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Crunch Report: Syracuse holds second place in North

The Lightning's AHL affiliate is four points behind division-leading Toronto with six games left

by Press Release / Syracuse Crunch

The Crunch captured four of six possible points in Week 25 (1-0-0-2), with a 6-1 win at Binghamton followed by consecutive 3-2 shootout losses vs. Toronto. 

Entering the 26th and penultimate week of the season, Syracuse is second in the North Division (34-23-6-7), four points behind Toronto with a game in hand. 

The Crunch's magic number (points to clinch a playoff spot) stands at six with six games remaining. Syracuse plays at Albany Wednesday and at Binghamton Friday before a Saturday home bout with the Devils.

Top Performers

Erik Condra led the Crunch in Week 25 with three points: a goal March 29 at Binghamton (13), and one assist in each game vs. Toronto. The Crunch captain has 43 points (13g, 30a) in 50 AHL games this season. Condra had not scored a goal in 12 games-since his first career hat trick Feb. 25. He has six points (1g, 5a) in the last eight games.

Center Kevin Lynch scored twice last week (4, 5) for seven points in 31 games with Syracuse this year. Lynch, 25, had six goals in 83 career Crunch games prior to Week 25. Lynch has played more career games for Syracuse than any other pro team in 266 appearances. 

Tanner Richard returned from injury March 29 in Binghamton after missing 20 games due to injury. The centerman had an assist against the Sens and a goal (13) Saturday vs. Toronto. Thirteen goals equals Richard's career high set in 2014-15. 

In 42 games with the Crunch this year Richard has 29 points (13g, 16a) in 42 games. He was Syracuse's top scorer last year with a career-best 54 points (11g, 43a) in 71 games. He has played 256 games with Syracuse, seven short of Mike Angelidis for most in the Lightning era.

Rookie blueliner Ben Thomas had two points last week, including his third goal of the year and first since Feb. 19. He has nine points (2g, 7a) in that 18-game span with a plus-6.

Four Crunch players recorded multi-point games in Week 25. Tye McGinn notched two assists Sunday in his 251st career AHL game. He has 13 points (7g, 6a) in 16 games, with two multi-point efforts.

Three defensemen had two assists at Binghamton: Matt Taormina, Slater Koekkoek and Mathieu Brodeur. Taormina has 13 multi-point games, one short of Cory Conacher for the team lead. It was the first for Koekkoek and Broduer.

Goaltenders

Mike McKenna has a 1.72 goals-against average and .931 save percentage over his last four starts with a 2-1-0-1 record. He appeared in five straight games until Kristers Gudlevskis' start and shootout loss Saturday. In the game, Gudlevskis stopped an overtime penalty shot for the second time in his career (Brendan Leipsic).
The previous try was Nov. 6, 2013, vs. Penguin Harry Zolnierczyk.

Syracuse goalies are 2-7 in shootouts and 12-for-26 (.462) on shootout attempts, 28th in the league.

The Tampa Bay signed goalie Connor Ingram to an entry-level contract Tuesday. He joins the Crunch on an amateur tryout contract. Ingram, 20, was selected by the Lightning in the third round, 88th overall, in 2016. With the WHL's Kamloops Blazers, Ingram was 26-14-2. He was 34-15-9 last year. The Saskatchewan native had a 2.68 goals-against average in 158 career WHL games.

Upcoming: Albany, Binghamton

The Devils, who host the Crunch Wednesday and visit Syracuse Saturday, have one win in their last nine games (1-5-1-2). Albany is 35-20-2-3-a points tie with Utica for fourth best in the North Division. The season series between Syracuse and Albany is tied at seven points apiece (3-2-1-0). The home team has won each meeting.

John Quenneville, tied for 11th in the league among rookies, leads Albany at 42 points (13g, 29a). He's also pocketed four points (3g, 1a) versus Syracuse. In 12 NHL games this year he has a goal and four points. Ben Sexton leads the team with 19 goals. He and Brian Gibbons have five points against the Crunch. Wingers Luke Gazdic and Ben Thomson were recalled by New Jersey Tuesday.

Rookies Mackenzie Blackwood (13-13-4, 2.68) and Ken Appleby (17-13-1, 2.55) have alternated starts over the last nine games and have each made 31 appearances this season. Appleby is 2-1-1 against the Crunch. 

Binghamton ranks last in the division and 29th in the league at 26-40-2-2. Syracuse visits the Senators Friday for the last time before Ottawa relocates its affiliate to Belleville, Ontario next season. The Crunch lead the season series by points, 9-8, with a 4-3-0-1 record. The Sens split two games at St. John's after a four-game skid.

Colin White, Ottawa's first-round pick in 2015, had an assist against Syracuse in his pro debut Mar. 29. He had 76 points (35g, 41a) over two seasons at Boston College.

Binghamton's top scorers are Phil Varone (49 points in 59 games; 13 points in eight games versus Syracuse) and Jason Akeson (48 points in 52 games). Max McCormick and Casey Bailey lead the team in goals (20). Matt O'Connor (13-18-2, 3.23) is 3-1-0 vs. Syracuse with a 3.01 G.A.A. Chris Driedger (11-18-2, 3.25) is 1-2-0 vs. Syracuse with a 3.90 G.A.A. 

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