Syracuse Crunch

Waiting Game Almost Over for Johnson


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Tyler Johnson tried to not think about it.

One step away from achieving his dream, the Syracuse Crunch forward, seeing teammate after teammate getting called up to the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning, kept a positive attitude.

“Everyone’s dream is to play in the NHL, so you’re always thinking about it,” Johnson said Tuesday. “At the same time, you can’t really worry about it. You have worry about playing here, and getting better. That’s what this league is about – getting better.”

Twenty-six of the 46 players participating in the AHL All-Star Game Jan. 28 have since made their NHL debuts, including the Crunch’s Richard Panik and Radko Gudas. Although Johnson was given a look during the abbreviated training camp after the end of the lockout, Johnson didn’t stick and still hasn’t played in a regular season NHL game.

Mikkelson Ready for Crunch Stretch Run


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Brendan Mikkelson is looking forward to the stretch run and playoffs, even if it is in the American Hockey League.

Mikkelson, who had trouble consistently cracking the Tampa Bay Lightning lineup, cleared waivers and was sent to the minor leagues Monday. The Regina native arrived in New York Tuesday, ready to refocus and rejoin the Eastern Conference-leading Syracuse Crunch.

Playing just four games with the Lightning this season, Mikkelson may stay in Syracuse through the Calder Cup playoffs, which would be his first time playing in the postseason since his rookie year with the Portland Pirates in 2007-08.

“I haven’t played in a week or so now,” Mikkelson said. “Hopefully I’ll be in the lineup and can contribute, and be someone who helps the team.”

Prospect of the Week: March 12, 2013

We continue our 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 Prospect of the Week for March 12 is … Radko Gudas, D, Tampa Bay (NHL – USA).

Lightning prospect followers have waited both patiently and impatiently for Radko Gudas to be called up to Tampa Bay, and it finally happened on Monday – but that’s not why he’s our Prospect of the Week.

What to Expect from Radko Gudas

It happened.

Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman called up 2010 third round draft pick Radko Gudas from the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch today.

Finally.

Gudas, a right-handed, people-moving defenseman, has been knocking at the NHL’s door for the past year, but especially in the last two months. While Tampa Bay’s defense has struggled, Gudas has been playing big, effective minutes in all game situations in Syracuse - just like Yzerman wanted.

It was only a matter of time before Yzerman couldn’t afford to leave Gudas in the AHL any longer.

NHL Game Night: 3-9-13 Canadiens at Lightning

Let the Nichushkin watch begin!

MTL-4
TB-3

Cedrick Desjardins allowed 4 goals on 29 shots for the victory. You hate to judge a guy on one start, but there's a reason the guy has bounced around the AHL, mostly.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
05:30 TB Stamkos (19), (St. Louis, Hedman)
07:38 MTL Plekanec (11), (Markov)
08:15 TB Salo (2), (Crombeen, Thompson)
12:20 TB Malone (5), (Stamkos, St. Louis)(PP)

Third Period
03:48 MTL Gionta (8), (Ryder, Boullion)(PP)
07:33 MTL Emelin (2), (Gionta, Ryder)
12:03 MTL Gallagher (7), (Pacioretty)

Sami Salo was the game's third star.

No way the team should have lost that game heading into the Third with a 2 goal lead, and Montreal's comeback looked really easy. Way too easy. This is a really, really bad Lightning team right now and you can't help but wonder what fundamental changes are on the horizon. Specifically, I wonder how much longer Martin St. Louis is willing to devote to a team that will likely miss the playoffs two straight years in the twilight of his career. He's only got a few more productive years, and I don't know that he'll want to wet nurse another top-10 pick next year (possibly top-5 the way this is going) along with the likes of Connolly and all the kids from Syracuse. There's some sad days potentially coming, I'm afraid to say.

Alex Killorn was -1 with 1 shot, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 19:26. One of his three hits helped create a goal. He's a very good all-around player.

Ondrej Palat was -1 with 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 9:24.

Pierre-Cedric Labrie had 3 hits in 6:26.

Cory Conacher had 1 shot and 1 hit in 8:34. Less ice time than Palat? My eyebrow is raised.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 3-9-13 Crunch at IceCaps

Kings of the comeback trail.

SYR-4
STJ-2

Riku Helenius allowed 2 goals on 25 shots for the victory.

First Period
STJ Gagnon, (4) (Mouillierat, Sawada), 4:57
STJ Gagnon, (5) (Cormier, O'Dell), 16:01 (PP)

Second Period
SYR Taormina, (4) (Brown), 2:23 (PP)
SYR Wyman, (11) (Panik, Korobov), 11:44

Third Period
SYR Connolly, (24) (Gudas, Nightingale), 9:15
SYR Johnson, (31) (Panik, Wyman), 10:44

J.T. Wyman and Radko Gudas were the game's first and third stars.

Syracuse again staked the IceCaps to a 2-0 lead and again came back to snatch victory away from them. Richard Panik has 5 points, all assists, in 5 games since being returned from Tampa. Panik attack, y'all.

With Sprigfield stubbing their toe twice against Albany, Syracuse has opened up a 4 point lead in the East with the Falcons holding 3 games in hand. The Crunch are off until Friday when they face Norfolk.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 3-8-13 Crunch at IceCaps

Crunch come back to put a halt to their losing streak.

SYR-3
STJ-2 (SO)

Riku Helenius allowed 2 goals on 35 shots before stopping all 5 shooters in the penalty shot session for the win. With Cedrick Desjardins in Tampa for the injured Mathieu Garon, the Crunch's hopes for the top seed pretty much rest on the big Finn's shoulders.

First Period
STJ Jaffray, (13) , 19:21

Second Period
STJ Cormier, (7) (Maxwell, Gagnon), 2:48 (PP)
SYR Johnson, (30) (Panik, Taormina), 8:15

Third Period
SYR Tyrell, (5) (Brown), 11:37

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
SYR- Connolly
STJ- NONE

Tyler Johnson (pictured) and Brett Connolly were the game's second and third stars. Johnson becomes the first forward in the AHL to hit the 30 goal plateau this season and he is just 1 point off the league lead in scoring. Connolly, as of this posting, is 8th in goals and tied for 6th in points despite not hitting the scoresheet tonight.

For the moment, Syracuse is out in front of Springfield by 2 points in the East with the Falcons holding 4 games in hand. Springfield is in action gainst Albany tonight. The Crunch match up with the IceCaps again Saturday.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Day: 3-6-13 Crunch at Marlies

Crushed in Toronto.

SYR-3
TOR-6

Riku Helenius allowed 4 goals on 7 shots for the loss before giving way to Pat Nagle, who allowed 1 goal on 11 shots the rest of the way.

First Period
SYR Devos, (3) (Connolly, Taormina), 5:32 (PP)
TOR Hamilton, (24) (Gardiner, Zigomanis), 9:55 (PP)
SYR Brown, (8) (Tyrell), 14:28
TOR Abbott, (7) (Colborne, Gardiner), 15:24

Second Period
TOR Ranger, (7) (Colborne, Zigomanis), 1:31 (PP)
TOR Blacker, (3) (Ryan, D'Amigo), 2:27
TOR Abbott, (8) (Hamilton, Ranger), 7:24 (PP)

Third Period
TOR Hamilton, (25) (Ryan, McKegg), 17:24 (EN)
SYR Hutchings, (2) (Devos, Gudas), 18:27

I can't tell you how strange it is to see original Bolt Prospects alumni Paul Ranger come back and help trounce the farm team.

Syracuse has back-to-back games at St. John's on Friday and Saturday. There are 18 games left in the regular season and Syracuse is tied with Springfield at 75 points for the top spot of the East with the Falcons holding 3 games in hand. So, if they want home ice throughout, they need to snap out of this slump quick.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Prospect of the Week: March 4, 2013

We continue our 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 Prospect of the Week for March 4 is … Ondrej Palat, W, Syracuse (AHL – USA).

Ondrej Palat liked being Prospect of the Week so much he did it again.

The Syracuse Crunch winger had his first career hat trick this past week, scoring three goals on Tuesday against Rochester. He was named first star for the Crunch in their 4-1 win. After a scoreless game against Albany on Friday, Palat had a power play goal in Syracuse’s overtime loss on Saturday.

AHL Game Night: 3-3-13 Crunch at Bears

Late game meltdown.

SYR-3
HER-5

Cedrick Desjardins allowed 5 goals on just 19 shots. Ouch.

First Period
HER DiSalvatore, (15) (Taffe, Almeida), 6:53
SYR Wilson, (5) (Jacques, Namestnikov), 8:47
SYR Johnson, (29) (Panik, Barberio), 19:25

Second Period
SYR Oberg, (1) (Panik, Taormina), 1:43
HER Taffe, (14) (Oleksy, Carman), 10:42
HER Taffe, (15) (Carman, Schilling), 16:33

Third Period
HER Schilling, (6) (Taffe, DiSalvatore), 11:16
HER Wellman, (11) (Oleksy, McNeill), 14:47

Ondrej Palat did not dress for the Crunch, fueling speculation he may be on his way up to the show.

Syracuse outshot Hershey 33-19, but still got belted on the scoreboard. Rotton bad weekend for Syracuse. They face Toronto on Wednesday.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

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