Syracuse Crunch

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.

Crunch's Koekkoek Focused on Having Long Playoff Run


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Slater Koekkoek isn't sitting around and waiting for his phone to ring.

Unable to be called up unless there are injuries to the Tampa Bay Lightning's defensive corps, the Crunch defenseman has embraced more of a leadership role with in Syracuse.

With six key North Division games remaining in the regular season, Koekkoek's main focus is taking the Crunch deep into the playoffs.

"Any time a guy comes down here, they're hoping it's not for long," Koekkoek said. "I'm not sitting here and pouting about it. I'm trying to make the most of it. I love the guys down here. We're working hard and hopefully go on a long playoff run."

Bolts Sign G Connor Ingram to Entry-Level Contract

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed goaltender Connor Ingram to a three-year, entry-level contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.

Ingram, 6-foot-1, 202 pounds, has played in 158 career WHL games with the Kamloops Blazers, posting a 2.68 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage with an 81-50-18 record. He posted career-highs this season in 45 games with a 2.44 goals-against average, .927 save percentage, a 26-14-4 record and five shutouts. Ingram led the WHL for save percentage and ranked second among goaltenders with more than seven games played for goals-against average. He appeared in six WHL playoff games this season, recording a 2.18 goals-against average and a .946 save percentage. Ingram was named the Blazers’ most valuable player in each of the previous two seasons.

The Imperial, Saskatchewan native played in four games with Team Canada at the 2017 World Junior Championships, recording a 2-1 record and a 2.57 goals-against average with one shutout, helping Canada to the Silver Medal.

Ingram was selected by Tampa Bay in the third round, 88th overall, of the 2016 NHL Draft.

Crunch Fall to Marlies in Shootout for Second Straight Night


By Jeremy Houghtaling

There was a serious case of deja vu at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

With the score tied after 65 minutes, the Crunch and Marlies went to a shootout. Syracuse’s shootout struggles continued, as Toronto earned a 3-2 win for a second straight night.

The Crunch came into the weekend tied for first place in the North Division, but the Marlies now lead by two points.

“Two teams that are giving it all on the ice, obviously,” Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx said. “Last night they took the lead 2-0 and we came back. Tonight we took a 2-0 lead. They came back and they found a way twice in the shootout. It’s disappointing, but I’m very proud of the two hard fought battles we gave them this weekend.”

AHL Game Night: 4-1-17 Marlies at Crunch

Crunch fail to protect two goal lead in critical divisional tilt.

TOR-3
SYR-2 (SO)

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 2 goals on 23 shots, stopped a PS in OT, but allowed 2 of 5 to convert in the Shootout for the loss.

First Period
5:06 SYR Lynch (5), (McGinn)

Second Period
6:58 SYR Richard (13), (McGinn, Condra)
12:05 TOR Leipsic (15), (Moore, Findlay)(PP)

Third Period
6:07 TOR Gauthier (3), (Sislo, Johnsson)

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
TOR- Griffith, Timashov
SYR- Lynch

Kevin Lynch and Michael Bournival were the game's second and third stars.

Two identical, frustrating results in a row against the Marlies have put the Crunch down 1 point to Toronto in the race for the North Division crown. They've got the big ROW tiebreaker advantage, so the Crunch will need to beat them clean to get the title.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Crunch Rally, but Bested By Marlies in Shootout


By Jeremy Houghtaling

The Syracuse Crunch rallied in the second period, but their shootout struggles continued in a battle of the top teams in the North Division.

The Crunch got a pair of goals from unlikely sources to tie the score in the middle frame but couldn’t find the game-winner in the third period, overtime or shootout, as Syracuse fell to Toronto, 3-2, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday. The Crunch have 80 points, one point behind the Marlies.

“I think they came out strong again,” Crunch captain Erik Condra said. “We pushed back and came back on a pretty good team and got a point out of it.”

AHL Game Night: 3-31-17 Marlies at Crunch

Crunch lose a key divisional point in the Shootout.

TOR-3
SYR-2 (SO)

Mike McKenna allowed 2 goals on 33 shots before conceding to 1 of 2 in the penalty shot session for the loss in the Shootout. McKenna is finally settling into Syracuse nicely, as he's now starting to regularly put in quality starts.

First Period
7:41 TOR Griffith (9), (O'Reilly, Rychel)(PP)
16:21 TOR Leipsic (14), (Moore)

Second Period
12:16 SYR Thomas (3), (Condra, Masin)
15:20 SYR Racine (1), (unassisted)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
TOR- Griffith
SYR- NONE

Mike McKenna and Ben Thomas were the game's first and second stars. Thomas continues a very respectable rookie season where he's compiled 19 points in 64 games. It's not a staggering stat line, but for a guy who came into the club with some middling numbers (and that's being kind) out of junior, he's really set himself nicely as one to watch the next couple of seasons.

Toronto pulls 1 point ahead of Syracuse in the North Division by virtue of the extra point in the penalty shot session.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

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