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Crunch Lose Special Teams Battle to Comets

By Jeremy Houghtaling

The Syracuse Crunch lost the special teams battle.

The Crunch finished the night 0-for-5 with the man-advantage and allowed a pair of Comets power play goals, as Syracuse fell to Utica, 3-2, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

“They were the best team in the first period. We got better as the game went along,” Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx said. “Overall, I think your best players are playing on specialty teams, and I think their best players were better than ours today.”

The Random 17

According to a non-scientific Google search, 17 is the most random number. It’s also my old hockey number so I’m going to title this weekly blog entry “The Random 17.” There’s also a nickname for 17 in British bingo, but that’s Dancing Queen. Never been much of an Abba fan, so forget that.

I’ve always been a big fan of Elliot Friedman’s “30 Things,” and imitation is the highest form of flattery, so here we go – 17 random thoughts on the Lightning and sports in general.

1. Big ups to Jon Cooper and the Lightning for their 3-1 start, especially the consistent effort and speed shown against big boys Washington and Pittsburgh. With their wins over those two clubs this week, Tampa Bay announced their presence as a legitimate Cup contender. But not so fast… the key now will be for the Lightning to play with the same intensity against the Calgarys and Floridas of the world when Hockey Earth isn’t watching. The contrast between the Lightning in front of the Zimmerman seats in Sunrise and the Lightning vs Ovechrosby is like night and day. Or Hedman vs. Sustr. Huge difference in effectiveness.

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

Budaj's rusty start costs the Lightning a point.

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)


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

Lightning ride Vasilevskiy to glory.


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

Juniors Game Night: 10-15-17

Ontario Hockey League

Ottawa 67’s 5 @ Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 4 (OT)

W Boris Katchouk, SSM: 1-0-1, -1, 0 PIM, 4 SOG
Season Totals: 10 GP, 10-4-14, +9, 2 PIM
’16-’17 Season: 66 GP, 35-29-64, +18, 46 PIM

Katchouk was back in the goal column after his five-game goal scoring streak was snapped last time out. He wasn’t able to come up with his third overtime winner of the season as the 67’s scored an upset win in the Soo. The Greyhounds are 7-1-2 this season, two points behind Sarnia (9-1) for the league’s best point total.

Western Hockey League

Kelowna Rockets 2 @ Portland Winterhawks 8

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

Foote has one assist in his last six games. Kelowna was swept in Portland, losing in overtime in the first game and under a snowman in the second.

United States Hockey League

Tri-City Storm 0 @ Omaha Lancers 5

D Nicklaus Perbix, OMA: 0-2-2, +2, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Season Totals: 4 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

Omaha completed a strong weekend with a 5-0 home win over Adam Wilcox’s former team. They beat Cedar Rapids 5-1 earlier in the weekend. Perbix (pictured) is up to four assists in four games. Zach Driscoll (uncommitted, undrafted) had a 23-save shutout for the Lancers.

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 Day: 10-15-17 Crunch at Penguins

Crushing road loss caps unsuccessful weekend for Syracuse.

WBS- 6

Connor Ingram allowed 6 goals on 31 shots for the defeat. Welcome to the AHL.

First Period
0:34 WBS Dea (2), (Bengtsson)

Second Period
1:16 WBS Wilson (2), (Sprong, Quinney)
4:16 WBS DiPauli (2), (Blueger, Sestito)
12:04 SYR Conacher (3), (McBain, Joseph)(PP)
16:59 WBS Thomas (1), (Trotman, Kostopoulos)(PP)

Third Period
9:47 WBS Sprong (4), (Quinney, Corrado)
14:42 WBS Quinney (1), (Sprong)

Well, at least Mathieu Joseph got his first pro point.

Box score from

NCAA Game Night: 10-14-17

Vermont Catamounts 2 @ No. 17 Quinnipiac Bobcats 3 (OT)

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

Colton was scoreless without a shot on goal – per the stat sheet – one game after having a hat trick on 13 shots. Odeen Tufto (undrafted) had two goals for QU, including the overtime winner.

Minnesota State Mavericks 3 @ No. 2 Boston University Terriers 0

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

Minnesota State completed their 2-game upset sweep of second-ranked BU with a 3-0 shutout win Saturday. Junior Omaha native Jason Pawloski (undrafted) stopped all 26 shots he faced for the Mavericks. MacLeod was a scratch for the Terriers.

Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks 2 @ No. 12 UMass-Lowell River Hawks 5

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

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

UML finally recorded their first win of the season Saturday, beating UNO.

*USCHO poll used for rankings

Juniors Game Night: 10-14-17

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Cape Breton Screaming Eagles 5 @ Halifax Mooseheads 9

C/W Otto Somppi, HAL: 1-2-3, +6, 0 PIM, 6 SOG, 19/29 FO
Season Totals: 2 GP, 1-3-4, +7, 0 PIM
’16-’17 Totals: 60 GP, 17-24-41, -7, 28 PIM

Somppi scored an empty-netter, added two assists, and was a career-high plus-6 Saturday in a romp over the Eagles. Benoit-Olivier Groulx (2018), son of Syracuse Crunch Coach Benoit Groulx, had a goal and a helper for Halifax. The younger Groulx was the first overall pick in the QMJHL draft in 2016.

Ontario Hockey League

North Bay Battalion 3 @ Barrie Colts 5

W Alexey Lipanov, BAR: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 0 SOG, 9/17 FO
Season Totals: 10 GP, 3-10-13, +6, 0 PIM
‘16-‘17 Totals (VHL-Russia): 21 GP, 3-5-8, +5, 8 PIM

Barrie didn’t get a goal from their big Russian line, but they did top North Bay by two by scoring four times in the third period to erase a 3-1 deficit. The game-winner was scored shorthanded.

Sudbury Wolves 3 @ Peterborough Petes 6

W/C Christopher Paquette, PBO: 0-1-1, E, 0 PIM, 9 SOG
Season Totals: 4 GP, 1-1-2, -1, 0 PIM
’16-‘17 Totals (NIA/PBO): 66 GP, 19-29-48, +1, 28 PIM

Paquette led the Petes in shots Saturday with nine. He’s still looking for his first goal of the season, though right now he’s probably just happy to be off in the injured list.

Niagara IceDogs 4 @ Barrie Colts 5 (OT)

W Taylor Raddysh, Erie: 2-0-2, +1, 0 PIM, 7 SOG, *First Star*
Season Totals: 9 GP, 3-9-12, +3, 10 PIM
‘16-‘17 Totals: 58 GP, 42-66-108, +67, 37 PIM

Raddysh snapped his seven-game goalless drought with a pair of markers Saturday, including the overtime winner in Erie’s win over Niagara. Raddysh’s extra-time goal saved the Otters after they gave up 3-0 and 4-1 leads.

Western Hockey League

Kelowna Rockets 4 @ Portland Winterhawks 5 (OT)

D Cal Foote, KEL: 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM, 2 SOG
Season Totals: 8 GP, 2-7-9, +3, 10 PIM
‘15-‘16 Totals: 71 GP, 6-51-57, +39, 41 PIM

Foote has one assist in his last five games. He had eight points in his first three games of the season.

Saskatoon Blades 4 @ Red Deer Rebels 1

D Libor Hajek, SAS: 1-1-2, +2, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Season Totals: 8 GP, 2-4-6, -7, 12 PIM
’16-‘17 Totals: 61 GP: 4-22-26, -17, 86 PIM

Hajek scored his second goal of the season late in the third period to seal Saskatoon’s win in Red Deer.

Vancouver Giants 3 @ Moose Jaw Warriors 4 (OT)

C Brett Howden, MJ: 0-3-3, -1, 0 PIM, 4 SOG, 12/21 FO, *Third Star*
Season Totals: 6 GP, 2-6-8, -2, 10 PIM
’16-‘17 Totals: 58 GP, 38-43-81, +14, 73 PIM

D Oleg Sosunov, MJ: 0-0-0, +3, 17 PIM, 2 SOG
Season Totals: 8 GP, 4-0-4, +11, 18 PIM
’16-‘17 Totals: 58 GP, 38-43-81, +14, 73 PIM

Howden had three assists, including the primary helper on (undrafted) Jayden Halbgewachs’ overtime winner, leading the Warriors to a home win over Vancouver. Sosunov was nailed with a major penalty for boarding and a 10-minute misconduct. Moose Jaw is 7-1.

United States Hockey League

Dubuque Fighting Saints 1 @ Waterloo Black Hawks 0

C Cole Guttman, DBQ: 1-0-1, E, 0 PIM, 3 SOG, *First Star*
Season Totals: 4 GP, 1-0-1, E, 2 PIM
’16-‘17 Totals: 53 GP, 27-27-54, +21, 18 PIM
Committed to: St. Cloud State University

Guttman (pictured) finally solved Waterloo goaltender Jared Moe (undrafted, uncommitted), who had a 30-save shutout of Dubuque Friday. Moe was third star Saturday with 22 saves on 23 shots.

Omaha Lancers 5 @ Cedar Rapids RoughRiders 1

D Nicklaus Perbix, OMA: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Season Totals: 3 GP, 0-2-2, -1, 0 PIM
’16-‘17 Totals (High School): 25 GP, 10-30-40, 6 PIM
Committed to: St. Cloud State University

Omaha outshot Cedar Rapids 49-27 and scored five times. Perbix, who had the first two assists of his USHL career Friday, was scoreless Saturday.

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: 10-14-17 Comets at Crunch

Crunch drop another tightly fought battle.


Michael Leighton allowed 3 goals on 19 shots as the Comets overcame a 26-19 shot disparity to pull out the win.

First Period
7:57 UTI Goldobin (3), (Boucher, Holm)
19:14 SYR Conacher (2), (Bodie, Cirelli)

Second Period
12:41 UTI Holm (1), (Bancks, Goldobin)(PP)

Third Period
3:22 SYR Cernak (1), (Stephens, Walcott)
6:38 UTI Chaput (1), (McEneny, Holm)(PP)

Mitchell Stephens was the game's second star. He assisted on Erik Cernak's first professional goal in the defeat.

Box score from

NHL Game Night: 10-14-17 Blues at Lightning

Lightning kick ice in honor of Inaugural Team Night.


Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed just 1 goal on 29 shots for the victory. His lone blemish was a quick release seeing eye shot through a double screen. We'll forgive him.

First Period

Second Period
8:20 TB Johnson (2), (Sergachev, Point)(PP)

Third Period
6:27 TB Kucherov (5), (Stamkos, Namestnikov)
16:37 STL Tarasenko (4), (Schwartz, Schenn)

Vasilevskiy, Nikita Kucherov, and Steven Stamkos were the game's three stars.

Different kind of game against a different kind of team. The shot totals were fairly even but I still felt like the Lightning carried the balance of play throughout this one and deserved the 2 points. Three quality wins in a row put the Lightning at 4-1-0-0 to start the campaign, including an unblemished record on home ice as they try to re-establish Amalie Arena as a fortress for the club. That puts them at 8 points halfway through the opening segment of the season. They just need 4 in the next 5 games to stay on minimum playoff pace, which means they have an opportunity over the next 5 games to potentially build a nice little cushion of points right out of the gate this year.

Slater Koekkoek had 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 1 hit in 8:42.

Yanni Gourde had 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 17:38. More shots, Yanni.

Jake Dotchin had 2 hits and 2 blocked shots in 16:26.

Mikhail Sergachev had a helper and 2 shots and 3 hits in 10:27. It was a calmer performance tonight and he earned his second NHL point after getting awarded a helper after the fact in the Lightning's opener.

Box score and extended statistics from

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