Syracuse Crunch

Peca Makes Immediate Impact in Return to Crunch Lineup


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Matthew Peca knew exactly how much time he missed.

One day shy of five weeks on the shelf with an upper body injury, the Syracuse Crunch forward was counting the days until he could return. The 22-year-old scored on his first shift and finished with two points in a 3-2 win over Binghamton Friday, and added the game-winner in the shootout in a 5-4 victory over the Senators Sunday during a three-game weekend.

Peca made an immediate impact with his return and now he’s hoping to be a regular contributor as the Crunch make a push for the playoffs.

"I was just excited," Peca said of returning. "I felt in shape, I felt comfortable, and I knew my injury had healed so I was ready to get back. It didn't feel like I missed any time really."

AHL Game Night: 2-28-16 Crunch at Senators

Crunch steal a wild, improbable win.

SYR-5
BNG-4 (SO)

Adam Wilcox allowed 4 goals on 32 shots before stopping 4 of 5 in the penalty shot session for the 5-4 SO win.

First Period
BNG Puempel, (14) (Varone, Kostka), 1:19 (PP)
BNG Leduc, (8) , 3:46

Second Period
BNG Puempel, (15) (Akeson), 8:53

Third Period
SYR Blunden, (17) (Richard, DeAngelo), 5:42 (PP)
SYR Blunden, (18) (DeAngelo, Richard), 9:32 (PP)
SYR Vermin, (4) (Blujus, Dotchin), 15:26
BNG Kostka, (5) (Varone, Akeson), 19:11
SYR McGinn, (17) (Richard, Tambellini), 19:51

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
SYR- Blunden, Peca
BNG- Akeson

Mike Blunden and Tanner Richard were the game's first and third stars.

A 3 goals deficit in pro hockey SHOULD be a death sentence. Syracuse improbably erased a 3 goal deficit after 40 minutes only to see ex-Lightning property Mike Kostka put Bingo ahead with under a minute to go. Not to be deterred, Tye McGinn tied the game with under 10 seconds to go before Matthew Peca eventually put it away in the Shootout. When you cough up a 3 goal lead like that, it's emotionally devastating. When you come back and win a game by erasing one, it can be emotionally galvanizing. We'll see if the Crunch get a bounce off of this win.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Crunch Allow Five Unanswered Goals in Loss to IceCaps


By Jeremy Houghtaling

The Syracuse Crunch’s early lead lasted a little more than 10 minutes.

Crunch forward Adam Erne opened the scoring but the IceCaps rattled off five unanswered goals, as St. John’s skated to a 5-1 win over Syracuse at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

“In the first 10 minutes … there was a lot of O zone play, a lot of O zone time, and a lot of chances,” Crunch head coach Rob Zettler said. “Then — I don’t know — we faded. I don’t know if it was our energy. They were certainly executing better than we were and certainly more tenacious than we were.”

Anthony DeAngelo registered the lone assist on Erne’s goal, while Syracuse goalie Kristers Gudlevskis finished with 40 saves in the loss.

“He was under siege all night,” Zettler said of Gudlevskis. “They had 45 shots, 33 or 34 after two periods. There’s certainly no fault on his shoulders.”

AHL Game Night: 2-26-16 Senators at Crunch

Peca and hope return.

BNG-2
SYR-3

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 31 shots for the victory, in a one game cameo performance before heading back to Tampa Bay.

First Period
SYR Peca, (5) (McGinn, Tambellini), 1:04
BNG Hobbs, (2) (McCormick, Robinson), 5:39
SYR Koekkoek, (5) (Peca), 9:58
SYR Angelidis, (6) (DeAngelo, McGinn), 13:13

Second Period
BNG Robinson, (13) (Kostka, Fraser), 9:28

Third Period
NO SCORING

Matthew Peca, Vasilevskiy, and Tye McGinn were the game's three stars. Peca, playing in his first game in a little over a month due to injury, had 1 goal and 1 assist in the First Period alone. I don't want to overplay Peca like he's the second coming, but he's the type of player that Syracuse doesn't have much of: a skilled playmaking centerman. They've got lots of grit, but not guys that are creators who put pressure on the opposing defense. That's why Peca's so important to Syracuse and why I have a sneaking suspicion their nosedive over the last month and Peca's injury were highly related.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Returning Players Spark Crunch in Win Over Senators


By Jeremy Houghtaling

During his first shift back from injury, Matthew Peca found the back of the net.

Peca was one of multiple players who contributed in their return to the Syracuse lineup, as the Crunch netted three first-period goals and hung on for a 3-2 win over the Binghamton Senators at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.

“I think any time you get a guy that’s a regular in the lineup back, it’s a spark and brings some energy,” said Crunch defenseman Slater Koekkoek. “I thought we had that tonight.”

Gourde Utilizing Speed on Crunch's Top Line


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Yanni Gourde is focused on the results more than his statistics.

One season after piling up a career-high 29 goals, the Syracuse Crunch forward realized his role has has shifted away from being the main triggerman on the ice. Over the last month Gourde has found chemistry with Tanner Richard and Mike Blunden on the first line, and has used his speed to consistently create scoring opportunities.

Gourde may not be on pace for another 29-goal season, but he is pleased someone is scoring them.

“I’m trying to go to the net and do the right thing,” said Gourde, who has seven goals and 22 assists in 48 games this season. “Right now it’s not going in, but I have to keep working on it. Right now (Blunden) is getting the goals and I’m happy.”

AHL Game Night: 2-20-16 Americans at Crunch

Back on the rocks.

RCH-6
SYR-2

Adam Wilcox allowed 4 goals on 17 shots for the loss. Kristers Gudlevskis then entered the game and allowed 1 on 17 shots in relief.

First Period
RCH Schaller, (10) (Carrier, Bailey), 18:57

Second Period
RCH Schaller, (11) (Bailey, Donovan), 1:09 (PP)
RCH Baptiste, (8) (Bowman, Robak), 2:34
RCH Schaller, (12) (Ruhwedel, Akeson), 3:56 (PP)
SYR Blunden, (15) (Taormina, Tambellini), 9:14 (PP)

Third Period
SYR Blunden, (16) (Gourde, DeAngelo), 9:33
RCH Carrier, (7) (Bailey, Schaller), 13:21
RCH Catenacci, (9) (Varone, Akeson), 16:25 (EN)

Mike Blunden was the game's third star.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Crunch's Bold Move Fails in Loss to Americans


By Jeremy Houghtaling

The Crunch made a bold move with a little less than five minutes remaining.

Down by three goals and needing standing points to stay in the playoff picture, Syracuse head coach Rob Zettler pulled goalie Kristers Gudlevskis for an extra attacker. The tactic went awry a little more than a minute later, as the Americans’ Dan Catenacci scored into the empty net to seal Rochester’s 6-2 win over Syracuse at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

With the loss, the Crunch have dropped 11 out of their last 13 contests.

“We were desperate,” Zettler said. “We had to find a way to try and make something happen, and try and score a goal. We were down by three.”

AHL Game Night: 2-19-16 Comets at Crunch

The streak is over.

UTI-4
SYR-5

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 4 goals on 29 shots for the victory.

First Period
SYR Taormina, (11) (Blunden, Richard), 1:14 (PP)
SYR McGinn, (16) (Blujus, Gourde), 2:52 (PP)
UTI Bancks, (8) (Landry, Ehrhardt), 15:08
SYR Tambellini, (17) (McGinn, Witkowski), 17:26
UTI Sautner, (4) (Kenins, Gaunce), 19:36

Second Period
SYR Tambellini, (18) (Martindale), 2:34
UTI Pedan, (4) (Kenins, Grenier), 6:54 (PP)

Third Period
SYR Blunden, (14) (Erne, Richard), 2:33 (PP)
UTI Prust, (1) (Gaunce), 10:26 (SH)

Jeff Tambellini and Mike Blunden were the game's first and second stars.

Syracuse snaps a 9-game winless streak. They currently sit at 1 game under .500 for the season.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Crunch Use Special Teams to Top Comets, Snap Skid


By Jeremy Houghtaling

The Syracuse Crunch used special teams to snap out of their slide.

The Crunch’s power play struck three times and the penalty kill held the Comets to one 5-on-3 marker, as Syracuse topped Utica, 5-4, at the Onondaga County War Memorial on Friday. The Crunch had lost nine straight coming into the contest.

“I expected our penalty kill to get us out of this slump,” Crunch head coach Rob Zettler said. “Before tonight, we hadn’t given up a 5-on-5 goal in three games. That’s a big deal. We needed our PK to come up big. That’s what we talked about and they did. They came up big for us tonight.”

Syracuse forward Jeff Tambellini registered two goals, Mike Blunden and Tye McGinn each had one goal and one assist, and Tanner Richard had two helpers. Matt Taormina rounded out the scoring, while Dylan Blujus, Ryan Martindale, Adam Erne, and Luke Witkowski each had one assist.

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