Crunch Begin Another Quest for Calder Cup

By Jeremy Houghtaling

The ultimate goal remains the same every year.

While every team in the American Hockey League chases the Calder Cup, the Tampa Bay Lighting’s AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, are looking to rekindle the magic that took them to the league championship series in 2013. Less than three years have passed, but the memories of 2013 seem to be shrinking in the rear view mirror.

The Crunch will take their first step toward that goal when they open the 2015-16 on the road against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms Saturday.

“It’s gone by fast, without a doubt,” said Crunch head coach Rob Zettler. “The people have changed except for a couple, but it does feel like a while away. I feel like we’ve learned a lot over these last two years, and we’re continuing to grow. The goal, as always, is to make the playoffs and win the Calder Cup.”

NCAA Game Night: 10-9-15

No. 10 Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks 3 @ No. 6 Minnesota State Mavericks 2

W Jimmy Mullin, MSU: 1-0-1, -1, 0 PIM, 3 SOG, *Third Star*
2013-2014 totals (Miami): 19 GP, 1-6-7, 23 PIM

Jimmy Mullin played in an official game for the first time in well over a year, scoring in a 3-2 Minnesota State upset loss to Nebraska-Omaha. Mullin was last seen with the University of Miami (Ohio), where he sustained a major knee injury while playing sparingly in his junior season. He redshirted last season at Miami and transferred to Mankato in the summer. Mullin showed well at the Lightning’s prospect development camp in July and carried that into the season, matching his junior season goal total in one night.

*USCHO poll used

Juniors Game Night: 10-9-15

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Saint John Sea Dogs 3 @ Charlottetown Islanders 1

W Bokondji Imama, SJ: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 1 SOG, 5 Hits
Season totals: 4 GP, 2-1-3, +1, 2 PIM
2013-2014 Season: 59 GP, 13-15-28, +2, 137 PIM

W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: 1-0-1, +2, 0 PIM, 2 SOG, 1 Hits
Season totals: 4 GP, 3-1-4, +3, 2 PIM
2013-2014 Season: 59 GP, 21-21-42, +18, 46 PIM

Joseph had a shorthanded goal and Imama led the team in hits as Saint John won on PEI, 3-1.

Rouyn-Noranda Huskies 7 @ Shawinigan Cataractes 8 (OT)

W Dennis Yan, SHAW: 3-2-5, +2, 4 PIM, 6 SOG, 2 Hits, *Second Star*
Season totals: 6 GP, 6-5-11, -1, 10 PIM
2014-2015 Season: 59 GP, 33-31-64, +23, 71 PIM

Dennis Yan had a hat trick and added two assists to help the Cataractes to an 8-7 overtime win over the Huskies. Yan had a goal in each period, as well as the secondary assist on Anthony Beauvillier’s overtime winner. Beauvillier, a New York Islanders first rounder, was also 3-2-5 for the game, but was named first star.

Ontario Hockey League

Oshawa Generals 2 @ Ottawa 67’s 4

C Anthony Cirelli, OSH: 0-0-0, -2, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Season totals: 7 GP, 2-2-4, -5, 0 PIM
2014-15 totals: 68 GP, 13-23-36, +34, 22 PIM

The 67’s had a 3-0 lead before Oshawa got on the scoreboard. The Gens had a lengthy 5 on 3 power play to try to get back into the game, but gave up two shorthanded breakaways in the sequence. Cirelli was on the ice for the shift that drew the original penalty, then all of the 5 on 3. Ottawa added another goal late to give the game its final score, 4-1.

Windsor Spitfires 3 @ Kitchener Rangers 2 (OT)

W Cristiano DiGiacinto, WSR: 0-2-2, +1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Season totals: 5 GP, 2-4-6, +3, 4 PIM
2014-15 totals: 63 GP, 21-24-45, -16, 100 PIM

Cristiano DiGiacinto had two assists, including the primary helper on Christian Fisher’s overtime winner, in the Spits’ win at the Aud in Kitchener.

Saginaw Spirit 5 @ Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 2

W Mitchell Stephens, SAG: 0-1-1, E, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Season totals: 4 GP, 4-1-5, +3, 6 PIM
2014-15 totals: 62 GP, 22-26-48, -17, 44 PIM

Saginaw outshot the Soo 37-15 en route to a 5-2 road win. Stephens was coming off a hat trick in his last game.

Western Hockey League

Edmonton Oil Kings 4 @ Moose Jaw Warriors 3 (SO)

D Brayden Point, MJ: 1-1-2, -2, 0 PIM, *First Star*
Season totals: 3 GP, 5-4-9, +2, 2 PIM
2015-16 totals: 60 GP, 38-49-87, +6, 46 PIM

Moose Jaw lost Friday in an old-fashioned shootout, 4-3 to Edmonton. Brayden Point continued his assault on WHL goalies, scoring on a power play penalty shot, then again as Moose Jaw’s first shooter in the shootout. The Oil Kings won the skills competition, 2-1. Point has two first stars and one second in his three games this season.

Red Deer Rebels 1 @ Calgary Hitmen 4

D Ben Thomas, CAL: 0-0-0, -1, 2 PIM
Season totals: 6 GP, 0-1-1, -5, 8 PIM
2014-15 totals: 60 GP, 7-24-31, +16, 28 PIM

Calgary improved to 5-1 with a solid win over rival Red Deer. Ben Thomas was scoreless and minus-1, dropping him to a team-worst minus-5 on the year. His former defense partner, Travis Sanheim (Flyers), leads the Hitmen at plus-7.

United States Hockey League

Des Moines Buccaneers 2 @ Omaha Lancers 3 (OT)

G Kris Oldham, OMA: Win, 31 saves on 33 shots, *Third Star*
Season totals: 3 GP, 2-1, 2.46 GAA, .923 sv%
2014-15 totals: 33 GP, 21-6-4, 2.49 GAA, .908 sv%, 1 SO
(University of Nebraska-Omaha commit)

The Lancers squeaked by the visiting Buccaneers, 3-2 in overtime. Oldham has won two straight games since being pulled on opening night.

Bloomington Thunder 2 @ Sioux City Musketeers 1

D Ryan Zuhlsdorf, SC: 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM, 3 SOG
Season totals: 4 GP, 0-1-1, -2, 4 PIM
2014-15 totals: 56 GP, 3-19-22, +25, 58 PIM
(University of Minnesota commit)

St. Louis native Cameron Gornet (undrafted, uncommitted) stopped 27 of 29 shots to steal a road win for Bloomington in Sioux City.

KHL Game Day: 10-9-15

Magnitogorsk 2 vs. Bratislava 3
Vasily Koshechkin, Magnitogorsk, No Decision, 5/7, 8.18 GAA, .714 sv%
Season totals: 17 GP, 7-5-4, 0 SO, 2.08 GAA, .923 sv%

Vasily Koshechkin was lifted after 14:40 in Magnitogorsk's 3-2 loss to Slovan Bratislava. Caps first rounder Ilya Samsonov allowed 1 goal on 14 shots the rest of the way for the back door loss. Ex-Lightning prospect defenseman Michal Sersen had a helper on the game winner for Slovan.

Nizhnekamsk 0 vs. Jokerit 3
Saku Salminen, Jokerit, 0-1-1, +1, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Season totals: 5 GP, 0-1-1, +1, 0 PIM

Saku Salminen notched his first career KHL point assisting on ex-Islanders pick Jesse Joensuu's game opening goal in Jokerit's 3-0 blanking of Nizhnekamsk. Salminen played 5:36 in the win. Joensuu also had a helper in the match.

CSKA 1 vs. Novgorod 4
Carter Ashton, Novgorod, 0-0-0, +1, 2 PIM, 3 SOG
Season totals: 12 GP, 3-0-3, -3, 10 PIM

Carter Ashton took a minor for tripping in 13:41 of ice time as Novgorod crushed CSKA 4-1. Ex-Avs pick Linus Videll had a helper in the win for Novgorod.

Juniors Game Night: 10-8-15

Ontario Hockey League

Peterborough Petes 1 @ Windsor Spitfires 4

D Dominik Masin, PBO: 0-1-1, -1, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Season totals: 5 GP, 0-1-1, +2, 10 PIM
2014-15 totals: 48 GP, 7-19-26, -13, 68 PIM

D Matt Spencer, PBO: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Season totals: 6 GP, 1-0-1, -2, 6 PIM
2014-15 totals: 67 GP, 6-24-30, -15, 64 PIM

W Cristiano DiGiacinto, WSR: 1-1-2, +1, 0 PIM, 4 SOG, *Second Star*
Season totals: 4 GP, 2-2-4, +2, 4 PIM
2014-15 totals: 63 GP, 21-24-45, -16, 100 PIM

DiGiacinto sniped his second goal of the year on a wicked wrist shot (video) to lead the Spits to a 4-1 win over visiting Peterborough. The Petes, who started 3-0, have fallen to 3-3. Dominik Masin had his first point of the season in the game for Peterborough.

NHL Game Night: 10-8-15 Flyers at Lightning

Entertaining finish to new season's beginning.

TB-3 (OT)

Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 25 shots for the win. Thought he deserved a star, considering he turned aside two PS attempts including one by Claude Giroux where he got deked badly but deftly lifted Giroux's stick to deny the chance. He made the saves he needed to in order to allow his team to get the win.

First Period

Second Period
1:25 TB Garrison (1), (Callahan, Drouin)
10:14 PHI Read (1), (Laughton, Umberger)(PP)
12:03 PHI B. Schenn (1), (Umberger, Medvedev)(PP)
18:22 TB Callahan (1), (Hedman, Drouin)(PP)

Third Period

2:17 TB Garrison (2), (Killorn, Filppula)

Jason Garrison and Ryan Callahan were the game's first and second stars.

It was a strange game with a strange feel throughout, and maybe that's to be expected when you raise a banner. I felt like the Lightning were clearly the superior team athletically and on a skill level, but the energy level was uneven and they seemed a little out of sync on their passing and puck handling most of the night. We should be happy they cobbled together two greasy goals to get to the wild OT and win it, the biggest being Callahan's PP goal, which is underrated in importance. The 3-on-3 OT, for what it's worth, is basically QMJHL line rushes, with occasional whistles. Mason made a handful of amazing saves to keep the Flyers alive, countered by one ten bell variety by Bishop, before Garrison tucked home the winner. The whole play was made by Filppula, sans hockey stick, winning a board battle and kicking a breakout pass to Killorn to start the rush. Fantastic play.

For the Lightning, keeping focus and effort is going to be the challenge to start the year. It's psychologically difficult to get fully invested in an 82 game grind again when you finish 2 wins from a championship just a few months prior. It's got to happen, though. They've got to buckle down and get their minimum 12 points every 10 games and get back on the ladder to the playoffs, understanding they can't win the Stanley Cup in October, but they can damned sure lose it if they are flat and fall behind in the standings.

No prospects in the lineup? Really? What sort of witchcraft is this?

Box score and extended statistics from

KHL Game Day: 10-8-15

Khanty-Mansiysk 0 vs. Khabarovsk 1
Nikita Gusev, Khanty-Mansiysk, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Season totals: 18 GP, 6-6-12, +6, 4 PIM

Nikita Gusev was held scoreless in 16:53 of ice time as his current club, Yugra, fell 1-0 to his former club, Khabarovsk. Finnish netminder Juha Metsola stopped all 26 shots he faced for the shutout.

Juniors Game Night: 10-7-15

Ontario Hockey League

Oshawa Generals 2 @ Kingston Frontenacs 3 (OT)

C Anthony Cirelli, OSH: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Season totals: 6 GP, 2-2-4, -3, 0 PIM
2014-15 totals: 68 GP, 13-23-36, +34, 22 PIM

Conor McGlynn (undrafted) scored the overtime-winner for the Fronts, who beat Oshawa, 3-2. The Gens fell to 3-2-1-0 on the season.

Western Hockey League

Vancouver Giants 5 @ Moose Jaw Warriors 8

D Brayden Point, MJ: 3-1-4, +4, 0 PIM, *First Star*
Season totals: 2 GP, 4-3-7, +4, 2 PIM
2015-16 totals: 60 GP, 38-49-87, +6, 46 PIM

To say Brayden Point has had an impact on Moose Jaw since his return from the Lightning is an understatement. The Warriors have 14 goals in two games since their captain’s return, and Point has factored in seven of those goals. He was First Star on Wednesday, scoring the sixth hat trick of his WHL career. Going back to last season, Point has a goal in 11 straight games. He has 24 points in those 11 games.

KHL Game Day: 10-7-15

Magnitogorsk 3 vs. Zagreb 2 (OT)
Vasily Koshechkin, Magnitogorsk, OT Win, 21/23, 1.99 GAA, .913 sv%
Season totals: 16 GP, 7-5-4, 0 SO, 1.98 GAA, .927 sv%

Ex-Blue Jackets pick Sergei Mozyakin had a pair of goals, including the OT winner, in Magnitogorsk's 3-2 win over Zagreb. Zagreb got a goal from ex-NHLer Gilbert Brule in defeat.

Chelyabinsk 5 vs. Jokerit 3
Saku Salminen, Jokerit, DNP
Season totals: 4 GP, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM

Ex-Flyers pick Andrei Popov had 1 goal and 4 points for Chelyabinsk in their 5-3 win over Jokerit.

Bolt Prospect of the Week

We continue our Bolt Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for his recent contributions on and off the ice.

The Bolt Prospect of the Week for the week ending October 6 is … Mitchell Stephens, W, Saginaw Spirit, OHL.

When Mitchell Stephens was drafted with the Lightning’s top pick this summer, fans looked at his numbers and shrugged. That’s it?

Stephens posted 22 goals and 48 points in 62 games for the Spirit, with a minus-17 rating.

Perspective, people.

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