After missing one game, Mike Angelidis was excited to rejoin the lineup.
The Crunch captain notched a power play goal less than three minutes into the game, added an assist on the eventual game-winner, and provided some key defensive shifts in the closing minutes, as Syracuse topped the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, 4-3, in a physical contest at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.
The Crunch has won three straight and seven out of their last eight to take over second place in the Eastern Conference.
"He got us going with a power play goal to start off with and he just keeps doing what he's doing," said Syracuse head coach Rob Zettler. "He's competitive and we need that competitiveness. When a game like this happens, I need him to settle things down for us and that's what he's able to do."
Peaking at the right time?
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 3 goals on 41 shots for the victory. Bridgeport made a big push in the Third Period, outshooting Syracuse 19-7 and getting a couple of goals, but Gudlevskis was ultimately able to get Syracuse over the finish line to secure the win.
SYR Angelidis, (19) (Ashton, Gourde), 2:41 (PP)
BRI Quine, (19) (Mayfield, Pelech), 15:36
SYR Martindale, (12) (Kunyk, Marchessault), 3:06
SYR Dotchin, (6) (Mormina, Marchessault), 14:31 (PP)
BRI Jeffrey, (22) (Ness), 5:21
SYR Vermin, (10) (Courtnall, Angelidis), 9:48
BRI McMillan, (3) (Sundstrom, Vaughan), 17:26
The game got a little nasty in the Second Period, with matching ejections that led to Carter Ashton's early departure from the game for being involved in a secondary altercation.
Note that none of the Crunch's recent ATO signees, including highly touted Brayden Point, made their debuts tonight. More additions could be on the way with goaltender Adam Wilcox and Minnesota already knocked out of the NCAA Tournament tonight and Matthew Peca's Quinnipiac Bobcats down 3-0 early in the Second Period at the time of this posting. Both highly touted prospects could possibly make an immediate contribution at the AHL level.
Syracuse leapfrogs over Hershey into the second seed with the win. They're 4 points behind Manchester for the top spot in the conference (and the league) with the Monarchs holding a game in hand. The Crunch have 10 games left in the regular season, which is a nice time to go on a tear like the current, ongoing 4 game winning streak.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Goaltending betrays the Lightning in its moment of need.
Ben Bishop allowed 3 goals on 11 shots for the loss before getting lifted in the Second Period. 1-2 of those goals were the semi-soft variety. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped all 8 shots he faced in relief, but he didn't look super-sharp himself, particularly with his rebound control. It was just a rare off night for the tandem on a night where they were dueling with one of the league's best in Rinne.
3:28 NSH Ribeiro (14), (Josi)
4:08 NSH Gaustad (4), (Beck)
19:31 TB Namestnikov (7), (Sustr, Barberio)
6:47 NSH Santorelli (12), (Jarnkrok, Stalberg)
13:19 TB Boyle (15), (Brown, Drouin)
Just a shame to see a reasonably good effort squandered by lackluster goaltending. The Lightning outshot Nashville 30-19 and completely dominated large swaths of play, but they were 0-for-5 on the power play and could not get the equalizer. The silver lining is that Montreal is losing 4-1 to Winnipeg in the Third Period as I type. If that score holds up, there's no harm and the Lightning will still be 1 point out in the division with time to catch up. They could've easily gotten 1-2 points out of tonight, though, and that's the part that stings a bit.
Vladislav Namestnikov had a goal and 1 shot in 10:18. This went about the way most of his games have gone lately where he gets IT and looks dangerous offensively for the first 25 minutes or so of play, and then sees the pine the rest of the way as the coaching staff taps some guys who are perhaps a little more consistent defensively. He's been very good offensively though with his speed and handles, to the extent that the team is maneuvering to try and keep him on the roster right now. He's 5 games shy of graduation from prospect status on the site now.
(Tampa Bay Lightning release) The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed forward Brayden Point to a three-year, entry-level contract, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today. Additionally, Point has signed an AHL amateur try out contract to play the remainder of the 2014-15 season with the Syracuse Crunch.
Phantoms never had a ghost of a chance.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 1 goal on 28 shots for the victory. He's won 5 straight starts and put together 4 straight quality starts in the process. His save percentage has steadily risen to .904 and he's building up confidence necessary for a solid playoff run.
SYR Mormina, (4) (Kunyk), 11:46 (SH)
SYR Marchessault, (20) , 8:45
SYR Koekkoek, (5) (Martindale, Gourde), 10:56
SYR Marchessault, (21) , 2:19 (SH)
SYR Courtnall, (7) (Vermin), 4:47
SYR Martindale, (11) (Courtnall, Dotchin), 8:12
LV Jones, (7) (Comrie, Gordon), 9:22 (PP)
Jonathan Marchessault, Justin Courtnall, and Gudlevskis were the game's three stars. Marchessault is currently tied for 6th in the league in scoring. Courtnall's got 5 points and a +5 rating in 7 games since joining the Crunch. At this rate, maybe the Lightning should've signed him the first run through the organization?
It's been a long road, but Syracuse has closed back within 1 point of Hershey for the 2nd seed in the conference. For the longest time, they looked to be locked into the 3 seed, but they're playing themselves into a spot to challenge for better position.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 36 shots for the victory. You hate to see a goaltender allow 3 in under 3 minutes like he did in the Second Period, but you applaud the mental toughness to not allow anything else the rest of the way.
5:49 TB Morrow (3), (Brown)
7:47 TB Johnson (26), (Callahan)
6:16 FLA Jokinen (7), (Boyes, Gudbranson)
6:34 FLA Pirri (18), (Trocheck)
8:14 FLA Huberdeau (12), (Barkov, Jagr)
1:30 TB Kucherov (27), (Sustr, Palat)
17:32 TB Callahan (22), (Killorn, Stamkos)
Ryan Callahan and Vasilevskiy were the game's first and second stars.
The Lightning didn't deserve a damned thing out of this game. Clearly they talked about their tendency to come out flat in games like these against lesser opposition and they quickly stormed out to the 2-0 lead. But, after the refs gifted a phantom boarding call on Kucherov to the Panthers, and the PK surrendered 5 SOG's in 2 minutes, Florida had the momentum pretty much the rest of the game. It was only by the grace of a great individual play by Kucherov on his wraparound goal and a horrific softie by Luongo on Callahan's goal that Tampa Bay escaped with 2 points. And, yeah, you'll take it, but it's another frustrating example of the team's mental weakness in games like these. It's weird to say you'd rather see top-tier opponents rather than the Jets and Panthers of the world, but you know the team simply hasn't put a 60 minute effort together anytime recently against opponents like the Jets or Panthers.
As I type, the Lightning have moved into a tie with Montreal at 99 points, with the Canadiens just having their game with Nashville tied at 2-2. We'll see how the rest of the night unfolds, but the pressure is still on Montreal to keep their meager lead atop the Atlantic Division.
Vladislav Namestnikov had 1 shot in 12:47. Like most of his teammates, his play evaporated in the final 40 minutes of action as they got pinned up in their own zone time and time again.
We continue our Bolt Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for his recent contributions on and off the ice.
The Bolt Prospect of the Week for March 24, 2015 is … Adam Wilcox, G, University of Minnesota Golden Gophers (NCAA – USA).
Playing goaltender for the University of Minnesota isn’t for the faint of heart. For everything positive – and Lightning prospect Adam Wilcox had plenty of positives in his first two years with the Gophers – the negatives are amplified to a level of criticism not seen in many hockey circles. Minnesota was the top-ranked team early in the year, then fell out of the rankings completely. As a result, Wilcox has trudged through a river of disparagement for inconsistent play and what amounts to not living up to the standard that he set himself.
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
Ontario Hockey League
Kitchener Rangers 0 @ Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 3
D Anthony DeAngelo, SOO: 0-1-1, +1, 4 PIM
With SSM: 26 GP, 15-36-51, +33, 51 PIM
With Sarnia: 29 GP, 10-28-38, +1, 64 PIM
Season totals: 55 GP, 25-64-89, +34, 115 PIM
2013-14 totals: 51 GP, 15-56-71, -34, 90 PIM
Anthony DeAngelo had the primary assist on the Soo’s first goal to extend his point streak to 25 games. He finishes the season with 89 points, and the Greyhounds finish the season with the league’s top overall seed. DeAngelo won the OHL and CHL scoring title for defensemen by 18 points. He was 25 points better the third place finishers, which included the WHL and QMJHL leading defensive scorers.
West-1 Sault Ste. Marie (DeAngelo) vs West-8 Saginaw
East-1 Oshawa vs East-8 Peterborough (Masin, who is out for the season)
Windsor (Cristiano DiGiacinto) did not make the playoffs
Western Hockey League
Kootenay Ice 2 @ Calgary Hitmen 3
D Ben Thomas, CAL: 0-0-0, +1, 2 PIM
Season totals: 60 GP, 7-24-31, +16, 28 PIM
2013-14 totals: 72 GP, 7-24-31, +11, 39 PIM
Calgary won the Central Division title by one point over Medicine Hat, thanks to a win over Kootenay on Sunday. Thomas finishes the year with the same point total as last year, but achieved in 12 fewer games. Calgary swept its weekend series with the Ice, and now gets them again in the first round of the playoffs.
East-3 Calgary (Thomas) vs East-6 Kootenay
Moose Jaw (Brayden Point) did not make the playoffs
Stick that in your pipe, Jack Edwards.
Ben Bishop allowed 3 goals on 28 shots for the victory. Sad lack of net front coverage late in the Third by the Lightning allowed the garbage time goal that wrecked a solid stat line for Ben. Maybe the only blemish on the game.
0:33 BOS Bergeron (21), (Marchand, McQuaid)
5:49 TB Namestnikov (6), (Morrow, Brown)
10:47 TB Brown (3), (Palat, Carle)
11:02 TB Stralman (8), (Filppula, Namestnikov)
7:54 TB Garrison (4), (Johnson, Carle)
10:22 BOS Chara (8), (Smith, Pastrnak)(PP)
13:50 TB Palat (16), (Callahan, Kucherov)(PP)
19:12 BOS Paille (6), (Talbot, Campbell)
J.T. Brown, Steven Stamkos, and Vladislav Namestnikov were the game's three stars. Funny how the Bruins got distinctly less big and bad when Stamkos jumped on Marchand after his low-bridge hit on Filppula. What they say is true: the best way to handle a bully is to bloody their nose a bit. Between that and the early 4th line contributions, you knew this was going to be the Lightning's game. It'll be interesting to see how Cedric Paquette draws back into the lineup now, because all 4 lines are clicking reasonably well at the moment.
The victory puts the Lightning at 97 points for the season, meaning they've passed the 96 point mark we peg as the minimum threshold to comfortably make the playoffs. They're also still lurking just 2 points shy of Montreal for the division lead, and we can now officially make banner chasing the mission of the rest of the regular season.
Namestnikov had 1 goal, 1 assist, 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 14:42 of ice time. He might've run out of a little steam in the final 40 minutes of hockey and had at least one pretty awful turnover, which happened in the Second Period, but he's played very well overall. Well enough that I wouldn't be shocked if Namestnikov stays with the Lightning even after Paquette returns from injury. He's now 7 games shy of graduation from prospect status on the website with 9 games left on the schedule.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 1 goal on 14 shots for the victory. Not a typo. Light work for the Yak today.
SYR Courtnall, (6) (Blujus, Vermin), 10:25
SPR Adam, (14) (Chaput, Hoeffel), 16:52
SYR Marchessault, (19) (Blujus, Richard), 3:04 (PP)
SYR Gourde, (26) (Ashton, Koekkoek), 19:40 (PP)
SYR Angelidis, (18) (Mormina), 14:03
Justin Courtnall continues to look like another Julien BriseBois trash to treasure conversion.
Things get interesting in the next couple of weeks for Syracuse as the amateur ranks yield some ATO opportunities for the Lightning organization. Specifically, Brayden Point could be a prime addition on an ATO for the Crunch, and an early exit from the NCAA tournament could put Matthew Peca in a Crunch jersey very soon, too. Both would be nice additions to a Crunch team in need of more speed and skill, especially up the middle.
Box score from TheAHL.com.