The Syracuse Crunch had another action-packed week of hockey with three games in three nights. Syracuse opened up its week with a loss at Binghamton to the Senators. The team then travelled to Bridgeport where they split games with the Sound Tigers. After going 1-2-0 this past week, Syracuse’s record now sits at 24-11-5 as they remain in fourth place in the Eastern Conference and second in the Northeast Division. They trail the Springfield Falcons by three points for the top seed in the division.
On Friday, January 16, the Crunch took on the Senators in Binghamton. It was a night that the Crunch will not want to remember as they were overpowered by the Senators 5-0. There were a few bright spots for the Crunch, however. Kristers Gudlevskis came into the game at 2:53 of the second period and stone walled the Senators for the rest of the game as he stopped all 21 shots he faced.
There was not much time to dwell on the previous game as Syracuse was right back at it the next night in Bridgeport. The Crunch came out flying, notching three unanswered tallies. Assistant captain Joey Mormina kicked off the scoring fest for Syracuse with his power-play marker. Slater Koekkoek, Mike Blunden, Tanner Richard, Vladislav Namestnikov and Mike Angelidis all potted singles in the 6-2 thrashing of the Sound Tigers. Both Blunden (one goal and two assists) and Jonathan Marchessault (three helpers) finished the game with three points. Gudlevskis was between the pipes, and he thwarted 24 of 26 Bridgeport attempts to record a .923 save percentage.
The teams would meet again on Sunday afternoon with Bridgeport taking a 2-1 victory. Dalton Smith scored the lone goal of the match for the Crunch. Vasilevskiy was back in the blue paint and turned in a solid performance, stopping 21 of 23 shots and registering a .913 save percentage.
Second year Crunch forward Jonathan Marchessault has been one of the driving forces behind Syracuse’s offense this season. He showcased his offensive prowess this past weekend with a three-point night against the Binghamton Senators. The Québec City, Québec, native leads the Crunch in scoring this year with 10 goals and 36 points through 39 games. Syracuse Assistant Coach Stacy Roest has noticed improvement in Marchessault’s two-way game. “He is used in all situations…he’s relied on more,” Roest said. “He’s learned that a strong two-way game can lead to more offense.” Marchessault is currently tied with Montréal prospect Charles Hudon for fifth overall in the AHL for points. Two seasons ago (2012-13), Marchessault finished sixth overall in scoring when he played for the Springfield Falcons. If he manages to remain in the top ten, he will be the first member of the Crunch to do so since Tyler Johnson and Brett Connolly.
Syracuse will return home this week for a mini three-game homestand. The Crunch will play hosts to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (19-14-4) on Friday, January 23. The Northeast Divisional rival Hartford Wolf Pack (22-12-3) roll in to town on Saturday night before the AHL All-Star game. Syracuse’s Vladislav Namestnikov and Nikita Nesterov have been selected to represent the Eastern Conference in Monday’s tilt.