Adam Erne knows his days with the Syracuse Crunch are numbered.
With six games left in the Crunch’s season, the 18-year-old is soaking in his first professional experience. Next year, if the 2013 second-round pick doesn’t make the Tampa Bay Lightning, he returns to the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, who are hosting the 2015 Memorial Cup tournament.
“I guess it’s more preparation for camp this year in Tampa,” said Erne, who signed an entry level contract with the Lightning and an amateur tryout with the Crunch last week. “I know a lot of these guys are going to be there, and it’s going to be a lot of the same skill set. Obviously, there’s a jump to the NHL, but this is as close as it gets. It’s good preparation for camp.”
We continue our Bolt Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for their recent contributions on and off the ice.
The Bolt Prospect of the Week for April 9, 2014 is … Jonathan Marchessault, W, Syracuse Crunch (AHL - USA).
Jonathan Marchessault just experienced a year’s worth of miracles in the span of two days.
First, the scoring winger acquired from the Columbus organization in March scored twice – shorthanded – in a ridiculously improbable come-from-behind Crunch win over Utica on Saturday. Syracuse was down by three goals with less than 90 seconds on the clock when Vladdy Namestnikov scored to make the game somewhat interesting. Namestnikov’s goal was scored with Syracuse goalie Kristers Gudlevskis pulled for an extra attacker during four-on-four play.
After his first practice with the Syracuse Crunch Tuesday, Henri Ikonen spent some extra time on the ice working with fellow rookies.
Ikonen, who signed an entry level contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning Sunday and will finish the season on an amateur tryout with Syracuse, liked the brisk, energetic pace at practice. The 2013 sixth-round draft pick admits he may not be the most skilled player, but prides himself on the effort he puts in.
“I’m a good skater, so I bring some speed,” the 5-11, 184-pound winger said. “I can battle in the corners, win battles and take the puck to the net, and hopefully score some goals from there.”
Down by three midway through the third period, Syracuse Crunch head coach Rob Zettler believed his team deserved better.
Syracuse was outshooting Utica and had more quality scoring opportunities, but the Comets still had the advantage on the scoreboard.
"I just thought we had control of the game, but they were winning," Zettler said.
The Crunch's fortunes turned around quickly.
Syracuse tied the score with three goals in the final 1:39 of regulation -- each time with the goalie pulled -- and Brett Connolly scored 2:36 into overtime, as the Crunch stunned the Comets, 6-5, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.
Never say die.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 5 goals on 25 shots for the OT win. The goal support came late, but whenever it comes it's always a beautiful thing.
SYR Paradis, (5) (Namestnikov, Mormina), 7:16
UTI O'Reilly, (4) , 12:26 (PP)
SYR Gourde, (5) (Korobov, DiSalvatore), 16:44 (PP)
UTI Friesen, (5) (Lain), 11:39
UTI Friesen, (6) (Biega, Welsh), 18:27 (PP)
UTI Kennedy, (1) (O'Reilly), 9:44
UTI Welsh, (5) (Friesen, Sauve), 10:49
SYR Namestnikov, (18) (Paradis, Paquette), 18:21
SYR Marchessault, (18) (Connolly, Gourde), 18:52 (SH)
SYR Marchessault, (19) (Paquette, Angelidis), 19:07 (SH)
SYR Connolly, (19) (Korobov, Namestnikov), 2:36
You could watch 76 AHL games a year for the rest of your life and not see what happened tonight again. In pro hockey, having a 3 goal deficit at anytime in the Third Period should be a death sentence. Having it with less than 3 minutes left in the Third Period should absolutely be a death sentence. Having it with less than 3 minutes and having a man in the box for most of that time really, really should be a death sentence. The Syracuse Crunch scored 3 straight extra attacker goals late in the Third Period tonight to force Overtime. Two of those goals were technically shorthanded. Coach Gordon Bombay just called from Hollywood and even he thinks the plot tonight was implausible and ludicrous. That is not supposed to happen. Ever. There must not be a rock big or heavy enough for Utica to crawl under right now, because Syracuse bent the laws of time and space to find a way to win that game tonight. Wow.
With the win, Syracuse moves to 1 game under .500 with 6 left to play. After winning tonight the way they did, who in their right mind would bet against them to get on the right side of .500 before the year's complete?
Box score from TheAHL.com.
20 goals and counting for the Dump Truck.
Kristers Gudlevskis had a light workload, stopping 16 of 17 for the victory to get back on track.
ALB Pesonen, (13) (Urbom, Wedgewood), 11:30 (PP)
SYR Paquette, (20) (Erne, Gourde), 17:58
SYR Rankin, (14) (Sergeev), 8:21
Evan Rankin, Cedric Paquette, and Dmitry Korobov were the game's three stars. Tonight's goal puts Dump Truck at 20 in his rookie campaign. To put that accomplishment in perspective, here's three recent Lightning prospects who didn't make it to 20 goals as a rookie at the AHL level: Ondrej Palat, Richard Panik, and J.T. Brown. So, ponder that for a moment, and be impressed at what Paquette has accomplished in his first year of professional hockey.
Syracuse climbs back to 2 games under .500 for the season. I still contend a solid goal for the Crunch should be to get over .500 for the year, which will set the tone for a solid season next year.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Two new faces were in the Syracuse Crunch's starting lineup Friday.
Centered by Cedric Paquette, wingers Adam Erne and Joel Vermin were able to get the first-game jitters out of the way during the opening puck drop. Once they got their feet underneath them, they showed how effective they could be.
"It's always good to get the butterflies out of the way early and get going with the game," Erne said.
Vermin created multiple scoring opportunities in his Crunch debut and Adam Erne registered an assist in his first professional game, as Syracuse topped the Albany Devils, 2-1, at the Onondaga County War Memorial.
Jonathan Marchessault still believes he has to prove himself every day.
The Crunch forward already has a contract for next season, is a two-time American Hockey League All-Star, and after coming to the Tampa Bay organization in a deadline trade, leads Syracuse with 48 points. The Crunch may be a longshot to make the playoffs, but Marchessault has no plans to mail in the rest of the season.
“As a professional, you always have to be ready for any game,” the 23-year-old said. “Every game is important, so you’ve always got to be able to show what you have and what you've got.”
Points streak goes up in flames in Rochester.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 4 goals on 13 shots for the loss before giving way to Cedrick Desjardins, who allowed 1 on 11 shots the rest of the way. In Gudlevskis' defense, Syracuse's defense was not sharp tonight.
RCH Irwin, (4) (Varone, Petrecki), 2:48
RCH Catenacci, (8) (Porter, Armia), 15:43
RCH Irwin, (5) , 17:02
RCH Catenacci, (9) (Armia, Makarov), 3:17
SYR Paquette, (19) (Nesterov, Connolly), 19:53 (PP)
RCH Roy, (7) (Grigorenko, Sundher), 3:32
SYR Korobov, (3) (Paradis), 16:36
Fortunately, Syracuse is about to enter ATO season with Joel Vermin and Adam Erne already in the fold (although they have yet to make their debuts) and Henri Ikonen likely on the way. Vermin and Ikonen, in particular, will be counted on to help turn things around for the Crunch next season.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
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.