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Gourde's Move to Center Has Sparked Crunch's Offense


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Yanni Gourde’s move to the middle has provided a spark for the Syracuse Crunch’s offense.

Used primarily a winger over the course of his pro career, Gourde was asked to center a line with Mike Halmo and Cory Conacher last weekend. The forward registered the game-winning goal in a 3-2 victory over Rochester on Friday, and had the primary assist on Halmo’s go-ahead goal in a 2-1 win over Utica on Saturday.

Although there are still some aspects of center he’s looking to improve, Gourde feels comfortable in the middle.

“It is a little bit tougher, especially taking draws, but I’m working on it and I’m trying to get better,” Gourde said. “But once the puck is dropped, hockey is hockey. I know what you have to do and I do it.”

Wilcox Hopes Offseason Work Leads to More Starts


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Adam Wilcox has focused on calming his game down.

The Syracuse Crunch goalie concentrated on cutting down on unnecessary movements and improving his positioning throughout the summer. The work put in has quickly paid dividends for the second-year pro.

Wilcox earned back-to-back wins for the Crunch last weekend, and hopes his offseason work continues to earn him starts.

“I really worked hard at being in control, being calm and eliminating acrobatic saves and stuff like that,” Wilcox said. “When you don’t make those, you’re in better position. It was a good summer for me and it’s really leading into having a good start of the year.”

The Bolt Prospects Podcast, Episode 75

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

· The No. 75
· “Boring defensemen” is a legit compliment
· Backing away from the cliff
· The Lightning are only good when …
· Interview with Cory Conacher
· Syracuse goalie controversy and how it negatively affects Tampa Bay (think Desjardins vs Tokarski)
· Interview with Adam Wilcox
· #BPMailbag (Peca, Imama probabilities … Koekkoek in 3 years … Tyler Johnson waiting game … Marchessault freed … Market for Nesterov? … Carolina in Bishop race? … Vladdy as C or W? … Imama timeline … DeAngelo trade)

Conacher Staying Positive While Working Way Back to NHL


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Cory Conacher knew he was on the bubble.

After being one of the last players cut by the Tampa Bay Lightning during training camp, the forward has gotten off to a fast start with the Syracuse Crunch. Conacher earned his first call-up and played one game Saturday, but was returned to the Crunch Sunday.

Conacher is keeping a positive attitude as he continues to work towards another call-up.

“You don’t worry about too much. You just control what you can control,” Conacher said. “You just have to be ready for that next call. Whether it’s one game, a 10-game stint or the rest of the year, you’ve just got to be ready for whatever happens.”

The Bolt Prospects Podcast, Episode 74

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

· The No. 74
· 2005 prospects vs 2016 prospects
· The Lightning are good at the hockey
· Are we seeing a Namestnikov breakout party?
· Bowness challenging Drouin?
· Still room for improvement
· Speed and offense an organization-wide priority in 2016
· Interview with Matt Taormina
· Interview with Joel Vermin
· #BPMailbag (Does Bishop HAVE to go? … Jaro Janus status? … Goat sacrificing for Brayden Point? … Taking one prospect from 2012+ drafts not wearing 27 or 88 right now … Polarizing prospect for BP … DeAngelo for Hajek good or bad? … Point vs TJ … Bishop to Calgary still possible?)

Vermin Motivated By First Taste of NHL Action


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Joel Vermin’s first taste of the NHL only made him hungrier for more.

The forward earned a short stint with the Tampa Bay Lightning last season, and was one of the team’s final cuts from training camp this fall. Sent to Syracuse, Vermin has recorded three points in four games for the Crunch.

Vermin is now working toward getting another call-up and a permanent spot with the Lightning.

“It’s a big motivation, to be honest,” Vermin said of his time with the Lightning last year. “Once I saw how it is, the NHL, it’s like a drug. You want more of it. You use that as motivation if you’re struggling or things aren’t going the way you want them to. It keeps you motivated.”

Peca Off to Fast Start in Second Pro Season


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Matthew Peca’s second goal looked like a replay of his first.

The center darted toward the crease and fired off a quick snap shot on a feed from behind the net to give Syracuse the lead late in the first period and added the eventual game-winner on a similar play midway through the second. Peca finished with three points on the weekend, as Syracuse swept a home-and-home series against Rochester to open the season.

Off to a fast start, Peca is looking to become more of an offensive threat in his second professional season.

“I think that’s the key in any situation,” Peca said. “You want to get the puck on and off your stick. We all work on that in practice. It’s good to see the first two go in. They were good plays — nice passes from (Cory) Conacher — and just one-touches.”

The Bolt Prospects Podcast, Episode 71

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

· The No. 71
· Camp movers and shakers
· Interviews with Brayden Point, Mathieu Joseph, Bokondji Imama, and Libor Hajek
· Jeremy Morin talks about his move to Syracuse
· #BPMailbag (New whipping boy? … Who gets traded first? … JT Brownov … Drouin benching a concern? … Point to Coopergatory? … Conacher predictions … Kucherov drama … D depth an issue? … I left you and I’m sorry … Retired numbers … Why wasn’t the Wiz signed? … Sustr or Vladdy to Vegas? … Drouin predictions … TB vs Kittens for division title … Take Flip, Arizona.”)

Walcott Returns to Old Number, Regular Position With Crunch


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Daniel Walcott is returning to his old number and his regular position.

The second-year pro will wear No. 85, a number he wore as the captain of Blainville-Boisbriand of the QMJHL, and go back to full-time duty as a defenseman for the Syracuse Crunch this season.

While splitting time at forward and defense was a learning experience and kept him in the lineup, Walcott believes he is ready to shine on the Crunch blue line.

"I think I performed well up in Tampa and I got my confidence at D, and I just want to keep building on it," Walcott said. "A fresh number, a new start and a steady position."

Morin's Winding Career Path Brings Him to Syracuse


By Jeremy Houghtaling

One season after being traded twice, Jeremy Morin is looking to settle in.

The forward has called five cities and four organizations his home over the past six seasons in the AHL and the NHL, but now his winding path has taken him closer to where he grew up.

Morin, who is from Auburn, NY, participated in the first practice of the 2016-17 season as a member of the Syracuse Crunch at the Onondaga County War Memorial Tuesday.

"It's definitely been kind of a whirlwind, but I'm looking to make a home in this organization and get off to a good start," Morin said. "I think I'll have a good opportunity here. The coaching staff and the organization has been great."

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