Syracuse Crunch

Masin, Spencer Make Jump From Peterborough to Syracuse


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Dominik Masin and Matthew Spencer’s change of scenery came quickly.

After their junior season ended in a Game 7 loss to North Bay in the first round of the Ontario Hockey League playoffs on April 5, the Peterborough Petes defensive pairing was on the ice for Syracuse Crunch practice less than 48 hours later.

One week into their stay in Syracuse, the duo are looking to learn what they can together before they take different paths next season.

“It’s been a whirlwind so far, especially coming off a tough seven game series in the OHL playoffs,” Spencer said. “Coming right here was all pretty quick, but it’s been great. The facilities are awesome and everyone has been treating the new guys extremely well.”

Tammela Looks to Get Head Start With Crunch


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Jonne Tammela stepped onto the ice for the first time in Syracuse Monday morning.

The Finnish forward, who arrived Saturday after signing an amateur tryout to finish this season with the Crunch, went through skating drills with a handful of teammates during the split practice at the Onondaga County War Memorial.

Tammela is hoping his stint in Syracuse gives him a head start in transitioning to the North American game next fall.

“I hope I can learn more about the system we play and more about North American hockey,” Tammela said. “It’s quite different in Europe, so it will be helpful for me.”

AHL Game Night: 4-9-16 Marlies at Crunch

Crunch score bittersweet victory against one of the league's top teams.

TOR-2
SYR-3 (SO)

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 2 goals on 34 shots and stopped all 5 shooters he faced in the penalty shot session for the victory.

First Period
TOR Conacher, (2) (C. Smith, Valiev), 0:33
SYR Tambellini, (27) , 6:33
SYR Stephens, (1) (Broll), 11:53

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
TOR Arcobello, (25) (Corrin, Leivo), 4:45

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
TOR- None
SYR- Vermin

Joel Vermin and Gudlevskis were the game's first and second stars. Recent ATO signee Mitchell Stephens scored his first pro goal in the win, as well, and led all Crunch skaters with 5 shots on goal.

It was a big win against a very talented Toronto team that by far and away has had the best regular season in the AHL. Unfortunately, the Crunch didn't get any help in the other games around the league and were eliminated from making the postseason. It's a shame for a Syracuse team that's really seemed to find itself in the last quarter of the regular season and had a nice stretch run. As it is, they should finish well over .500 for the campaign with some momentum going into the offseason and some nice new blood coming onto the roster.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Crunch Top Marlies, But Playoff Hopes Dashed


By Jeremy Houghtaling

The Syracuse Crunch pulled out a win, but their playoff hopes were dashed.

Joel Vermin netted the game-winner in the fifth round of the shootout, as the Crunch topped the Toronto Marlies, 3-2, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday. Both Utica and Bridgeport also earned points to mathematically eliminate Syracuse from earning a spot in the Calder Cup playoffs.

“We knew it was going to be a tough stretch and we needed a (lot) of help to make it happen,” Crunch head coach Rob Zettler said. “We put ourselves in this position. … It was good to get the win, but it’s certainly disappointing that we’re in this position and not in the playoffs.”

AHL Game Night 4-8-16: Devils at Crunch

Syracuse leaves a critical point on the rink.

ALB-4
SYR-3 (SO)

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 3 goals on 32 shots and 1 of 3 to convert in the penalty shot session for the Shootout loss.

First Period
SYR Gourde, (14) (Erne, Richard), 9:29 (PP)
ALB O’Neill, (12) (Lorito, Novak), 12:10

Second Period
SYR Erne, (14) (Gourde, Witkowski), 5:26
ALB Lorito, (18) (Lappin, O’Neill), 13:23

Third Period
ALB Kujawinski, (5) (Rooney), 2:05
SYR Richard, (11) (Vermin, DeAngelo), 5:35

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
ALB- Thompson
SYR- NONE

Adam Erne and Yanni Gourde were the game's first and second stars.

Syracuse falls 7 points back of Utica and Bridgeport in the playoff chase with both teams holding a game in hand on the Crunch. At this point, to make the postseason, it's pretty much going to take Syracuse winning out and one of those other two clubs losing out. Both scenarios seem incredibly unlikely.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Stephens, Cirelli Get First Taste of Pro Hockey with Crunch


By Jeremy Houghtaling

There were two new faces on the ice for Syracuse Crunch practice Tuesday.

Mitchell Stephens and Anthony Cirelli, two Tampa Bay Lightning picks from the 2015 draft, took the ice for the first time in Syracuse after signing amateur tryouts with the Crunch this week. The split practice involved lots of shooting and possession drills for the two centers, who stuck together throughout most of the workouts.

Although Stephens and Cirelli will likely return to their respective junior teams next season, the Lightning organization wanted both players to get a sample of the game at the pro level.

“They’re two smart hockey players,” Crunch head coach Rob Zettler said. “They both have another year of junior left, but we wanted to get them in here and give them a taste of pro hockey. We’ll see -- I’m not sure -- whether they’ll play or not. We’ll see what happens over the course of the next five games.”

Crunch's Playoff Hopes Take Hit After Loss to Americans


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Coming into the weekend, the Syracuse Crunch were on a five-game roll and four points of out a playoff spot.

After posting a 4-3 loss to Toronto on Friday, the Crunch were unable to turn things around in a 5-1 loss to the Rochester Americans at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday. The Utica Comets, who are directly ahead of Syracuse for third place in the North Division, won both of their games and lead the Crunch by eight points.

Although the Crunch and Comets meet Sunday and two more times in the final six games of the regular season, Syracuse’s playoff hopes have already taken a huge hit.

“We put ourselves in a tough spot,” Crunch assistant captain Jeff Tambellini said. “Now we need a lot of help. Not only do we have to win every game, but we have to get a ton of help. It’s not the spot we wanted to put ourselves in, but we’re in it now and we’re going to go down swinging.”

AHL Game Night: 4-2-16 Americans at Crunch

Crunch playoff hopes evaporate against Rochester.

RCH-5
SYR-1

Adam Wilcox allowed 4 goals on 31 shots for the loss.

First Period
RCH O'Dell, (24) (Goulakos, Rodrigues), 19:10

Second Period
SYR Drouin, (11) (Peca, Taormina), 3:39 (PP)
RCH Bailey, (18) (Sdao, Donovan), 6:02
RCH Goulakos, (1) , 11:55

Third Period
RCH Bailey, (19) (Schneider), 15:19
RCH Baptiste, (12) (Catenacci, D'Amigo), 18:49 (EN)

Matthew Peca was the game's third star.

Syracuse came into this weekend with little or no margin for error, and they couldn't afford this little hard luck 2 game losing streak. They outshot Rochester 43-31 tonight, but the Americans have Vasilevskiy's old Russian national team tandem mate, Andrey Makarov, and he was the first star tonight.

At this hour, the Crunch are 8 points behind Utica for 3rd in the North Division with the Comets holding a game in hand and they're 8 points behind Portland with the Pirates holding a game in hand and Portland set to cross over from their division into Syracuse's spot in the postseason. Barring an absolutely epic collapse by one of those teams coupled with Syracuse just about running the table, that may be all she wrote.

Syracuse closes out their weekend against Utica tomorrow, after which we'll see if they try to use the handful of remaining games in the regular season on a bevy of potential junior ATO's.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 4-1-16 Marlies at Crunch

Streaking Crunch lose tight one to league's most talented team.

TOR-4
SYR-3

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 4 goals on 28 shots for the loss.

First Period
SYR Drouin, (10) (Thomas), 18:04
TOR B. Smith, (9) (Kolomatis, Leipsic), 19:00

Second Period
TOR B. Smith, (10) (Stanton, Doherty), 15:01
SYR Taormina, (13) (McGinn, Peca), 19:04 (PP)

Third Period
TOR Leivo, (17) (Arcobello, Brown), 6:56
SYR McGinn, (20) (Peca, Taormina), 14:36 (PP)
TOR Frattin, (12) (Leipsic), 15:28

Matt Taormina and Tye McGinn were the game's second and this stars.

Look at Toronto's lineup. Count the number of guys who have played in the NHL over the past couple of years. Look at their place in the standings. Then, realize the Crunch gave that team all they can handle. It points to a Syracuse team that has started to turn a corner and may be back on their way to being a very good team in the AHL. Unfortunately, at this time of year, there's no such thing as moral victories. The Crunch can't afford to spare any points in the short time left in the season if they'll have any chance of making the postseason. They're 6 points back of Utica for 3rd place in the North Division and 6 points back of Portland, which would crossover and take the 4th playoff spot in the North Division by virtue of the current playoff format. Both the Comets and Pirates also have a game in hand on Syracuse. So, it's going to just about take running the table for Syracuse to make the dance.

Matthew Peca, quietly, has 1 goal and 10 points in the last 10 games.

Ben Thomas got his first pro point on a helper on Jonathan Drouin's game opening marker.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Crunch's Win Streak Snapped By Marlies


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Any Syracuse Crunch momentum was short-lived.

The Crunch’s power play tallied its second game-tying goal with 5:24 remaining in regulation. The Marlies’ Matt Frattin answered 52 seconds later and the goal stood up as the game winner, as Syracuse fell to Toronto, 4-3, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.

The loss snaps the Crunch’s season-high five-game win streak.

“We score a huge goal to tie it at 3-3, the bench was excited, and we were fired up,” Crunch head coach Rob Zettler said. “We just didn’t get the job done on the (next) shift. We’ve got to come back strong. We can’t get scored against there. That’s the way it is.”

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