Stephens, Mitchell

Stephens Shining on Crunch's Scoring Lines


By Jeremy Houghtaling

For Syracuse Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx, Mitchell Stephens may have been on the fourth line, but he wasn't a fourth-liner.

With a glut of healthy forwards and Tampa Bay not calling for reinforcements early this season, Groulx had the rookie center the team's fourth line. Once the inevitable injuries happened, Stephens earned more time on the Crunch's scoring lines.

With a point in 12 of the last 15 games, Stephens has become one of Syracuse's most consistent contributors offensively.

"I remember sitting down with him at one point and telling him that we had no injuries, no call-ups, and it's not because he was playing on the fourth line that we saw him as a fourth liner. ... We had four healthy lines and those lines were made in order to have the team balance," Groulx said. "We didn't see him as a defensive player. I think he needed those 10 games to get more confident and feel the water a little bit to see what it's like to play in this league. Then he started scoring and putting up points. He hasn't stopped since then."

AHL Game Night: 1-24-18 Crunch at Rocket

Stephens continues to scorch the AHL.

SYR-3
LAV-2

Connor Ingram allowed 2 goals on 27 shots for the victory.

First Period
19:14 LAV Scherbak (7), (Taormina, Cracknell)(PP)

Second Period
7:03 SYR Yan (7), (Stephens)
16:25 SYR Cirelli (7), (Joseph, Stephens)(PP)

Third Period
2:47 SYR Stephens (15), (Joseph, Bodie)(PP)
18:50 LAV Audette (9), (unassisted)

Mathieu Joseph and Mitchell Stephens were the game's first and second stars. Since New Year's Eve, Stephens has 9 goals and 14 points in 11 games.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 1-19-18 Marlies at Crunch

Erne-less Crunch drop key game against division-leading Marlies.

TOR-4
SYR-1

Connor Ingram allowed 3 goals on 24 shots for the loss.

First Period
2:25 TOR Moore (6), (Mueller, Rychel)(PP)

Second Period
4:30 TOR Smith (18), (Kapanen, Liljegren)(PP)
10:08 SYR Stephens (14), (Cirelli, Yan)(PP)
15:54 TOR Greening (9), (Marchment, Moore)

Third Period
16:41 TOR Johnsson (16), (Moore)(PP)(EN)

Mitchell Stephens was the game's second star after scoring his team-leading 14th goal of his rookie pro campaign.

Syracuse got Anthony Cirelli and Dennis Yan back in the lineup, but with Adam Erne still nicked up the Syracuse attack continued to sputter tonight against the division leaders from Toronto.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 1-17-18 Crunch at Senators

Crunch winning streak snapped in goaltending duel.

SYR-1
BNG-2 (OT)

Connor Ingram re-entered the nets for the Crunch after Louis Domingue's return to Tampa Bay and stopped 23 of 25 shots for the OT loss. That snapped a personal six game winning streak for Ingram.

First Period
3:22 SYR Stephens (13), (Joseph, Bodie)(PP)

Second Period[b]
18:55 BEL O'Brien (10), (McCormick, Chlapik)

[b]Third Period
NO SCORING

Overtime
2:13 BEL McCormick (6), (O'Brien, Burgdoerfer)

The Crunch offense may have been a little off kilter tonight with Adam Erne, Anthony Cirelli, and Dennis Yan all nicked up with injuries and out of the lineup. The club did get Mitchell Stephens' 13th goal of the season, Stephens has quickly and quietly ascended to the top of Syracuse's goalscoring list on the back of seven goals in his last eight games. His roughly three week rampage surely makes him yet another prime recall option for the Lightning's vacant roster spot, whenever they should choose to fill it.

With the point tonight, the Crunch are within three points of Rochester for second in the North Division with a game in hand on the Americans and five points back of first place Toronto with the Marlies holding a game in hand. The team's 9-1-0 run in their last ten games has put them within whisper's distance of catching the division's lead pack, which seemed nearly impossible just a couple of months ago when the team was languishing around last place.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

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