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Minor League Report: March 31

by Blue Jackets Staff / Columbus Blue Jackets

2008-09 RECORD: 38-31-4-2, 82 points, (23-11-2-0 home, 15-20-2-2 road), fourth place, North Division


THIS WEEK'S GAMES

Friday, April 3 vs. Rockford (37-31-0-6, 80 points) fourth place, West Division
Saturday, April 4 vs. Rochester (26-40-0-8, 60 points), seventh place, North Division


LAST WEEK'S RESULT

Tuesday, March 24 - Crunch 2, MANITOBA 1
Wednesday, March 25 - MANITOBA 5, Crunch 3
Friday, March 27 - San Antonio 4, CRUNCH 1
Saturday, March 28 - CRUNCH 8, Lake Erie 5
Sunday, March 29 - Crunch 4, TORONTO 3 (SO)
HOME TEAM IN CAPS


YOUNG GUN GETTING IT DONE:
The Syracuse Crunch are at the point in their season when they need young players to step up. 18-year old rookie Nikita Filatov has done just that at a very important time.

Filatov appeared in all five games for the Crunch last week, racking up seven points (3g, 4a) while helping his team to a 3-2-0-0 record and vaulting them into a fourth place tie with Toronto for the North Division's final playoff spot.

Filatov factored in on both Crunch goals with two helpers in a tight 2-1 come-from-behind win on Tuesday in Manitoba. After being held scoreless in back-to-back games Wednesday and Friday, Filatov exploded for a three-point effort (1g, 2a) in an 8-5 win over Lake Erie Saturday, good enough to earn him second star honors.

The Moscow, Russia native capped his weekend by tallying two regulation goals, both of the power play variety and a goal in the shootout in the Crunch's biggest game of the season to date in a 4-3 win at Toronto Sunday. For his effort, he was named the game's third star.

The 6-0, 172 lb. center has appeared in 39 games with the Crunch this season, notching 16 goals, 16 assists and 24 penalty minutes. Filatov was drafted by Columbus in the first round, eighth overall, in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.


I LIKE MIKE:
When the Columbus Blue Jackets traded Adam Pineault to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Mike Blunden on January 10 and assigned him to Syracuse, they were hoping it would give the 22-year old a fresh start with a new organization.

For Blunden, that has come true, and the Toronto, Ontario native has been very good for the Crunch, especially lately. After just three points (1g, 2a) in his first 12 games with Syracuse, Blunden has racked up 16 points (7g, 9a) over his last 22 games, including five points (3g, 2a) in his last two contests.

Blunden has consistently been a force up front, especially on the power play, using his size (6-4, 207 lbs.) to wreak havoc in front of the net. He notched the game-tying goal on a breakaway on Sunday at Toronto, a contest the Crunch eventually won in a shootout to move into a fourth-place tie with the Marlies for the North Division’s final playoff spot.

 
POWERING UP:
Although the Syracuse Crunch power play has struggled throughout a large portion of this season, the club has been very good with the man-advantage lately.

The Crunch tied a season-high with three power play goals Sunday at Toronto. Syracuse has notched at least one power play goal in four straight games and is 7-for-23 (30.43%) with the man advantage over that span.

In the bigger picture, the Crunch have scored at least one power play goal in nine of their last 10 games and are 12-for-39 (30.77%) over that span.

The Crunch are now 60-for-401 (14.96 %) on the power play this season and are now ranked 24th in the AHL in that category.


CRUNCH SIGN RIGHT WING MATT KENNEDY:
The Syracuse Crunch announced today that they have signed right wing Matt Kennedy to an amateur tryout contract. Kennedy, 20, appeared in 67 games with Guelph (OHL) this season, tallying 33 goals, 40 assists and 95 penalty minutes. A native of Horseshoe Valley, Ontario, Kennedy has appeared in 188 games for Guelph over the past four seasons, notching 61 goals, 56 assists and 303 penalty minutes. In addition, Kennedy served as Guelph’s team captain this season.



THIS WEEK'S OPPONENTS:

ROCKFORD ICE HOGS (CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS):
The Crunch welcome in Rockford for the second of two meetings between these two clubs this season. Syracuse won the only other contest of the year, taking a 3-2 decision back on November 1 at the Rockford MetroCentre on the strength of three points (2g, 1a) from Jonathan Sigalet, who tallied the game-winner with nine seconds left in regulation. Steve Mason made one of his three starts with the Crunch, stopping 22 shots in the win. Evan Brophey and Niklas Hjalmarsson tallied for Rockford in the loss. Tim Brent (20g, 37a), currently leads the IceHogs in scoring, while Antti Niemi, who was the starter for Rockford against the Crunch in their first meeting, has gone 17-12-5 with a 2.35 goals against average, .913 save percentage and two shutouts this season.

ROCHESTER AMERICANS (FLORIDA PANTHERS): The Rochester Americans come to town on Saturday for the fifth of six meetings at the War Memorial at Oncenter and tenth of twelve overall games between the two clubs this year. The Crunch are 6-3-0-0 in the nine previous games this season and have dominated the Amerks in recent years, going 27-14-1-3 over the past five campaigns, including a 10-2-0-0 mark against Rochester in 2007-08. Mike York (1g, 8a), paces the Crunch in scoring against the Americans this season, while current Syracuse netminders Dan LaCosta and Kevin Lalande have combined to go 6-1-0 with a 1.50 goals against average against Rochester this year. Amerks' second-leading scorer Janis Sprukts leads all Rochester players in scoring against the Crunch this season with six points (1g, 5a), while goaltender Mike Brodeur is 3-3-0 with a 2.34 goals against average and .927 save percentage in the season series.


CRUNCHABLES:

The Crunch play four of their final five games at the War Memorial at Oncenter… Syracuse finished its eight games in ten days stretch with a 5-3-0-0 record… Mike York is currently riding a four-game point streak with four points (1g, 3a) during that span.

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