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Crunch Look to Capitalize on Opportunity Against Griffins in Finals


By Jeremy Houghtaling

The feeling is one that Matt Taormina reluctantly remembers.

The Syracuse Crunch fell behind 3-0 in the Calder Cup Finals in 2013, but became the first team to win back-to-back road elimination games to send the series back to the Onondaga County War Memorial.

But then the disappointment of coming up short, with American Hockey League president Dave Andrews handing the cup to Grand Rapids Griffins captain Jeff Hoggan after Game 6.

For Taormina, the only current member of the Crunch who was on that 2013 playoff run, Syracuse needs to capitalize on the opportunity in front of them as the teams meet again in the Calder Cup Finals starting Friday in Grand Rapids.

"They came in and won it in front of our fans, and that was really hard to deal with," Taormina said. "You don’t really get this opportunity too often to make it all the way to the finals and have a chance of winning. You just have to take advantage of it.”

Lightning Power Play Live: April 17, 2017

Chad was on Lightning Radio’s Lightning Power Play Live Monday to discuss the following:

· Playoffs
· GMing 101
· Creativity within structure
· Jo Drouin’s future with TB (or is there one?)
· Syracuse’s run to the playoffs
· Juniors update

Yan Getting First Pro Experience With Crunch


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Dennis Yan didn't look out of place in his pro debut.

After finishing his junior season with Shawinigan of the QMJHL earlier this month, the winger took the ice in the Syracuse Crunch's 3-2 win over the Albany Devils Saturday night.

Yan is focused on gaining valuable experience as he begins his pro career.

"I think it was a pretty good game for me," Yan said. "I played physical. I played simple, a bit more than juniors because it's a lot different level. It's professional. It's faster and more physical.

"I think I'll get some more games and I'll be more confident and play my game."

The Bolt Prospects Podcast, Episode 96

This week’s “The Year Was 1996 Edition” of the Bolt Prospects Podcast includes the following topics:

· The No. 96
· The ’96 Lightning
· Blame fingers and mulligans
· TB set up better than ever for long-term success
· Upcoming free agents and what to do with them
· Next year’s team
· Interview with Slater Koekkoek

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Crunch's Koekkoek Focused on Having Long Playoff Run


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Slater Koekkoek isn't sitting around and waiting for his phone to ring.

Unable to be called up unless there are injuries to the Tampa Bay Lightning's defensive corps, the Crunch defenseman has embraced more of a leadership role with in Syracuse.

With six key North Division games remaining in the regular season, Koekkoek's main focus is taking the Crunch deep into the playoffs.

"Any time a guy comes down here, they're hoping it's not for long," Koekkoek said. "I'm not sitting here and pouting about it. I'm trying to make the most of it. I love the guys down here. We're working hard and hopefully go on a long playoff run."

The Bolt Prospects Podcast, Episode 95

This week’s “Michel Petit Edition” of the Bolt Prospects Podcast includes the following topics:

· The No. 95
· Blame finger ready
· Despite murky present, TB’s future is bright
· Extended interview with Cory Conacher
· Rankings reaction, 1-9

Gourde Makes Most of Opportunity After ’Road Less Traveled’ 

By Steven DiOssi

For some young prospects like Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, or Brayden Point, their road to the NHL is a fast one. But for others, playing at the game’s highest level doesn’t come as quickly. It’s a matter of putting in hard work, developing their game, and pushing hard for that next opportunity. 

Yanni Gourde knows all about waiting for an opportunity. And since being recalled by the Tampa Bay Lightning from the Syracuse Crunch on March 6, he’s been making the most of his. Especially lately. 

Conacher Taking On Leadership Role With Crunch


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Cory Conacher is doing everything he normally does.

The Syracuse Crunch forward is averaging roughly a point per game. He is dependable in all situations. And despite being listed at 5-8, he's constantly in players' faces and drawing the ire of the competition.

But five years removed from winning the AHL's Rookie of the Year award, Conacher is looking to become more of a leader as he wears the alternate captain's A with the Crunch.

"I've been working hard on and off the ice," Conacher said. "I try to show by example rather than talk as much. That's the way I lead. I work hard on the ice and I work hard off the ice, so that's hopefully getting to the young guys."

2016-2017 Midterm Rankings (1-10)

Introduction
Usually, we like to release our midterm rankings… well, you know … mid-term, but this has been an atypical year. When the World Junior Championships ended in early January, we had some movers and shakers on the list, but the Lightning were struggling so mightily at that time rumors were running rampant that Tampa Bay would go into full sell mode. We decided to wait until acquired prospects were added, but by the time Wilcox was out and Cernak in, the end of the junior hockey regular season was just around the corner. And that’s where we are now. So, with a tardy slip firmly in hand, here’s the list – finally.

For as bad as the Lightning have been for the majority of the season, this may be the most productive prospect season since Brad Richards and Sheldon Keefe were winning their league scoring titles and the original triplets (Palat-Johnson-Panik) were winning an AHL title. Syracuse has been in first place for most of the year, and while the prospects there have spent more time eating peanuts on planes between Tampa and Syracuse, there has been progress developmentally with the AHL guys. Add to that the season (graduated prospect) Nikita Gusev had, junior stars Raddysh, Joseph, Ingram, etc, and the emergence of Ross Colton in college hockey and it’s been a good year. But how do they all sort out in the rankings?

Glad you asked.

2016-2017 Midterm Rankings (11-19)

Previous: Midterm Rankings 1-10

Continued ...

11. RW Dennis Yan, Shawinigan (QMJHL) (14)
Age: 19
Vitals: 6-1, 183 lbs
Shoots: L
Acquired: 3rd round, 2015
Season totals: 64 GP, 46-29-75, +23, 52 PIM

Yan took a big step forward this year in that he never slumped like he did last season when the second half of the year was filled with goose eggs on the scoresheet. Not good for a guy who’s job it is to score. Yan did just that this year, though, raising his goal totals from 33 and 32 the previous two seasons to 46 in his final junior season. His assist numbers fell from 37 to 29, but a lot of that could have been due to the loss of Anthony Beauvillier, who’s now with the Islanders, and the fall of Alexis D’Aoust, who went from 98 points to 60 in 50 games. Yan will enter Syracuse next year under the watchful eye of Crunch coach Benoit Groulx, who will have the task of developing Yan’s 2-way game. The USA-born, Russian-raised Yan wasn’t heavily considered for Team USA this year for the WJC’s despite his goal-scoring ability, but then again Alex DeBrincat was cut from the team and they still won Gold. Yan will probably be a hot-and-cold scorer for Syracuse next year. The sooner he can find consistency and excel at playing both sides of the puck, the sooner the Lightning will promote him.

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