Thomas, Ben

AHL Playoff Game Night: 6-13-17 Crunch at Griffins

Crunchning Death Star runs aground in Grand Rapids.

SYR-3
GR-4

Grand Rapids Wins the Series 4-2

Mike McKenna allowed 4 goals on 26 shots for the loss.

First Period
14:09 SYR Gourde (8), (Conacher)

Second Period
0:18 GR Ford (8), (Nosek)(PP)
7:51 SYR Taormina (5), (Bournival, Lynch)
11:50 GR Callahan (6), (Street)
18:10 SYR Gourde (9), (Masin, Taormina)

Third Period
3:50 GR Bertuzzi (9), (Frk, Nosek)
12:41 GR Frk (5), (Lashoff, Nosek)

Yanni Gourde was the game's third star.

It's a painful way for the season to end. The Crunch were 20 minutes away from forcing a somewhat improbable Game Seven encounter before the wheels finally came off. It's been a special team and a special, likely one-off, moment in time for Syracuse. The Crunch are likely to have a youth movement next season, particularly at forward. This veteran laden team will likely move along to the NHL, in a few cases, or to other teams/leagues in quite a few others. The big upside of this run for the Tampa Bay Lightning? In my opinion, it's a lot of quality minutes in pressure situations played by defenseman prospects like Slater Koekkoek, Jake Dotchin, Dominik Masin, and Ben Thomas.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Playoff Game Night: 5-21-17 Crunch at Bruins

Crunch lose a Game Two goaltending duel.

SYR-1
PRO-2 (OT)

Series Tied 1-1

Mike McKenna allowed 2 goals on 36 shots for the OT loss. Probably wishes they saved him a couple of goals from the previous two 6 goal outbursts.

First Period
1:26 SYR Thomas (2), (Brodeur, McGinn)

Second Period
16:47 PRO Szwarz (4), (Heinen, Cross)(PP)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Overtime
8:28 PRO Szwarz (5), (Simpson, Heinen)

Ben Thomas was the game's third star.

Mixed emotions from this opening two game set in Providence. The Crunch accomplished what they needed to by wrestling home ice away from the Bruins and they came within an eyelash of grabbing the series by the throat tonight in an airtight Game Two. Rationally, they're in great shape, but momentum may be sitting on Providence's bench heading into an absolutely critical Game Three after an emotional OT victory. Luckily, with such a veteran laden team, I expect Syracuse to have a strong response in Game Three. They need it. That's not a must-win contest, but it's one you desperately want to have.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 3-31-17 Marlies at Crunch

Crunch lose a key divisional point in the Shootout.

TOR-3
SYR-2 (SO)

Mike McKenna allowed 2 goals on 33 shots before conceding to 1 of 2 in the penalty shot session for the loss in the Shootout. McKenna is finally settling into Syracuse nicely, as he's now starting to regularly put in quality starts.

First Period
7:41 TOR Griffith (9), (O'Reilly, Rychel)(PP)
16:21 TOR Leipsic (14), (Moore)

Second Period
12:16 SYR Thomas (3), (Condra, Masin)
15:20 SYR Racine (1), (unassisted)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
TOR- Griffith
SYR- NONE

Mike McKenna and Ben Thomas were the game's first and second stars. Thomas continues a very respectable rookie season where he's compiled 19 points in 64 games. It's not a staggering stat line, but for a guy who came into the club with some middling numbers (and that's being kind) out of junior, he's really set himself nicely as one to watch the next couple of seasons.

Toronto pulls 1 point ahead of Syracuse in the North Division by virtue of the extra point in the penalty shot session.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Crunch Rookie Thomas Shows 'Solid Progression'


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Ben Thomas soaked in what he could in last year’s eight-game stint in Syracuse.

The defenseman joined the Crunch after the conclusion of his junior season last spring, and recorded his first pro goal and three assists. More importantly, Thomas learned what to expect and gained confidence knowing he could play at the AHL level.

Thomas is continuing to show progress during his rookie season as he adjusts to pro hockey.

“I think it was good for me last year to step in at the end, get some experience and show myself that I can play at this level,” Thomas said. “That gave me confidence coming into this year, and I was able to get off to a pretty good start. Those games last year really helped me.”

AHL Game Night: 11-11-16 Sound Tigers at Crunch

Comeback Crunch steal a point.

BRI-3
SYR-2 (SO)

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 2 goals on 25 shots before surrendering to 2 of 4 in the penalty shot session for the SO loss.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
19:38 BRI Jones (3), (Burroughs, Jones)

Third Period
11:31 BRI Jones (2), (Burroughs, Jones)(SH)
16:09 SYR Taormina (1), (Condra, Richard)(PP)
17:09 SYR Dotchin (1), (Gourde)(SH)

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
BRI- Kearns, Verhaeghe
SYR- Conacher

Gudlevskis and Ben Thomas were the game's first and third stars.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 4-16-16 Comets at Crunch

Peca's first multi-goal game as a pro.

UTI-4
SYR-3 (OT)

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 4 goals on 33 shots for the OT loss.

First Period
UTI Zalewski, (15) (Gaunce, Valk), 0:18
SYR Thomas, (1) (Broll, Darcy), 4:58

Second Period
UTI Friesen, (14) , 14:10 (SH)

Third Period
SYR Peca, (7) (Walcott), 3:02
UTI Zalewski, (16) (Fedun, Gaunce), 6:00
SYR Peca, (8) (Tambellini, Tammela), 14:07

Overtime
UTI Gaunce, (16) (Zalewski, Fedun), 0:33

Matthew Peca was the game's third star. Ben Thomas also notched his first goal as a pro while "The Cobra" Jonne Tammela had his first North American pro point on a helper on Peca's second goal.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Day: 4-3-16 Crunch at Comets

Syracuse crushes Utica, keeping extremely slim hopes alive.

SYR-7
UTI- 3

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 3 goals on 28 shots for the victory.

First Period
UTI LaBate, (9) (Hensick, Landry), 9:02 (PP)

Second Period
UTI Bancks, (14) (Hensick, Landry), 5:11
SYR Vermin, (7) (Peca), 7:04 (SH)
SYR Darcy, (4) (Taormina, Dotchin), 9:06
SYR Vermin, (8) (Peca, Taormina), 10:04 (PP)
UTI Friesen, (12) (Grenier, Fedun), 13:50 (PP)

Third Period
SYR Erne, (13) (Walcott, Blujus), 2:01
SYR Ikonen, (3) (Richard, Thomas), 3:39
SYR Tambellini, (25) (Peca), 17:56
SYR Tambellini, (26) (Thomas, McGinn), 19:18

Joel Vermin, Matthew Peca, and Jeff Tambellini were the game's three stars.

It's kind of remarkable that the day Jonathan Drouin sat out due to a lower body injury that the Crunch went and scored 7 goals.

Peca continues his strong late season charge, extending his points streak to 6 games with 1 goal and 10 points in that span. Going back to March 6th, he's got 1 goal and 16 points in a 13 game stretch, including 5 multi-point games. He's definitely throwing his hat in the ring to be the next Conacher/Johnson type in the Lightning organization.

Speaking of multi-point efforts, Ben Thomas had his first as a pro today. He's got 3 helpers in his first 4 pro games. He's been like found money thus far for Syracuse.

Unfortunately, despite the severity of today's whipping of the Comets, it still only counts as 2 points in the standings. That places Syracuse 6 points back of Utica for 3rd in the North Division with the Comets still holding a game in hand. Portland and Bridgeport maintain an 8 point gap on Syracuse in the crossover scenario, so it looks like catching Utica in the final 5 regular season games is the formula for the postseason. The Crunch do have 2 more head-to-head matchups against the Comets, but it's still going to be like threading the needle for the Crunch to make the playoffs.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 4-1-16 Marlies at Crunch

Streaking Crunch lose tight one to league's most talented team.

TOR-4
SYR-3

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 4 goals on 28 shots for the loss.

First Period
SYR Drouin, (10) (Thomas), 18:04
TOR B. Smith, (9) (Kolomatis, Leipsic), 19:00

Second Period
TOR B. Smith, (10) (Stanton, Doherty), 15:01
SYR Taormina, (13) (McGinn, Peca), 19:04 (PP)

Third Period
TOR Leivo, (17) (Arcobello, Brown), 6:56
SYR McGinn, (20) (Peca, Taormina), 14:36 (PP)
TOR Frattin, (12) (Leipsic), 15:28

Matt Taormina and Tye McGinn were the game's second and this stars.

Look at Toronto's lineup. Count the number of guys who have played in the NHL over the past couple of years. Look at their place in the standings. Then, realize the Crunch gave that team all they can handle. It points to a Syracuse team that has started to turn a corner and may be back on their way to being a very good team in the AHL. Unfortunately, at this time of year, there's no such thing as moral victories. The Crunch can't afford to spare any points in the short time left in the season if they'll have any chance of making the postseason. They're 6 points back of Utica for 3rd place in the North Division and 6 points back of Portland, which would crossover and take the 4th playoff spot in the North Division by virtue of the current playoff format. Both the Comets and Pirates also have a game in hand on Syracuse. So, it's going to just about take running the table for Syracuse to make the dance.

Matthew Peca, quietly, has 1 goal and 10 points in the last 10 games.

Ben Thomas got his first pro point on a helper on Jonathan Drouin's game opening marker.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Thomas Quickly Settling In With Crunch


By Jeremy Houghtaling

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.”

Lightning Sign D Ben Thomas to Entry Level Contract

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed defenseman Ben Thomas to a three-year, entry-level contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.

Thomas, 6-foot-2, 180 pounds, began the 2015-16 season with the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League. He recorded three assists in 14 games with Calgary prior to being traded to the Vancouver Giants, also of the WHL, on October 27. Thomas skated in 60 games with the Giants, registering eight goals and 25 points with 40 penalty minutes. He led all Vancouver defensemen for goals and ranked second for assists and points.

The Calgary native has appeared in 213 career WHL games with the Hitmen and Giants, recording 22 goals and 90 points. He also played for Team Canada at the 2014 Under-18 World Championships, tallying one assist in seven games en route to earning the Bronze Medal.

Thomas was drafted by the Lightning in the fourth round, 119th overall, of the 2014 NHL Draft.

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