Weekly Syracuse Crunch Roundup 10.15.2013

Tuesday, 10.15.2013 / 5:21 PM
Missy Zielinski  - Lightning Beat Reporter

Last Week

Sat., Oct. 12 - Crunch vs. Rochester - W, 5-1

Sun., Oct. 13 - Crunch vs. W-B/Scranton - L, 6-3

This Week

Fri., Oct. 18 - Crunch vs. Binghamton - 7 p.m.

Sat., Oct. 19 - Crunch at Binghamton - 7:05 p.m.

Need to Know

- Syracuse split two games to open its home slate, beating Rochester, 5-1, and losing to WBS, 6-3.

- Syracuse plays a home-and-home series with Binghamton in Week 3, starting Friday at the War Memorial.

- Led by Nikita Kucherov's hat trick and assist Saturday, four players recorded their first career points last week.

Syracuse split two home games in Week 2, starting with a 5-1 win over Rochester in the Crunch's 20th home opener Saturday. Sunday's affair vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, a rematch of last season's Eastern Conference Finals, ended in a 6-3 loss.

The Crunch play a home-and-home series with Binghamton in Week 3, playing at the War Memorial Friday evening before trekking to Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena Saturday night.

With three points in three games, Syracuse (1-1-1-0) has a .500 points percentage, placing fourth in the East Division and eighth of 15 in the Eastern Conference.

Home-opening success

In 20 home openers, the Crunch have 10 wins, five losses, one shootout loss and four ties. Syracuse is 2-0 against Rochester in home openers, winning 6-1 in 2008 and 5-1 Saturday.

Including Saturday's game, the War Memorial Arena has been sold out for each of the last five Crunch home openers. On September 30, 1994, 6,750 fans packed the War Memorial Arena for the first home opener in team history, a Crunch/War Memorial attendance record that stands today.

Counting penalty minutes

Through three contests, Syracuse averages 35 penalty minutes per game, tied for the second highest average in the AHL. Rochester leads the league at 41.33, a figure bolstered by 72 against Syracuse.

The Crunch have 20 minors, seven majors and three 10-minute misconducts. Luke Witkowski's 17 PIMs (all charged on the same play vs. Rochester) leads the team.

Breaking the ice

Four players marked the scoresheet for the first time in their AHL's careers in Week 2. Saturday at the War Memorial, Nikita Kucherov assisted on J.T. Brown's game opening tally and went on to score Syracuse's last three goals. Artem Sergeev's first pro point was a power-play goal in the second period. Nikita Nesterov had the primary helper on Kucherov's last two goals, his first two AHL points. Sunday, Cedric Paquette scored on a breakaway rebound for his first pro goal.

Sergeev, Pacquette and Luke Witkowski each recorded their first career fights in Week 2.

Breakdown by period

The Crunch have yet to score a first-period goal this season and didn't allow an opening frame tally until Sunday's game against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. In the second period however, the Crunch are outscoring opponents, 8-1, and outshooting them, 48-21. Thanks in large part to the Penguins' five third-period goals Sunday, Syracuse has been outscored 8-3 in the final frame of regulation.

WEEK IN REVIEW

Game 2: Crunch celebrate 20th home opener with pomp and offense

Syracuse defeated Rochester, 5-1, Saturday at the War Memorial Arena before a sellout crowd of 6,167 as the Crunch celebrated their 20th home opener and raised 2012-13 division and championship banners.

Three players recorded their first AHL points: Nikita Kucherov (3g, 1a), Nikita Nesterov (2a) and Artem Sergeev (1g). Other multi-point performers included J.T. Brown (1g, 1a), Vlad Namestnikov (2a) and Matt Taormina (2a).

Riku Helenius earned the win, making 18 saves on 19 shots in his first start of the year. The Crunch fired on net 39 times in the contest, and outshot the Amerks 20-1 in the second frame. Only once during the 2012-13 season did the Crunch hold an opponent to one shot in a period: May 26 vs. W-B/Scranton in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Four of the five Syracuse goals were scored on the power play, the first time they were so productive on the man advantage since Feb. 13, 2013 when Syracuse won at Albany, 6-0, going 4-for-10 on the power play.

Game 3: Penguins explodes in third to beat Crunch, 6-3

Despite a 2-1 lead after two periods, Syracuse suffered its first regulation loss Sunday at the hands of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, 6-3, at the War Memorial. Including an empty netter to cap the scoring, the Penguins scored five goals in the third period, more goals against the Crunch in one frame than any game all of last year.

In the same way the Crunch capitalized on special teams Saturday, the Penguins followed suit Sunday, posting three power play goals and one shorthanded. Tom Kostopoulos was the only player with two goals, both with the man advantage, while Nick Drazenovic was the only player with three points (1g, 2a). Former Crunch defenseman Brendan Mikkelson collected two assists.

Matt Taormina was the lone multi-point performer for Syracuse (1g, 1a), giving the defenseman four points (1g, 3a) in his first two games of the season. Vlad Namestnikov and Cedric Paquette scored second period goals for Syracuse to give the Crunch a lead, but six third-period penalties (including three majors and a misconduct) doomed Syracuse.

Riku Helenius dropped to 1-1 with the loss, making 21 saves on 26 shots while Jeff Deslauriers improved to 3-0 with 26 saves. The Penguins have outscored opponents 10-1 in the third period so far this season, winning all three of their games in come-from-behind fashion.

THE WEEK AHEAD

Crunch vs. Binghamton-Friday, 7 p.m. & at Binghamton-Saturday, 7:05 p.m. (ESPN Radio)

Games 2 and 3 of the Crunch-Senators season series are this weekend: Friday in Syracuse and Saturday in Binghamton. The East Division rivals faced off in the first game of the year, Oct. 5, in Binghamton with the Senators scoring three unanswered goals to win 4-3 in overtime. The Crunch had built a 3-1 lead after two periods, but turnovers and special teams let the B-Sens back in the game.

The Crunch offense was sparked by a line centered by Mike Angelidis, who assisted on Evan Rankin's first goal in a Crunch uniform. Rankin earned a helper on one of Dana Tyrell's two goals.

Binghamton defenseman Cody Ceci, who recorded his first career goal against Syracuse in April, was the only Senator to record multiple points in the contest, including the game-winning goal.

Cedrick Desjardins stopped 35 of 39 shots in the loss opposite Nathan Lawson who made 32 saves on 35 shots to earn his first victory against the Crunch since January of 2012 as a member of the Hamilton Bulldogs.

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