This season’s crop of Syracuse Crunch rookies showed progress through adversity.
With injuries and call-ups thinning Syracuse’s depth, Crunch newcomers were asked to log important minutes, but coach Rob Zettler believes the experience they gained through the ups and downs will be good in the long run.
“There’s some good progress with our young guys,” Zettler said. “A lot of them ended up playing a lot more minutes than we anticipated because of call-ups and injuries, but at the end of the day, individually, it’s probably a good thing for them.”
Here’s a breakdown of the Crunch’s rookie class heading into the final week of the season:
Cedric Paquette: Although he wasn’t there to accept the plaques himself, on Saturday Paquette won the Crunch’s awards for Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player (shared with Vladdy Namestnikov).
We continue our Bolt Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for their recent contributions on and off the ice.
The Bolt Prospect of the Week for April 15, 2014 is … Andrey Vasilevskiy, G, Salavat Yulaev (KHL - Russia).
If last week was Andrey Vasilevskiy’s final week playing in Russia, he left a lasting impression on his home country.
The teenage phenom was spectacular in net for Salavat Yulaev Ufa, nearly carrying the team through the Eastern Conference Finals to the Gagarin Cup series. While the official record books will show Mettalurg winning the series, 4-1, it was much, much closer than it appeared.
Last week Vasilevskiy allowed two goals in 10 periods of playoff hockey – and lost two games.
The BP Mailbag is back after a little hiatus and there are lots of questions to get to.
Let’s get started:
@BoltProspects If you had the choice between Dan Boyle of Matt Niskanen to bring in during the offseason, who would you pick and why?
@BoltProspects is it just me or is Dan Boyle destined to go to Tampa? A perfect replacement for Salo as a RD playing with Hedman. But it's a short term solution.. You need a longterm partner for Victor. Do you think Sustr has the potential? ?#BPMailbag
Both Niskanen and Boyle are righty puckmovers, which the Lightning desperately need as part of their core. Gudas is a righty, but is a peoplemover more than a puckmover. As for Sustr, he has potential to be a fine 2-way defenseman. We have had some healthy discussions in the BP virtual staffroom about his offensive potential – over 30 points or under? I think under, Pete thinks over. I don’t see him as having the high end offensive IQ that other players like Hedman and Boyle have, and I think he settles in as a 4/5 in the future with limited power play time. Regardless, Sustr has a ways to go before he hits NHL maturity (250-300 games) and may or may not be an offensive catalyst as a player.
Ontario Hockey League
North Bay Battalion 3 @ Barrie Colts 2
Battalion win best-of-7 Eastern Conference Semifinals, 4-2
D Dylan Blujus, NB: 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM
Playoff totals: 13 GP, 3-1-4, +2, 14 PIM
Season totals: 55 GP, 4-26-30, +12, 56 PIM
2012-13 totals: 68 GP, 2-27-29, -8, 57 PIM
D Jake Dotchin, BAR: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM
Playoff totals: 11 GP: 3-2-5, +1, 13 PIM
Season totals: 63 GP, 11-25-36, +22, 121 PIM
2012-13 totals: 66 GP, 4-18-22, E, 81 PIM
Second-seeded North Bay became the first team in the series to win a road game, eliminating the Barrie Colts in Game 6, 3-2. The Battalion led 3-1 until Barrie scored with 13 seconds left on a goal by likely top-3 pick in 2014, Aaron Ekblad. Dylan Blujus and North Bay move on to the Eastern Conference Finals where they will face top-seeded Oshawa. Jake Dotchin’s junior career is likely over for Barrie as he is eligible to play in the AHL next season. He’s got a good chance at a contract from Tampa Bay. He could join the Crunch this week for Syracuse’s final three games.
Crunch drop back below .500.
ATO Charles Lavigne allowed 4 goals on 20 shots for the loss.
ALB Boucher, (20) (Scarlett, Pesonen), 12:08 (PP)
ALB Boucher, (21) (Pesonen, Timmins), 15:24
ALB McKelvie, (9) (Zajac, Pesonen), 16:09
ALB Scarlett, (6) (Whitney, Boucher), 18:12 (PP)
Syracuse is 1 game under .500 with 3 left to play in the regular season. Their last game is next Saturday at Hamilton, at which point you'd assume a few more Crunch players will join the Lightning for depth purposes during their playoff run.
Box score from TheAHL.com.