Erne Brings Size to Crunch's Top Line

By Jeremy Houghtaling

Adam Erne knows what he brings to the table every time he hits the ice.

The sturdy left winger, who has begun his rookie season on the Syracuse Crunch’s top line, is responsible for doing the dirty work down low, getting to the front of the net and creating space for his linemates.

Listed at 6-1, 210-pounds, Erne is continuing to develop as a power forward to make the next step to the NHL.

“He has a good work ethic, a big body, and he’s been good down low,” said Crunch head coach Rob Zettler. “He’s still got to work on some of the details of his game, you can find him a lot with his stick up in the air. But overall, he’s been fine. He’s working hard and getting chances on the power play and five-on-five.”

Erne, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 2013 second-rounder, has one assist and 10 shots on goal in his first three games with the Crunch this season. His linemates, proven scorers Jonathan Marchessault and Jeff Tambellini, have combined for four goals and one assist in Syracuse’s first three games.

“That’s the kind of player I am: playing hard and winning battles down low and being in front of the net a lot. Just being hard to play against,” the 20-year-old said. “Obviously, those two guys are really skilled and can put the puck in the net, and if I’m around that area I’ll be able to produce.”

Erne got his first taste of pro hockey at the end of the 2013-14 season. In eight games with Syracuse, Erne recorded one goal and three assists.

“Every time you get to play with guys who are older and on another level than you are, it is a good opportunity,” Erne said of his previous stint with the Crunch. “I fit right in here, and it’s good to be around guys who accept you and help you along the way with the learning experience and development as a player.”

Not old enough to start the next season in the American Hockey League, the New Haven, Connecticut native went back to the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Erne piled up 41 goals, 45 assists and 102 penalty minutes in 60 regular season games with Quebec. The Remparts hosted the Memorial Cup tournament, with Erne racking up 21 goals and nine assists in 22 postseason contests.

“We had a long playoff run and you gain experience through playoffs, and how hard it is to win and the grind it takes,” Erne said. “Being on a big stage like the Memorial Cup, you learn to deal with pressure and playing against elite players like in this league and the next level where you want to be.”

Now Erne is focused on translating his game at the pro level.

“Junior is a much different game than it is here,” Zettler said. “He has to make sure he’s stopping in the right areas, stopping on pucks, and getting his stick on the ice to take away passing lanes.”

With his rookie season just starting, Erne is focused on learning what he can in Syracuse in order to take the next step to the NHL.

“I just want to be the best I can be and learn as much as I can,” Erne said. “Obviously, it would be a dream to play at the next level as soon as possible, but I have stuff I have to learn and stuff I have to get better at so I’ll be ready when the opportunity comes.”

Pictured: Crunch forward Adam Erne skates against the Senators at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.