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.
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."
Winning streak snapped. Point streak continues.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 3 goals on 28 shots before allowing 1 of 4 to convert in the penalty shot session for the SO loss.
BNG Grant, (8) , 9:13
SYR Marchessault, (17) (Connolly, Sustr), 18:13
SYR Nesterov, (4) (Connolly, Angelidis), 14:39 (PP)
BNG Pageau, (17) (Grant, Wideman), 19:19 (PP)
SYR Walker, (6) (Gourde, Korobov), 9:32 (PP)
BNG Grant, (8) (Puempel, Claesson), 14:46
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.
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."
Roller coaster Crunch back on the uphill slope.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 4 goals on 25 shots for the victory. Goal support remains a beautiful thing.
ADK Cousins, (9) (Eddy, Manning), 9:31
ADK Noebels, (3) (Akeson, Lamarche), 17:43
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
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
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.