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Cernak, Erik

NHL Game Night: 11-13-18 Lightning at Sabres

Zzzzzzz. Ping.

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Louis Domingue allowed 2 goals on 19 shots for the loss. The second goal was on the soft side, and soft goals often end up being the margin like it was tonight.

First Period
17:45 BUF Skinner (13), (Reinhart, Beaulieu)

Second Period
5:43 BUF BUG Okposo (5), (Sheary, Beaulieu)
5:58 TB Cirelli (3), (Killorn, Gourde)

Third Period
NO SCORING

It was another sleepy start for the Lightning, but once they broke the seal roughly six minutes into the Second Period they pretty much dominated the rest of the game. Unfortunately, Buffalo's goaltender played well and they hit a slew of posts, including Nikita Kucherov drawing iron in the waning moments of the contest. That was a better effort, actually, that the last few games, but the slow starts are still a major problem to overcome.

Mathieu Joseph was -1 with 1 shot and 2 hits in 11:19.

Anthony Cirelli had a goal and was +1 with 2 shots and 1 hit in 12:04. He was also 47% on 19 draws.

Adam Erne had 2 shots and 2 hits in 10:06. Took a Callahan shot off the cheek, but played well after returning from the locker room.

Erik Cernak was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, and 5 hits in 17:06. Played well in his NHL debut providing relief to the Lightning with fellow righty Stralman out of the lineup. Doesn't have speed that jumps off the page, but positionally pretty good and rugged.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 11-11-18 Bears at Crunch

Crunch catch road weary Bears and show them no mercy.

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Eddie Pasquale allowed 2 goals on just 19 shots for the win.

First Period
4:49 SYR Verhaeghe (4), (unassisted)
7:23 SYR Cernak (2), (Conacher, Verhaeghe)(PP)
11:52 SYR Conacher (5), (Cernak, Andreoff)(PP)

Second Period
9:24 SYR Raddysh (6), (Colton, Hults)(PP)
12:11 SYR Andreoff (6), (Raddysh, Valleau)
18:08 HER Sgarbossa (6), (Johansen, Barber)(PP)
18:59 HER Barber (5), (Johansen, Pilon)(PP)

Third Period
9:42 SYR Gaunce (2), (Thomas, Barre-Boulet)(PP)
15:01 SYR Volkov (3), (Thomas)

Taylor Raddysh, Erik Cernak, and Carter Verhaeghe were the game's three stars. Raddysh had a strong weekend with 2 goals and 3 points in the two games on Friday and Sunday. He's now up to 9 points in his opening 10 games of the season, setting the pace among the Crunch's young rookie crop thanks to a 6 game point streak.

Syracuse climbs back to .500 for the campaign at 5-5-1. The Crunch are still in last place in the North Division, but they've just about caught up to the pack now with just 2 points separating Syracuse from 4th place in the division and the Crunch holding at least a game in hand on every team in the North, and in many cases holding 3-4 games in hand. Ben Groulx's club has a real opportunity to make a run in the near term.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

NHL Preseason Game Night: 9-25-18 Panthers at Lightning

Lightning blow the "worst lead in hockey."

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Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 28 shots for the loss.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
4:17 TB Erne (1), (Joseph, Miller)(PP)
10:15 TB Killorn (1), (Stamkos, Miller)

Third Period
2:16 FLA Dadonov (1), (Pysyk)
7:03 FLA Ekblad (1), (Sceviour, MacKenzie)(SH)
12:31 FLA Barkov (1), (Dadonov, Bjugstad)

Brayden Point was the game's second star.

Things looked to be going well with the Lightning up two goals going into the final frame in a game with a lot of front line players from both clubs. It's concerning to cough up that lead and to give up a shorty, especially given that special teams has been a bit of a smoldering disaster thus far in the preseason. Practices will fix that last problem, but you can see some ragged edges as the process moves along to the opener.

Coming into this game, I really felt like this roster was nearly complete with three players fighting for one roster spot with two players fighting for another spot. I believe Adam Erne, who keeps scoring goals, has made the team and that the Lightning are unlikely to carry both Cory Conacher and Danick Martel, who are somewhat similar players in at least a superficial way, on the roster. Given the Lightning had to take the step of claiming Martel off waivers, you'd presume he has a slight edge on the more tenured Conacher. Those two will fight over a single spot, if I'm right the Lightning won't carry both and will try to fish the other through waivers down to Syracuse.

That leaves the final spot on the roster, and I handicap that as a three player race between Erik Cernak, Mathieu Joseph, and Alexander Volkov. If the Lightning decide to carry eight defensemen, Cernak makes the team, period, full stop. A lot of that probably depends on the team's confidence in Sergachev's switch to the right side and their confidence that Slater Koekkoek is finally ready to be more of a contributor to the team (yes, I'm assuming the waiver-eligible Koekkoek will make the club). Most teams don't carry 8 defensemen, but the Lightning have been one of the few teams that regularly have and there is, of course, Jon Cooper's proclivity to dress seven defensemen. Whether he makes the team on opening night or not, expect Cernak to see significant time in Tampa Bay over the course of the season, as he's clearly separated himself as the number eight on the depth chart.

If they go to a more conventional seven defensemen on the roster, though, it comes down to Joseph and Volkov, each of which have the DNA to be contributing complimentary wingers. Joseph's speed and forechecking would be a big plus to the lower lines. Volkov is perhaps a more complete 200 foot player (but only slightly so, Joseph's no slouch) and has a blink-quick release. Either player would be a nice weapon on the roster, but I honestly think the Lightning's style and the overall trend of the league perhaps favors a Joseph promotion.

In my opinion. All speculative, but that seems to me to be the one remaining twist we might see in the final shaping of the roster.

Joseph had a helper and 2 hits in 15:15.

Koekkoek had a shot, a hit, and a blocked shot in 11:59.

Martel had a shot and a blocked shot in 12:23.

Mitchell Stephens had 2 penalty minutes, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 13:02. He was also 44% on 16 draws.

Anthony Cirelli was -1 with 2 shots, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 16:04. He was also 67% on 15 draws.

Adam Erne had a goal and was -1 with 2 shots and 1 hit in 14:24.

Cernak had 2 penalty minutes 4 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 17:18.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Preseason Game Night: 9-22-18 Predators at Lightning

Connor Ingram FTW.

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Ingram allowed 2 goals on 24 shots for the victory.

First Period
3:09 NSH Jarnkrok (1), (Arvidsson, Turris)

Second Period
4:16 TB Miller (1), (Killorn, Joseph)
10:15 TB Volkov (1), (unassisted)
19:59 NSH Ellis (1), (Arvidsson, Turris)

Third Period
13:01 TB Yan (1), (Stralman, Coburn)
18:29 TB Verhaeghe (1), (Barre-Boulet, Coburn)(EN)
18:52 TB Paquette (1), (Joseph)(EN)

Dennis Yan, Ingram, and Mitchell Stephens were the game's three stars.

Kneel before the might and glory of a Brayden Coburn multi-point game.

Mathieu Joseph had a pair of helpers and was +1 with 2 shots, 2 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 13:55.

Slater Koekkoek was -1 with 1 shot and 2 blocked shots in 19:04.

Yan had the game winner and was +2 with 2 shots and 1 hit in 14:21. All Dennis Yan does is score goals.

Boris Katchouk had 1 shot and 6 hits in 11:15.

Otto Somppi was +1 with 2 penalty minutes and 2 hits in 13:48. Somppi was also 64% on 11 draws.

Carter Verhaeghe had a goal and was +1 with 3 shots and 1 blocked shot in 16:01.

Alex Barre-Boulet had a helper and was +2 with 2 shots and 1 hit in 16:51.

Stephens was +1 with 2 shots in 13:03.

Alexander Volkov had a goal and was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, and 2 hits in 16:02.

Erik Cernak was +1 with 3 hits and 1 blocked shot in 20:05.

Ross Colton had 2 hits in 13:02. He was also 22% on 9 draws.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Preseason Game Night: 9-21-18 Lightning at Predators

Lightning youth shows up. Shows out.

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Louis Domingue allowed just 1 goal on 39 shots for the victory. Nice way to ease into the season.

First Period
7:18 TB Erne (1), (Volkov)
9:06 TB Erne (2), (Cirelli)
9:24 TB Katchouk (1), (Colton, Andreoff)

Second Period
8:34 NSH Josi (1), (Subban, Forsberg)(PP)
9:25 TB Andreoff (1), (Dumont)(SH)

Third Period
17:12 TB Masin (1), (unassisted)(EN)

Adam Erne and Andy Andreoff were the game's first and second stars.

After a pair of ultra flat games against Carolina to start the preseason, the Lightning youth roared to life tonight in the First Period against a veteran NHL'er-laden Predators lineup to get the 3-0 lead and never look back. Kudos to the Lightning after a performance so bad in Carolina, I didn't write a story about it (actually, a full and complete box score was never published with correct goaltender statistics, so there's that).

Mathieu Joseph was +2 with 2 penalty minutes and 5 shots in 16:49. He's having a pretty good preseason. Knocking on the door.

Slater Koekkoek was +5(!) with 1 hit and 2 blocked shots in 20:10 of duty. Dare we dream this is the year for Slater?

Cameron Gaunce had 3 shots in 21:11.

Boris Katchouk had a goal and was +1 with 2 shots and 2 hits in 14:48. Goals in back to back preseason tilts for Katchouk.

Taylor Raddysh had 1 hit in 16:08.

Kevin Lynch had 1:00 of ice time.

Matthew Spencer had 1 hit in 15:00.

Anthony Cirelli had a helper and was +1 with 2 shots and 1 blocked shot in 19:12 and he was 56% on 18 draws.

Erne had 2 goals and was +2 with 3 shots and 2 hits in 15:31. Annual reminder that Adam Erne has the goods athletically, and just needs to stay healthy.

Dominik Masin had a goal and was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 3 shots, and 3 blocked shots in 15:43.

Alexander Volkov had a helper and was +2 with 1 hit in 17:18.

Erik Cernak had 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 1 hit in 20:35.

Ross Colton had a helper and was +1 with 2 penalty minutes and 2 shots in 10:18. He was also 38% on 8 draws.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Opinion: Lightning at the Halfway Mark

Forty games into a historic 2017-2018 season, let's take a moment to pause, step out of the moment, and take stock of where the club is. Sitting halfway through the campaign expectations for the team, which missed the postseason just a year ago, are sky high for good reason. Not only is the Lightning atop the NHL standings a full 13 points ahead of the pace they need to be in order to make the postseason, but the team leads a bevy of organizational and individual statistical categories.

Let's pump the breaks on prematurely planning a Stanley Cup championship parade, though. There's still half of the regular season and the postseason left to play, and as good as the team is, it's not without blemishes. How General Manager Steve Yzerman addresses those blemishes (or doesn't) and how any potential changes alters team chemistry (or doesn't) will have a lot to say about whether the team lives up to its perceived potential. So, with all of that in mind, let's look at how the team got here, what its weaknesses are, and what might happen next.

AHL Game Night: 12-9-17 Crunch at Senators

New Crunchning Death Star vaporizes Sens to run streak to nine.

SYR-6
BEL-0

Connor Ingram stopped all 18 shots he faced for the shutout victory, his first shutout as a pro.

First Period
9:01 SYR Volkov (5), (Lynch, Thomas)
14:37 SYR Stephens (4), (Volkov, Verhaeghe)

Second Period
7:35 SYR McBain (4), (Volkov, Peca)(PP)
15:05 SYR Stephens (5), (Masin)(SH)

Third Period
10:37 SYR Cirelli (6), (Erne, Joseph)(PP)
16:09 SYR Volkov (6), (Peca, Masin)

Alexander Volkov, Mitchell Stephens, and Ingram were the game's three stars.

Tonight you started to see the quality of the depth the Crunch have, prospect-wise, start to show. This isn't a team that has top scoring line NHL caliber skill on it, but everywhere you look there's a really high energy player who is a strong 200 foot player and plays a strong possession game. Cirelli and Joseph, in particular, had their way in the previous two games. Tonight was Volkov and Stephens' turn.

I'll also throw some love Dominik Masin's way tonight, as he had two assists and has been really good since joining the Crunch after some injuries nagged him in camp. He's formed a very solid pair with rookie Erik Cernak, and the mind wanders to thoughts of whether that may be a pair in the NHL in a couple of years time.

Syracuse is now 4 games over .500 and sits just 3 points back of Rochester for second in the North Division after the Americans dropped their game a shootout tonight.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 10-20-17 Devils at Crunch

The struggle continues.

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Michael Leighton allowed 2 goals on 2 shots before being lifted quickly in the First Period. Connor Ingram allowed 1 goal on 20 shots for the injustice of the backdoor loss.

First Period
0:11 BNG Quenneville (4), (Bastian, Strait)
3:57 BNG Speers (1), (Pietila, Rooney)
11:49 BNG Lappin (4), (Erixon, Kapla)

Second Period
11:54 SYR Bournival (1), (unassisted)(SH)
13:26 SYR Cernak (2), (Bodie)(SH)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Michael Bournival and Erik Cernak were the game's second and third stars.

Syracuse sits alone in the North Division basement at a dismal 1-4-1-0. That said, they've only really been run off the rink in one of the losses (against the Penguins) and there's probably an alternate dimension where Syracuse could just as easily be 4-1-1-0. There's no such thing as moral victories, though, and Syracuse needs to figure out how to get on the right side of these 1 goal decisions quickly.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 10-14-17 Comets at Crunch

Crunch drop another tightly fought battle.

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Michael Leighton allowed 3 goals on 19 shots as the Comets overcame a 26-19 shot disparity to pull out the win.

First Period
7:57 UTI Goldobin (3), (Boucher, Holm)
19:14 SYR Conacher (2), (Bodie, Cirelli)

Second Period
12:41 UTI Holm (1), (Bancks, Goldobin)(PP)

Third Period
3:22 SYR Cernak (1), (Stephens, Walcott)
6:38 UTI Chaput (1), (McEneny, Holm)(PP)

Mitchell Stephens was the game's second star. He assisted on Erik Cernak's first professional goal in the defeat.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

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.”

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