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Catch Up with the Crunch: A Fight for the North Division

by Staff Writer / Tampa Bay Lightning
LAST WEEK

Wed., Nov. 25 - Crunch at Rochester - OTL, 4-3

Fri., Nov. 27 - Crunch vs. Toronto - L, 3-1

Sun., Nov. 29 - Crunch at Bridgeport - W, 4-0

THIS WEEK

Fri., Dec. 4 - Crunch vs. Binghamton - 7 p.m.

Sat., Dec. 5 - Crunch vs. Utica - 7 p.m.

Sun., Dec. 6 - Crunch at Albany - 5 p.m.

NEED TO KNOW

Kristers Gudlevskis posted Syracuse's first shutout of the season with 31 saves in a 4-0 win Sunday in Bridgeport.

• After a 1-1-1-0 Week 8, Syracuse ranks fourth in the division and seventh in the conference at 9-6-2-1 (.583).

• Syracuse faces three division foes in Week 9: Binghamton (2-0) and Utica (1-1) at home, and Albany (0-1) away.

WEEK IN REVIEW
Game 16: Amerks spoil Crunch comeback in overtime, 4-3

The Crunch battled back from a two-goal, third-period deficit, but lost in overtime Wednesday in Rochester, 4-3. Matt Taormina, Mike Angelidis and Jeff Tambelliniprovided the Syracuse goals, while Adam Wilcox stopped 25 shots in his third overtime loss (2-2-3). The Crunch have seven points in five overtime games (2-3).

Taormina's second multi-point game of the year included his fourth goal. Tambellini's marker gives him six for the year, a team best. Mike Blunden set up Angelidis's goal in the third, the captain's first marker of the year and Blunden's third assist. Phil Paradis andJake Dotchin also collected assists.

Tye McGinn notched his third point in as many games (1g, 2a) with the feed to Tambellini from behind the net on the game-tying score; McGinn assisted on Taormina's OT winner Saturday.

Game 17: Toronto sets the pace in 3-1 Syracuse loss

The Toronto Marlies built a 3-0 lead and outshot the Crunch 20-8 through two periods and held on for a 3-1 victory Friday at the War Memorial. Ryan Massa earned a win in his AHL debut with 16 saves, while Kristers Gudlevskis suffered his third loss (4-3-0) in a 27-save effort. Syracuse's 17 shots were its fewest since Dec. 28, 2014.

Tye McGinn scored Syracuse's goal in the third, a power-play score assisted by Anthony DeAngelo. Two of McGinn's three goals are man-up markers, tied for the team lead. Toronto's Sam Carrick was the game's first star, scoring the eventual game-winner and fighting Mike Angelidis, the Crunch captain's second fight of the year.

Game 18: Gudlevskis clamps down for 4-0 Crunch win at Bridgeport

Syracuse captured its first shutout win of the season Sunday in Bridgeport, 4-0, behind 31 saves from Kristers Gudlevskis, the third-year pro's eighth career AHL shutout and first since March 15 also at Bridgeport.

Mike Blunden scored twice, his first multi-goal game of the year and the 37th in his AHL career. Blunden became the sixth Crunch player to record a game-winning goal this year. He has five goals, two on the power-play.

Anthony DeAngelo assisted on Blunden's man-up score, adding to his team lead in power-play points (8 assists) and overall points, 13 (3g, 10a). Other multi-point efforts came from Philippe Paradis (1g, 1a), Tanner Richard (2a) and Nikita Nesterov (2a). Yanni Gourde scored his fourth goal and Matthew Peca notched his fifth assist.

Syracuse's penalty kill was 6-for-6, its most kills in a game this year and its sixth perfect showing.

Tight games

Syracuse's 4-0 win Sunday is the team's largest margin of victory this season. The Crunch had one win by three goals Oct. 30 vs. Hershey, 4-1, and one win by two goals Oct. 28 at Toronto, 3-1. The rest of Syracuse's victories, six, have been one-goal games. Syracuse had 23 one-goal wins last year, third most in the AHL.

Syracuse is one of five AHL teams to have played 11 or more one-goal games (6-2-2-1). The others are Iowa (13), San Antonio (12), Hartford (11) and St. John's (11). No team has a greater percentage of its games decided by one goal than Syracuse, 61.1%. Last year it was 52.6%—with a 23-7-10-0 record in 40 one-goal games.

WEEK AHEAD
Game 19: Fri., Dec. 4 - Crunch vs. Binghamton - 7 p.m.

Syracuse completes the season's first quarter when it meets Binghamton Friday at the War Memorial. The Crunch won the first two of 10 matchups Oct. 17, 2-1, and Nov. 13, 4-3 in overtime, both in Syracuse.

The Senators rank last in the Eastern Conference at 5-12-2-0 (.316) and are winless in four (0-3-1-0). They own the AHL's worst goals-against average, 3.74, surrendering 71 goals in 19 games. The Sens' 430 penalty minute total and 22.63 average rank highest in the league. The Eastern Conference's two most penalized players are Zack Stortini (64 PIM) and Mark Fraser (62 PIM). Fraser was suspended for two games because of a Nov. 27 boarding incident.

Cole Schneider leads the team in points, 15, and goals, nine, including one versus Syracuse. Schneider had five goals and three assists against the Crunch in seven games last year. Rookie Chris Driedger (5-5-0, 2.92) has been recalled by Ottawa, leaving rookie Matt O'Connor (0-7-2, 4.22) and veteran Scott Greenham (0-0-0, 4.92) to tend goal.

Game 20: Sat., Dec. 5 - Crunch vs. Utica - 7 p.m.

The Comets and Crunch have split their first two of 10 meetings, a 4-0 Utica win at the Aud Oct. 24 and a 2-1 Syracuse victory at the War Memorial Nov. 14. After a 7-1 loss at home Wednesday vs. Lehigh Valley, the Comets swept a two-game set in Portland, 4-1 Friday and 6-3 Saturday. They host the Phantoms and the IceCaps this week trailing the Crunch in the standings by one point and by percentage .583 to .526.

Hunter Shinkaruk leads Utica with 19 points (11g, 8a), ninth in the AHL, including 10 power-play points. Joe Cannata (6-5-1, 2.27) has appeared in 12 of 19 Comets games and his goals-against average ranks 10th in the AHL. His first and only AHL shutout came versus Syracuse Oct. 24. Richard Bachman (2-2-0, 3.03) is the backup.

Game 21: Sun., Dec. 6 - Crunch at Albany - 5 p.m.

Syracuse visits Albany Sunday to cap its second three-in-three weekend of the year. The Crunch lost to the Devils, 4-3, Nov. 6 in Syracuse in the first of six meetings. Albany's .711 points percentage ranks second in the North Division and third in the Eastern Conference. The Devils have three straight wins and one regulation loss in nine games since facing Syracuse (7-1-1-0).

Rookie Matt Lorito leads the Devils in scoring with 19 points, fifth among AHL rookies. He ranks second in the AHL for both power-play points (12) and power-play assists (10). Mike Sislo leads the AHL in power-play goals, seven, adding three at even strength and one shorthanded. Veteran Yann Danis (11-2-3, 1.86) has started all but three games for Albany, leading the AHL in minutes (967) and posting the conference's best goals-against average.

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