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.
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.
Toothless Tigers defanged by kid Gudlevskis.
Kristers Gudlevskis stopped all 22 shots he faced to get the shutout in his AHL debut.
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)
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.
Two points the hard way.
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.
UTI Stuart, (2) (Sauve, Dalpe), 4:39 (PP)
SYR Kucherov, (6) (Taormina, Namestnikov), 6:43 (PP)
SYR- Richard, Paquette
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.
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.
Mid course correction successful.
Riku Helenius allowed 1 goal on 27 shots for the victory. I dare say he just defined himself as the #1 tonight.
SYR Sergeev, (2) (Richard, Mormina), 9:48 (PP)
BNG Prince, (1) (Wideman, Petersson), 17:23 (PP)
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.
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.
Despite outshooting Binghamton 22-8 in the second period and 42-20 overall, the Syracuse Crunch fell to the Senators 6-2 at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.
Syracuse struggled to solve Binghamton goalie Nathan Lawson, who stopped multiple odd-man rushes and point black opportunities. He finished with 40 saves and was the first star of the night.
"We had plenty of chances to score," said Crunch coach Rob Zettler. "We got sloppy. We weren't stopping on pucks, we weren't doing some little details. The chances they had were good -- I didn't think they had a lot of them -- but the chances they had were good."
Wow, that's ugly.
Cedrick Desjardins allowed 6 goals on 20 shots for the loss. That's probably not the stat line you want the start after a Twitter kerfluffle that was, at a minimum, ill conceived.
BNG Hoffman, (1) (Wideman, Zibanejad), 7:05 (PP)
SYR Namestnikov, (2) (Kucherov, Taormina), 16:42 (PP)
SYR Kucherov, (4) (Namestnikov, Brown), 8:18 (PP)
BNG Robinson, (1) (Puempel, Da Costa), 9:43
BNG Blood, (1) (Wideman, Dziurzynski), 10:43
BNG Hoffman, (2) , 15:28
BNG Petersson, (2) (Wideman, Zibanejad), 4:43
BNG Puempel, (1) (Da Costa, Robinson), 14:11
Vladislav Namestnikov was the game's third star.
Two things have to happen early in this season while the youngsters adjust to their new roles. One, guys like Korobov absolutely have to be stabilizing influences. Guys with some experience need to be leaders and they can't be making mistakes that lead to scoring chances. It can't be the blind leading the dumb. That's a recipe for disaster. And, second, one of these two goaltenders needs to be the magic eraser when mistakes are made. 6 on 20 shots is bad, no matter how you slice it. As with what I've said about the Lightning's situation, the Crunch need either Desjardins or Helenius to be a reason they win games.
Lucky for Syracuse, they don't have to wait long to atone. They get Bingo in Bingo tomorrow night.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
The Syracuse Crunch lineup still has a few question marks heading into a home-and-home series with the Binghamton Senators this weekend.
With Brett Connolly called up to the Tampa Bay Lightning and Charles Landry and Maxime Langelier-Parent sent to ECHL Florida on Wednesday, the Crunch are down to 19 skaters -- 12 forwards and seven defensemen.
Although Syracuse is unsure if Connolly will return by the puck drop at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday, Crunch coach Rob Zettler has confidence in the forward lines he assembled at practice Thurday, which included moving Evan Rankin into Connolly's spot with Tanner Richard and Geoff Walker.