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Gourde's Move to Center Has Sparked Crunch's Offense

By Jeremy Houghtaling

Yanni Gourde’s move to the middle has provided a spark for the Syracuse Crunch’s offense.

Used primarily a winger over the course of his pro career, Gourde was asked to center a line with Mike Halmo and Cory Conacher last weekend. The forward registered the game-winning goal in a 3-2 victory over Rochester on Friday, and had the primary assist on Halmo’s go-ahead goal in a 2-1 win over Utica on Saturday.

Although there are still some aspects of center he’s looking to improve, Gourde feels comfortable in the middle.

“It is a little bit tougher, especially taking draws, but I’m working on it and I’m trying to get better,” Gourde said. “But once the puck is dropped, hockey is hockey. I know what you have to do and I do it.”

NHL Game Night: 11-7-16 Lightning at Panthers

Inexplicable mistakes rob Lightning of fruits of a decent effort.


Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 31 shots for the loss. Played very well in a goaltending duel, but lost on an inexcusable mistake by his best d-man.

First Period
3:10 FLA Marchessault (7), (Yandle, Barkov)(PP)

Second Period

Third Period
1:15 TB Palat (2), (unassisted)
15:32 FLA Smith (3), (unassisted)
19:24 FLA MacKenzie (1), (Yandle)(EN)

Bishop was the game's third star.

The Lightning played better than the scoreboard indicated tonight, as they really matched and exceeded the Panthers' intensity level and had one of their better forechecking nights of the year from about midway through the First Period on. Luongo held serve for the Panthers long enough for Victor Hedman to make the inexplicable mistake of allowing his pocket to be picked at the Lightning blueline allowing the winning goal to be scored against. It squanders an effort that, in my opinion, showed marked improvement from players like Palat and Johnson who have struggled to find their form early in this campaign.

Brayden Point had 2 shots and 1 hit in 15:15.

Slater Koekkoek had 1 shot and 3 hits in 11:11 as his minutes suffered with the return of Nesterov in the 7 d-man lineup.

Box score and extended statistics from

ECHL Game Night: 11-6-16

Kalamazoo Wings 0 at Wheeling Nailers 3

W Brian Hart, KAL, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIMs, 0 SOG
Season Totals: 7 GP, 0-0-0, -3, 0 PIMs, 3 SOG

Other Notables
G Nic Riopel, KAL, L, 59:25 MIN, 25/26
Season Totals: 4 GP, 2-2-0-0, 2.51 GAA, 0.918 SV%, 1 SO

Nic Riopel saved 25 of 26 shots Sunday night on the road in Wheeling, allowing just a single power play goal just past the midway point of the 2nd period. The Nailers added two empty net goals in the last minute and a half to make the victory look a bit more lopsided than it actually was. Just last weekend, Riopel allowed 8 Wheeling goals, so if you were looking for a response game, I'd say Riopel delivered. Kalamzoo returns home for a 3-game stand with Toledo rolling in Wednesday night followed by Cincinnati and Quad Cities on Friday and Saturday night.

CHL Game Night: 11-6-16

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Charlottetown Islanders 3 @ Saint John Sea Dogs 2 (OT)

W Bokondji Imama, SJ: 1-0-1, E, 0 PIM, 1 SOG, 0 Hits, *Second Star*
Season Totals: 17 GP, 6-5-11, -3, 12 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 48 GP, 7-12-19, -5, 86 PIM

W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: 1-0-1, E, 0 PIM, 6 SOG, 0 Hits
Season Totals: 17 GP, 15-9-24, +7, 13 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 58 GP, 33-40-73, +35, 57 PIM

Joseph and Imama both scored for the third straight game, but the Dogs fell to Charlottetown. Imama, who was sent back to juniors in part because he would be able to play more minutes and a more traditional top-9 role, is within one goal of matching last year’s goal total for the entire season. Filip Chlapik (Senators) scored two goals Sunday for Charlottetown, giving him 16 for the year – one head of Mathieu Joseph for second in the league. Chlapik tied for the league lead in points with 29.

Ontario Hockey League

Ottawa 67’s 0 @ Oshawa Generals 6

C Anthony Cirelli, OSH: 1-1-2, E, 2 PIM, 2 SOG, 13/22 FO
Season Totals: 14 GP, 10-13-23, +13, 8 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 62 GP, 21-38-59, -15 27 PIM

Cirelli was in on two of Oshawa’s four second period goals as the Gens beat the 67’s, 6-0. Jeremy Brodeur (undrafted) stopped 19 shots for the shutout.

Karjala Tournament Game Day: 11-6-16

Czech Republic 0 vs. Russia 3
Nikita Gusev, Russia, 1-1-2, +1, 0 PIM
Tournament totals: 3 GP, 2-2-4, +3, 2 PIM

Nikita Gusev had a power play goal and an even strength helper in Russia's 3-0 shutout win over Czech Republic to clinch the Karjala Tournament with a 3-0-0 record. Gusev finished tied for 3rd in tournament scoring with 2 goals and 4 points. Goaltender Ilya Sorokin, an Islanders draft pick, stopped all 32 shots he faced for the shutout.

NCAA Game Night: 11-5-16

No. 19 Vermont Catamounts 2 @ No. 7 UMass-Lowell River Hawks 4

C Ross Colton, UVM: 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM, 2 SOG
Season Totals: 8 GP, 1-2-3, E, 4 PIM

C Ryan Lohin, UML: 1-1-2, E, 0 PIM, 4 SOG, *Third Star*
Season Totals: 10 GP, 1-4-5, +3, 0 PIM

Ryan Lohin (pictured) scored his first collegiate goal, leading the River Hawks to a Saturday win and weekend sweep over Vermont.

No. 16 Northeastern Huskies 0 @ No. 4 Boston University Terriers 3

D John MacLeod, BU: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Season Totals: 6 GP, 0-3-3, +5, 8 PIM
2015-2016 Totals: 26 GP, 1-1-2, -4, 26 PIM

One night after tying the Huskies, 4-4, BU defeated NU, 3-0. Jake Oettinger (2017) stopped 27 shots for the Terriers.

Colorado College Tigers 4 @ Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks 6

D Kristian Oldham, UNO: Win, 31 saves on 35 shots
Season Totals: 3 GP, 2-1-0, 3.02 GAA, .895 sv%, 0 SO

Oldham won his second collegiate game, getting the goal support to beat Colorado College.

No. 3 North Dakota Fighting Hawks 0 @ No. 13 Minnesota Golden Gophers 2

D Ryan Zuhlsdorf, UMN: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Season Totals: 7 GP, 2-1-3, +3, 6 PIM

After tying Friday, Minnesota defeated UND on Saturday. Eric Schierhorn (undrafted) stopped 33 shots for the Gopher shutout.

*USCHO poll used for rankings

CHL Game Night: 11-5-16

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Saint John Sea Dogs 5 @ Acadie-Bathurst Titan 6

Halifax Mooseheads 6 @ Val-d’Or Foreurs 3

W Otto Somppi, HAL: Did not play
Season Totals: 16 GP, 5-6-11, -4, 12 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 59 GP, 13-33-46, -15, 25 PIM

Somppi was not in the lineup Saturday due to an upper-body injury sustained Friday.

Rimouski Oceanic 5 @ Shawinigan Cataractes 3

W Dennis Yan, SHAW: 1-0-1, -1, 0 PIM, 5 SOG, 0 Hits
Season Totals: 14 GP, 14-6-20, +2, 24 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 62 GP, 32-37-69, +8, 86 PIM

Rimouski scored five times after Shawinigan took a 2-0 lead, defeating the Cataractes, 5-3. Yan scored in the third period to make it 5-3. He tied Mathieu Joseph and others for second in the league in goals scored.

Ontario Hockey League

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 5 @ Flint Firebirds 3

W Boris Katchouk, SSM: 0-0-0, +1, 2 PIM, 4 SOG
Season: 16 GP, 6-6-12, +3, 8 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 44 GP, 13-28-41, -10 19 PIM

The Soo scored four times in the first period en route to a 5-3 win in Flint.

Kitchener Rangers 3 @ Erie Otters 7

W Taylor Raddysh, Erie: 2-2-4, +2, 7 PIM, 7 SOG, *Second Star*
Season Totals: 15 GP, 15-24-39, +26, 11 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 67 GP, 24-49-73, +19, 18 PIM

Taylor Raddysh had four points for the second consecutive game, helping the Otters to a 7-3 win over Kitchener. He missed most of the first period after getting an instigator, fighting major, and misconduct on his first shift. Linemate Alex DeBrincat (Blackhawks) had five points. Raddysh has scored at least a point in all 15 games he’s played this season. He has at least three points in nine of those games, and four points in four of those games. He has 11 points in his last three games. Raddysh leads the league in points, assists, and plus/minus.

Barrie Colts 2 @ Saginaw Spirit 4

W Mitchell Stephens, SAG: 1-0-1, -1, 0 PIM, 7 SOG, 12/20 FO
Season Totals: 12 GP, 5-6-11, +3, 10 PIM
2015-2016 Totals: 39 GP, 20-18-38, -3, 14 PIM

Stephens scored on the power play in the first period to give the Spirit a lead they’d never relinquish.

Western Hockey League (late)

Kamloops Blazers 2 @ Prince George Cougars 4

G Connor Ingram, KAM: Did not play
Season Totals: 15 GP, 8-6-1-0, 2.01 GAA, .937 sv%, 1 SO
2015-2016 Season: 61 GP, 34-15-5-4, 2.61 GAA, .922 sv%, 4 SO

Ingram was backup Saturday in Prince George.

Kootenay Ice 2 @ Saskatoon Blades 3 (OT)

D Libor Hajek, SAS: 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM
Season Totals: 16 GP: 0-8-8, +2, 20 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 69 GP, 3-23-26, -19, 76 PIM

Braylon Shmyr (undrafted) scored in overtime to give the Blades the win.

Seattle Thunderbirds 5 @ Moose Jaw Warriors 1

C Brett Howden, MJ: Did not play
Season Totals: 11 GP, 9-5-14, -2, 6 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 68 GP, 24-40-64, -7, 61 PIM

Howden was not the lineup Saturday.

Third Period Goal Lifts Crunch Over Comets

By Jeremy Houghtaling

For a second straight night, the Crunch’s play in the third period lifted them to victory.

Mike Halmo netted the go-ahead goal less than two minutes into the final frame and the penalty kill kept the Comets off the board the rest of the way, as Syracuse topped Utica, 2-1, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

“They’re a tough team to play. They’re battling hard, they’re engaged and they are tight defensively,” said Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx, whose team rallied for three goals in the third period in a 3-2 win over Rochester Friday. “We had to go deep down to beat them. Big goal from (Halmo) in the third and a strong effort down low by (Yanni Gourde) and Cory (Conacher). It’s a good weekend for us and I like the way we played, especially in the third.”

AHL Game Night: 11-5-16 Crunch at Comets

Crunch get back on track with 2-0-0 weekend.


Adam Wilcox allowed 1 goal on 24 shots for the victory. Very solid win for young Wilcox with only 2 goals of support to work with. Very impressive.

First Period

Second Period
6:16 SYR Condra (2), (Conacher, Taormina)(PP)
18:27 UTI Grenier (4), (Chaput, Subban)(PP)

Third Period
1:56 SYR Halmo (3), (Gourde, Conacher)

Mike Halmo, Cory Conacher, and Wilcox were the game's three stars.

This weekend ended up being about Syracuse proving they could win low scoring games with defense and goaltending. We know they have the forward depth and firepower to win a track meet, at least on paper. But, to be a really good team they must learn to keep the puck out of the back of their own net, and they went a few steps ahead in proving they can accomplish that this weekend.

Box score from

NHL Game Night: 11-5-16 Devils at Lightning

Lightning get some get back. Payback.


Ben Bishop allowed 1 goal on 38 shots for the victory.

First Period
14:39 NJ Severson (2), (Hall, Zajac)

Second Period
2:25 TB Boyle (3), (Hedman, Brown)
8:27 TB Hedman (3), (unassisted)

Third Period
5:01 TB Point (1), (Kucherov, Filppula)(PP)
14:14 TB Kucherov (4), (Stamkos, Stralman)

Brayden Point, Victor Hedman, and Nikita Kucherov were the game's three stars.

The first twenty minutes of this game had the same unfortunate tinge as far too many contests against the Devils often do. The Devils stifled the Lightning attack in a boring frame and eventually took the lead on an opportunistic rebound goal off a shot generated from a turnover. There was much hand wringing. Fortunately, the Lightning took control of the final forty minutes of this game an ultimately made it a laugher. The method of the final forty should be instructive for the Lightning, as they manufactured their second and third goals off of, gasp, offensive zone faceoff wins. Recall, the Lightning may have lost the Stanley Cup against Chicago two years ago when the Blackhawks were able to create possession and chances against the run of play in order to manufacture wins and eventually take control of the series. Last year, the Lightning found themselves within an eyelash returning to the Stanley Cup Final when they ran out of gas and were unable to win offensive zone faceoffs to generate some cheap possession and chances like the Blackhawks did against them the year prior. Let me make this very clear: the Lightning's ability to win offensive zone faceoffs when they're a little stagnant at 5 on 5 and keep the other team from winning them when they have control of a game from a possession standpoint is one of the last pieces to the Lightning's championship puzzle. If they keep showing me faceoff wins and chances manufactured off of them, I'll eventually show you a Stanley Cup Champion some time in roughly June of 2017. Dead serious.

Point had his first NHL goal, 3 shots, and 1 hit in 14:38.

Slater Koekkoek had 1 shot and 4 hits in 14:48. What, no helper?

Box score and extended statistics from

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