Weekly Crunch Roundup

Monday, 03.18.2013 / 4:43 PM
Peter Pupello  - Lightning Beat Reporter

Last Week

Fri., Mar. 15 - Crunch vs. Norfolk - SOL, 4-3

Sat., Mar. 16 - Crunch vs. Albany - W, 6-2

This Week

Wed., Mar. 20 - Crunch vs. W-B/Scranton, 7 p.m. (TV)

Fri., Mar. 22 - Crunch vs. Hamilton, 7:30 p.m.

Sat., Mar. 23 - Crunch vs. Albany, 7:30 p.m. (TV)

Need to Know

- Syracuse owns the AHL's greatest point total, 82, and points percentage, 0.661, with a 37-17-3-5 record.

- Brett Connolly had his first four-point game Saturday (2g, 2a) and is Syracuse's active leader in goals and points.

- Former Crunch goalie Dustin Tokarski and Hamilton visit Syracuse Friday, one of three home games this week.

WEEK IN REVIEW

Game 61: Dramatic comeback earns Syracuse a point

The Crunch rallied to force overtime, but lost 4-3 in a shootout to Norfolk Friday at the War Memorial. Syracuse opened the scoring in the second when Vlad Namestnikov tipped a Mark Barberio shot into the net 1:43 into the frame. Norfolk scored the next three goals. Former Crunch forward Kyle Wilson, playing in his second game since being traded, tied the game 5:55 into the second on a rebound chance near the right post. Then, on a two-on-one breakaway, Chris Wagner slapped a shot past Crunch goalie Cedrick Desjardins for the go-ahead goal. After an Eric Neilson beating of Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond and a Josh Brittain redirection tally, Syracuse faced a 3-1 deficit in the third. Jared Nightingale, set up by Mike Angelidis, blasted a one-timer home with 12:41 left to bring the Crunch within a goal. A mad scramble in the final moments was capped by Angelidis's tying score with 19.4 seconds left, forcing overtime. Following a scoreless extra frame, Josh Brittain was the only player to score in five rounds of a shootout to clinch an Admirals victory, their first against Syracuse in five meetings this season.

Game 62: Connolly fuels offensive explosion

Syracuse’s offense got off to a hot start in a 6-2 win over Albany Saturday. After one period, the Crunch led the Devils 3-0. Brett Connolly scored first off a Vlad Namestnikov feed. Just 30 seconds later, J.P. Cote scored on a left-point blast. Richard Panik one-timed a Connolly pass on the power play for the third Syracuse goal, as Dan Sexton picked up his first point with Syracuse this season, garnering the secondary helper. In the second, the Crunch scored three times in less than three minutes. J.T. Brown added the fourth goal on a two-on-one with Mike Angelidis. Philip-Michael Devos buried a Connolly rebound and then Connolly scored on the power play for his fourth point of the night. Six Syracuse goals on 21 shots chased Devils goalie Scott Wedgewood aftter two periods. Keith Kincaid held the Crunch scoreless in the third while Riku Helenius allowed two goals in the final frame, spoiling his shutout bid. Helenius finished with 28 saves for his 15th win and third in a row.

Transactions

03/15/2013 Dana Tyrell (RW) DEL Reassigned by Tampa Bay (NHL) to Florida (ECHL)

03/14/2013 Danick Gauthier (LW) ADD Reassigned by Tampa Bay (NHL) from Florida (ECHL)

03/14/2013 Tyler Johnson (C) DEL Recalled from loan by Tampa Bay (NHL)

03/12/2013 Dan Sexton (RW) ADD Loaned from Tampa Bay (NHL); Traded from Anaheim

03/12/2013 Kyle Wilson (C) DEL Traded by Tampa Bay (NHL) to Anaheim (NHL)

03/12/2013 Radko Gudas (D) DEL Recalled from loan by Tampa Bay (NHL)

Notes

- Last week marked the NHL debut of Radko Gudas and Tyler Johnson. Tampa Bay has six players who've played their first NHL game this season (Conacher, Killorn, Panik, Palat, Gudas, Johnson), more than any other NHL club. Johnson and Ondrej Palat scored their first NHL goals Saturday. Eleven players have played for both Syracuse and Tampa Bay this season.

- Brett Connolly's four-point (2g-2a) effort Saturday vs. Albany was the third such performance by a Crunch player this season. J.T. Brown posted three goals and an assist Nov. 25 in Worcester, a 6-1 win over the Sharks, and J.T. Wyman registered three goals and an assist Feb. 15 at Binghamton, a 7-1 Crunch victory. No Syracuse player has posted five points in a game since Dan Sexton (1g, 4a) Nov. 5, 2011 vs. Rochester.

- With teammate Tyler Johnson in the NHL, Connolly is now Syracuse's active leader in goals (26) and points (56). Among active AHL players, Connolly is tied for fifth in goals and third in points.

- Defenseman Jared Nightingale has a three-game scoring streak with a goal and two assists Mar. 9-16. It's his first AHL three-game scoring streak and second as a pro, having notched assists in three straight games for then-ECHL Charlotte Nov. 18-21, 2009. Prior to the current streak, Nightingale had one goal and three assists in 42 games, and now has two goals and five assists in 45 games, plus 114 PIM and a shootout-game winning goal.

- Mike Angelidis has four points in the last two games, his first two multi-point efforts of the season. He had a goal and an assist Friday vs. Norfolk and two assists Saturday vs. Albany. The Crunch captain has 10 goals and 11 assists on the season, and has now reached the 10-goal plateau in each of his first seven pro seasons.

- Vlad Namestnikov also posted his first two multi-point games last week, notching a goal and an assist Friday and two assists Saturday. He also equaled his season high with six shots Friday. The former first-round selection has 14 points (4g, 10a) in his first 30 pro games.

- Philip-Michael Devos is averaging a point per game over the last five Crunch contests, posting two points (1g, 1a) on both Mar. 6 and Mar. 16, plus an assist Mar. 15. He has 21 points (4g, 17a) with a plus-13 in 56 games.

- Riku Helenius has won his last three starts, allowing two goals in each, dropping his season GAA to 2.75.

THE WEEK AHEAD

Crunch vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton—Wednesday, 7 p.m. (TV)

For the eighth and final time this season, the Syracuse Crunch square off with East Division rivals the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Wednesday night at the War Memorial. The Crunch have won four of the first seven contests, including the last two, with all seven games being decided in regulation. The first six games were played before the turn of the calendar, with the only head-to-head match in 2013 resulting in a 3-0 Crunch win Feb. 17.

After three games in four nights for the Penguins last week, including a win over Portland on Saturday, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton plays just twice this: Wednesday against the Crunch and Saturday in Wilkes-Barre vs. Norfolk.

Winners of two straight and six of ten, the Penguins are 34-26-2-1. Their 71 points are third most in the East Division and sixth place in the Eastern Conference, six points clear of the final playoff spot in the conference. Their 63 games played are the most in the Eastern Conference. The Penguins are led by center Chad Kolarik (23g-29a-52pts), center Trevor Smith (18g-23a-41pts), and center Riley Holzapfel (17g-22a-39pts). Kolarik was acquired by the Penguins midseason from the Connecticut Whale and has 17 points (7g, 10a) in 23 games with the Penguins. Goaltender Jeff Zatkoff has played in 40 games, including five against the Crunch with a 3-2 record. Overall he is 20-18-0 with a 2.04 goals-against average-second best in the AHL-and a .917 save percentage.

For the Crunch, no player has more than Brett Connolly’s seven points (3g-4a) in games against the Penguins. Riku Helenius recorded a shutout in his only appearance against WBS this season.

Crunch vs. Hamilton—Friday, 7:30 p.m.

The Crunch play the 1,500th regular season game in franchise history Friday, as former Syracuse goaltender Dustin Tokarski returns to the War Memorial with the Hamilton Bulldogs. Tokarski was sent from Syracuse to Hamilton in a trade between Tampa Bay and Montreal that brought Cedrick Desjardins to the Crunch Feb. 14. Syracuse will be looking to sweep the season series with the Bulldogs, having won 3-0 Nov. 7 in Hamilton, 4-1 Nov. 9 at the Bell Centre in Montreal (home of the parent-club Canadiens) and 5-1 Dec. 9 in Syracuse.

After losing a pair of games in St. John’s over the weekend, Hamilton will close out a four-game road trip with games in Syracuse Friday and Binghamton Saturday.

The Bulldogs have lost three-in-a-row, and are 4-6 in their last ten games, slipping to 24-31-1-5 on the season. With only 54 points, Hamilton is fifth in the North Division and 15th in the Western Conference, one point behind Adirondack for last place in the entire AHL. The Bulldogs active scoring leaders are center Michael Bournival (7g-16a-23pts), right wing Patrick Holland (8g-14a-22pts), and defenseman Nathan Beaulieu (6g-16a-22pts). In fact the Crunch, as the highest scoring team in the league, have nine players (five active players) with as many points (23) as Hamilton’s active leading scorer. Since joining the Bulldongs, Dustin Tokarski is 4-4 with a 1.71 goals-against average, including two shutouts, in nine games. He has split time with Robert Mayer, who is 13-13-3 with a 3.05 goals against average in 31 games this season.

Among active Crunch players, Dmitry Korobov, Mike Angelidis, and Richard Panik lead the way with three points each in the three games against Hamilton. Riku Helenius has two wins, including one shutout versus the Bulldogs.

Crunch vs. Albany—Saturday, 7:30 p.m. (TV)

For the second straight Saturday, and for the final time this season, the Syracuse Crunch and Albany Devils meet at the War Memorial in Syracuse to wrap up a five-game home stand for the Crunch. Syracuse has won five of the first seven matches with Albany, but is just 1-2 at home against the Devils compared to 4-0 in Albany. The Crunch beat the Devils 6-2 on Saturday to get the lone home victory.

After a third straight three-in-three weekend concluded with a 2-0 loss in Bridgeport on Sunday, the Devils play another three-in-three this weekend. They play Friday night in Binghamton, Saturday in Syracuse, then Sunday in Bridgeport to close out a six-game road trip.

Consecutive losses has dropped Albany to ninth place in the Eastern Conference (27-22-1-10), after briefly surging to seventh place with seven wins in nine games Feb. 23-Mar. 15. Albany's 65 points are three short of Hershey and Connecticut who currently own the conference's last two playoff spots. The Devils are led by left wing Joe Whitney (22g-19a-41pts), right wing Matt Anderson (11g-27a-38pts) and center Steve Zalewski (10g-26a-36pts). Keith Kinkaid has seen the majority of the action in goal, going 18-12-5 in 36 games, while Scott Wedgewood has started three of the last four games, going 2-1 in first three AHL games, allowing six goals in two periods against the Crunch Saturday.

For Syracuse, after his four-point (2g-2a) performance on Saturday, Brett Connolly is the active leader with ten points (4g, 6a) in Syracuse's seven games against the Devils. Riku Helenius is a perfect 3-0 against Albany, averaging one goal against in three outings.

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