Tammela scores first AHL goal, Crunch beat Devils

By Jeremy Houghtaling

It’s been a long road back for Jonne Tammela.

The Finnish rookie has been rehabbing in Syracuse since December 2016 as he recovered from three knee surgeries. Although there were some tough times, Tammela worked his way back into the Crunch lineup last week.

Now he’s starting to contribute on the scoresheet.

Tammela jammed in a rebound for his first North American pro goal Monday, as the Crunch shut out the Binghamton Devils, 3-0, at the Onondaga County War Memorial for their ninth straight victory.

“My first thing was I was really happy,” Tammela said of the goal. “I didn’t realize it went in. Everything was so fast. … It felt good and obviously it helped the team win, so I think that was the most important thing.”

Tammela played just two games for Peterborough in the Ontario Hockey League last season. He scored in his OHL debut — 433 days ago — but injuries ended his 2016-17 season and he came to Syracuse to rehab.

“There was a difficult time. There was two months where I wasn’t able to walk, so obviously I had a lot of different kind of thoughts in my head during that time,” Tammela said. “The environment here was really supportive for me, and I got so much support from my teammates, trainers and doctors, and just tried to do my best.

“You have to believe in yourself that it’s going to be alright. That’s the biggest thing as to why I’m here right now.”

Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx likes what he has seen from Tammela in three games this season.

“For us, it’s a process, obviously. When you don’t play for almost two years, it’s tough to have high expectations, but what we’ve seen in practice from him is very encouraging,” Groulx said. “I like the skill set. I like the competitiveness. I like the hockey sense. He makes plays with the puck.”

Dominik Masin recorded a goal and an assist Monday, Mitchell Stephens added a goal and Jamie McBain, Matthew Peca, Michael Bournival and Alexander Volkov each had an assist.

Louis Domingue registered 17 saves for his second straight shutout. The Crunch goalie had 27 stops in the win over Rochester Saturday.

“He was great against Rochester. (He) was not as busy today, but he made three or four good stops, especially early in the game,” Groulx said. “They had a 5-on-3 power play. He shut the door and he kept the shutout alive with a big stop late in the third. Two very solid performances by a good goalie.”

Domingue, who was down with the Crunch to get some playing time while the Lightning are on break, is expected to rejoin Tampa Bay.

“I think the guys played well in front of me. I didn’t have to do much,” Domingue said. “Two shutouts doesn’t really tell the workload that I had. They did a great job in front of me again. We’re rolling, and when we’re rolling, we’re a tough team to beat.”

Syracuse has won nine straight for its second longest streak of the season. The Crunch won 10 straight from Nov. 22 to Dec. 15.

“Consistency I think, and everybody steps up,” Crunch captain Erik Condra said of what’s been key during the winning streak. “It’s somebody different every night, and that’s the fun part about this team. We’ve had solid goaltending between the two (Domingue and Connor Ingram) back and forth. That’s been our number one key I think. Solid D, and then our forwards chip in. It’s a different line every night.”

Monday's game was the beginning of a busy week for the Crunch. Syracuse (24-12-1-2) visits Belleville on Wednesday, hosts Toronto Friday and travels to Utica on Saturday.

“I think we’re playing good hockey, obviously, and it’s good to see this group being hungry still,” Groulx said. “They want to win games and they know if they do things well, they can be successful. We’re climbing in the standings and it’s good to see that.”

Pictured: Crunch forward Jonne Tammela looks to make a pass against the Devils at the Onondaga County War Memorial Monday.

For more pictures from the game, visit the BoltProspects Facebook page.

To listen to postgame interviews, go to this SoundCloud page.