Syracuse Crunch

Thomas Quickly Settling In With Crunch


By Jeremy Houghtaling

It took a shift or two, but Ben Thomas’ nerves subsided.

Less than a week after signing his entry level contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning, the 19-year-old defenseman made his professional debut with the Syracuse Crunch in a 3-1 win over the Rochester Americans Saturday.

Thomas has quickly settled in on the Crunch’s blue line.

“I was a little nervous going in, obviously, but I thought after I got that first shift out of the way and felt the puck a little bit I settled down,” Thomas said. “I think it went pretty smoothly.”

Crunch Continue to Roll With Win Over Americans


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Rob Zettler wanted to make sure Syracuse didn’t let up.

The Crunch head coach reminded his team of the Americans’ recent games with big third periods. After taking a two-goal lead in the first period, Syracuse buckled down on defense to top Rochester, 3-1, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

The Crunch has won five straight — a season high — and remain in fourth place in the North Division, two points behind Utica.

“It was very important for our energy and our vibe,” Zettler said of taking the early lead. “I thought we played really well in the first couple periods, but my message to the team was ‘This is how Rochester has been rolling. They don’t come out strong and give up an early lead, but then they come roaring back.’”

AHL Game Night: 3-26-16 Americans at Crunch

Crunch score gigantic win as playoff push continues.

RCH-1
SYR-3

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 1 goal on 40 shots for the victory. He was a difference maker tonight, and he's now run off 5 straight wins and he's got a .936 save percentage this month. Peaking in crunch time.

First Period
SYR Drouin, (9) (Peca, Martindale), 8:11 (PP)
SYR Gourde, (13) (Ikonen, Martindale), 14:50

Second Period
SYR Martindale, (4) (Gourde, Ikonen), 11:55
RCH Baptiste, (11) (Mormina), 17:50

Third Period
NO SCORING

Ryan Martindale, Gudlevskis, and Yanni Gourde were the game's three stars.

Tonight was a crucially important 4-point divisional encounter, and by virtue of the win the 4th place Crunch extended their margin over the 5th place Americans to 6 points with Rochester holding 2 points in hand. Just as importantly, Syracuse stays within 2 points of 3rd place Utica, which beat the tar out of Binghamton tonight. With the divisional crossover rule, the Crunch likely need to catch Utica, which has 2 games in hand on Syracuse and a big ROW advantage. It may take Syracuse darned near running the table to make the postseason, and they're making a good go at just that. Oh, by the way, there's a home-and-home against Utica in 2 weeks. 4/15 and 4/16. Circle it on your calendars and double star it, too.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Crunch Top Devils for Fourth-Straight Win


By Jeremy Houghtaling

The Syracuse Crunch have found a way to string together wins when they need them the most.

The Crunch took the lead over the Devils in the first period and hung on through the final 40-plus minutes, as Syracuse topped Albany, 3-1, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday. The Crunch have won four straight and have points in five consecutive games to move up to fourth place in the North Division.

“It’s not only crucial, it’s necessary,” Crunch head coach Rob Zettler said of earning standings points. “We are where we are, and I think we got some help tonight. … I just thought our guys played really well tonight. They played hard and (goalie Kristers Gudlevskis) was there when we needed him. For the most part, they played the game the right way.”

AHL Game Night: 3-25-16 Devils at Crunch

Crunch beginning to master the playoff push.

ALB-1
SYR-3

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 1 goal on 30 shots for the victory. 4 straight wins now from Kristers, who has refound his form after scuttling through January and February.

First Period
SYR Blujus, (6) (Peca, McGinn), 8:41
ALB Johnson, (2) (Crandall), 11:59
SYR Martindale, (3) (Gourde, Koekkoek), 13:16

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
SYR Drouin, (8) (Erne, Richard), 7:42

Dylan Blujus, Gudlevskis, and Jonathan Drouin were the game's three stars. With a fourth alarm clock now acquired and in place, nothing can stop Jonathan Drouin. And yes, I'll applaud whichever BoltProspects reader cleverly Photoshops Drouin sporting the Flavor Flav clock chain.

For the moment, Syracuse moves into 4th in the North Division by virtue of their 7-2-1 record over the last 10 games. However, it's looking like to get into the dance, Syracuse will need to get all the way up to 3rd in the division because of the unbalanced divisions. They're 1 point back of Utica now, but the Comets have 2 games in hand. Bottom line: they have to stay this hot the next 9 games to make it in.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 3-23-16 Crunch at Comets

No Drouin, no problem.

SYR-3
UTI-1

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 1 goal on 29 shots for the victory.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
UTI Friesen, (10) (Sautner, Kenins), 4:12
SYR Erne, (12) (Richard, Gourde), 10:37
SYR Vermin, (6) (Peca, Martindale), 19:01 (PP)

Third Period
SYR Peca, (6) (Tambellini, Vermin), 19:45 (EN)

Joel Vermin and Gudlevskis were the game's first and second stars.

Jonathan Drouin was scratched for oversleeping and missing a pregame meeting, but through the contributions of others like Matthew Peca and his 1 goal and 1 assist, the Crunch overcame his absence.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Taormina Brings A Little of Everything to Crunch Blue Line


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Matt Taormina’s role with the Syracuse Crunch includes a little bit of everything.

The defenseman is one of the team’s main power play quarterbacks, a top penalty killer, a workhorse on the blue line during 5-on-5, and a veteran presence in the room. Taormina’s play has earned him a spot in the AHL All-Star Classic, as well multiple call-ups to the Tampa Bay Lightning this season.

In his seventh full pro season, Taormina still lets his play do most of the talking.

“His best asset as far as being a role model for the players is how he approaches the game during practice and in the games,” Crunch head coach Rob Zettler said. “He’s not a real vocal guy who’s loud and in people’s face. He just does his job.”

Power Play, Big Second Period Lift Crunch Over IceCaps


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Bolstered by an strong performance on the power play, the Crunch pulled away in the second period.

Syracuse scored four times in the middle frame and netted three goals with the man-advantage, as the Crunch routed the St. John’s IceCaps, 6-2, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Sunday.

“We had some early kills which were really good, and our power play came through,” Crunch head coach Rob Zettler said. “I think we were 3-for-3 on the first three of them, so that was a good thing that changed the game for us. I thought our guys played well and there was a number of guys who stepped it up tonight in a big game for us in a three-in-three.”

AHL Game Day: 3-20-16 IceCaps at Crunch

IceCaps crushed under an avalanche of multi-point nights by Syracuse.

STJ-2
SYR-6

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 2 goals on 24 shots for the victory. Bath in the waters of sweet, sweet goal support, Kristers. Savor it.

First Period
STJ Hudon, (21) (Holloway, MacMillan), 1:23
SYR Gourde, (11) (Blujus, Richard), 7:10
SYR Tambellini, (24) (DeAngelo, Gourde), 14:25 (PP)

Second Period
SYR Richard, (10) (DeAngelo, Tambellini), 9:16 (PP)
SYR Gourde, (12) (Koekkoek), 10:46
SYR Drouin, (6) (DeAngelo, Richard), 12:31
STJ Hudon, (22) (Ellis, Holloway), 14:49 (PP)
SYR Drouin, (7) (McGinn, Vermin), 19:45 (PP)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Yanni Gourde, Tanner Richard, and Jonathan Drouin were the game's three stars. Jeff Tambellini and Anthony DeAngelo also had multi-point nights, with DeAngelo breaking the 40 point plateau for the season with his 3 assists.

Syracuse continues to hover just on the outer edge of the playoff picture with just 11 games left in their regular season. Their 6-2-1-1 record in the last 10 games and back-to-back wins have given them a chance, but they'll need to keep up the pace to make it to the dance.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Martindale Leads Crunch to Win Over IceCaps


By Jeremy Houghtaling

One night after being scratched, Ryan Martindale broke out in a big way.

Despite being held scoreless in 12 AHL games this year, the Crunch center netted a pair of goals and added an assist to lead Syracuse to a 3-2 win over the St. John’s IceCaps at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

“He made a huge difference for us,” Crunch head coach Rob Zettler said. “Obviously, he scored two goals. But more than that, he ended up playing against their top line all night and he did a heck of a job.”

Syracuse’s Jeff Tambellini added a goal and an assist, while Yanni Gourde, Henri Ikonen, and Anthony DeAngelo each chipped in an assist.

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