Syracuse Crunch

AHL Game Night: 3-23-13 Devils at Crunch

Still hanging onto first place.

ALB-1
SYR-3

Riku Helenius allowed 1 goal on 28 shots for the victory. He came within 54 seconds of a shutout before Albany's power play goal. Still, with the effort tonight, Helenius has finally managed to get his save percentage back to .900 for the season. He had a good February and is having a good March, which the Lightning have to hope leads to a good Option B for Syracuse come playoff time.

First Period
SYR Namestnikov, (5) (Gauthier, Jacques), 13:39
SYR Sexton, (6) (Wyman), 14:25

Second Period
SYR Brown, (10) (Wyman, Sexton), 14:00

Third Period
ALB Anderson, (13) (Whitney, Gelinas), 19:06 (PP)

Dan Sexton, Vladislav Namestnikov, and Helenius were the game's three stars. Namestnikov's strong play in March also has to have the Lightning extremely happy. We at the website can't wait to see him and Nikita Kucherov lined up together, which could happen this season depending on how the QMJHL playoffs go.

With Providence going down to Worcester, Syracuse holds a 2 point lead on Binghamton for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Springfield and Providence lag by 3 points. Syracuse gets Rochester next on Wednesday, and with just 11 games left in the regular season every point matters from here on out, as it could be the difference between being 1 seed or a 4 seed.

6 of Syracuse's remaining 11 games are at home, including a nice 5 game homestand to close out the regular season. Also, 6 of the 11 games are against teams that currently would not make the playoffs, although the team they have the most games left with, ironically Norfolk, is just 2 points out of 8th in the East.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Crunch Shut Out By Tokarski, Bulldogs


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Even with a familiar face in the opposition's net, the Syracuse Crunch tried to focus on the two points up for grabs.

Former teammate Dustin Tokarski stole the show, turning away 40 shots between the pipes for the Hamilton Bulldogs to hand the Crunch a 1-0 loss at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday night.

"It's the same two points," said Crunch goaltender Riku Helenius. "Obviously, I wanted to win today, but it didn't happen…Even when you play against your friends, it doesn't change things."

AHL Game Night: 3-22-13 Bulldogs at Crunch

Tic's revenge.

HAM-1
SYR-0

Riku Helenius allowed 1 goal on 26 shots to take the loss in a classic goaltending duel against ex-tandem mate Dustin Tokarski. Tokarski stopped all 40 shots he faced for the sweet revenge against Syracuse.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
HAM Belzile, (1) (Bournival, Stejskal), 10:10

Helenius was the game's third star. Tokarski, of course, got top star billing.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Desjardins, Crunch Blank Penguins, 1-0


By Jeremy Houghtaling

It was all about the letter D for the Syracuse Crunch Wednesday night.

The defense held the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to nine shots in the first forty minutes, Philip-Michael Devos scored the lone goal and Cedrick Desjardins pitched a 20-save shutout, leading the Crunch to a 1-0 victory at the Onondaga County War Memorial.

Syracuse has registered a point in its last five games, and paces the American Hockey League with 84 points.

"Every night there's someone different that's the hero," Desjardins said. "Tonight, everyone stepped in."

AHL Game Night: 3-20-13 Penguins at Crunch

Still riding in first place.

WBS-0
SYR-1

Cedrick Desjardins stopped all 20 shots he faced for the shutout victory. With Anders Lindback possibly being hurt tonight in Toronto, we'll see if Cedrick hops a plane back to join the Lightning.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
SYR Devos, (5) (Gauthier, Taormina), 2:01

Third Period
NO SCORING

Philip-Michael Devos, Desjardins, and J.P. Cote were the game's three stars.

Syracuse expands their Eastern Conference lead to 3 points over the Providence Bruins with Providence holding 1 game in hand. They'll also move 1 point ahead of the Texas Stars for the best record in the league, as well. They draw Hamilton next on Friday with 13 games remaining in the regular season. It's going to be a nail biter for Syracuse as they chase the conference crown.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Connolly, Crunch Rout Devils, 6-2


By Jeremy Houghtaling

With five of its top 10 scorers out of the lineup, the Syracuse Crunch still made due.

Brett Connolly registered a pair of goals and assists and 12 Crunch players showed up on the scoresheet -- including four with multiple points -- as Syracuse routed the Albany Devils, 6-2, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday night.

"It's one of those nights, everything was going well and we got a little lucky," Connolly said.

The league-leading Crunch, who had AHL points leader Tyler Johnson called up earlier in the week, have registered a point in four straight games.

AHL Game Night: 3-16-13 Devils at Crunch

Jon Cooper? Still Jedi.

ALB-2
SYR-6

Riku Helenius allowed 2 goals on 30 shots for the victory.

First Period
SYR Connolly, (25) (Namestnikov, Devos), 6:08
SYR Cote, (2) (Angelidis, Nightingale), 6:38
SYR Panik, (22) (Connolly, Sexton), 10:38 (PP)

Second Period
SYR Brown, (9) (Angelidis, Mikkelson), 7:22
SYR Devos, (4) (Connolly, Namestnikov), 9:11
SYR Connolly, (26) (Barberio, Oberg), 9:57 (PP)

Third Period
ALB Kelly, (2) (Wohlberg), 8:00
ALB Whitney, (22) (Zalewski, Anderson), 12:38

Brett Connolly, Vladislav Namestnikov, and J.P Cote were the game's three stars.

With Tyler Johnson up in Tampa, Connolly becomes the Crunch's hope for hardware and plaudits. He currently sits in 3rd in the league in scoring, 4 points back of Grand Rapids' Gustav Nyquist. His 26 goals are also now tied for 5th is the AHL.

Vladdy Namestnikov continuing to play well continues to bode very well for the future.

As good a coaching job as Jon Cooper did last season, if he wins the Eastern Conference and even manages to post the best record in the AHL this season, it'll be an even more amazing job. It's hard to believe that with half of his team's core torturing the Carolina Hurricanes in Tampa, Cooper's team still managed to fly out to a 6-0 lead in Albany. He's a special coach. I can't say anything more and still do it justice.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 3-15-13 Admirals at Crunch

Shootout in Syracuse.

NOR-4
SYR-3 (SO)

Cedrick Desjardins was back with the Crunch tonight and stopped 34 of 37 before allowing 1 of 4 to convert in the shootout session to take the SO Loss.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
SYR Namestnikov, (4) (Devos, Barberio), 1:43
NOR Wilson, (6) (Brittain, Guenin), 5:55
NOR Wagner, (5) , 11:14

Third Period
NOR Brittain, (10) (Clark, Lindholm), 6:23
SYR Nightingale, (2) (Angelidis, Namestnikov), 7:19
SYR Angelidis, (10) (Taormina, Barberio), 19:40

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
NOR- Brittain
SYR- NONE

Mike Angelidis and Vladislav Namestnikov were the game's first and second stars.

I guess tonight was the first time you could honestly say this Syracuse roster was nearly unrecognizable compared to the team the organization has iced much of the last 2 years. No more Conacher or Johnson or Palat. No more Gudas on the backline. Tokarski traded.

All that said, it's a hopeful sign the team was competitive tonight and that one of the next wave, Vlad Namestnikov, stepped up in an expanded role. That's the way it's going to have to be the rest of the way with the Lightning floundering and so many of the veteran prospects getting their chance in Tampa Bay.

The Crunch face Albany tomorrow. Syracuse holds a 3 point edge in the Eastern Conference with the Crunch holding a 2 point edge of Binghamton and a 3 point edge on Springfield and Providence.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

What to Expect from Tyler Johnson

Two years and one week ago, Tyler Johnson’s mind was on two WHL scoring titles and helping his hometown Spokane Chiefs increase its win totals.

The undrafted, undersized sniper had no clear track for his hockey career when the Tampa Bay Lightning came calling and signed the free agent to a three-year entry-level contract.

His race to the NHL was now set, but how quickly he’d break through the ribbon was up to him.

He immediately rewarded the Lightning by finishing tops in the WHL in goals with 53 in 2011, and was just one point shy of being its top scorer with 115 points in 71 games.

The following year – his first year pro – Johnson made Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman look like a genius when the Washington state native scored 31 goals and 68 points and was an integral part of a championship Norfolk Admirals team that went down as one of the best in AHL history.

Waiting Game Almost Over for Johnson


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Tyler Johnson tried to not think about it.

One step away from achieving his dream, the Syracuse Crunch forward, seeing teammate after teammate getting called up to the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning, kept a positive attitude.

“Everyone’s dream is to play in the NHL, so you’re always thinking about it,” Johnson said Tuesday. “At the same time, you can’t really worry about it. You have worry about playing here, and getting better. That’s what this league is about – getting better.”

Twenty-six of the 46 players participating in the AHL All-Star Game Jan. 28 have since made their NHL debuts, including the Crunch’s Richard Panik and Radko Gudas. Although Johnson was given a look during the abbreviated training camp after the end of the lockout, Johnson didn’t stick and still hasn’t played in a regular season NHL game.

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