Syracuse Crunch

Point Makes Pro Debut, But Crunch Fall to Americans


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Brayden Point understands it's a learning experience.

The 19-year-old center was admittedly nervous but settled in during his professional debut with the Crunch, but Syracuse fell to the Rochester Americans, 2-0, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

"There are definitely some shifts where our line was able to control the puck down low for a bit, but, like I said, there's a lot to learn," Point said. "I'm just going to try to soak up as much as I can from my linemates and the guys on the bench, and hopefully keep getting better."

AHL Game Night: 3-28-15 Americans at Crunch

Makaroved.

RCH-2
SYR-0

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 1 goal on 24 shots for the hard luck loss. His save percentage has inched up to .906 for the season, despite the loss.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
RCH McPherson, (2) (Catenacci, Ruhwedel), 4:04
RCH Catenacci, (12) , 19:52 (EN)

Gudlevskis was the game's second star. First star Andrey Makarov, who was Andrei Vasilevkiy's tandem-mate with the Russian U20 WJC team once upon a time, stopped 32 shots for the shutout.

ATO signee Brayden Point was -2 with 3 SOG's in his pro debut. As noted yesterday, there are a handful of other potential ATO's which could be added to the Syracuse roster this week, including graduating Quinnipiac senior forward Matthew Peca.

The loss, coupled with Hershey's win, puts Syracuse back into the 3rd seed, 1 point back of the Bears. 9 games remain on the regular season slate.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Angelidis Returns, Crunch Top Sound Tigers


By Jeremy Houghtaling

After missing one game, Mike Angelidis was excited to rejoin the lineup.

The Crunch captain notched a power play goal less than three minutes into the game, added an assist on the eventual game-winner, and provided some key defensive shifts in the closing minutes, as Syracuse topped the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, 4-3, in a physical contest at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.

The Crunch has won three straight and seven out of their last eight to take over second place in the Eastern Conference.

"He got us going with a power play goal to start off with and he just keeps doing what he's doing," said Syracuse head coach Rob Zettler. "He's competitive and we need that competitiveness. When a game like this happens, I need him to settle things down for us and that's what he's able to do."

AHL Game Night: 3-27-15 Sound Tigers at Crunch

Peaking at the right time?

BRI-3
SYR-4

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 3 goals on 41 shots for the victory. Bridgeport made a big push in the Third Period, outshooting Syracuse 19-7 and getting a couple of goals, but Gudlevskis was ultimately able to get Syracuse over the finish line to secure the win.

First Period
SYR Angelidis, (19) (Ashton, Gourde), 2:41 (PP)
BRI Quine, (19) (Mayfield, Pelech), 15:36

Second Period
SYR Martindale, (12) (Kunyk, Marchessault), 3:06
SYR Dotchin, (6) (Mormina, Marchessault), 14:31 (PP)

Third Period
BRI Jeffrey, (22) (Ness), 5:21
SYR Vermin, (10) (Courtnall, Angelidis), 9:48
BRI McMillan, (3) (Sundstrom, Vaughan), 17:26

Joel Vermin, Jake Dotchin, and Mike Angelidis were the game's three stars.

The game got a little nasty in the Second Period, with matching ejections that led to Carter Ashton's early departure from the game for being involved in a secondary altercation.

Note that none of the Crunch's recent ATO signees, including highly touted Brayden Point, made their debuts tonight. More additions could be on the way with goaltender Adam Wilcox and Minnesota already knocked out of the NCAA Tournament tonight and Matthew Peca's Quinnipiac Bobcats down 3-0 early in the Second Period at the time of this posting. Both highly touted prospects could possibly make an immediate contribution at the AHL level.

Syracuse leapfrogs over Hershey into the second seed with the win. They're 4 points behind Manchester for the top spot in the conference (and the league) with the Monarchs holding a game in hand. The Crunch have 10 games left in the regular season, which is a nice time to go on a tear like the current, ongoing 4 game winning streak.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 3-25-15 Crunch at Phantoms

Phantoms never had a ghost of a chance.

SYR-6
LV-1

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 1 goal on 28 shots for the victory. He's won 5 straight starts and put together 4 straight quality starts in the process. His save percentage has steadily risen to .904 and he's building up confidence necessary for a solid playoff run.

First Period
SYR Mormina, (4) (Kunyk), 11:46 (SH)

Second Period
SYR Marchessault, (20) , 8:45
SYR Koekkoek, (5) (Martindale, Gourde), 10:56

Third Period
SYR Marchessault, (21) , 2:19 (SH)
SYR Courtnall, (7) (Vermin), 4:47
SYR Martindale, (11) (Courtnall, Dotchin), 8:12
LV Jones, (7) (Comrie, Gordon), 9:22 (PP)

Jonathan Marchessault, Justin Courtnall, and Gudlevskis were the game's three stars. Marchessault is currently tied for 6th in the league in scoring. Courtnall's got 5 points and a +5 rating in 7 games since joining the Crunch. At this rate, maybe the Lightning should've signed him the first run through the organization?

It's been a long road, but Syracuse has closed back within 1 point of Hershey for the 2nd seed in the conference. For the longest time, they looked to be locked into the 3 seed, but they're playing themselves into a spot to challenge for better position.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Crunch's Richard Provides Physicality, Playmaking Ability


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Tanner Richard is at his best when he is playing his game and taking his opponents off theirs.

The Crunch center has registered a point in nine out of his last 13 games to cement himself among Syracuse’s top scorers. But Crunch Head Coach Rob Zettler believes a big part of Richard’s success comes down to being tough to play against.

“He’s getting back to being a bit of a pain in the butt out there, which is when he’s good,” Zettler said. “He just seems more engaged physically, and more engaged in moving his feet down low and on the cycle plays offensively.”

AHL Game Night: 3-22-15 Crunch at Falcons

Blujuspalooza continues.

SYR-4
SPR-1

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 1 goal on 14 shots for the victory. Not a typo. Light work for the Yak today.

First Period
SYR Courtnall, (6) (Blujus, Vermin), 10:25
SPR Adam, (14) (Chaput, Hoeffel), 16:52

Second Period
SYR Marchessault, (19) (Blujus, Richard), 3:04 (PP)
SYR Gourde, (26) (Ashton, Koekkoek), 19:40 (PP)

Third Period
SYR Angelidis, (18) (Mormina), 14:03

Jonathan Marchessault and Dylan Blujus were the game's first and second stars. Blujus with back-to-back multi-point games for the first time in his pro career.

Justin Courtnall continues to look like another Julien BriseBois trash to treasure conversion.

Things get interesting in the next couple of weeks for Syracuse as the amateur ranks yield some ATO opportunities for the Lightning organization. Specifically, Brayden Point could be a prime addition on an ATO for the Crunch, and an early exit from the NCAA tournament could put Matthew Peca in a Crunch jersey very soon, too. Both would be nice additions to a Crunch team in need of more speed and skill, especially up the middle.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 3-21-15 Comets at Crunch

Comets streak past Crunch in the Third.

UTI-4
SYR-2

Allen York allowed 3 goals on 36 shots for the loss.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
SYR Richard, (12) (Dotchin, Blujus), 5:41 (PP)
UTI Baertschi, (11) (Blain, Friesen), 6:54

Third Period
UTI Conacher, (6) (Andersson, Friesen), 2:00
UTI Shinkaruk, (9) (O'Reilly, Corrado), 4:01
SYR Marchessault, (18) (Richard, Blujus), 15:27 (PP)
UTI Baertschi, (12) (Friesen, Grenier), 19:15 (EN)

Tanner Richard was the game's third star. Dylan Blujus had his 3rd multi-point game of the season, ushering in a brief period of #Blujuspalooza.

Syracuse may have lost the war tonight, but at least the AHL's abbreviation for them isn't an acronym for Urinary Tract Infections. Escalate the rivalry with Grade A scalding rhetoric. It's always good for the soul.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Crunch Falter in Third, Fall to Comets


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Trailing by one late in the third period, the Syracuse Crunch threw everything it could on net.

The shots either hit a body in front, Utica goalie Joe Cannata deflected the puck wide, or the shots just missed the mark, as the Crunch couldn't find the equalizer in a 4-2 loss to the Comets at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

"I was shocked it didn't go in," said Syracuse head coach Rob Zettler. "(Mike Angelidis) had a chance to bury one, (Ryan) Martindale had it all alone in front. I haven't seen the replay, so I don't know if he just missed the net or it was blocked. I thought for sure we were going to tie it there and make something out of nothing, but we weren't able to."

Koekkoek Nets Game-Winner, Crunch Top Penguins in OT


By Jeremy Houghtaling

With time winding down in overtime, Slater Koekkoek made a bold prediction.

The Syracuse Crunch defenseman was next to hit the ice during the three-on-three portion of the extra session, but took a moment to tell fellow rookie Dylan Blujus that he would end the game.

Koekkoek's words proved to be prophetic, as his game-winner 4:52 into overtime lifted the Crunch to a 2-1 victory over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday. Syracuse has won four straight.

"Blujus and I were sitting on the bench, and (assistant coach Trent) Cull had just said I was the next D out," Koekkoek said. "I looked over at Blue and I said 'Don't worry Blue, I got this one.'"

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