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Crunch Report: Syracuse starts season with two wins

The Lightning's AHL affiliate scored 10 goals in two games last weekend.

by Press Release /

No team scored more goals than Syracuse's 10 in the AHL's opening week. The Crunch (2-0-0-0) defeated Rochester 4-1 Saturday at home and 6-3 Sunday on the road. 

Sat., Oct. 15 - Crunch vs. Rochester - W, 4-1
Sun., Oct. 16 - Crunch at Rochester - W, 6-3

Fri., Oct. 21 - Crunch vs. Utica - 7 p.m.
Sat., Oct. 22 - Crunch at W-B/Scranton - 7:05 p.m.

Syracuse starts 23rd season 2-0
No team scored more goals than Syracuse's 10 in the AHL's opening week. The Crunch (2-0-0-0) defeated Rochester 4-1 Saturday at home and 6-3 Sunday on the road. . . . Sixteen Crunch skaters registered at least one point in Week 1, and eight registered multiple points. . . . Goalies Kristers Gudlevskis and Adam Wilcox earned the wins, facing 21 shots each. The Crunch are first in shots against (21.0). . . . Benoit Groulx is 2-0 as ninth head coach in Crunch history. He was 46-19-2-1 last year as head coach of the Gatineau Olympiques in the QMJHL.

Top Performers
Cory Conacher's four points (1g, 3a) pace Syracuse through two games. Playing in a Crunch uniform Saturday for the first time since Jan. 11, 2013, Conacher garnered an assist and No. 3 star. On Sunday he was the No. 1 star with a goal and two assists. . . . Conacher, 26, has 32 points (13g, 19a) in 38 career games with the Crunch, including seven multi-point efforts. He began his Crunch career with an eight-game scoring streak, Oct. 12-Nov. 2, 2012. He was AHL MVP and Rookie of the Year in 2011-12.

Three players are tied for Crunch lead with two goals apiece. Matthew Peca recorded two goals, including the game-winner, Sunday in Rochester. Michael Bournival and Joel Verminrecorded goals Saturday and Sunday. . . . Peca had eight goals in 65 games last year as a rookie. Vermin has 24 goals in 120 career AHL games. Bournival, who averaged 0.46 goals per game in junior hockey (93/201), has 0.14 goals per game as a professional (28/195). 

Adam Erne was Saturday's hero with a power-play goal to open the scoring and the primary assist on the Crunch's second goal, the eventual game-winner, scored by Tye McGinn. Erne added an assist in Sunday's game for three points in two games. Erne, 21, had 29 points as a rookie (14g, 15a) in 59 games.

Four players made their Crunch debuts in Week 1, and all four registered points: Michael Bournival (2g), Gabriel Dumont (2a), Mike Halmo (1a) and Erik Condra (1a). Those players have combined for 1,330 pro games. Condra, who played all of last season with Tampa Bay, is the 39th player to appear in games for both the Lightning and the Crunch under the current affiliation (since 2012).

Two players on the Crunch active roster have yet to play their first regular season games for Syracuse, Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond and Jeremy MorinAdam Comrie, who was loaned to ECHL-Kalamazoo Monday, also could make his Crunch debut this year.

Special Teams
The Crunch power play is 3-for-10 to begin the season, seventh in the AHL at 30.0%. Only Toronto and Grand Rapids have scored more man-up markers (6). Erne scored Saturday's power-play goal and assisted on Peca's power-play goal Sunday. Syracuse is one of nine AHL teams with a perfect penalty kill (11-for-11). No shorthanded goals have been scored by or against Syracuse.

Strong Second
Seven of Syracuse's 10 goals in the first two games have come in the second period. Saturday's four-goal second period equaled the team's high for any period from all of last year. No team has totaled seven goals in any period this season. Last year the Crunch scored 37% of their goals in the third period (79 of 213).

The Crunch and Lightning swapped defensemen Wednesday, with Matt Taormina heading to Tampa and Slater Koekkoek  coming to Syracuse.

On Monday defenseman Adam Comrie and forward Brian Hart were moved from Syracuse to the club's new ECHL affiliate, the Kalamazoo Wings.

Upcoming: Friday vs. Utica, Saturday at WBS
Syracuse hosts Utica (0-2-0-0) Friday, the first of 12 matches between the North Division rivals. The Crunch won both preseason games with the Comets. Utica, affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks, dropped two contests in Toronto to start its season, both by 5-2 margins. Three Comets recorded multiple points in Week 1: Jordan Subban (2g, 2a), Michael Chaput (3a) and Alexandre Grenier (1g, 1a). Richard Bachman and rookie Thatcher Demko each allowed five goals. Bachman was 3-1 vs. Syracuse last season. The Crunch were 4-5-1-0 vs. the Comets in 2015-16.

Saturday features the Crunch and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (1-0-0-0) at Mohegan Sun Arena. The Pens lost in last season's Atlantic Division Finals to conference champion Hershey. Last season's team leader, Carter Rowney, had two points in the Pens' first game, a 6-2 victory over Hartford. Rookie Jake Guentzel had four points (1g, 3a) in the win. Goalie Tristan Jarry made 24 saves. The Crunch were 2-2-0-0 against WBS last season.

Week 1 Results

Saturday, October 15 | Game 1 vs. Rochester | W, 4-1
Rochester    0-0-1 - 1   Shots: 10-4-7-21   PP: 0/4
Syracuse    0-4-0 - 4   Shots: 13-18-13-44   PP: 1/4
2nd Period-Erne 1 (Blujus, Peca), 3:55 (PP). McGinn 1 (Erne, Witkowski), 13:01. Vermin 1 (Conacher, Dumont), 17:05. Bournival 1 (Dumont, Dotchin), 17:27. . . . Gudlevskis 1-0-0 (21 shots-20 saves). 

Sunday, October 16 | Game 2 at Rochester | W, 6-3
Syracuse    2-1-3 - 6   Shots: 10-14-6-30   PP: 2/6
Rochester    1-1-1 - 3   Shots: 6-8-7-21   PP: 0/7
1st Period-Gourde 1 (Richard, Halmo), 16:11. Peca 1 (Conacher), 19:14. 2nd Period-Bournival 2 (Dotchin, Walcott), 0:39. Peca 2 (Conacher, Erne), 10:26 (PP). Conacher 1 (Vermin, Taormina), 15:14. 3rd Period-Vermin 2 (Condra, Richard), 16:06 (PP). . . . Wilcox 1-0-0 (21 shots-18 saves).

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