It took a shift or two, but Ben Thomas’ nerves subsided.
Less than a week after signing his entry level contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning, the 19-year-old defenseman made his professional debut with the Syracuse Crunch in a 3-1 win over the Rochester Americans Saturday.
Thomas has quickly settled in on the Crunch’s blue line.
“I was a little nervous going in, obviously, but I thought after I got that first shift out of the way and felt the puck a little bit I settled down,” Thomas said. “I think it went pretty smoothly.”
· No. 59
· More Drouinsanity
· Lightning roller coaster going up again
· New Lightning identity
· Thomas signed; more on the way?
· A Norwegian #BPMailbag
Matt Taormina’s role with the Syracuse Crunch includes a little bit of everything.
The defenseman is one of the team’s main power play quarterbacks, a top penalty killer, a workhorse on the blue line during 5-on-5, and a veteran presence in the room. Taormina’s play has earned him a spot in the AHL All-Star Classic, as well multiple call-ups to the Tampa Bay Lightning this season.
In his seventh full pro season, Taormina still lets his play do most of the talking.
“His best asset as far as being a role model for the players is how he approaches the game during practice and in the games,” Crunch head coach Rob Zettler said. “He’s not a real vocal guy who’s loud and in people’s face. He just does his job.”
· No. 58
· Reviewing Drouin’s “re-debut”
· The unpredictable Lightning roller coaster
· Interview with Syracuse’s Jake Dotchin
· #BPMailbag (Drouin’s use, timelines, and what-ifs … Bishop trade return … Is the panic jar half full or half empty? … I’m the new GM of Syracuse – here’s who stays and who goes … Blunden recall reasons … Dotchin vs Blujus … DeAngelo next year … Yzerman and Coop on the same page? … Favo(u)rite player & prospect)
Correction: Henri Ikonen has one more year left on his contract, so he'll be back in Syracuse next season.
Jake Dotchin perched himself near the top of the circle, anticipated the pass from his defensive partner, and leaned into a booming one-timer.
The Crunch defenseman’s shot went through a crowd and into the back of the net to cut the Americans’ lead to one late in the third period, but Syracuse couldn’t complete the comeback against Rochester Saturday.
Although his primary role isn’t putting up points, Dotchin felt relieved to finally get his first goal of the season.
“It felt really good,” Dotchin said. “It was a long time coming -- at least it felt that way for me -- and it was nice to get it off my shoulders. It would have been nicer in a win, but it’s nice to feel that goal celebration again and be in the same spot where I’m used to scoring from and show my shot off.”
This week’s “Kristian Kudroc Edition” of the Bolt Prospects Podcast (also available on Lightning Power Play, Lightning Radio's iHeart station) includes the following topics:
· No. 57
· The Kudroc trade that wasn’t
· The return of Drouinsanity
· Guesses and hopes for how the Drouin drama plays out
· Division title for TB probable or unlikely?
· Interview with Syracuse’s Adam Wilcox
· #BPMailbag (Seth Jones vs Drouin re-visited … NCAA UFAs … Blunden’s future … Brayden Point’s point ceiling … Nesterov vs DeAngelo rookie seasons … Changes ahead for Syracuse? … Crunch’s next captain if necessary … When will The Goose be loose? … Hipchecks … Podcast namesakes after No. 99)
Adam Wilcox has run with the opportunity given to him.
Coming off a recent slide, the Crunch turned to the rookie netminder to take over between the pipes. With a chance to show what he can do, Wilcox has registered 117 saves and backstopped Syracuse to seven out of eight points in the last four games.
Wilcox hopes the consistent starts helps him find the groove that made him a standout at the University of Minnesota.
“I’m feeling really confident and I’m feeling really good, and now I feel like I can play well in this league on a nightly basis,” Wilcox said.
· The No. 56
· Trade deadline review (grab a pillow and some Band-Aids)
· Tampa Bay’s short-term future
· Tampa Bay’s long-term future
· Interview with Syracuse’s Matt Peca
· The return of the #BPMailbag (Black Aces prediction … Contract term worries? … What will next young TB star face?)
Matthew Peca knew exactly how much time he missed.
One day shy of five weeks on the shelf with an upper body injury, the Syracuse Crunch forward was counting the days until he could return. The 22-year-old scored on his first shift and finished with two points in a 3-2 win over Binghamton Friday, and added the game-winner in the shootout in a 5-4 victory over the Senators Sunday during a three-game weekend.
Peca made an immediate impact with his return and now he’s hoping to be a regular contributor as the Crunch make a push for the playoffs.
"I was just excited," Peca said of returning. "I felt in shape, I felt comfortable, and I knew my injury had healed so I was ready to get back. It didn't feel like I missed any time really."
This week’s “Darryl Sydor Edition” of the Bolt Prospects Podcast (also available on Lightning Power Play, Lightning Radio's iHeart station) includes the following topics:
· The No. 55
· Trade deadline preview (grab your popcorn)
· Koekkoek, Marchessault and fitting into the culture