At the beginning of the season, Cedric Paquette classified himself as a third line center.
A defensively responsible forward that plays with an edge, Paquette knew where he was likely to find ice time. But with injuries and call-ups constantly shuffling the Syracuse Crunch lineup, the rookie has found a home where he didn’t expect — on a scoring line.
Paquette has seen spot duty on the top line, but has spent most of the season on the Crunch’s second unit. Forty-five games into Syracuse’s season, the 20-year-old leads the team with 14 goals and is tied for first with 30 points.
“He’s quickly found his way up the charts,” said Crunch coach Rob Zettler. “He just does a lot of really good things. Above all the things he does well, he’s a competitor. He plays hard every night, and that’s why he’s been successful.”
Syracuse snaps their winless drought.
Kristers Gudlevskis, fresh off his one day stint with the Lightning, allowed 1 goal on 22 shots for the victory.
SYR Paquette, (13) (Rankin), 18:06
SYR Connolly, (13) (DiSalvatore), 4:42
SYR Paquette, (14) (Rankin), 6:14
RCH Roy, (5) (Pysyk), 12:41
SYR Korobov, (1) , 19:28 (EN)
Cedric Paquette, Evan Rankin, and Gudlevskis were the game's three stars. It was the Crunch's first victory since January 17th against the Hershey Bears. In the meantime, they found themselves mired in a 0-6-0-1 slump that has likely torpedoed the team's playoff hopes. Even with the victory tonight, Syracuse is 12 points out of 8th in the Eastern Conference. Still, the Crunch can claim a mini points streak of two games and at least look to be getting their equilibrium back. You have to walk before you can run. Next up is Springfield on Friday.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Luke Witkowski has learned many lessons in the first half of his rookie season.
The defenseman is surrounded by quality teachers, whether its a coaching staff with decades of experience in professional hockey or the many veterans that dot the Syracuse Crunch lineup.
But sometimes, the best lessons are taught through personal experience.
“These guys help him and we try to help him as much as possible, but I think sometimes you have to live through some of those mistakes,” said Crunch coach Rob Zettler. “You can tell a guy to move the puck quickly as much as you want, but sometimes he has to learn the hard way and get caught doing it.”
Syracuse starts February with a moral victory after facing some extreme adversity.
ECHL loaner Allan York allowed 2 goals on 31 shots before allowing 2 of 3 Norfolk shooters to convert in the penalty shot session for the SO Loss. That's better goaltending, statistically, than Syracuse has been getting lately. With their preferred backup option experiencing plane trouble, the Crunch had 40-something year old John Parks backing up York for the price of 3 crisp $100 bills and one personalized, authentic, Crunch alternate jersey, which he got to keep. These extraordinary circumstances, of course, made it a remarkable moral victory that Syracuse got a point out of the game. And, luckily, with Ben Bishop feeling well enough for the Lightning, Kristers Gudlevskis has been returned to the Crunch moving forward.
SYR DiSalvatore, (4) (Tyrell, Angelidis), 10:20
NOR Ezekiel, (1) , 9:57
NOR Eminger, (1) (Ezekiel, Laganiere), 15:39
SYR Tyrell, (5) , 2:05 (SH)
NOR- Grant, Etem
Dana Tyrell was the game's second star.
If the playoffs started today, Norfolk would be the 4 seed in the Eastern Conference. So, again, with an ECHL loaner and "some dude" off the street as backup, that's not an unimpressive result for the Crunch. It shows what this team is capable of pulling off when focused. Let's hope that with the disastrous month of January behind them and Gudlevskis back in the fold, Syracuse can parlay that into a good month of hockey. They face Rochester next on Wednesday.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
In the first five minutes of the third period, the Syracuse Crunch seized the momentum.
With Cedric Paquette serving a five-minute major penalty for boarding, the Syracuse penalty killers turned tide on Norfolk and scored the game-tying goal with less than 18 minutes remaining in regulation.
The Crunch searched for the go-ahead goal throughout the third period and overtime, but couldn't complete the comeback, falling to the Admirals in a shootout, 3-2, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday afternoon.
"I thought our penalty killers were outstanding tonight," said Syracuse coach Rob Zettler. "I thought those guys were gaming it out, played hard, blocked shots and got us a game-tying goal, which is huge."