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.
Despite falling in a shootout, the Syracuse Crunch took plenty of positives out of the past week.
The 4-3 shootout loss to the Binghamton Senators at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday snapped the team's three-game win streak, but the Crunch still have points in four straight.
For Syracuse coach Rob Zettler, it was more about the way his team played.
"I thought our team learned how to play this week," he said. "I thought we were in peoples' faces all week, we played hard, we stuck up for each other. We did a lot of really good things -- offensively and defensively. Tonight we just came out on the wrong end of it."
Winning streak snapped. Point streak continues.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 3 goals on 28 shots before allowing 1 of 4 to convert in the penalty shot session for the SO loss.
BNG Grant, (8) , 9:13
SYR Marchessault, (17) (Connolly, Sustr), 18:13
SYR Nesterov, (4) (Connolly, Angelidis), 14:39 (PP)
BNG Pageau, (17) (Grant, Wideman), 19:19 (PP)
SYR Walker, (6) (Gourde, Korobov), 9:32 (PP)
BNG Grant, (8) (Puempel, Claesson), 14:46
Cedric Paquette was the game's third star.
Binghamton's the top team in the East Division, and Syracuse gave them all they could handle tonight. That's what I want to see right now. Even if this club won't make the postseason, I want to see them competitive with playoff caliber teams, and they've looked that way over the past 4 games.
Interesting to note: Brett Connolly has had multi-point nights in 5 of his last 11 games, and he has 5 goals and 14 points over that span. He's another guy, like Sustr, who could give Jon Cooper some options once he goes up top to Tampa Bay when Syracuse's season is over. Considering the way the Lightning occasionally have looked like they're running on fumes, they have to at least ponder what someone from Syracuse (or anywhere else, for that matter) could do to inject a little energy into their lineup.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Despite going down by two goals in the first period, the Syracuse Crunch kept their gameplan largely the same.
Syracuse cleaned up the backcheck that had cost them early and continued to pour on the pressure at the other end. The Crunch scored three times in both the second and the third, as they rallied to top the Adirondack Phantoms, 6-4, for their third-straight win at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.
"We didn't change anything," said Syracuse forward Cedric Paquette. "We played well since the beginning and took control of the game. We didn't panic and the goals came."
Roller coaster Crunch back on the uphill slope.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 4 goals on 25 shots for the victory. Goal support remains a beautiful thing.
ADK Cousins, (9) (Eddy, Manning), 9:31
ADK Noebels, (3) (Akeson, Lamarche), 17:43
SYR Walker, (5) (Marchessault, Gourde), 7:49 (PP)
ADK Akeson, (21) , 11:54
SYR Paquette, (17) (DiSalvatore, Connolly), 14:46 (PP)
SYR Paquette, (18) (Sustr, Cote), 15:56
ADK Holmstrom, (12) (Delisle, Noebels), 0:59 (PP)
SYR Smith, (6) (Marchessault, Langelier-Parent), 3:35
SYR Langelier-Parent, (2) (Gourde, Witkowski), 9:16
SYR Marchessault, (16) (Connolly, Witkowski), 14:03
Andrej Sustr also returned from injury tonight after missing over a month on the shelf, and he was joined in the lineup by J.P. Cote who has only been healthy enough to see game action in 1 game in the last month. Both defensemen had assists in the game, and both add to the list of reasons to believe this 3 game winning streak the Crunch are on might be sustainable. Also, if Sustr can finish the AHL season strong, he might give the Lightning defensive corps a shot in the arm in the depth department once he goes back up to to Tampa Bay.
The opportunity to make the playoffs is long gone for Syracuse, but they improved to 2 games under .500 with tonight's result. With everything that's happened, if the team can post a record over .500 this year, that's going to be a moral victory at least, and will help lay a foundation for success next season.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Feeling fresh with an exhausted backchecker ahead of him, Artem Sergeev decided to join the rush.
The Syracuse Crunch defenseman watched as teammate Vlad Namestnikov broke into the zone shorthanded, drew multiple St. John's IceCaps defenders to the left and slid the puck backdoor.
Sergeev easily tapped the eventual game-winner home with 2:32 remaining, as the Crunch rallied from a two-goal deficit to top the IceCaps, 3-2, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Wednesday.
"Vladdy has great vision," Sergeev said. "The goalie was looking at him, and he passed it to me. It was an empty net goal, pretty much."
Comeback Crunch start a positive streak for a change.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 2 goals on 28 shots for the victory. Since returning from the Olympics, Gudlevskis is 4-2-1 with 1 SO, a 1.97 GAA, and a .934 save percentage. Suffice it to say he's really taken off since that amazing performance against Canada in Sochi.
STJ Albert, (20) (MacKinnon), 4:14
STJ Chiarot, (5) (Gordon, Samson), 16:23
SYR Connolly, (18) (Smith, Angelidis), 0:32
SYR Angelidis, (11) (Paquette, Namestnikov), 2:43 (PP)
SYR Sergeev, (3) (Namestnikov), 17:28 (SH)
Artem Sergeev, Vladislav Namestnikov, and Mike Angelidis were the game's three stars. Now at 42 points in 46 games, Namestnikov has doubled his point production from a season ago when he had 21 points in 44 games. As with Gudlevskis' numbers, his continued production is impressive given how the rest of the roster has obviously labored a bit this season.
This was a far more impressive result than the 3-0 shutout of Adirondack given the IceCaps reside in 4th in the Eastern Conference at 20 games over .500 for the season. This is a result that gives you far more hope that this winning streak can actually be sustained.
Box score from TheAHL.com.