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Special Teams, Gourde's OT Goal Lift Crunch Over Bears

By Jeremy Houghtaling

It took overtime, but the Syracuse Crunch emerged with a win in a special teams battle.

The Crunch struggled to produce on the power play, but netted two shorthanded markers 26 seconds apart in the first period. Yanni Gourde provided the game-winner in the extra session, as Syracuse topped the Hershey Bears, 3-2, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Wednesday.

“It was a good effort and a good hockey game tonight,” said Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx, who clinched the North Division coaching job in the AHL’s All-Star Classic. “I thought it was a very entertaining game, not only for us — both teams — but for our fans. I thought we executed well tonight, and made some good plays offensively and defensively. We’re playing up to our identity. We played fast and didn’t give them much. Our goalie was solid. It was a nice win.”

AHL Game Night: 12-28-16 Bears at Crunch

Wall-cox rises up.

SYR-3 (OT)

Adam Wilcox allowed 2 goals on 19 shots for the win. That's still not a warm and fuzzy stat line in terms of save percentage, but Wilcox has needed a performance like this since getting the #1 job in full with Gudlevskis being recalled. He made a lot of key situational saves tonight to make a victory possible.

First Period
16:17 SYR Brodeur (1), (Condra, Conacher)(SH)
16:43 SYR Gourde (9), (unassisted)(SH)
18:47 HER Mitchell (4), (Lewington, Stephenson)

Second Period
1:20 HER Thomas (14), (Djoos, Bourque)(PP)

Third Period

3:01 SYR Gourde (10), (Witkowski, Taormina)

Yanni Gourde and Erik Condra were the game's first and second stars. Luke Witkowski was hosed given that feathery soft give-and-go he worked to make Gourde's game winner happen.

Syracuse, at least in terms of overall balance of play, seemed to be in a more dominant position tonight with the return of a lot of key regulars like Conacher, Condra, and Richard from Tampa Bay now that they've had some time to get re-acclimated. The win moves Syracuse out to a 2 point lead in the North Division, and just as importantly this was a quality victory against a good Hershey team from the other side of the conference where the teams seem a little stronger, on paper, so far this year.

Box score from

Liiga Game Day: 12-28-16

Ilves 1 vs. SaiPa 2
Saku Salminen, SaiPa, 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Season totals: 27 GP, 2-4-6, -5, 39 PIM

Saku Salminen was scoreless in 8:07 of ice time in SaiPa's 2-1 win over Ilves. The rare win puts SaiPa at 14th in the 15 team league, 2 points ahead of basement dwelling Lukko on the league table.

KHL Game Day: 12-27-16

Kazan 4 vs. St. Petersburg 3 (SO)
Nikita Gusev, St. Petersburg, 0-1-1, +1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Season totals: 39 GP, 18-34-52, +31, 6 PIM

Nikita Gusev assisted on one of two Vadim Shipachyov goals in SKA's 4-2 Shootout loss to Ak Bars Kazan. The forward played 14:30 in the match and was successful on 1 of his 2 attempts in the penalty shot session.

Bolts Ink Brett Howden to Entry-Level Deal

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed forward Brett Howden to a three-year, entry-level contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.

Howden, 6-foot-3, 191 pounds, has played in 21 games with the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League this season, recording 16 goals and 32 points along with four power-play goals. He ranks fourth on the Warriors for goals and fifth for points despite missing time due to injury. Howden’s current 1.52 points per game average would be a career high.

A native of Oakbank, Manitoba, Howden has skated in 162 career WHL games, all with Moose Jaw, with 63 goals and 143 points. He has also amassed 104 penalty minutes and 20 power-play goals. Howden played in 10 WHL playoff games last season and notched four goals and 15 points. He was named the Warriors’ Rookie of the Year for the 2014-15 season.

Howden was selected by Tampa Bay in the first round, 27th overall, of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.

AHL Game Night: 12-26-16 Crunch at Americans

Crunch grinched on the day after Christmas.


Adam Wilcox allowed 5 goals on 26 shots for the loss.

First Period
5:56 SYR Masin (1), (Peca, Taormina)
8:51 RCH Bailey (11), (Schneider, O'Reilly)(PP)
9:18 RCH Rodrigues (5), (Muzito-Bagenda, Bennett)
12:59 RCH Catenacci (4), (O'Reilly, Geiger)

Second Period

Third Period
10:57 RCH Bailey (12), (Kennedy)
15:52 RCH Schneider (11), (Kennedy)

Dominik Masin scored his first pro goal in the match. Other than that, it was a clunker.

Box score from

Liiga Game Day: 12-26-16

Pelicans 3 vs. SaiPa 2 (OT)
Saku Salminen, SaiPa, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 4 SOG
Season totals: 26 GP, 2-4-6, -4, 39 PIM

Saku Salminen was scoreless in 8:06 of ice time in SaiPa's 3-2 OT loss to Pelicans Lahti. Journeyman Justin Hodgman had the OT winner and a pair of helpers in the win for Pelicans.

Bolts Sign Joseph to Rookie Contract

The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed forward Mathieu Joseph to a three-year, entry-level contract on Christmas Eve, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.

Joseph, 6-foot-1, 172 pounds, has played in 29 games with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League this season, notching 25 goals and 45 points. He is tied for the league lead for goals and is also tied for third for shorthanded goals with four, tied for fourth for power play goals with nine and tied for second for plus/minus with a plus-23 rating.

MHL Game Day: 12-25-16

Spartak Jr. 1 vs. Yaroslavl Jr. 5
Oleg Sosunov, Yaroslavl Jr., DNP
Season totals: 24 GP, 0-0-0, -4, 50 PIM

Oleg Sosunov is no longer listed on Loko Jr.'s roster as of this weekends two game set against Spartak Jr. Bolt Prospects will do some digging to see whether Sosunov has been demoted to MHL-B or if another transaction is in the offing.

KHL Game Day: 12-25-16

Nizhnekamsk 0 vs. St. Petersburg 4
Nikita Gusev, St. Petersburg, 1-2-3, +1, 0 PIM, 7 SOG
Season totals: 38 GP, 18-33-51, +30, 6 PIM

Nikita Gusev had a garbage time power play goal, a game-opening power play assist, and an even strength assist sandwiched in between in SKA's 4-0 blanking of Nizhnekamsk. Gusev played 17:50 in the match and had a game high 7 shots on goal. The 3 point effort sets a new career high in points for Gusev at 51 through 38 games, which surpasses his total of 49 points in 56 games last year. He moves back to third in the KHL in scoring behind only Sergei Mozyakin of Magnitogorsk and his teammate and former NHL'er Ilya Kovalchuk. Ex-Isles pick Mikko Koskinen turned aside all 30 shots he faced for SKA for the shutout victory.

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