Luke Witkowski has learned many lessons in the first half of his rookie season.
The defenseman is surrounded by quality teachers, whether its a coaching staff with decades of experience in professional hockey or the many veterans that dot the Syracuse Crunch lineup.
But sometimes, the best lessons are taught through personal experience.
“These guys help him and we try to help him as much as possible, but I think sometimes you have to live through some of those mistakes,” said Crunch coach Rob Zettler. “You can tell a guy to move the puck quickly as much as you want, but sometimes he has to learn the hard way and get caught doing it.”
The teams will square off again Saturday night.
Game recap from Syracusecrunch.com.
Rob Zettler's first win allows Syracuse to keep pace in the East.
Riku Helenius allowed just 1 goal on 20 shots for the big win. Once again, he's eased his season save percentage up to .900.
SYR Cote, (3) (Devos, Hutchings), 10:07
HER Crabb, (2) (Taffe, Schmidt), 19:05
SYR Palat, (12) (Richard, Sexton), 3:50
Ondrej Palat and J.P. Cote were the game's first and second stars.
This is how Syracuse has to scratch out wins with their finishers called up to Tampa Bay. It's got to be low scoring games and finding a way to get key goals at key times. Providence and Springfield won tonight, and Binghamton is going down late to Norfolk. If that holds, that will leave Syracuse 2 points behind Providence for tops in the East and 2 points clear of Binghamton for the East Division lead. Syracuse's last road game of the regular season is Tuesday against Lake Erie. They'll end with 5 straight at home, which might be edge they need to take the top spot in the East.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
It's all still sinking in for Tanner Richard.
After finishing up his first practice with the Syracuse Crunch Wednesday afternoon, the 2012 third-rounder -- one of two draftees signed by the Tampa Bay Lightning Monday -- was just beginning to take in his new surroundings.
"My phone has been ringing off the hook since Monday,” Richard said. “It just doesn't stop beeping. Every time I look there's 15 or 20 messages from Facebook and Twitter and everything. Honestly, I'm trying to soak it all in and have a good time."
Richard wasn’t the only fresh face getting acquainted to a new team at the Onondaga County War Memorial. Defenseman Luke Witkowski (pictured), a sixth-round pick in 2008 who finished up his senior season at Western Michigan University, also donned a Crunch sweater for the first time.
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed defenseman Luke Witkowski to a two-year contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.
Witkowski, 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, appeared in 38 games as a captain with the Western Michigan University Broncos in 2012-13, recording two goals and 10 points to go along with 46 penalty minutes while being named Second-Team All-CCHA. He led the Broncos with 53 blocked shots and ranked second for penalty minutes. Witkowski also added two power-play tallies.
A native of Holland, Michigan, Witkowski played in 152 games during his four-year career at Western Michigan. He accumulated seven goals and 38 points with 235 penalty minutes. He won the 2010-11 Bill Saunders Plus/Minus Award for finishing with the Broncos’ best plus/minus rating at plus-13.
Prior to attending Western Michigan, Wikowski played for the Fargo Force and the Ohio Junior Blue Jackets of the USHL. He amassed nine goals and 26 assists in two USHL seasons. Witkowski was named to the 2009 USHL All-Star Team.
Witkowski was drafted by the Lightning in the sixth round, 160th overall, of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. Since being drafted he has attended four Lightning Development Camps.