In three years, Matt Taormina has gone from struggling to find an AHL deal to being a league-leading defenseman
After a trade sent him from Syracuse to Springfield the season prior, Taormina was humbled as he searched for a home in the AHL and settled on a contract with Worcester in late September 2014. Now the 30-year-old is back with the Crunch, leads all AHL blueliners with 32 points and was selected to participate in the AHL All-Star Classic for a fourth time.
Taormina is embracing his role as a veteran leader as he continues to push for a spot in the NHL.
“If you have some down years, it will hurt you a little bit,” Taormina said. “I wasn’t at my full potential back then, and now I think I’ve really figured it out. I’ve stayed calm and steady, and I feel a lot more comfortable and confident than I have since early on in my career.”
The Syracuse Crunch had their chances in the third period, but couldn’t find the go-ahead goal.
The Crunch poured on the pressure and outshot the IceCaps 17-6 in the third, but St. John’s capitalized on a turnover to top Syracuse, 2-1, in overtime at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.
“Very disappointing outcome, obviously,” Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx said. “We had so many chances, especially in the third period where we were flying, skating, and playing with urgency. We made one mistake and the puck is in the net.
“This weekend was about that. Strong effort, strong game — we didn’t give much tonight — but the other team was very opportunistic and in both games we faced two solid goalies. It is what it is.”
Organization's week of frustration rolls on unabated.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 2 goals on 19 shots for the OT loss.
18:33 STJ Camara (1), (Brouillette)
13:46 SYR Halmo (11), (Conacher, Vermin)(PP)
1:24 STJ Audette (7), (Matteau, Brouillette)
Syracuse does move 1 point clear of Albany in the North Division by virtue of the Devils' loss to Lehigh Valley. Still, the team has been a very pedestrian 3-3-1-3 over their last 10 games and can (and honestly likely will) do better.
Box score and extended statistics from TheAHL.com.
My kingdom for some goaltending.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 3 goals on 18 shots before conceding to 1 of 3 in the penalty shot session for the Shootout loss. Maybe it's not fair to expect more from Gudlevskis after spending a couple of weeks making sure the end of the Lightning bench was anchored down, but it's painful to consider that the organization has been bereft of quality goaltending over the past couple of weeks.
8:06 RCH Bonis (5), (Karabacek)
13:27 RCH Muzito-Bagenda (4), (Karabacek)
17:00 SYR Taormina (10), (Comrie, Conacher)(PP)
1:08 RCH Baptiste (16), (Rodrigues, Schneider)(PP)
2:23 SYR Halmo (10), (unassisted)
10:05 SYR Condra (7), (Taormina)(SH)
Matt Taormina was the game's second star.
Syracuse outshot Rochester by a whopping 39-19 in the contest, but as you all know hockey is a far more frustrating sport when you have to work so much harder than your opponent in order to score a goal due to uneven goaltending. It's a shame, too, because with consistent goaltending Syracuse would almost certainly be a legit championship contender in the AHL.
On the good side, Syracuse runs up to 41 points in the standings to tie Albany for first in the North Division, with the Crunch holding three games in hand on the Devils.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Ben Thomas soaked in what he could in last year’s eight-game stint in Syracuse.
The defenseman joined the Crunch after the conclusion of his junior season last spring, and recorded his first pro goal and three assists. More importantly, Thomas learned what to expect and gained confidence knowing he could play at the AHL level.
Thomas is continuing to show progress during his rookie season as he adjusts to pro hockey.
“I think it was good for me last year to step in at the end, get some experience and show myself that I can play at this level,” Thomas said. “That gave me confidence coming into this year, and I was able to get off to a pretty good start. Those games last year really helped me.”
Gabriel Dumont’s goals have remained the same since he was a rookie six years ago.
A veteran who has competed in more than 400 AHL games in the Montreal organization, Dumont signed with Tampa Bay last summer with the belief that he could earn a call-up to the Lightning.
Dumont has registered 10 points in 17 games with the Syracuse Crunch this season, as he continues to push for another opportunity in the NHL.
“You always want to work on everything,” Dumont said. “You ask any player. Everybody wants to get better, get faster, get stronger, shoot the puck better. I think the goal is — no matter hold old you are — is to keep improving every day. As long as you’re improving, you won’t fall off the radar.”
The tempers boiled over before the opening faceoff and never fully cooled down.
The Crunch's Jeremy Morin and the IceCaps’ Bobby Farnham needed to be separated before the puck dropped and Syracuse captain Luke Witkowski had a run-in with Farnham moments later. The next 60 minutes featured 12 goals, a pair of fights and 96 penalty minutes, but Syracuse emerged with a 7-5 win over St. John’s at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.
“I’m very proud of our captain, our team and the way we responded today,” Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx said. “I thought we took charge of this game right off the bat. They came back — we maybe let our foot off the gas a little bit — but you have to give credit to the other team. They showed character. … For me, we were challenged physically lately, and I’m very proud of our captain and our team with the way we stood up for ourselves.”
Goals n' goals n' goals!
Adam Wilcox allowed 5 goals on 16 shots for the win. A stat line that usually gets you lifted gets the W. Gotta love goal support.
7:29 SYR Taormina (9), (Comrie, Conacher)(PP)
8:24 SYR Halmo (9), (Comrie, Darcy)
9:34 SYR Conacher (5), (Condra, Taormina)(PP)
10:16 SYR Morin (5), (Witkowski, Dumont)
13:24 STJ Eisenschmid (5), (Racine)(SH)
13:45 STJ de la Rose (2), (Friberg, Hanley)(PP)
17:27 STJ MacMillan (2), (Gregoire, Lernout)
2:34 SYR Condra (6), (Conacher, Taormina)(PP)
11:45 SYR Morin (6), (Thomas, Halmo)
12:43 STJ Audette (6), (Veilleux)
9:56 STJ de la Rose (3), (Audette, Friberg)(PP)
19:46 SYR Conacher (6), (Condra)(EN)
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Syracuse Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx believed his team played good enough to win, but the defensive lapses proved to be too much.
The Crunch and Senators each let a one-goal lead slip away, but Binghamton emerged with a win in the shootout to down Syracuse, 3-2, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.
“I thought we did some good things, obviously, but I think our defensemen have got to be better,” Groulx said. “(Goalie Adam Wilcox) was good tonight. He kept us in the game. We gave them two or three breakaways. I think our defense can be better. Other than that, I think the effort was good.”
Bingo's goaltender thieves a win.
Adam Wilcox allowed 2 goals on 22 shots before conceding to 1 of 2 in the penalty shot session for the Shootout loss.
6:25 BNG Rodewald (9), (Varone, Kostka)(PP)
16:06 SYR Dumont (5), (unassisted)
5:54 SYR Comrie (3), (Taormina, Erne)(PP)
19:23 BNG Robinson (6), (Perron, Paul)
Adam Erne was the game's second star.
Syracuse outshot Binghamton 39-22 in the game, but Senators netminder Chris Driedger turned aside 37 shots to pilfer the result.
Box score from TheAHL.com.