Helenius, Riku

AHL Game Night: 4-19-13 Admirals at Crunch

Wow. I feel like we need to issue a formal apology to all our friends in Norfolk for that savage beat down tonight.


Cedrick Desjardins allowed 1 goal on 27 shots for the victory. For those wondering, Pat Nagle has been backing up Desjardins because Riku Helenius had some family issues back in Finland that required attention. Hopefully Riku will be back for the playoffs.

First Period
SYR Angelidis, (11) (Wyman, Brown), 14:20
SYR Johnson, (34) (Sexton, Wyman), 14:58
SYR Wyman, (13) (Palat, Johnson), 19:02

Second Period
SYR Namestnikov, (7) (Devos, Connolly), 11:56
NOR Maroon, (25) (Guenin), 13:32
SYR Johnson, (35) (Palat, Sexton), 19:11

Third Period
SYR Johnson, (36) , 7:48

Tyler Johnson, J.T. Wyman, and Mike Angelidis were the game's three stars. The freshly minted AHL MVP, Johnson, celebrated with an incredible 3 goal, 4 point effort to start off a 3 game weekend set that will be so critical for playoff position.

Brian Lee was +4 in the contest. Several members of the Bolt Prospects message board's heads just exploded after reading that. Mind you, he also took a major for slashing and got kicked out of the game. I would suspect a suspension may follow.

Two games remain in the regular season. Providence toppled Springfield tonight 5-3, which clinches the top seed in the East for Providence. However, with Springfield going down and Syracuse winning, the Crunch now move to within 2 points of the Falcons with a game in hand. The Crunch also expanded their division lead over Binghamton to 3 points after Bingo lost to Manchester tonight. Each team has 2 games left on their schedules, including the head-to-head matchup Sunday. The loss for Norfolk was a particularly bad one with the Admirals, at this moment, in a 4-way tie at 79 points for one of the last 2 playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. How deeply ironic would it be if Syracuse had to face Norfolk in the first round? That prospect looks much more remote after tonight, but it's still at least on the edge of the table right now.

So here's the schedule for Saturday: Springfield draws Adirondack (eliminated from playoff contention), Binghamton gets Hershey (one of the clubs in that 4-way tie), and Syracuse gets Worcester (eliminated from playoff contention). Syracuse can make the division elementary with a win, thereby clinching not less than the 3 seed for the playoffs. Jumping Springfield may be a harder task for the Crunch with the Falcons likely holding the tiebreak at the finish line with a 2 game lead in the regulation win column right now.

Some other accounting issues heading into the end of the regular season:
- Syracuse still leads the AHL in goals scored by 10.
- Tyler Johnson is 8th in the AHL in scoring and Brett Connolly is currently tied for 10th.
- Mark Barberio is in 6th amongst AHL defensemen in scoring.
- Johnson also leads the league in goals by 3 with Connolly tied for 4th.
- Johnson is also 6th in power play goals.
- Connolly is tied for tops in game winning goals.
- Ondrej Palat is tied for 8th in the league in helpers.
- Despite being in Tampa for about a month, Radko Gudas is still 6th in the AHL in penalty minutes.
- Gudas is also still leading the league in +/- with teammates Johnson, Palat, and J.P. Cote all tied for 3rd. Dmitry Korobov is tied for 8th.
- Barberio is 9th in the league in shots on goal.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 4-6-13 Crunch at Bears

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.

First Period
SYR Cote, (3) (Devos, Hutchings), 10:07

Second Period
HER Crabb, (2) (Taffe, Schmidt), 19:05

Third Period
SYR Palat, (12) (Richard, Sexton), 3:50

Ondrej Palat and J.P. Cote were the game's first and second stars.

Congratulations to Tanner Richard on his first professional point. Naturally, it was an assist. Luke Witkowski made his professional debut in the game.

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.

AHL Game Night: 3-30-13 Crunch at Admirals

Crunch only get 1 point out of a Norfolk weekend. Bad.


Riku Helenius allowed 2 goals on 27 shots for the loss. Hard to get mad at him when he got zero goal support. Former JYP mate (and really good player) Sami Vatanen with the dagger, too.

First Period

Second Period
NOR Vatanen, (8) (Wilson, Smith-Pelly), 7:21

Third Period
NOR Mitchell, (10) (Smith-Pelly, Wilson), 4:52

Syracuse did outshoot Norfolk 41-27, but they're missing their best finishers with so many callups to Tampa Bay. They have to be hoping/wishing/praying for someone like Lecavalier to come off the IR quickly.

It's now a 4-way tie atop the Eastern Conference with Springfield, Providence, Syracuse, and Binghamton all tied at 87 points. Providence holds 1 game in hand on the Crunch and Springfield holds 2.

8 games remain in the regular season. 6 of those 8 contests are in Syracuse starting with a matchup against Hershey on Friday.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 3-29-13 Crunch at Admirals

Third Period collapse in Norfolk.

NOR-5 (OT)

Riku Helenius allowed 5 goals on 30 shots for the loss. So much for getting over the .900 save percentage line. No wonder the Lightning are rumored to be trying to sweet talk Bratislava into letting Jaroslav Janus come back.

First Period
SYR Connolly, (27) (Jacques), 3:51
SYR Neilson, (1) (Gauthier, Wyman), 17:07
NOR Maroon, (19) (Bonis, McMillan), 19:46

Second Period
SYR Hutchings, (3) (Cote, Namestnikov), 18:59

Third Period
SYR Sexton, (7) (Brown, Wyman), 0:10
NOR Smith-Pelly, (11) (McMillan), 0:50
NOR Wagner, (7) (Pelley), 2:46
NOR Maroon, (20) (Guenin, Vatanen), 8:49 (PP)

NOR Maroon, (21) (Sarault, Vatanen), 1:41 (PP)

I've said it many times, a 3 goal lead in the final frame in pro hockey is supposed to be a death sentence. When you cough up a lead like that, it lingers like a bad stench for a while. When you cheat the reaper like Norfolk did, it can propel you.

The news is bad with Bingo and Providence winning tonight. The Crunch now are tied with the Bruins and tied in points (and in their division) with Binghamton. Rematch with Norfolk tomorrow night. 9 games are left in the regular season, and every single precious point matters now.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 3-27-13 Crunch at Americans

Famine in Zettler's debut.


Riku Helenius allowed 1 goal on 14 shots for the loss. That's his second 1-0 loss in recent weeks, I believe. That just stinks for a goaltender.

First Period
RCH Schofield, (7) (Girgensons, Biega), 19:18

Second Period

Third Period

Zettler is being assisted by Martin Raymond and ex-video coach Brian Garlock. Brian Lee made his debut for the Crunch after being sent through waivers by the Lightning. Syracuse actually outshot Rochester 38-14 in the contest.

Syracuse now heads to Norfolk for a 2 game set on Friday and Saturday. They hold a scant 1 point lead on Providence in the conference with 10 games left in the regular season.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 3-23-13 Devils at Crunch

Still hanging onto first place.


Riku Helenius allowed 1 goal on 28 shots for the victory. He came within 54 seconds of a shutout before Albany's power play goal. Still, with the effort tonight, Helenius has finally managed to get his save percentage back to .900 for the season. He had a good February and is having a good March, which the Lightning have to hope leads to a good Option B for Syracuse come playoff time.

First Period
SYR Namestnikov, (5) (Gauthier, Jacques), 13:39
SYR Sexton, (6) (Wyman), 14:25

Second Period
SYR Brown, (10) (Wyman, Sexton), 14:00

Third Period
ALB Anderson, (13) (Whitney, Gelinas), 19:06 (PP)

Dan Sexton, Vladislav Namestnikov, and Helenius were the game's three stars. Namestnikov's strong play in March also has to have the Lightning extremely happy. We at the website can't wait to see him and Nikita Kucherov lined up together, which could happen this season depending on how the QMJHL playoffs go.

With Providence going down to Worcester, Syracuse holds a 2 point lead on Binghamton for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Springfield and Providence lag by 3 points. Syracuse gets Rochester next on Wednesday, and with just 11 games left in the regular season every point matters from here on out, as it could be the difference between being 1 seed or a 4 seed.

6 of Syracuse's remaining 11 games are at home, including a nice 5 game homestand to close out the regular season. Also, 6 of the 11 games are against teams that currently would not make the playoffs, although the team they have the most games left with, ironically Norfolk, is just 2 points out of 8th in the East.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 3-22-13 Bulldogs at Crunch

Tic's revenge.


Riku Helenius allowed 1 goal on 26 shots to take the loss in a classic goaltending duel against ex-tandem mate Dustin Tokarski. Tokarski stopped all 40 shots he faced for the sweet revenge against Syracuse.

First Period

Second Period

Third Period
HAM Belzile, (1) (Bournival, Stejskal), 10:10

Helenius was the game's third star. Tokarski, of course, got top star billing.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 3-16-13 Devils at Crunch

Jon Cooper? Still Jedi.


Riku Helenius allowed 2 goals on 30 shots for the victory.

First Period
SYR Connolly, (25) (Namestnikov, Devos), 6:08
SYR Cote, (2) (Angelidis, Nightingale), 6:38
SYR Panik, (22) (Connolly, Sexton), 10:38 (PP)

Second Period
SYR Brown, (9) (Angelidis, Mikkelson), 7:22
SYR Devos, (4) (Connolly, Namestnikov), 9:11
SYR Connolly, (26) (Barberio, Oberg), 9:57 (PP)

Third Period
ALB Kelly, (2) (Wohlberg), 8:00
ALB Whitney, (22) (Zalewski, Anderson), 12:38

Brett Connolly, Vladislav Namestnikov, and J.P Cote were the game's three stars.

With Tyler Johnson up in Tampa, Connolly becomes the Crunch's hope for hardware and plaudits. He currently sits in 3rd in the league in scoring, 4 points back of Grand Rapids' Gustav Nyquist. His 26 goals are also now tied for 5th is the AHL.

Vladdy Namestnikov continuing to play well continues to bode very well for the future.

As good a coaching job as Jon Cooper did last season, if he wins the Eastern Conference and even manages to post the best record in the AHL this season, it'll be an even more amazing job. It's hard to believe that with half of his team's core torturing the Carolina Hurricanes in Tampa, Cooper's team still managed to fly out to a 6-0 lead in Albany. He's a special coach. I can't say anything more and still do it justice.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 3-9-13 Crunch at IceCaps

Kings of the comeback trail.


Riku Helenius allowed 2 goals on 25 shots for the victory.

First Period
STJ Gagnon, (4) (Mouillierat, Sawada), 4:57
STJ Gagnon, (5) (Cormier, O'Dell), 16:01 (PP)

Second Period
SYR Taormina, (4) (Brown), 2:23 (PP)
SYR Wyman, (11) (Panik, Korobov), 11:44

Third Period
SYR Connolly, (24) (Gudas, Nightingale), 9:15
SYR Johnson, (31) (Panik, Wyman), 10:44

J.T. Wyman and Radko Gudas were the game's first and third stars.

Syracuse again staked the IceCaps to a 2-0 lead and again came back to snatch victory away from them. Richard Panik has 5 points, all assists, in 5 games since being returned from Tampa. Panik attack, y'all.

With Sprigfield stubbing their toe twice against Albany, Syracuse has opened up a 4 point lead in the East with the Falcons holding 3 games in hand. The Crunch are off until Friday when they face Norfolk.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Day: 3-6-13 Crunch at Marlies

Crushed in Toronto.


Riku Helenius allowed 4 goals on 7 shots for the loss before giving way to Pat Nagle, who allowed 1 goal on 11 shots the rest of the way.

First Period
SYR Devos, (3) (Connolly, Taormina), 5:32 (PP)
TOR Hamilton, (24) (Gardiner, Zigomanis), 9:55 (PP)
SYR Brown, (8) (Tyrell), 14:28
TOR Abbott, (7) (Colborne, Gardiner), 15:24

Second Period
TOR Ranger, (7) (Colborne, Zigomanis), 1:31 (PP)
TOR Blacker, (3) (Ryan, D'Amigo), 2:27
TOR Abbott, (8) (Hamilton, Ranger), 7:24 (PP)

Third Period
TOR Hamilton, (25) (Ryan, McKegg), 17:24 (EN)
SYR Hutchings, (2) (Devos, Gudas), 18:27

I can't tell you how strange it is to see original Bolt Prospects alumni Paul Ranger come back and help trounce the farm team.

Syracuse has back-to-back games at St. John's on Friday and Saturday. There are 18 games left in the regular season and Syracuse is tied with Springfield at 75 points for the top spot of the East with the Falcons holding 3 games in hand. So, if they want home ice throughout, they need to snap out of this slump quick.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

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