Articles that are feature stories.

Cirelli Brings Big Game Experience to Crunch

By Jeremy Houghtaling

Anthony Cirelli is used to the big stage at the junior level.

The center led Oshawa to an Ontario Hockey League championship and won the Memorial Cup with the Generals in 2015. Cirelli won silver with Team Canada at the World Junior Championships last winter, after a trade in January, Cirelli led Erie to another OHL title and trip to the Memorial Cup.

The Syracuse Crunch rookie hopes his experience in big games translates to success at the professional level.

"I've been to the (Memorial Cup) finals a couple times. Losing that second one was kind of hard and losing in the World Junior final there was tough," Cirelli said. "But just being a part of those teams, knowing those guys, playing through long playoff runs and playing those pressure games helped take my development to the next level."

The Random 17

According to a non-scientific Google search, 17 is the most random number. It’s also my old hockey number so I’m going to title this weekly blog entry “The Random 17.” There’s also a nickname for 17 in British bingo, but that’s Dancing Queen. Never been much of an Abba fan, so forget that.

I’ve always been a big fan of Elliot Friedman’s “30 Things,” and imitation is the highest form of flattery, so here we go – 17 random thoughts on the Lightning and sports in general.

1. Big ups to Jon Cooper and the Lightning for their 3-1 start, especially the consistent effort and speed shown against big boys Washington and Pittsburgh. With their wins over those two clubs this week, Tampa Bay announced their presence as a legitimate Cup contender. But not so fast… the key now will be for the Lightning to play with the same intensity against the Calgarys and Floridas of the world when Hockey Earth isn’t watching. The contrast between the Lightning in front of the Zimmerman seats in Sunrise and the Lightning vs Ovechrosby is like night and day. Or Hedman vs. Sustr. Huge difference in effectiveness.

Cernak's Work Ethic Impresses Crunch's Groulx

By Jeremy Houghtaling

After Erik Cernak’s first weekend with the Syracuse Crunch, head coach Benoit Groulx’s assessment was nothing but positives.

Strong skater. Big body. Good shot.

Most importantly, Groulx believes Cernak’s work ethic is what could eventually earn the 20-year-old defenseman a spot in the NHL.

“I like the package, now I think it’s about more maturity in his game,” Groulx said of the 6-3, 221-pounder. “He’s got a lot of qualities as a person and a player, and he’s probably one of the hardest working guys we have here. That’s a compliment, because we have many guys that are working hard.

“He’s played well so far in the two games. He has to bring more consistency, but I think he’s got a lot of room to develop and become a very good player.”

Erne Looks to Prove Himself With Crunch

By Jeremy Houghtaling

Adam Erne is back in the AHL and ready to demonstrate why he belongs at the next level.

The winger earned his first promotion to Tampa Bay last year and finished the regular season with the Lightning. Erne was returned to Syracuse for the playoffs, and suited up for all 22 games on the Crunch’s road to the Calder Cup Finals.

As he begins his third professional season, Erne knows making that next step to the NHL full-time is all about consistency.

"I think just being dominant every night and proving that I deserve to be at the next level," Erne said of what it would take to earn a spot with the Lightning. "I think I have the tools to get there, it's just a matter of using them every night."

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