesday's the day we'll see if that question gets answered affirmatively.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Late Flurry Not Enough For Crunch in Game 4 Loss to Griffins


By Jeremy Houghtaling

The Syracuse Crunch’s late flurry wasn’t enough.

The Crunch cut their three goal deficit to one in the third period and created chaos in front of the Griffins’ net on a 6-on-4 near the end of regulation, but Jared Coreau finished with 31 saves to lift Grand Rapids over Syracuse, 3-2, in Game 4 of the Calder Cup Finals at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday. It’s the first time the Crunch have lost on home ice this postseason.

Grand Rapids leads the series 3-1, with Syracuse set to host Game 5 Saturday.

“We had a good start, then for some reason it seems they took the momentum of the game for 25, 30 minutes, and then we got it back in the third period,” Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx said. “We had chances. Never quit. Showed a lot of character, but their goalie was good at the end. They blocked many, many shots.

“I thought we did many good things, but they’re a good team and that’s playoff hockey.”

AHL Playoff Game Night: 6-9-17 Griffins at Crunch

Undisciplined, frustrated Crunch on the brink.

GR-3
SYR-2

Grand Rapids Leads the Series 3-1

Mike McKenna allowed 3 goals on 35 shots for the loss.

First Period
10:00 GR Street (7), (Callahan, Tangradi)
17:48 GR Renouf (1), (unassisted)

Second Period
10:33 GR Renouf (2), (Tangradi)
11:45 SYR Gourde (7), (Conacher, McGinn)

Third Period
7:29 SYR Bournival (8), (Dumont, Koekkoek)

Yanni Gourde was the game's three stars.

What a frustrating spot for the Crunch to be in, falling behind 3-1 in the series with all three losses coming by one goal margins. As with Game One, in particular, a lot of difficulty tonight was the Crunch getting into penalty trouble. That doesn't always kill you directly with goals, but it allows your opponent to build possession and momentum and it chops up your flow and ability to get on track offensively. Now, after dropping their first game of the playoffs at home, the key for Syracuse is to not try to get it all back in a single period. The old cliche of "one game at a time" applies: the mission is to pick off Game Five and extend the series back to Grand Rapids and just give yourselves a chance for the comeback.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Crunch Win Special Teams Battle, Game 3 Against Griffins


By Jeremy Houghtaling

The Syracuse Crunch won the special teams battle in a crucial Game 3.

The Crunch netted a pair of power play markers and held the Griffins off the board with the man-advantage, as Syracuse topped Grand Rapids, 5-3, in Game 3 of the Calder Cup Finals Friday.

The Crunch cuts the Griffins’ series lead to 2-1, with Game 4 set for Friday in Syracuse.

“I believe our specialty teams were good tonight,” Syracuse head coach Benoit Groulx said. “Our PK was solid. We had good sticks, blocked shots, our goalie was good. Our power play go had two goals. That was them the other night with three goals on the power play and a solid PK. Tonight it’s us.”

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