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Crunch Rookies Show Promise in Challenging Season


By Jeremy Houghtaling

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).

Bolt Prospect of the Week: April 15, 2014

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.

NA Juniors Playoffs Game Night: 4-13-14

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.

AHL Game Day: 4-13-14 Crunch at Devils

Crunch drop back below .500.

SYR-0
ALB-4

ATO Charles Lavigne allowed 4 goals on 20 shots for the loss.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
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)

Third Period
NO SCORING

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.

NHL Game Day: 4-13-14 Lightning at Capitals

101 reasons to be proud of their regular season.

TB-1
WSH-0 (SO)

Anders Lindback stopped all 18 shots he faced and 3 of 3 shooters for the SO victory to deliver the Lightning home ice in the first round of the playoffs against Montreal. His toe save on a Backstrom 1-timer on a Third Period penalty kill was the stuff of legend. Big Anders is definitely getting hot at the right time of the year.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
NO SCORING

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
TB- Carle
WSH- NONE

Lindback was named the first star of the game. The Lightning needed a win of any flavor to get home ice in the first round and, for the most part, they remained patient and didn't get too loose defensively trying to get the W. Washington looked like they wanted no part of the game and the Lightning dominated possession and shots (32-18), but with Holtby playing pretty well there was a chance the Lightning would start freelancing outside of their system and allow the Washington skill players to capitalize. They did not, fortunately, and Matt Carle delivered the one finish they needed to get the Lightning back to Tampa Bay on Wednesday for Game One against the Habs.

The Lightning finish the season with 101 points. Triple digits is impressive for any team. For a team with so many prospects who established themselves at the NHL level this year, though, it's unbelievable.

Mike Kostka had 1 hit and 3 blocked shots in 15:41 and was denied dekeing to his backhand in the penalty shot session.

Cody Kunyk had 2 shots and 1 hit and was 20% on draws in 10:12. He nearly set up Kucherov for the winner in the Third Period off some forechecking work in the corner. First impressions: smooth skater who will work hard in the corners and along the wall. First step could use a little attention, but couldn't we all use a little first step improvement? Should be a good add for Syracuse next season.

Cedric Paquette had 1 shot, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 16:19 and was 47% on draws. He nearly set up Callahan for a nice deflection goal off the rush, but there were moments you could see his lack of speed could be a vulnerability on the backcheck.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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