Syracuse Crunch

Lightning Organization Confident in Rookie Pro Paquette

By Jeremy Houghtaling

When Syracuse Crunch coach Rob Zettler first made the decision to put Cedric Paquette in the lineup, he relied on what he had heard from scouts.

The Tampa Bay Lightning organization, which drafted Paquette in the fourth round in 2012, knew what they could expect from the gritty 6-1 forward fresh out of junior hockey, and knew he would able to jump right into the American Hockey League’s Eastern Conference Finals.

AHL Game Night: 10-30-13 Crunch at Devils

Tonight's win is brought to you by the letter V.

SYR-4
ALB-1

Cedrick Desjardins allowed 1 goal on 25 shots for the victory.

First Period
SYR Kucherov, (7) (Namestnikov, Taormina), 13:51 (PP)
SYR Kucherov, (8) , 15:00 (PP)

Second Period
ALB Boucher, (3) (Timmins, Whitney), 9:23

Third Period
SYR Brown, (2) (Kucherov, Namestnikov), 6:44
SYR Brown, (3) (Kucherov, Namestnikov), 10:14

Nikita Kucherov and J.T. Brown were the game's first and second stars. Kucherov now leads the AHL in PP goals. Vladislav Namestnikov had assists in triplicate.

As great as the top line has played, there is reason for concern. The team was outshot 25-19 in tonight's game and reigning AHL Second Team All-Star Brett Connolly has just 1 helper in 6 games this year. So, the second line has yet to get loose this year.

The Crunch get Rochester next on Friday.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Superstitious Gudlevskis Making Most of Opportunities

By Jeremy Houghtaling

A few days after registering a shutout in his American Hockey League debut, Kristers Gudlevskis returned to the ice with a different look.

The mask emblazoned with blue stripes and the outline of a lightning bolt that he wore in his first three wins of the season was nowhere in sight as Gudlevskis dawned a more comfortable plain white helmet for Syracuse Crunch practice Tuesday.

Like his mask, Gudlevskis is back to a blank slate. His 22-save shutout over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers is history, and it's time to move forward.

Defenseman Taormina a Valuable Asset for Crunch


By Jeremy Houghtaling

It’s tough for Matt Taormina to sit out.

The Syracuse Crunch defenseman, who battled an injury throughout the team’s run to the Calder Cup Finals last season, was not pleased that he had to be scratched from the lineup earlier this month.

"I probably could have waited another week or so (to return), because that's what the doctors had said," Taormina said. "But after the first game, and being around the guys in practice and stuff like that, I felt that I could get back at it earlier than they thought."

Seeing Taormina sit out was equally as difficult for Crunch coach Rob Zettler. Taormina has become an integral part of the blue line for Syracuse since his arrival last season, and the 27-year-old veteran's calm, patient demeanor comes in handy in all situations.

Big Second Period, Gudlevskis' Shutout Lift Crunch Over Tigers


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Kristers Gudlevskis stopped all 22 shots in his American Hockey League debut and the Crunch surged ahead with five goals in the second period, lifting Syracuse to a 5-0 win over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

Eleven players recorded a point in the Crunch's third-straight win. Jean-Philippe Cote registered a goal and an assist, while Nikita Kucherov and Luke Witkowski each added two assists.

Matt Taormina, Evan Rankin, Cedric Paquette and Vladislav Namestnikov each registered a goal. JT Brown, Dana Tyrell, Dmitry Korobov and Nikita Nesterov chipped in a helper apiece.

AHL Game Night: 10-26-13 Sound Tigers at Crunch

Toothless Tigers defanged by kid Gudlevskis.

BRI-0
SYR-5

Kristers Gudlevskis stopped all 22 shots he faced to get the shutout in his AHL debut.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
SYR Cote, (1) (Tyrell), 0:49
SYR Namestnikov, (4) (Kucherov, Nesterov), 2:51
SYR Taormina, (2) (Brown, Kucherov), 15:17 (PP)
SYR Rankin, (2) (Witkowski, Korobov), 16:49
SYR Paquette, (3) (Cote, Witkowski), 19:56 (SH)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Vladislav Namestnikov, Gudlevskis, and J.P. Cote were the game's three stars. Namestnikov with a highlight goal scoring from his knees. Nikita Kucherov now tied for 5th in the AHL in scoring, 7 back of the leader Travis Morin of Texas.

Syracuse moves on to face Albany on Wednesday.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 10-25-13 Crunch at Comets

Two points the hard way.

SYR-2
UTI-1 (SO)

Cedrick Desjardins stopped 19 of 20 in regulation and OT and 5 of 6 in the shootout for the win. He'll backstop most, if not all, of Syracuse's games over the next couple of weeks as Helenius recovers from the dreaded upper body ailment.

First Period
UTI Stuart, (2) (Sauve, Dalpe), 4:39 (PP)

Second Period
SYR Kucherov, (6) (Taormina, Namestnikov), 6:43 (PP)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
SYR- Richard, Paquette
UTI- Ferriero

Cedric Paquette (Dump Truck!) and Desjardins were the game's first and second stars. Paquette scored the winning shootout goal to deliver the payload! They seriously need to play a truck horn when he scores. Nikita Kucherov continues to stake his claim as the most dangerous power play weapon in the AHL, aided and abetted by partner-in-crime Vladislav Namestnikov.

Syracuse outshot Utica 34-20, and really spent the whole game hurling chances against the wall that was Joacim Eriksson. Forunately, even despite that frustration, they at least made sure to get the two points in the shootout session.

Side note, wow, Utica. The AHL stuck you with the abbreviation UTI? At best that recalls Universal Technical Institute, which is the guys that break into your Judge Mathis in the afternoons (when you're too ill to go to work) to try to entice you to learn how to fix big rigs (not to be confused with the Cordon Bleu cooking college). At worst, that gets medical, as in Urinary Tract Infection. Now, I'm not one to tell you what to do as a franchise, but I might request the AHL to switch your abbreviation to UTC instead (University of Tennessee at Chattanooga having a less negative connotation). Annnnnd a rivalry is born. You're welcome.

Syracuse draws Bridgeport tomorrow night.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Bigger, Stronger Namestnikov Settling In as No. 1 Center

By Jeremy Houghtaling

After spending most of the offseason putting on 15 pounds of muscle, Vladislav Namestnikov is starting to see the results.

The second year Syracuse Crunch center, who trained in the summer with Joe Neal at 2SP Elite Athletic Development in Michigan, has used his new-found mass to register six points in the first five games of the season. He's adjusting to his new role as the team's top center, but at 6-feet, 185 pounds, Namestnikov is still working to get bigger.

"I think I got a little faster, and in the corners I'm winning more battles," the 20-year-old said. "It's good."

Crunch coach Rob Zettler believes Namestnikov is being rewarded for playing to his strength.

AHL Game Night: 10-19-13 Crunch at Senators

Mid course correction successful.

SYR-4
BNG-1

Riku Helenius allowed 1 goal on 27 shots for the victory. I dare say he just defined himself as the #1 tonight.

First Period
SYR Sergeev, (2) (Richard, Mormina), 9:48 (PP)

Second Period
BNG Prince, (1) (Wideman, Petersson), 17:23 (PP)

Third Period
SYR Namestnikov, (3) (Kucherov, Taormina), 2:34
SYR Kucherov, (5) (Brown), 9:15
SYR Paquette, (2) (Taormina), 15:38

Nikita Kucherov and Vladislav Namestnikov were the game's first and second stars. I'd like to buy a vowel, Pat. Kucherov, as of this posting, leads all AHL rookies in scoring and is just 3 points off the pace for the overall league lead.

Syracuse washes out the taste of that bitter defeat last night at the hands of the Senators. This was a big win psychologically for the team. They're off until Friday when they'll play Utica. Utica is the new affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Liiga Game Night: 10-18-2013

Finland

Jokerit 4 @ HIFK 2

FW Saku Salminent, Jokerit: Did not play
2012-2013 Season totals: 13 GP, 1-1-2, E, 12 PIM

2013 7th-rounder Saku Salminen, who got his first taste of the top Finnish league last season, has yet to make his 2013-2014 debut. Jokerit (15 GP, 30 PTS) next plays host to Kalpa (14 GP, 13 PTS), which is currently bringing up the bottom of the league table, on Tuesday.

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