Syracuse Crunch

Crunch players, North Division come up short in All-Star Challenge

By Jeremy Houghtaling

With a chance to advance to the championship game, the North Division All-Stars came up just short.

The Atlantic topped the North in the final game of the round robin portion, but ultimately lost to the Central, 4-0, in the championship game of the AHL All-Star Challenge at the Onondaga County War Memorial Monday.

In the half 4-on-4 and half 3-on-3 format nine-minute format, the North — which features three Syracuse Crunch players — beat the Pacific 1-0 in the first game, lost to the Central in the second game 4-2, and finished with a 4-1 loss to the Atlantic.

Crunch defenseman Matt Taormina also participated in last year’s all-star game, but enjoyed the new format.

“It was a bunch of fun,” Taormina said. “The skills competition was the same as last year, which was great. It was good to see some of the different guys out there. This time it was definitely a different game.”

Crunch Trio Soaks in Experience at Skills Competition

By Jeremy Houghtaling

As he rounded the final turn of the fastest skater competition, Matt Taormina’s grin nearly went ear-to-ear.

For Taormina and Syracuse Crunch teammates Kristers Gudlevskis and Mike Angelidis, the AHL All-Star Skills Competition was all about having a good time with the best players in the league. The Western Conference used the final breakaway relay to pull out a 19-14 win over the East at the Onondaga County War Memorial Sunday, but the score didn’t matter after the final horn.

“Overall, it was nice to see some of the guys outside of a competition and being upset with each other and battling back and forth,” Taormina said. “It was good to see everybody laugh and have a good time with a smile on their face.”

AHL Game Night: 1-30-16 Crunch at Bears



Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 4 goals in 27 shots for the loss.

First Period
SYR Yogan, (2) (Ikonen), 15:57
HER Walker, (9) (Barber, Ness), 18:09

Second Period
HER Camper, (6) (Gazley, Carey), 14:58
HER Barber, (9) (Gomez, Bowey), 18:39

Third Period
HER Barber, (10) (Boyd, Gomez), 1:01 (PP)
HER Barber, (11) (Carrick, Bourque), 19:35 (EN)

PTO signee Andrew Yogan tallied a goal in his first game with the Crunch. It was pretty much all downhill from there.

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AHL Game Night: 1-29-16 Bears at Crunch

Bears pull away to halt Crunch point streak.


Adam Wilcox allowed 4 goals on 25 shots for the loss.

First Period
SYR Richard, (6) (Blunden, Gourde), 1:01
SYR Erne, (8) (Blunden, Richard), 5:55 (PP)
HER Boyd, (10) (Carey, Gomez), 6:26 (PP)

Second Period
HER O'Brien, (3) , 1:01
HER Mitchell, (8) (Carrick), 5:08
SYR Gourde, (7) (Martindale, Witkowski), 8:48 (SH)
HER Gazley, (10) (Djoos, Camper), 11:10

Third Period
HER Collins, (10) , 18:55 (EN/SH)

Yanni Gourde and Tanner Richard were the game's second and third stars. Richard's multi-point night puts him at 5 goals and 13 points in 13 games for the month of January. Richard had just 1 goal and 15 points this season prior to the new year.

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Crunch's Quick Start Not Enough in Loss to Bears

By Jeremy Houghtaling

The first six minutes was all Syracuse.

The Crunch netted a pair of goals in the first 5:55 but the Bears roared back for the next three goals and emerged with the win, as Syracuse fell to Hershey, 5-3, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday. The loss snaps the Crunch’s five-game point streak.

“We had a really good start,” said Syracuse head coach Rob Zettler. “(There was) a lull in the second half of the first period and they had some O zone time, but they didn’t have a ton of chances. I thought we had the better chances overall, and carried the play a lot through the third period and the second half of the second period. We had some unfortunate bounces … A little bit of clean-up, but overall I didn’t mind our game.”

Crunch Trio Ready for AHL All-Star Challenge

By Jeremy Houghtaling

While players certainly don’t look past games, there’s certainly events they look forward to.

The Syracuse Crunch’s weekend begins just like any other with a home-and-home against the Hershey Bears. But on Sunday, Syracuse welcomes representatives from all over the American Hockey League for the annual skills competition with the AHL All-Star Challenge set to follow on Monday night.

“It’s a tremendous experience,” said Crunch defenseman Matt Taormina. “I was fortunate to do it last year and experience how it was. The skills competition is an unbelievable time. You go out there, joke with the guys, have fun, and mess around. You get to know the guys a little better too, since we’re always enemies out on the ice.”

AHL Game Night: 1-27-16 Crunch at Americans

80's night in Rochester.

RCH-6 (OT)

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 6 goals on 27 shots for the OT loss.

First Period
SYR Taormina, (9) (Gourde, DeAngelo), 0:42
RCH Donovan, (5) (Varone, Catenacci), 11:48

Second Period
SYR Blunden, (10) (Tambellini, Angelidis), 1:06
RCH Schaller, (6) (Bailey, Leduc), 8:36
SYR Blunden, (11) (Richard, Gourde), 10:01
SYR Gourde, (6) (Blunden), 10:20
RCH Varone, (11) (Rodrigues, Carrier), 10:58

Third Period
RCH Donovan, (6) (O'Reilly, Varone), 1:23 (PP)
SYR Hart, (2) (Walcott, Blujus), 4:09
RCH D'Amigo, (7) (Rodrigues, O'Reilly), 15:37 (PP)

RCH Varone, (12) (Catenacci, Robak), 1:46

Mike Blunden was the game's third star.

Syracuse moves into a tie for third place in the North Division with the point.

Box score from

Witkowski Doing Dirty Work for Crunch

By Jeremy Houghtaling

Luke Witkowski showed little hesitation in getting his hands dirty.

During a stoppage in the final minute of the third period during a game in Binghamton Saturday, a squid -- apparently thrown from the stands -- ended up on the ice. The Syracuse Crunch defenseman and avid outdoorsman took off his glove to pick up the sea creature, gave it a quick whirl as he pondered what to do with it, and sent it flying back into the stands.

“I noticed the refs were skating away from it and no one was grabbing it, so I thought I’d chuck it back up to where it came from,” Witkowski said.

Witkowski is no stranger to doing the necessary dirty work on the ice, and is now focused on improving his game with by logging big minutes in the American Hockey League to make the next step to the National Hockey League.

AHL Game Night: 1-23-16 Crunch at Senators

Season-high point streak for the Crunch.


Adam Wilcox allowed 2 goals on 23 shots for the victory.

First Period
SYR McGinn, (15) (Peca, Taormina), 9:28
BNG Schneider, (13) (Kostka, Dzingel), 14:55 (PP)

Second Period
BNG Kostka, (3) (Flanagan, Robinson), 15:22

Third Period
SYR Koekkoek, (3) (McGinn, DeAngelo), 7:21
SYR Taormina, (8) (DeAngelo), 9:21

Matt Taormina and Tye McGinn were the game's first and third stars. Anthony DeAngelo was just a goal away from the Gordie Howe hat trick, as he had two helpers, including one on the GWG, and a fight in a very full Third Period for the highly touted prospect. It was DeAngelo's second fighting major as a pro after he had his first earlier this month against Toronto. Slater Koekkoek broke a 10 game streak of games without points with the goal to tie the game up the contest in the Third.

Box score from

AHL Game Night: 1-20-16 Crunch at Marlies

Allan Walsh publicity stunt postponed for a short time for a hockey game.

TOR-5 (OT)

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 5 goals on 44 shots for the OT loss.

First Period
SYR Blunden, (9) (Erne, Taormina), 12:25 (PP)
TOR Loov, (1) (Brennan, Arcobello), 18:29

Second Period
SYR Darcy, (3) (Paradis, Witkowski), 19:13

Third Period
TOR Arcobello, (13) (Leipsic, Kapanen), 5:22
SYR Richard, (5) (Gourde, Blunden), 5:59
SYR DeAngelo, (4) (Gourde, Richard), 6:39
TOR Hyman, (8) (Baier, Soshnikov), 10:47
TOR Arcobello, (14) (Morin), 18:33

TOR Leipsic, (12) (R. Rupert), 1:22

Tanner Richard was the game's third star.

Prior to the game the Tampa Bay Lightning suspended Jonathan Drouin for failure to join the Crunch for tonight's game. Drouin's agent issued a statement claiming that the Lightning had told his client that a trade was imminent and that the agent and the player had made the decision to forego further games in the AHL to avoid the risk of injury prior to any trade. The tell in this situation is that the Crunch are playing Toronto tonight, which makes the decision by Drouin and his agent look like a very transparent attempt to create a media feeding frenzy in one of the two biggest media markets in Canada in order to force Steve Yzerman's hand.

If a trade were close at hand, though, Drouin and Walsh have almost certainly jeopardized it with this stunt. The move is clearly an orchestrated effort to hurt the organization while Drouin also, point blank, gave up on his teammates in both Tampa Bay and Syracuse in the process. Any GM worth their salt will now view Drouin and his baggage (Walsh) with an even more jaundiced eye, harming his value and putting Yzerman in a difficult position. Drouin's trade value may be depressed in the short term by this stunt, perhaps making the prudent course for the Lightning to stand pat and force Drouin to report back to Syracuse, which would also send the correct message in terms of organizational discipline. But, do the Lightning really want a player who has put self interest above the good of his team and organization in such a public display in the locker room in Syracuse, even if Drouin could be forced to show up?

Rock, meet hard place.

Fortunately, there is some short term pressure relief in Tampa Bay due to the team's current rise in the standings. Given the team looks resurgent without Drouin, there is less urgency to leverage the player as an asset to help the club up top. So perhaps an extended hiatus for Drouin might not be the worst thing in the world at this moment. In the end, Drouin and Walsh's tantrums aside, the Lightning still hold all the cards in this situation, and they can certainly wait this situation out as long as they please.

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