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Crunch Score Five Unanswered Goals in Win Over Utica


By Jeremy Houghtaling

The Syracuse Crunch answered quickly and kept plugging away.

The Crunch netted the equalizer 89 seconds after the Comets opened the scoring and went on to score five unanswered goals, as Syracuse routed rival Utica, 5-1, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

“We thought we had a solid effort from the first to last minute,” Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx said. “It was unfortunate that they took the lead, but we were able to answer back quickly. That gave us confidence for the rest of the game.”

KHL Playoff Game Day: 3-25-17

KHL Western Conference Finals
(2)St. Petersburg 4 vs. (4)Yaroslavl 1
St. Petersburg Leads the Series 2-0
Nikita Gusev, St. Petersburg, 0-1-1, E, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Playoff totals: 10 GP, 5-7-12, +4, 2 PIM
Regular season totals: 57 GP, 24-47-71, +33, 8 PIM

Nikita Gusev had a power play assist on an Ilya Kovalchuk goal in SKA's 4-1 Game Two win over Yaroslavl. He played 16:41 in the match. Ex-Penguins and Coyotes forward Sergei Plotnikov led the way for SKA with 2 goals and 3 points in the victory. Meanwhile, in the East, top seed Magnitogorsk has a 1-0 series lead on third seeded Ak Bars Kazan.

ECHL Game Night: 3-24-17

Norfolk Admirals 3 at Kalamazoo Wings 5

F Brian Hart, KAL, 0-0-0, +1, 0 PIMS, 2 SOG
Season Totals (ECHL): 27 GP, 3-4-7, -1, 4 PIMs, 48 SOG
Season Totals (AHL): 33 GP, 3-4-7, E, 26 PIMs, 50 SOG

F Cameron Darcy, KAL, 1-0-1, +2, 0 PIMS, 4 SOG, *Second Star*
Season Totals (ECHL): 14 GP, 5-13-18, +12, 6 PIMs, 41 SOG
Season Totals (AHL): 34 GP, 3-4-7, -3, 14 PIMs, 40 SOG

Other Notables
G Nic Riopel, KAL, W, 60:00 MIN, 36/39
Season Totals: 29 GP, 17-10-0-1, 2.89 GAA, 0.904 SV%, 1 SO

The K-Wings secured their place in the 2017 Kelly Cup Playoffs Friday night in front of 2,154 fans at the Wings Event Center, besting the Norfolk Admirals 5-3. Nic Riopel returned to the net and turned away 36 shots. Lightning prospect Cam Darcy scored the eventual game-winner on an unassisted marker early in the 3rd period with a one-on-one glove-side move against the Norfolk netminder, earning 2nd Star Honors. Kalamazoo and Quad Cities are battling to see who draws Toledo or Fort Wayne in the playoffs, with the Mallards up by 4 points over the K-Wings with a game-in-hand. Kalamazoo finishes up the three-game home stand Saturday night with a rematch against Norfolk.

Hajek Makes Pro Debut in Crunch's Loss to Penguins


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Libor Hajek hopped over the boards for the first shift roughly 1:20 into the game.

The 19-year-old defenseman described the feeling simply. “Just nervous. That’s it.”

The Tampa Bay Lightning’s 2016 second round draft pick made his pro debut with the Crunch, but Syracuse was outmatched by the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, 5-1, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.

“Libor was good. I like the way he skated,” Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx said. “Tough night for him. It’s tough to start your career in a game like this. Overall, I thought he did some good things.”

AHL Game Night: 3-24-17 Penguins at Crunch

Crunch crushed by class of the conference.

WBS-5
SYR-1

Kristers Gudlevskis surrendered 3 goals on 7 shots for the loss before being pulled for Mike McKenna who allowed 2 on 25 shots the rest of the way.

First Period
5:22 WBS Di Pauli (2), (Dea, Pouliot)
10:54 WBS Porter (11), (Aston-Reese, Goers)
14:16 WBS Aston-Reese (2), (Porter)
15:19 SYR Bournival (6), (Conacher)(SH)

Second Period
1:09 WBS Goers (4), (unassisted)

Third Period
1:34 WBS Simon (13), (Haggerty, Prow)

Michael Bournival was the game's third star.

Tonight showed just how far Syracuse is from being a serious contender in the Eastern Conference with a slim number of regular season games to get well. Getting some players back from Tampa Bay would be helpful, but there's still way too much inconsistency from the players who stay behind in Syracuse.

Syracuse is tied atop the North Division at 75 points with Toronto and hold a game in hand on the Marlies. Nobody seems to really want to win this division. The Crunch keep teetering at the top of the table playing around .500 hockey recently, but nobody seems to want to seize the opportunity to overtake them.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 3-24-17 Lightning at Red Wings

Vampire-like Lightning again refuse to die.

TB-2
DET-1 (OT)

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 1 goal on 30 shots for the victory. After a couple of rough nights, the young man returned to solid form.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
8:03 DET Zetterberg (16), (Nyquist, Nielsen)

Third Period
5:53 TB Palat (15), (Coburn, Kucherov)

Overtime
3:28 TB Kucherov (38), (Point)

Nikita Kucherov were the game's first and third stars.

Fighting fatigue and a pretty strong goaltending performance by Mrazek, the Lightning again declined an invitation to fold their cards and fought back to earn another critical 2 points. They pulled within 1 point of the Isles for the second Wild Card spot with the win with the Isles holding a game in hand. Hope still lives in a Lightning jersey, despite injuries and selling off at the deadline, it still lives.

Eight games to go: is it Stammer time? When will we see Tyler Johnson again? And, are any of these hole cards enough to push the Lightning, improbably, over the top and into the postseason?

Luke Witkowski had 1 shot and 1 hit in 10:05.

Gregg McKegg had 5 penalty minutes and 1 hit in a very slim 3:28. Got his butt unceremoniously kicked by Mantha.

Jake Dotchin was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 3 shots, and 3 hits in 19:58.

Gabriel Dumont had 2 shots and 3 hits in 7:15. He was also 17% on 6 draws.

Yanni Gourde had 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 1 hit and was 50% on 12 draws in 16:51.

Adam Erne had 7 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 3 hits in 8:15. He probably lost his fight with Athanasiou on points, but honestly if he had connected just once on what he was throwing he might've killed Athanasiou. I wouldn't want Erne or Dotchin mad at me.

Joel Vermin had 2 penalty minutes in 9:28.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 3-23-17 Lightning at Bruins

Hope springs up in an unexpected place.

TB-6
BOS-3

Petr Budaj allowed 3 goals on 31 shots for the victory. Not his best effort losing his net on Boston's third goal, but in all he allowed the Lightning to keep contact during the game and shut the door once they finally got the lead.

First Period
1:33 BOS Pastrnak (32), (Bergeron, Spooner)(PP)
2:17 TB Point (13), (Palat, Dotchin)

Second Period
7:50 BOS Chara (8), (Nash, Moore)(SH)
8:14 TB Kucherov (35), (Drouin, Hedman)(PP)
13:18 BOS Nash (5), (Moore, Miller)
14:53 TB Stralman (3), (Palat, Point)

Third Period
4:12 TB Drouin (18), (Killorn, Dotchin)
10:11 TB Kucherov (36), (Hedman, Drouin)(PP)
18:03 TB Kucherov (37), (Palat)(EN)

Nikita Kucherov and Jonathan Drouin were the game's first and second stars. Kucherov's hat trick puts him 3 shy of the 40 goal plateau for the first time in his career and back within distant shouting distance of the league lead. Drouin's GWG, which was one through Rask that probably should've been stopped, puts him 2 shy of the 20 goal plateau for the first time in his career.

Three times in this game the Lightning were offered the opportunity to give up on their season. Three times they showed resiliency immediately. It may not matter much in the end equation, but Jon Cooper can rest a little better at night knowing his team has a lot of character and refuses to give up. And, at the very least, the Lightning dealt a blow to Boston's playoff hopes tonight, which is good for the soul.

Luke Witkowski had 1 shot and 2 hits in 9:11.

Jake Dotchin had 2 helpers and was +2 with 1 shot and 2 hits in 17:26. Played a really strong two-way game, and I'm thinking we may have learned that although Jake can play more minutes, this is more his sweet spot.

Gabriel Dumont had 4 penalty minutes and 2 hits in 10:31. He was also 58% on 26 draws.

Yanni Gourde was -1 with 2 shots and he was 29% on 14 draws in 12:22.

Adam Erne was -1 with 2 shots, 5 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 9:45.

Joel Vermin was -1 in 9:17.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

KHL Game Day: 3-23-17

KHL Western Conference Finals
(2)St. Petersburg 5 vs. (4)Yaroslavl 4 (OT)
St. Petersburg Leads the Series 1-0
Nikita Gusev, St. Petersburg, 1-1-2, +2, 0 PIM, 4 SOG
Playoff totals: 9 GP, 4-6-10, +2, 2 PIM
Regular season totals: 57 GP, 24-47-71, +33, 8 PIM

SKA overcame a 2 goal Third Period deficit with a comeback that included a tying goal with 10 seconds left in regulation to post a 5-4 Game One OT triumph over Yaroslavl in the KHL Western Conference Finals. Nikita Gusev scored the first goal of the comeback of the power play and then setup the game winner in Overtime. He played 18:51 in the match. Linemate Vadim Shipachyov had assists in triplicate for SKA in the win.

ECHL Game Night: 3-22-17

Florida Everblades 2 at Kalamazoo Wings 3

F Brian Hart, KAL, 0-1-1, +1, 0 PIMS, 1 SOG
Season Totals (ECHL): 26 GP, 3-4-7, -2, 4 PIMs, 46 SOG
Season Totals (AHL): 33 GP, 3-4-7, E, 26 PIMs, 50 SOG

F Cameron Darcy, KAL, 0-1-1, +2, 0 PIMS, 4 SOG, *Third Star*
Season Totals (ECHL): 13 GP, 4-13-17, +10, 6 PIMs, 37 SOG
Season Totals (AHL): 34 GP, 3-4-7, -3, 14 PIMs, 40 SOG

Other Notables
G Nic Riopel, KAL, did not play
Season Totals: 28 GP, 16-10-0-1, 2.88 GAA, 0.903 SV%, 1 SO

F Brendan O'Donnell, FLA, 0-0-0, -2, 0 PIMS, 2 SOG
Season Totals (ECHL): 52 GP, 36-30-66, +27, 35 PIMs, 207 SOG
Season Totals (AHL): 6 GP, 0-0-0, -6, 0 PIMs

The K-Wings scored two first period goals Wednesday night against the perennial ECHL powerhouse Florida Everblades, and then added a third period insurance marker to seal the eventual 3-2 victory. It was an important home win for Kalamazoo after last weekend's disappointing split against the Indy Fuel. Joel Martin stopped 30 shots in his 2nd consecutive start after the Fuel roughed up Nic Riopel last Friday night, and both Bolt prospect forwards Cam Darcy and Brian Hart got helpers on that important third period goal with a tic-tac-toe play to set up Peter Schneider's 2nd goal of the night. The K-Wings also held former Bolt prospect Brendan O'Donnell scoreless in the contest, which is usually a tall order given that O'Donnell leads the ECHL with 36 goals in 52 games. Kalamazoo now turns its attention to a back-to-back home stand Friday and Saturday night against the Norfolk Admirals, needing just 1 point to clinch a Kelly Cup Playoff berth.

NHL Game Night: 3-22-17 Coyotes at Lightning

The lights (probably) go out on the Lightning's season.

ARI-5
TB-3

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 34 shots for the loss.

First Period
4:56 ARI Fischer (3), (Crouse, Jooris)
9:45 TB Hedman (15), (Kucherov)

Second Period
10:06 ARI Dvorak (12), (Domi, Murphy)
11:50 TB Kucherov (34), (Palat)
18:08 TB Namestnikov (10), (Drouin)

Third Period
4:45 ARI Ekman-Larsson (12), (Domi, Duclair)
6:39 ARI Vrbata (18), (Goligoski, Ekman-Larsson)
18:24 ARI Murphy (2), (unassisted)(SH)(EN)

Nikita Kucherov was the game's third star.

Full disclosure: the power went off at my house about 15 minutes through the Second Period and didn't come back until late last night. So, the lights went out at my house shortly before they probably went out on the Lightning. Maybe I should be thankful I didn't have to witness that Third Period slide into the abyss. In a way, it's fitting. I declared the Lightning season more or less dead when the team got blown out in Arizona with one of the more feckless efforts of the season. At that point, the math simply didn't work out for a happy ending for the Lightning, and while they did an amazing job to play themselves back into the conversation for a playoff spot the fact is there's been far too many nights like this one where the team didn't mind its details against opponents of all stripes and got lit up on the scoreboard. And, it's because of that the team is (probably) heading for early tee times this offseason and a lot of reflection on what might have been.

Luke Witkowski had 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, and 1 hit in 8:53.

Jake Dotchin was +1 with 4 penalty minutes, 4 shots, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 20:17.

Gabriel Dumont had 1 shot and 1 hit in 8:32. He was also 80% on 10 draws.

Yanni Gourde had 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 16:12. He too was 80% on 10 draws.

Adam Erne had 1 shot and 3 hits in 13:50.

Joel Vermin had 2 shots in 11:57.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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