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Catch Up with the Crunch - October 21st

by Staff Writer / Tampa Bay Lightning
LAST WEEK

Sat., Oct. 17 - Crunch vs. Binghamton - W, 2-1

Sun., Oct. 18 - Crunch at Hartford - L, 5-2

THIS WEEK

Fri., Oct. 23 - Crunch vs. Hartford - 7 p.m.

Sat., Oct. 24 - Crunch at Utica - 7 p.m.

Sun., Oct. 25 - Crunch at Rochester - 5:05 p.m.

NEED TO KNOW

- The Crunch played their first home game Saturday, a 2-1 win vs. Binghamton, with Jeff Tambellini scoring twice.

- After a home game Friday vs. Hartford, the Crunch visit new North Division rivals Utica and Rochester this weekend.

- Jeff Tambellini, Jonathan Marchessault and Philippe Paradis lead the Crunch with two goals each.

WEEK IN REVIEW
Game 2: Tambellini propels Crunch to home-opener win

Jeff Tambellini last scored a goal in an AHL game Nov. 19, 2011. On Saturday, his first game in the War Memorial Arena, he scored two in a 2-1 Syracuse win vs. Binghamton. The 31-year-old center zipped a right-circle shot inside the right post 16 seconds into the game. Adam Erne sprung the play with a neutral zone bank pass, his first point of the year. Dylan Blujus notched his third assist of the season with the secondary helper.

Cole Schneider tied the game with a shorthanded breakaway goal in the second, the only blemish on Kristers Gudlevskis' ledger. The third-year goalie made 27 saves to bump his save percentage to .930 and trim his goals-against average to 2.00. Tye McGinn fought Colin Greening late in the first, the Crunch's first fight.

Tambellini scored the game-winner with under three minutes remaining in regulation. Seconds after a power-play expired, Mike Blunden helped the puck to Anthony DeAngelo who walked to the middle of the ice before feeding right to Tambellini. Daniel Walcott made his Crunch debut and Joey Mormina made his season debut.

Game 3: Wolf Pack hand Crunch first loss

Matthew Peca scored his first goal of the season in the first, but the Wolf Pack scored the next four in a row in a 5-2 Hartford victory Sunday at XL Center.

Rookie goalie Adam Wilcox, making his first appearance for the Crunch this season, stopped all seven Hartford shots in the first, but Marek Hrivik and Jayson Megna struck in quick succession in the second. Ryan Bourque and Brian Gibbons extended the Hartford lead in the third to 4-1.

Philippe Paradis got the Crunch within 4-2 in the final minutes with Wilcox on the bench for an extra attacker, but a 190-foot shorthanded empty-net goal from Tommy Hughes sealed the win for Magnus Hellberg who stopped 33 of 35 Crunch shots. Wilcox made 28 saves, as his team's penalty kill was 5-for-6; the power play was 0-for-4.

Joel Vermin, Jake Dotchin, Matt Taormina and Tye McGinn each collected assists in the game.

First goals

The Crunch have scored the first goal in each of their first three games, one of four AHL clubs to do so (Ontario, 3/3; San Antonio, 3/3; San Diego, 2/2). Bridgeport leads the league in first goals with five in six games. Seventeen clubs are perfect when scoring first, including Bridgeport; the league points percentage is .877 for first goals.

Last season the Crunch scored 45 first goals (fifth most in the AHL) and won 29 of those games. Their .700 points percentage when scoring first ranked 24th in the league. On average, AHL teams owned a .744 points percentage when scoring a game's first goal.

WEEK AHEAD
Game 4: Fri., Oct. 23 - Crunch vs. Hartford - 7 p.m.

The Crunch complete a home-and-home series with the Wolf Pack Friday at the War Memorial Arena. The meeting also concludes the two-game season series against the New York Rangers' AHL team.

Leading the Pack in scoring are Brian Gibbons (2g, 2a), Chard Nehring (2g, 2a) and Adam Tambellini (2g, 1a), the younger brother of Syracuse's Jeff Tambellini. Magnus Hellberg has started each of Hartford's four games (3-1-0), all at home, posting a 1.75 goals-against average and .947 save percentage.

Game 5: Sat., Oct. 24 - Crunch at Utica - 7 p.m.

Syracuse renews its rivalry with Utica Saturday at the Aud, a rivalry that matters in the standings for the first time. Now competing in the same division and conference, the teams will face off 10 times this year.

The Comets reached the Calder Cup Finals last season, losing to Manchester, and split the season series with Syracuse (three wins apiece). The Comets enter the week winless (0-2-0-0) and outscored, 5-1.

Many of last season's Comets have moved up or moved on, including former captain and leading scorer Cal O'Reilly, who's now Rochester's captain, Brandon DeFazio who's now in Providence, defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti, now on Buffalo's roster, and Cory Conacher, who joined Bern in Switzerland.

The top returner is right wing Alexandre Grenier who had 43 points (17g, 26a) last year; he's scoreless this season. Joe Cannata, who was 3-2-0 in goal last year, has suffered both losses this season. Last year's featured Utica goalies were Jacob Markstrom, now in Vancouver, and Joacim Eriksson, now playing for Riga in the KHL.

Game 6: Sun., Oct. 25 - Crunch at Rochester - 5:05 p.m.

The Amerks and Crunch each had four regulation wins in their 2014-15 season series, but like Utica, Rochester has left the Western Conference to join the Crunch in the Eastern Conference's North Division.

After a fifth-place finish in the division and 14th out of 15 in the conference in 2014-15 (29-41-5-1), the Amerks have started this year beating Lake Erie, 6-3, and Utica, 2-1, at home and dropping two at St. John's, 5-2 and 6-2.

Veteran Matt Ellis and rookie Jean Dupuy tie for the Amerks scoring lead with four points each. Phil Varone, who led Rochester with 44 points last year, has a goal and two assists so far this year. Offseason pickups include Jason Akeson from the Flyers organization (23g, 30a) and Cal O'Reilly from the Canucks (10g, 51a).

Nathan Lieuwen (1-0), Andrey Makarov (0-1) and rookie Linus Ullmark (1-1) have each started in goal.

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