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Crunch Report: Two prospects make debut for Syracuse

by Staff Writer / Tampa Bay Lightning
LAST WEEK

Fri., April 8 - Crunch vs. Albany - SOL, 4-3

Sat., April 9 - Crunch vs. Toronto - W, 3-2 SO

THIS WEEK

Fri., April 15 - Crunch at Utica - 7 p.m.

Sat., April 16 - Crunch vs. Utica - 7 p.m. (TV)

Sun., April 17 - Crunch at Lehigh Valley - 5:05 p.m.

NEED TO KNOW

• Syracuse holds a 32-27-10-4 record (.534) with three games remaining in its 22nd season, but is not playoffs bound.

• Fourteen Crunch alumni are listed on the Tampa Bay Lightning postseason roster, plus head coach Jon Cooper.

• Six prospects have joined the Crunch, and two—Mitchell Stephens and Dominik Masin—debuted in Week 27.

WEEK IN REVIEW

Pro debuts

Two players made their professional debuts with Syracuse last week, center Mitchell Stephens and defenseman Dominik Masin. Both are 19 years old and both were second-round draft picks of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Stephens, from Peterborough, Ontario, made his debut Friday vs. Albany and scored his first pro goal Saturday vs. Toronto on a game-high five shots. He posted 38 points (20g, 18a) in 39 OHL games this season. Masin, from Mestec Kralove, Czech Republic, was even in his debut Saturday. He was plus-24 with 40 points in 57 OHL games.

Shootouts examined

Kristers Gudlevskis' 5-for-5 shootout effort Sunday improving his season shootout save percentage to .846 (11-for-13), and career mark to .774 (41-for-53). Gudlevskis is 4-6 in 10 career shootouts, 1-2 this year. Rookie Adam Wilcox is also 1-2 in shootouts with four goals allowed on 10 shots against.

Crunch shooters are 3-for-23 (.130, 26th) this season in six shootouts with Joel Vermin andMatthew Peca potting the two game-winners. Mike Blunden had the other shootout goal which led to Peca's winner Feb. 28.

Syracuse won each of its three shootouts in 2014-15, but lost nine of 12 in 2013-14. The 2012-13 Crunch were 4-5. The most successful shootout performer was Ondrej Palat in 2012-13 when he was 4-for-6.

WEEK IN REVIEW

Game 72: Devils escape Syracuse with shootout win

Paul Thompson scored the lone goal in the shootout to give Albany a 4-3 win over Syracuse Friday at the War Memorial. The six-game season series between the teams finishes in Albany's favor, 10 points to 3.

Yanni Gourde (14) opened the scoring 9:29 into the first, converting on a between-the-legs pass from Adam Erne. The Devils tied it at 12:10, as Brian O'Neill slapped home a shot from the high slot. Erne (14) gave the Crunch the lead back in the second on a wrap-around goal. Albany's Matt Lorito tied it eight minutes later. Ryan Kujawinski gave Albany its first lead 2:05 into the third. Three minutes later, Tanner Richard (11) fired home a rebound to tie the game, 3-3. Erne had a fight in the third to complete his first Gordie Howe hat trick.

Scott Wedgewood (12-2-3) earned his third win this month since returning from New Jersey, making 22 saves on 25 shots, plus all three shootout bids. Kristers Gudlevskis (15-11-7) took the shootout loss, fending off 29 of 32 shots. Gudlevskis went 1-1-0-1 in five appearances against Albany this season.

Game 73: Vermin provides shootout marker to beat Toronto

Syracuse ended its season series with Toronto in the same way it began: A low-scoring victory. The Crunch captured a 3-2 shootout win Saturday at the War Memorial, 202 days after a 3-1 victory at Ricoh Coliseum Oct. 28. In between, the Marlies beat the Crunch six times en route to the AHL's best record.

Joel Vermin potted the only shootout goal in the fifth round, his first career shootout marker on his fourth attempt. No Marlie solved Kristers Gudlevskis in the shootout, and the Crunch goalie turned away 32 of 34 shots for his 16th win in 39 games. Jeff Tambellini and Mitchell Stephens scored Syracuse's goals, Tambellini's team-leading 27th in 62 games and Stephens' first in his second professional game. David Broll notched an assist on the second score.

The Crunch goals, both in the first period, erased an early 1-0 deficit. Shane Conacher scored the first Toronto goal, Mark Arcobello tied the game early in the third to force overtime. Syracuse is 4-14 in 18 overtime games.

Neither side scored a power-play goal, and Syracuse went without a man-up chance for the second time this season (Jan. 18 at Rochester). Luke Witkowski's fight with Taylor Doherty was his fifth of the season, pushing his penalty minute total to a team-high 131. Witkowski's plus-3 leads Crunch blueliners; only Yanni Gourde is higher at plus-8.

WEEK AHEAD

Game 74: Fri., April 15 at Utica, 7 p.m. and Game 75: Sat., April 16 vs. Utica, 7 p.m.

The Comets have clinched third place in the North Division and will face either Toronto or Albany in the Calder Cup Playoffs. Utica has one win in four games after a 7-1 loss Sunday at St. John's. Syracuse has beat the Comets in the last two meetings, both at the Aud, 3-1 March 23 and 7-3 April 3. The Galaxy Cup series is tied, 4-4, with two to play. Each side has won twice at home and twice on the road.

Alexandre Grenier leads the team at 47 points (16g, 31a) but had a scoring streak snapped Sunday at seven games. He has 16 points (4g, 12a) in the last 13 games, plus a team-high seven points (3g, 4a) in seven games vs. Syracuse. Andrey Pedan (+19) and Brendan Gaunce (15g, 18a) were reassigned to Utica Tuesday after stints with Vancouver.

Goalies Joe Cannata (19-12-2, 2.55) and Richard Bachman (16-12-5, 2.74) have put Utica 14th in goals-against average at 2.86 (compared to a 10th-ranked offense at 2.95). Bachman gave up seven goals in Sunday's loss, snapping a three-game win streak. Cannata gave up seven goals in his 7-3 loss to Syracuse April 3.

Game 76: Sun., April 17 at Lehigh Valley, 5:05 p.m.

The Flyers' AHL affiliate ranks seventh in the Atlantic Division at 33-33-4-3. The Phantoms have missed the playoffs in each of their first two seasons in Allentown. The Crunch have a point in each of five meetings (4-0-0-1) since the team relocated from Glens Falls, New York in 2014. Over the last five seasons, Syracuse is 17-6-2-4.

Lehigh Valley has won six of its last seven games with two shutouts and a 3.71 goals per game average. For the season, the Phantoms score 2.84 goals per game, 15th in the AHL. Veteran Chris Conner, 32, leads the team in scoring at 54 points (16g, 38a) despite missing 17 games. Taylor Leier is second in points (49) and goals (20). Danick Martel owns the team lead in goals, 21, sixth among all rookies, but is minus-13 in 65 games.

Anthony Stolarz, Lehigh Valley's lone All-Star representative, owns a 20-16-7 record. He was winless in six starts March 4-April 9 but won his last game, Sunday in Bridgeport with 27 saves on 28 shots. He saved 51 March 2 at Syracuse, tied for the most saves in an AHL game this year; Linus Ullmark stopped 51 shots Feb. 20, also vs. Syracuse.

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