A few days after registering a shutout in his American Hockey League debut, Kristers Gudlevskis returned to the ice with a different look.
The mask emblazoned with blue stripes and the outline of a lightning bolt that he wore in his first three wins of the season was nowhere in sight as Gudlevskis dawned a more comfortable plain white helmet for Syracuse Crunch practice Tuesday.
Like his mask, Gudlevskis is back to a blank slate. His 22-save shutout over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers is history, and it's time to move forward.
It’s tough for Matt Taormina to sit out.
The Syracuse Crunch defenseman, who battled an injury throughout the team’s run to the Calder Cup Finals last season, was not pleased that he had to be scratched from the lineup earlier this month.
"I probably could have waited another week or so (to return), because that's what the doctors had said," Taormina said. "But after the first game, and being around the guys in practice and stuff like that, I felt that I could get back at it earlier than they thought."
Seeing Taormina sit out was equally as difficult for Crunch coach Rob Zettler. Taormina has become an integral part of the blue line for Syracuse since his arrival last season, and the 27-year-old veteran's calm, patient demeanor comes in handy in all situations.
Kristers Gudlevskis stopped all 22 shots in his American Hockey League debut and the Crunch surged ahead with five goals in the second period, lifting Syracuse to a 5-0 win over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.
Toothless Tigers defanged by kid Gudlevskis.
Kristers Gudlevskis stopped all 22 shots he faced to get the shutout in his AHL debut.
SYR Cote, (1) (Tyrell), 0:49
SYR Namestnikov, (4) (Kucherov, Nesterov), 2:51
SYR Taormina, (2) (Brown, Kucherov), 15:17 (PP)
SYR Rankin, (2) (Witkowski, Korobov), 16:49
SYR Paquette, (3) (Cote, Witkowski), 19:56 (SH)
Vladislav Namestnikov, Gudlevskis, and J.P. Cote were the game's three stars. Namestnikov with a highlight goal scoring from his knees. Nikita Kucherov now tied for 5th in the AHL in scoring, 7 back of the leader Travis Morin of Texas.
Syracuse moves on to face Albany on Wednesday.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Two points the hard way.
Cedrick Desjardins stopped 19 of 20 in regulation and OT and 5 of 6 in the shootout for the win. He'll backstop most, if not all, of Syracuse's games over the next couple of weeks as Helenius recovers from the dreaded upper body ailment.
UTI Stuart, (2) (Sauve, Dalpe), 4:39 (PP)
SYR Kucherov, (6) (Taormina, Namestnikov), 6:43 (PP)
SYR- Richard, Paquette
Cedric Paquette (Dump Truck!) and Desjardins were the game's first and second stars. Paquette scored the winning shootout goal to deliver the payload! They seriously need to play a truck horn when he scores. Nikita Kucherov continues to stake his claim as the most dangerous power play weapon in the AHL, aided and abetted by partner-in-crime Vladislav Namestnikov.
Syracuse outshot Utica 34-20, and really spent the whole game hurling chances against the wall that was Joacim Eriksson. Forunately, even despite that frustration, they at least made sure to get the two points in the shootout session.
Side note, wow, Utica. The AHL stuck you with the abbreviation UTI? At best that recalls Universal Technical Institute, which is the guys that break into your Judge Mathis in the afternoons (when you're too ill to go to work) to try to entice you to learn how to fix big rigs (not to be confused with the Cordon Bleu cooking college). At worst, that gets medical, as in Urinary Tract Infection. Now, I'm not one to tell you what to do as a franchise, but I might request the AHL to switch your abbreviation to UTC instead (University of Tennessee at Chattanooga having a less negative connotation). Annnnnd a rivalry is born. You're welcome.
Syracuse draws Bridgeport tomorrow night.
Box score from TheAHL.com.