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Crunch Report: Syracuse wins two out of three games last week

by Staff Writer / Tampa Bay Lightning
LAST WEEK

Fri., Feb. 26 - Crunch vs. Binghamton - W, 3-2

Sat., Feb. 27 - Crunch vs. St. John's - L, 5-1

Sun., Feb. 28 - Crunch at Binghamton - W, 5-4 SO

THIS WEEK

Fri., March 4 - Crunch at Portland - 7 p.m.

Sun., March 6 - Crunch at Springfield - 5 p.m.

NEED TO KNOW

• Syracuse earned four of six points in Week 21 and holds a 22-23-9-2 record (.491), sixth in the North Division.

• The Crunch pulled off their biggest comeback of the season Sunday, winning 5-4 after trailing 3-0 in the third.

• After playing nine consecutive games vs. North Division teams, the next four opponents are from the Atlantic.

News and notes

Matt Taormina was reassigned to the Crunch Monday. The defenseman had been recalled by Tampa Bay Feb. 22 and was a scratch for four games. The All-Star's 11 goals equal a career high and his 31 points are 11th among AHL defensemen. . . . Charie Dodero andBrian Hart were assigned to ECHL-Greenville Monday. . . . Mike Blunden's two goals Sunday in Binghamton give him 18 for the season, tied with Jeff Tambellini for the Crunch lead. Five of Syracuse's multi-goal performances belong to Blunden, a team high.

WEEK IN REVIEW

Game 54: Familiar faces return as Crunch hold on vs. Senators

Matthew Peca posted a goal and an assist in his first game since Jan. 23, helping the Crunch to a 3-2 win over Binghamton Senators Friday at the War Memorial. Linemate Tye McGinn notched two assists and recorded a game-high plus-3. It was McGinn's seventh multi-point game and Peca's fifth.

With his fifth goal of the year, Slater Koekkoek had three points (2g, 1a) in two Crunch games—with three games for Tampa Bay in between. Mike Angelidis scored his sixth goal, his second game-winner of the year. Jeff Tambellini and Tony DeAngelo registered single assists. David Broll registered his team-leading seventh fight.

Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 29 of 31 shots in his third start vs. Binghamton this year. He has seven wins in a Crunch uniform in 12 games with 1.94 goals-against average. Matt O'Connor stopped 21 of 24 Crunch shots.

Game 55: IceCaps' surge drowns Crunch

Adam Erne scored a wraparound goal at 7:18 of the first to put Syracuse ahead 1-0 in the first, but the IceCaps scored the next five goals unanswered for a 5-1 win Saturday at the War Memorial. Tony DeAngleo earned the lone assist on Erne's 11th goal. Kristers Gudlevskis allowed four goals on 44 shots in defeat.

Eddie Pasquale made 29 saves on 30 shots in his seventh win. Joel Hanley had a goal and an assist and was the No. 1 star. Travis Brown scored in his AHL debut, the game-winner, and Alexandre Ranger scored his first. Charles Hudon had two points (1g, 1a). Gabriel Dumont had an empty-net goal and two assists.

Game 56: Late heroics lift Syracuse to shootout victory in Binghamton

Matthew Peca scored the decisive shootout tally in a 5-4 Syracuse win Sunday at Binghamton. The Crunch earned their third win when trailing after two periods (3-17-3-0). All three have come vs. the Senators.

Facing a 3-0 deficit to start the third, Mike Blunden scored power-play goals at 5:42 and 9:32, and Joel Vermin knotted the score at 15:26 on a tip of a Dylan Blujus shot. After Mike Kostka put the Sens in front with 49 seconds to play, Tye McGinn jammed in the rebound of a Jeff Tambellini shot to even the score with nine seconds left. Not since a five-goal first period Dec. 5, 2014, had the Crunch scored four times in one period (113 games ago).

After a scoreless overtime, Blunden scored in the third frame of the shootout to force extras. After Peca scored in the top of the fifth, Casey Bailey couldn't solve Adam Wilcox in the home half. Wilcox allowed one goal on five shootout bids after 28 saves through regulation and overtime for his sixth win.

WEEK AHEAD
Game 58: Fri., March 4 at Portland, 7 p.m.

A transaction-filled Monday sent Portland All-Star goalie Mike McKenna to the Florida Panthers under emergency conditions. McKenna (25-11-2, 2.30) set a franchise record with 12 consecutive wins, Dec. 12-Jan. 22, helping Portland rise to third in the Atlantic Division. The team is 31-20-2-1 (.602), fifth in the conference.

Another All-Star, Fulton native Rob Schremp, has six game-winning goals, second most in the AHL, including one Nov. 18 at Syracuse. He leads the Pirates with 34 points. Schremp and rookie Kyle Rau are tied with 17 goals, but Rau is in the NHL. All-Star Cameron Gaunce is the team's assist leader (21), and top scoring defenseman. Greg McKegg (9g, 12a) and rookie d-man Mike Matheson (5g, 9a) were reassigned to the Pirates by the Panthers Monday.

Game 59: Sun., March 6 at Springfield, 5 p.m.

Springfield, in its first season as Arizona's affiliate, has so far yielded the second highest goals-against average in the league, 3.33, and the smallest point total in the Atlantic Division, 49. At 21-27-3-4 (.445), the Falcons are 14th in the Eastern Conference. They lost Sunday in Portland, 4-2, and visit the Amerks Friday and Comets Saturday before hosting the Crunch Sunday. Syracuse beat Springfield Dec. 26, 3-1, and lost Feb. 6, 6-3.

The Falcons' leading scorer Dustin Jeffrey (46 points in 45 AHL games) was traded to Pittsburgh Monday, leaving Greg Carey as the club's top producer at 37 points. At 24 goals, he's the only player on the active roster with more than 10. Craig Cunningham has 17 but he was recalled by Arizona Monday as Tyler Gaudet was assigned to Springfield. Arizona also traded away veteran d-man Corey Potter who had one of Springfield's better plus-minus ratings (+4).

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