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PK Provides Spark, But Crunch Can't Overcome Rough Start vs. Devils


By Jeremy Houghtaling

The Syracuse Crunch’s penalty kill provided a spark in the second period, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a rough start.

Syracuse allowed goals on the first two shots and trailed 3-0 after the first 20 minutes. The Crunch netted a pair of shorthanded markers on the same penalty, but their rally came up short in a 3-2 loss to the Binghamton Devils at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.

“Obviously, when you have a rough start like we did tonight, you only can get better,” Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx said. “When you’re down 3-0 after the first period, you have a choice. You battle back or you quit. I like the fact tonight we battled back. We had our chances. We manufactured more chances on the power play. Their goalie was good and they blocked shots.

“Other than the first period, I thought we got much better. It’s a work in progress I guess.”

NCAA Game Night: 10-20-17

Vermont Catamounts 1 @ Michigan Wolverines 4

C Ross Colton, UVM: 1-0-1, -3, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Season Totals: 5 GP, 5-0-5, -3, 4 PIM
’16-‘17 Totals: 33 GP, 12-15-27, E, 22 PIM

Michigan took care of Vermont at Yost, 4-1, Friday. Ross Colton had the only goal for Vermont. He’s on pace to shatter last year’s 12-goal output.

Connecticut Huskies 2 @ No. 7 Boston University Terriers 2 (OT)

D John MacLeod, BU: Did not play
Season Totals: 2 GP, 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM
’17-’18 Totals Totals: 36 GP, 2-5-7, +8, 30 PIM

MacLeod was scratched Friday.

No. 19 UMass-Lowell River Hawks 3 @ No. 12 Clarkson Golden Knights 1

C Ryan Lohin, UML: 0-2-2, +1, 0 PIM, 5 SOG
Season Totals: 5 GP, 0-5-5, +1, 4 PIM
’16-‘17 Totals: 41 GP, 12-17-29, +10, 14 PIM

Lohin had two primary assists Friday to get back to a point-per-game pace to the season.

Arizona State Sun Devils 1 @ Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks 5

D Kristian Oldham, UNO: Did not play (backup)
’16-‘17 Totals: 10 GP, 5-3-1, 3.38 GAA, .895 sv%, 0 SO

Oldham has yet to make his season debut as a sophomore.

No. 8 Minnesota Golden Gophers 2 @ No. 4 North Dakota Fighting Hawks 1

D Ryan Zuhlsdorf, UMN: 0-0-0, +1, 2 PIM, 0 SOG
Season Totals: 5 GP, 0-3-3, +2, 18 PIM
’16-‘17 Totals: 37 GP, 2-3-5, +11, 35 PIM

Zuhlsdorf had two assists last Sunday to go along with 18 minutes in penalties (10-minute misconduct after a roughing call). He added another roughing minor Friday in Minnesota’s win over longtime rival UND.

*USCHO poll used for rankings

Juniors Game Night: 10-20-17

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Halifax Mooseheads 4 @ Blainville-Boisbriand 2

C/W Otto Somppi, HAL: 3-0-3, +3, 0 PIM, 4 SOG, 11/17 FO, *First Star*
Season Totals: 4 GP, 4-5-9, +12, 2 PIM
’16-’17 Totals: 60 GP, 17-24-41, -7, 28 PIM

Somppi continued his torrid start to his season with a hat trick Friday night against Cedric Paquette’s former team. Blainville was up 2-0 before Somppi scored twice to tie the game. He later added a shorthanded insurance goal.

Ontario Hockey League

Kingston Frontenacs 5 @ Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 6

W Boris Katchouk, SSM: 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM, 1 SOG
Season Totals: 12 GP, 11-5-16, +8, 4 PIM
’16-’17 Season: 66 GP, 35-29-64, +18, 46 PIM

Katchouk was scoreless for only the second time this season. The Soo still got the win, 6-5, over the Fronts.

Western Hockey League

Portland Winterhawks 3 @ Kelowna Rockets 1

D Cal Foote, KEL: 0-0-0, +1, 2 PIM, 1 SOG
Season Totals: 11 GP, 2-7-9, +1, 10 PIM
‘15-‘16 Totals: 71 GP, 6-51-57, +39, 41 PIM

Kelowna fell to 0-4-1 in its last five games. The Rockets are nine points behind first place Victoria in the BC Division.

Moose Jaw Warriors 6 @ Everett Silvertips 3

C Brett Howden, MJ: 2-2-4, +1, 2 PIM, 2 SOG, 9/17 FO, *Second Star*
Season Totals: 9 GP, 4-8-12, -1, 14 PIM
’16-‘17 Totals: 58 GP, 38-43-81, +14, 73 PIM

D Oleg Sosunov, MJ: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Season Totals: 11 GP, 4-0-4, +11, 20 PIM
’16-‘17 Totals: 58 GP, 38-43-81, +14, 73 PIM

Howden had a big night for Moose Jaw, who finally got a win on its big road trip. They were 0-2 to start. Howden scored both on the power play and shorthanded.

United States Hockey League

Dubuque Fighting Saints 2 @ Chicago Steel 3

C Cole Guttman, DBQ: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Season Totals: 5 GP, 1-0-1, -1, 2 PIM
’16-‘17 Totals: 53 GP, 27-27-54, +21, 18 PIM
Committed to: St. Cloud State University

Dubuque outshot Chicago, 35-25, but couldn’t beat them on the scoreboard. The game featured two penalty shots, neither of which were successful.

Omaha Lancers 1 @ Tri-City Storm 4

D Nicklaus Perbix, OMA: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Season Totals: 5 GP, 0-4-4, +1, 0 PIM
’16-‘17 Totals (High School): 25 GP, 10-30-40, 6 PIM
Committed to: St. Cloud State University

This game was 1-1 entering the third period before the Storm took over.

USHL Note: Sam Walker, a Minnesota commit, is playing high school hockey this season for Team Southwest. He has 12 goals and 16 assists for 28 points in 12 games.

AHL Game Night: 10-20-17 Devils at Crunch

The struggle continues.

BNG-3
SYR-2

Michael Leighton allowed 2 goals on 2 shots before being lifted quickly in the First Period. Connor Ingram allowed 1 goal on 20 shots for the injustice of the backdoor loss.

First Period
0:11 BNG Quenneville (4), (Bastian, Strait)
3:57 BNG Speers (1), (Pietila, Rooney)
11:49 BNG Lappin (4), (Erixon, Kapla)

Second Period
11:54 SYR Bournival (1), (unassisted)(SH)
13:26 SYR Cernak (2), (Bodie)(SH)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Michael Bournival and Erik Cernak were the game's second and third stars.

Syracuse sits alone in the North Division basement at a dismal 1-4-1-0. That said, they've only really been run off the rink in one of the losses (against the Penguins) and there's probably an alternate dimension where Syracuse could just as easily be 4-1-1-0. There's no such thing as moral victories, though, and Syracuse needs to figure out how to get on the right side of these 1 goal decisions quickly.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Juniors Game Night: 10-19-17

Ontario Hockey League

Peterborough Petes 5 @ Windsor Spitfires 1

W/C Christopher Paquette, PBO: 3-0-3, +3, 0 PIM, 4 SOG, *First Star*
Season Totals: 5 GP, 4-1-5, +2, 0 PIM
’16-‘17 Totals (NIA/PBO): 66 GP, 19-29-48, +1, 28 PIM

Paquette potted three goals Thursday night in Windsor while Spitfires property Mikhail Sergachev was scoring twice for Tampa Bay in Ohio. Paquette had a natural hat trick, scoring twice in the first period and again before the mid-point of the second period. Last season was Paquette’s first as a full-time scoring line player and he is expected to build on his 19-goal output a year ago.

NHL Game Night: 10-19-17 Lightning at Blue Jackets

Let there be kittens!!!

TB-2
CBJ-0

Andrei Vasilevskiy posted the 43 save shutout, his first of the season. The shot totals allowed were high, but I think the Lightning were good at limiting the quality scoring chances Andrei actually faced, with many of those shots coming from the perimeter or from really bad angles. When the good chances did come, I thought Andrei's positioning looked flawless and it just didn't seem like there was any way Columbus was getting anything tonight. Vasilevskiy's performance was so strong he even overcame the jinx of the TV broadcast flashing a graphic prematurely awarding him the shutout with 33.7 seconds still left in the game.

First Period
17:48 TB Sergachev (1), (Kucherov, Namestnikov)

Second Period
15:37 TB Sergachev (2), (Kucherov, Stamkos)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Vasilevskiy, Mikhail Sergachev, and Nikita Kucherov were the game's three stars.

Kind of an odd game. If all you saw was the box score, you'd see that 43-21 shot disparity and assume Vasilevskiy had to stand on his head. I didn't really feel like the game was ever really out of the Lightning's control. They were pretty efficient in the first 40 minutes and throughout the game really limited Columbus to throwing the puck toward the net from low percentage areas. Now, mind you, that's a recipe for surrendering some greasy goals and getting bitten by puck luck. You don't want to make a regular habit of that. But the Lightning still, I thought, had the lion's share of the real scoring chances.

Tampa Bay clinches the successful opening segment of the season and at least one insurance point already in the bank. Two game left to go in this opening ten game segment and the Lightning have a chance to bear down and really build up a nice glut of insurance points in the standings right away.

Yanni Gourde had 4 shots, 1 hit, and was 50% on 4 draws in 18:04. That was his best game of the season, and he did everything tonight but find the back of the net. I was surprised he didn't get third star. I love the volume of shot attempts for him (7). If he keeps that up, the production will follow shortly.

Gabriel Dumont had 1 shot, 3 hits, and was 57% on 7 draws in 12:06.

Jake Dotchin was +1 with 1 shot in 12:35. I'll be interested to see how the Lightning use him whenever they switch back to a six defenseman alignment. I thought he played well tonight.

Sergachev had his first two NHL goals and was +2 with 3 shots and 1 hit in 12:49. He's putting up numbers, which I wasn't expecting and might be a little bit of a mirage. Either way, I think any inkling of sending him back to juniors (which, I never thought was a real possibility) seems out the window at this hour.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Juniors Game Night: 10-18-17

Ontario Hockey League

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 2 @ Sudbury Wolves 4

W Boris Katchouk, SSM: 1-1-2, -1, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Season Totals: 11 GP, 11-5-16, +8, 2 PIM
’16-’17 Season: 66 GP, 35-29-64, +18, 46 PIM

Katchouk pulled within two points of OHL leading scorer Nick Suzuki (Vegas) with a goal and an assist Wednesday in a losing cause. Katchouk leads Barrie rookie Andrei Svechnikov (2018) by one for the OHL goal-scoring lead. Katchouk has a 2-goal lead in game-winning goals with four so far this season.

Western Hockey League

Vancouver Giants 6 @ Saskatoon Blades 3

D Libor Hajek, SAS: 1-0-1, -1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Season Totals: 9 GP, 3-4-7, -8, 12 PIM
’16-‘17 Totals: 61 GP: 4-22-26, -17, 86 PIM

Hajek scored for the second game in a row, but the Blades fell at home to Vancouver, 6-3.

Moose Jaw Warriors 1 @ Spokane Chiefs 2

C Brett Howden, MJ: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 0 SOG, 7/23 FO
Season Totals: 8 GP, 2-6-8, -2, 12 PIM
’16-‘17 Totals: 58 GP, 38-43-81, +14, 73 PIM

D Oleg Sosunov, MJ: 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM, 1 SOG
Season Totals: 10 GP, 4-0-4, +11, 20 PIM
’16-‘17 Totals: 58 GP, 38-43-81, +14, 73 PIM

Moose Jaw lost for the second straight game, but for just the third time overall this season in 10 games. The Warriors were downed by Tyler Johnson’s former team Wednesday, 2-1. Hudson Elynuik, son of former Lightning player Pat Elynuik, was first star for Spokane with a goal. Pat was the eighth overall pick by the Winnipeg Jets in 1986. Hudson, a 6-5 center, was taken in the third round by Carolina in 2016.

Cirelli Brings Big Game Experience to Crunch


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Anthony Cirelli is used to the big stage at the junior level.

The center led Oshawa to an Ontario Hockey League championship and won the Memorial Cup with the Generals in 2015. Cirelli won silver with Team Canada at the World Junior Championships last winter, after a trade in January, Cirelli led Erie to another OHL title and trip to the Memorial Cup.

The Syracuse Crunch rookie hopes his experience in big games translates to success at the professional level.

"I've been to the (Memorial Cup) finals a couple times. Losing that second one was kind of hard and losing in the World Junior final there was tough," Cirelli said. "But just being a part of those teams, knowing those guys, playing through long playoff runs and playing those pressure games helped take my development to the next level."

NHL Game Night: 10-17-17 Lightning at Devils

Budaj's rusty start costs the Lightning a point.

TB-4
NJ-5 (SO)

Petr Budaj allowed 4 goals on 34 shots and 1 goal on 3 shots in the penalty shot session for the Shootout loss. His first and third goals allowed were pretty putrid, and indicative of a guy who hasn't really played competitive hockey in about a month. He started to shake off the rust in the Second Period and got a lot sharper as the game wore on. There's a cautionary tale to the coaching staff about sneaking him a few more starts in there somewhere.

First Period
2:45 NJ Stafford (2), (Hischier, Butcher)
7:33 TB Namestnikov (3), (Kucherov, Stamkos)
12:21 TB Palat (3), (Johnson, Sergachev)(PP)
16:19 NJ Palmieri (2), (Hall, Henrique)(PP)
19:08 NJ Gibbons (3), (Santini, Wood)

Second Period
14:02 TB Kucherov (8), (Stamkos, Sergachev)
17:23 TB Stamkos (2), (Gourde)

Third Period
15:54 NJ Stafford (3), (Hischier, Severson)(PP)

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
TB- NONE
NJ- Palmieri

Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos were the game's second and third stars.

The result stinks, but honestly I thought this was a strong performance by the Lightning. Against a young, fast team the Lightning seemed to get stronger as the night wore on even though they were on the downside of the back-to-back. All things being even they probably deserved the second point, but when your goaltender surrenders soft goals, you tend to lose in the end equation no matter how well your skaters play.

Tampa Bay now sits on 11 points with 3 games to go in the opening segment of the season, and are thus just 1 point away from clinching being on playoff pace for this segment.

Yanni Gourde had a helper and was +1 with 2 shots in 18:50. He was also 38% on 8 draws. Strong forecheck to produce the Stamkos goal. Still needs to shoot more.

Jake Dotchin had 1 shot and 3 hits in 13:37. Thought he had some struggles with New Jersey's speed, but didn't make any really awful mistakes from it.

Mikhail Sergachev sneezed out 2 helpers and was +1 with 2 shots and 1 blocked shot in 13:38. Life is good when the coaches shelter you on shifts with the Kucherov line in front of you.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 10-16-17 Lightning at Red Wings

Lightning ride Vasilevskiy to glory.

TB-3
DET-2

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 31 shots for the victory. The team was flat as a pancake the first 6-7 minutes of the game and Vasilevskiy absolutely held them in the game and made several timely saves over the course of the game to allow them to get the 2 points. The big gunners will get the attention, but Vasilevskiy's been the truth so far this year.

First Period
9:15 TB Johnson (3), (unassisted)(SH)
10:56 TB Kucherov (6), (Hedman, Stamkos)(PP)

Second Period
2:30 DET Abdelkader (2), (unassisted)(PS)
16:02 DET Green (1), (Abdelkader, Tatar)

Third Period
1:47 TB Kucherov (7), (Stamkos, Namestnikov)

Nikita Kucherov and Tyler Johnson were the game's first and third stars. Vasilevskiy was robbed.

The Lightning flat out didn't play to their standard tonight. The team came out flat and their breakouts looked patently terrible. It wasn't to the level of the debacle in Sunrise, but the sloppiness passing the puck and the weakness and indecision was palpable and concerning. Thankfully, they were able to engineer a road win with goaltending and special teams. I'm happy they were able to get the 2 points and I fully understand you have to win some games like this over the course of 82 games because you're not going to have your A game every night, but Cooper needs to make it clear that slipping by playing like that isn't acceptable. They've showed us they're better than this.

With 4 games to go in this 10-game segment of the campaign, the Lightning need just 2 points for minimum playoff pace. As noted after the last game, this is a prime opportunity for the Lightning to build up a huge cushion right from the jump this season, and after missing the postseason last year it's a chance the club should leap at.

Slater Koekkoek had 2 penalty minutes and 2 blocked shots in 7:01. His most memorable moment was taking a penalty, so that's not good.

Yanni Gourde was -1 with 2 shots and 1 hit in 16:46. He was also 29% on 7 draws. In some ways this might've been his best game of the year. He looked incredibly strong on the puck in the offensive zone for such a small man.

Jake Dotchin had 1 shot and 1 hit in 13:50. I feel like he's getting closer to being the player we saw down the stretch of last year, which is needed.

Mikhail Sergachev had 1 shot in 8:37. Team low in shifts. He'll make a decent play here and there, but can't seem to string two or three of them together right now. I would've hoped he'd have flashed a little bit more at this point, but it's early. The Lightning really need Sergachev or Koekkoek to progress significantly between now and March though if they want to be ready to achieve some of their bigger goals.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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