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Crunch Score Five Unanswered Goals in Win Over Utica

By Jeremy Houghtaling

The Syracuse Crunch answered quickly and kept plugging away.

The Crunch netted the equalizer 89 seconds after the Comets opened the scoring and went on to score five unanswered goals, as Syracuse routed rival Utica, 5-1, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.

“We thought we had a solid effort from the first to last minute,” Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx said. “It was unfortunate that they took the lead, but we were able to answer back quickly. That gave us confidence for the rest of the game.”

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 3-24-17

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Rimouski Oceanic 2 @ Saint John Sea Dogs 9
QMJHL Playoffs, Round 1
Saint John leads best-of-7 series, 1-0

W Bokondji Imama, SJ: 0-0-0, +1, 0 PIM, 5 SOG, 2 Hits
Season Totals: 65 GP, 40-14-54, +10, 103 PIM

W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: 2-0-2, +3, 0 PIM, 4 SOG, 1 Hit
Season Totals: 54 GP, 36-44-80, +37, 57 PIM

The Dogs scored four times in the first period and cruised to a 9-2 shellacking of Rimouski. Joseph opened the scoring, then scored later while shorthanded.

Halifax Mooseheads 5 @ Rouyn-Noranda Huskies 4
QMJHL Playoffs, Round 1
Halifax leads best-of-7 series, 1-0

C/W Otto Somppi, HAL: Did not play (shoulder injury)
Season Totals: 60 GP, 17-24-41, -7, 28 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 59 GP, 13-33-46, -15, 25 PIM

Somppi is considered week-to-week with a shoulder injury – the same shoulder and the same injury that caused him to miss a significant amount of time last season. He’s considering surgery. His teammates upset second-seeded Rouyn-Noranda 5-4 Friday.

Val-d’Or Foreurs 5 @ Shawinigan Cataractes 2
QMJHL Playoffs, Round 1
Val-d’Or leads best-of-7 series, 1-0

W Dennis Yan, SHAW: 0-1-1, -2, 0 PIM, 2 SOG, 1 Hit
Season Totals: 64 GP, 46-29-75, +23, 52 PIM

The Foreurs drew first blood in their opening round series against third-seeded Shawinigan, winning 5-2 Friday.

Ontario Hockey League

Windsor Spitfires 4 @ London Knights 3 (OT)
Western Conference Quarterfinals
Windsor leads best-of-7 series, 1-0

W/C Mitchell Stephens, LDN: 1-0-1, E, 0 PIM, 5 SOG, *Third Star*
Season Totals: 51 GP, 22-32-54, +19, 26 PIM

The Spits stole home ice advantage away from London, winning in the Knights’ barn, 4-3, Friday. Stephens scored late in the third period to force overtime after the Knights lost leads of 1-0 and 2-1 earlier.

Western Hockey League

Swift Current Broncos 2 @ Moose Jaw Warriors 0
Eastern Conference First Round
Swift Current leads best-of-7 series, 1-0

C Brett Howden, MJ: 0-0-0, -2, 0 PIM
Season Totals: 58 GP, 38-43-81, +14, 73 PIM

One game after putting 10 on the scoreboard against Swift Current, Moose Jaw was shut out at home by the Broncos, 2-0. Jordan Papirny (undrafted) stopped 40 shots in the win. It was his first shutout this season.

Kamloops Blazers 0 @ Kelowna Rockets 4
Western Conference First Round
Kelowna leads best-of-7 series, 1-0

G Connor Ingram, KAM: Loss, 44 saves on 48 shots
Season Totals: 45 GP, 26-14-2-2, 2.44 GAA, .927 sv%, 5 SO

Ingram stopped 44 shots, but Kamloops could only manage 15 on Kelowna goalie Michael Herringer. Not going to win many that way. The Rockets took Game 1.

ECHL Game Night: 3-24-17

Norfolk Admirals 3 at Kalamazoo Wings 5

F Brian Hart, KAL, 0-0-0, +1, 0 PIMS, 2 SOG
Season Totals (ECHL): 27 GP, 3-4-7, -1, 4 PIMs, 48 SOG
Season Totals (AHL): 33 GP, 3-4-7, E, 26 PIMs, 50 SOG

F Cameron Darcy, KAL, 1-0-1, +2, 0 PIMS, 4 SOG, *Second Star*
Season Totals (ECHL): 14 GP, 5-13-18, +12, 6 PIMs, 41 SOG
Season Totals (AHL): 34 GP, 3-4-7, -3, 14 PIMs, 40 SOG

Other Notables
G Nic Riopel, KAL, W, 60:00 MIN, 36/39
Season Totals: 29 GP, 17-10-0-1, 2.89 GAA, 0.904 SV%, 1 SO

The K-Wings secured their place in the 2017 Kelly Cup Playoffs Friday night in front of 2,154 fans at the Wings Event Center, besting the Norfolk Admirals 5-3. Nic Riopel returned to the net and turned away 36 shots. Lightning prospect Cam Darcy scored the eventual game-winner on an unassisted marker early in the 3rd period with a one-on-one glove-side move against the Norfolk netminder, earning 2nd Star Honors. Kalamazoo and Quad Cities are battling to see who draws Toledo or Fort Wayne in the playoffs, with the Mallards up by 4 points over the K-Wings with a game-in-hand. Kalamazoo finishes up the three-game home stand Saturday night with a rematch against Norfolk.

NCAA Game Night: 3-24-17

No. 10 North Dakota Fighting Hawks 3 vs No. 6 Boston University Terriers 4 (2 OT)
NCAA West Regional Semifinal (Fargo, ND)

D John MacLeod, BU: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Season Totals: 35 GP, 2-5-7, +8, 28 PIM
2015-2016 Totals: 26 GP, 1-1-2, -4, 26 PIM

Bruins pick Charlie McAvoy took a cross-ice pass from Coyotes prospect Clayton Keller and ended a double-overtime thriller in Fargo, 4-3. BU had taken a 3-1 lead early in the third period only to have North Dakota fight back to tie it with 4:26 left in the final frame. Terriers goalie Jake Oettinger (2017) had 56 saves for BU, who advances to play the winner of Ohio State and Minnesota-Duluth, who was headed to overtime tied 2-2.

Hajek Makes Pro Debut in Crunch's Loss to Penguins

By Jeremy Houghtaling

Libor Hajek hopped over the boards for the first shift roughly 1:20 into the game.

The 19-year-old defenseman described the feeling simply. “Just nervous. That’s it.”

The Tampa Bay Lightning’s 2016 second round draft pick made his pro debut with the Crunch, but Syracuse was outmatched by the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, 5-1, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.

“Libor was good. I like the way he skated,” Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx said. “Tough night for him. It’s tough to start your career in a game like this. Overall, I thought he did some good things.”

AHL Game Night: 3-24-17 Penguins at Crunch

Crunch crushed by class of the conference.


Kristers Gudlevskis surrendered 3 goals on 7 shots for the loss before being pulled for Mike McKenna who allowed 2 on 25 shots the rest of the way.

First Period
5:22 WBS Di Pauli (2), (Dea, Pouliot)
10:54 WBS Porter (11), (Aston-Reese, Goers)
14:16 WBS Aston-Reese (2), (Porter)
15:19 SYR Bournival (6), (Conacher)(SH)

Second Period
1:09 WBS Goers (4), (unassisted)

Third Period
1:34 WBS Simon (13), (Haggerty, Prow)

Michael Bournival was the game's third star.

Tonight showed just how far Syracuse is from being a serious contender in the Eastern Conference with a slim number of regular season games to get well. Getting some players back from Tampa Bay would be helpful, but there's still way too much inconsistency from the players who stay behind in Syracuse.

Syracuse is tied atop the North Division at 75 points with Toronto and hold a game in hand on the Marlies. Nobody seems to really want to win this division. The Crunch keep teetering at the top of the table playing around .500 hockey recently, but nobody seems to want to seize the opportunity to overtake them.

Box score from

NHL Game Night: 3-24-17 Lightning at Red Wings

Vampire-like Lightning again refuse to die.

DET-1 (OT)

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 1 goal on 30 shots for the victory. After a couple of rough nights, the young man returned to solid form.

First Period

Second Period
8:03 DET Zetterberg (16), (Nyquist, Nielsen)

Third Period
5:53 TB Palat (15), (Coburn, Kucherov)

3:28 TB Kucherov (38), (Point)

Nikita Kucherov were the game's first and third stars.

Fighting fatigue and a pretty strong goaltending performance by Mrazek, the Lightning again declined an invitation to fold their cards and fought back to earn another critical 2 points. They pulled within 1 point of the Isles for the second Wild Card spot with the win with the Isles holding a game in hand. Hope still lives in a Lightning jersey, despite injuries and selling off at the deadline, it still lives.

Eight games to go: is it Stammer time? When will we see Tyler Johnson again? And, are any of these hole cards enough to push the Lightning, improbably, over the top and into the postseason?

Luke Witkowski had 1 shot and 1 hit in 10:05.

Gregg McKegg had 5 penalty minutes and 1 hit in a very slim 3:28. Got his butt unceremoniously kicked by Mantha.

Jake Dotchin was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 3 shots, and 3 hits in 19:58.

Gabriel Dumont had 2 shots and 3 hits in 7:15. He was also 17% on 6 draws.

Yanni Gourde had 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 1 hit and was 50% on 12 draws in 16:51.

Adam Erne had 7 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 3 hits in 8:15. He probably lost his fight with Athanasiou on points, but honestly if he had connected just once on what he was throwing he might've killed Athanasiou. I wouldn't want Erne or Dotchin mad at me.

Joel Vermin had 2 penalty minutes in 9:28.

Box score and extended statistics from

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 3-23-17

Ontario Hockey League

Sarnia Sting 3 @ Erie Otters 6
Western Conference Quarterfinals
Erie leads best-of-7 series, 1-0

D Erik Cernak, Erie: 0-1-1, +3, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
2015-2016 Season: 41 GP, 4-11-15, +7, 35 PIM

C Anthony Cirelli, Erie: 1-1-2, +1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG, 11/17 FO
Season Totals: 51 GP, 25-39-64, +36, 12 PIM

W Taylor Raddysh, Erie: 1-1-2, +3, 2 PIM, 7 SOG
Season Totals: 58 GP, 42-66-108, +67, 37 PIM

Raddysh and Cirelli both had a goal and an assist and Erik Cernak chipped in a helper as Erie beat Sarnia in Game 1 of their opening round series, 6-3.

Flint Firebirds 2 @ Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 5
Western Conference Quarterfinals
Sault Ste. Marie leads best-of-7 series, 1-0

W Boris Katchouk, SSM: 1-1-2, +2, 2 PIM, 1 SOG, *Third Star*
Season: 66 GP, 35-29-64, +18, 46 PIM

Katchouk scored in the third period to thwart a Flint rally and put the Soo up 4-2. They’d win, 5-2, after Katchouk had an assist on the fifth goal.

Niagara IceDogs 2 @ Peterborough Petes 5
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
Peterborough leads best-of-7 series, 1-0

W/C Christopher Paquette, PBO: 0-1-1, +2, 0 PIM, 8 SOG, 17/25 FO
Season Totals: 66 GP, 19-29-48, +1, 28 PIM

D Matt Spencer, PBO: 0-1-1, +3, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Season Totals: 60 GP, 7-22-29, +9, 58 PIM

W Jonne Tammela, PBO: Did not play
Season Totals: 2 GP, 1-0-1, +1, 2 PIM
2015-2016 (Finland): 37 GP, 5-8-13, +10, 16 PIM

The Petes struck first in their series against Niagara, with former IceDog Christopher Paquette notching an assist from his top-line center spot.

NHL Game Night: 3-23-17 Lightning at Bruins

Hope springs up in an unexpected place.


Petr Budaj allowed 3 goals on 31 shots for the victory. Not his best effort losing his net on Boston's third goal, but in all he allowed the Lightning to keep contact during the game and shut the door once they finally got the lead.

First Period
1:33 BOS Pastrnak (32), (Bergeron, Spooner)(PP)
2:17 TB Point (13), (Palat, Dotchin)

Second Period
7:50 BOS Chara (8), (Nash, Moore)(SH)
8:14 TB Kucherov (35), (Drouin, Hedman)(PP)
13:18 BOS Nash (5), (Moore, Miller)
14:53 TB Stralman (3), (Palat, Point)

Third Period
4:12 TB Drouin (18), (Killorn, Dotchin)
10:11 TB Kucherov (36), (Hedman, Drouin)(PP)
18:03 TB Kucherov (37), (Palat)(EN)

Nikita Kucherov and Jonathan Drouin were the game's first and second stars. Kucherov's hat trick puts him 3 shy of the 40 goal plateau for the first time in his career and back within distant shouting distance of the league lead. Drouin's GWG, which was one through Rask that probably should've been stopped, puts him 2 shy of the 20 goal plateau for the first time in his career.

Three times in this game the Lightning were offered the opportunity to give up on their season. Three times they showed resiliency immediately. It may not matter much in the end equation, but Jon Cooper can rest a little better at night knowing his team has a lot of character and refuses to give up. And, at the very least, the Lightning dealt a blow to Boston's playoff hopes tonight, which is good for the soul.

Luke Witkowski had 1 shot and 2 hits in 9:11.

Jake Dotchin had 2 helpers and was +2 with 1 shot and 2 hits in 17:26. Played a really strong two-way game, and I'm thinking we may have learned that although Jake can play more minutes, this is more his sweet spot.

Gabriel Dumont had 4 penalty minutes and 2 hits in 10:31. He was also 58% on 26 draws.

Yanni Gourde was -1 with 2 shots and he was 29% on 14 draws in 12:22.

Adam Erne was -1 with 2 shots, 5 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 9:45.

Joel Vermin was -1 in 9:17.

Box score and extended statistics from

KHL Game Day: 3-23-17

KHL Western Conference Finals
(2)St. Petersburg 5 vs. (4)Yaroslavl 4 (OT)
St. Petersburg Leads the Series 1-0
Nikita Gusev, St. Petersburg, 1-1-2, +2, 0 PIM, 4 SOG
Playoff totals: 9 GP, 4-6-10, +2, 2 PIM
Regular season totals: 57 GP, 24-47-71, +33, 8 PIM

SKA overcame a 2 goal Third Period deficit with a comeback that included a tying goal with 10 seconds left in regulation to post a 5-4 Game One OT triumph over Yaroslavl in the KHL Western Conference Finals. Nikita Gusev scored the first goal of the comeback of the power play and then setup the game winner in Overtime. He played 18:51 in the match. Linemate Vadim Shipachyov had assists in triplicate for SKA in the win.

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