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Crunch Time: Syracuse gets three out of four points last weekend

by Doug Spencer / Tampa Bay Lightning

The Crunch collected three of a possible four points last weekend as they continued their red-hot start to the new year. Syracuse closed out their five-game road trip with a 3-2 OT loss to Hartford before returning back to the Onondaga County War Memorial Arena, where they downed Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 4-3. The team has gone 3-0-1 so far in 2015 and their overall record now sits at 23-9-5, which is good for fourth in the Eastern Conference and second in the Northeast Division.

Syracuse opened their weekend with a stop in Hartford to take on the Wolf Pack. After Hartford jumped out to a two goal lead, Henri Ikonen cut the deficit in half a minute after the second Wolf Pack goal. Rookie defenseman Dylan Blujus scored his first professional goal to knot the game at 3:58 of the third period. The teams would stay deadlocked until 2:34 of overtime, when Hartford prevailed. Andrei Vasilevskiy turned in another fantastic performance, shutting the door on 35 of 38 Hartford attempts. He registered a .921 save percentage in the game.

The Crunch were finally able to return home for their first game in Syracuse in 2015 against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. The Crunch took the lead early with a tally from Philippe Paradis at 4:16 of the first. At the start of the second period Vasilevskiy took over in net for the Crunch. The team followed-up with three unanswered goals from Jonathan Marchessault, Blunden and Ikonen. Syracuse would hold on for the 4-3 win. Vasilevskiy stopped 10 of 11 after coming in for the second period and registered a .909 save percentage.

AHL All-Stars

The American Hockey League recently released its All-Star rosters for this year. The 2015 edition of the yearly spectacle will be held January 25-26 in Utica, N.Y., at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. The Crunch will be represented by a pair of Russians, first-time AHL All-Stars in Vladislav Namestnikov and Nikita Nesterov. Namestnikov has skated in 16 games with the Crunch and recorded seven goals along with 17 points. The Zhukovskiy, Russia, native started the season with the Lightning and tallied three goals and seven points before being assigned to the Crunch. Nesterov started the season with the Crunch and has skated in 32 games. He paced their defensemen in scoring with three goals and 14 points. The Chelyabinsk, Russia, native made his NHL debut this season on December 31, 2014, at Buffalo.

On the road again

The Crunch will be back on the road this week with a mini three-game road-trip to Binghamton and Bridgeport. Syracuse will kick off the weekend of action with a tilt against the Senators (15-17-3) in Binghamton. Following the conclusion of the contest, the team will hit the road and head off to Bridgeport for a back-to-back against the Sound Tigers (18-15-3). Syracuse has come out of the gate like gangbusters to start the 2015 portion of the season, collecting seven of a possible eight points through its first four games. The team will be looking to continue their fine form this weekend, so be sure to check them out.

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