It was a feeling Henri Ikonen couldn’t describe.
Representing Finland in the 2014 World Junior Championships and winning his homeland’s first gold medal since 1998 was a memory he will never forget.
To top it off, the Finns beat host (and rival) Sweden in overtime.
“It was an unbelievable experience,” Ikonen said. “The best two weeks of my life.”
With his professional career just getting started, Ikonen is hoping to make many more memories like the one he had in Sweden. But the Syracuse Crunch forward is taking it one step at a time.
“I just go to the rink every morning and do my best there,” Ikonen said.
Two games into his professional career, Dylan Blujus is showing he belongs in the AHL.
The 20-year-old defenseman made his pro debut with the Syracuse Crunch Saturday against Springfield, and over two games last weekend had an even plus-minus rating with six shots.
"It went pretty well, just getting that first pro game under my belt felt nice," Blujus said. "Get the nerves out early, now I can start playing my game and start making plays."
Despite a few expected hiccups, Crunch coach Rob Zettler was impressed with the puck movement by each of his rookie defensemen.
For multiple members of the Crunch, the team deserved better.
Syracuse took three one-goal leads but let them slip away, as it fell to the Hartford Wolf Pack in overtime, 4-3, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Sunday.
"They kept coming, they didn't give up," said Crunch captain Mike Angelidis. "I thought we deserved a better fate, but that's how it goes sometimes."
After a scoreless first period, the teams combined for five goals over the first 11 minutes of the second.
Crunch clipped in OT.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 27 shots for the loss in his AHL debut.
SYR Richard, (1) (Gourde, Marchessault), 1:35 (PP)
HFD Lindberg, (1) (Bourque, Mueller), 2:25 (PP)
SYR Paquette, (1) (Samson, Koekkoek), 4:37
HFD Mueller, (1) (Bodie, Bourque), 9:36
SYR Paquette, (2) (Vermin, Cote), 11:02
HFD Hrivik, (1) (Kristo, Bodie), 6:35 (PP)
HFD Lindberg, (2) (Bourque, Allen), 4:53
Syracuse faces Springfield on Friday.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Less than a minute and a half after a Springfield goal, Syracuse found an answer.
The Mike Blunden tip-in on a Luke Witkowski point shot cut the Falcons' lead to one but penalties limited the Crunch's opportunities to tie the game, as Syracuse fell to Springfield, 3-1, in the season opener at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.
"We were hurt offensively because we had to kill eight penalties," said Crunch coach Rob Zettler. "We were undisciplined, and that in the end was the difference. When we tried to play 5-on-5 and play our game, we were starting to get chances. Then people take bad penalties and took away our momentum. We wasted a lot of energy killing those penalties."
Syracuse comes ever so close in its season opener.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 2 goals on 22 shots for the loss. He has his own rebound control to blame for one of those goals, but honestly, on most nights he did well enough in net to win.
SPR Hoeffel, (1) (Urban), 17:50
SPR Urban, (1) (Tyrell, Collins), 2:19 (PP)
SYR Blunden, (1) (Witkowski, Nesterov), 3:48
SPR Craig, (1) (Sedlak), 19:59 (EN/SH)
Mike Blunden was the game's second star.
Syracuse nearly tied the game late at 2-2 when a Jonathan Marchessault goal was disallowed. Bolt Prospects Alumni Ryan Craig then twisted the knife with an empty netter to seal it for Springfield. Fellow Bolt Prospects Alumni Dana Tyrell also had a helper in the contest to stick it to his old organization.
Syracuse faces Hartford tomorrow.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Nearly six months have passed since the last Syracuse Crunch regular season game.
One season removed from a Calder Cup playoff run that lasted well into June, the offseason began after the final horn at the Onondaga County War Memorial April 19. For Crunch coach Rob Zettler, who coached in the 2013 finals and spent the bulk of the ensuing offseason hiring a new coaching staff, the extended summer gave him time to reflect.
"This year it was too much time," Zettler said. "A lot of time to think about it."
One day removed from a 3-1 victory over French league club team in Lyon, France, Syracuse fell 6-0 to the Binghamton Senators today. Kristers Gudlevskis was in net for Syracuse. The team awaits final Lightning roster cuts expected to come down Monday or Tuesday before they head into the regular season.
The NHL Entry Draft and Free Agency Frenzy are tiny blips in the rearview mirror and the next event – the Nashville prospects tournament – is still a few weeks away (and we’ll be there). August is the low-point of the hockey year and the Bolt Prospects staff has been using this lull to re-charge their batteries in preparation for another long season of daily reports and constant updates and commentary.
Editor’s Note: Batteries is a figurative term. We’re not robots, though we feel like it sometimes.
The prospects themselves are hard at work preparing for the season and/or dumping ice buckets over their respective heads for a good cause. Some, like Jonathan Drouin, have aspirations to make the big club. Others, like Daniel Milan, are hoping to stay in the organization beyond this season.
It’s time to take a look at who’s trending in what direction as camp approaches. The great part about hockey, and especially developmental hockey – is this is subject to change. There are few things more exciting than watching someone turn their career around. This is the Afanasenkov Rule. You never know.
The following 4-part series includes current prospects and players that started last season as prospects who remain in the Tampa Bay Lightning organization.