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Crunch Time: Syracuse picks up 3 wins in 3 days to maintain Northeast Division lead

by Doug Spencer / Tampa Bay Lightning
Thrice as nice

The Northeast Division-leading Syracuse Crunch continued their march to the 2015 American Hockey League Calder Cup Playoffs with three wins in as many days. The Crunch responded strongly following a disappointing weekend of hockey with back-to-back losses on March 6 and 8.

Last Friday’s tilt was the lone game at home for the Crunch this past week. Syracuse’s high-powered offense was the story of the game as the team rolled to a 7-2 victory over the Adirondack Flames. New addition Ryan Martindale, who was brought in from the San Antonio Rampage, rifled home two tallies and added an assist for a three-point night. An impressive total of four Crunch skaters recorded three-point nights Friday with Carter Ashton, Yanni Gourde and Tanner Richard all netting a goal and two assists each.

Saturday night the team travelled upstate to faceoff against the Albany Devils. Jonathan Marchessault and Ashton provided the offense while goaltender Allen York shut the door to secure the 2-1 win.

Sunday night’s game was as “Gud as it gets” for goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis. The Latvian sensation stood on his head to record his first shutout of 2015 and second of the season. The speedy and shifty Gourde kicked things off with his team leading 24th tally of the campaign, which he notched on the power play. Justin Courtnall bagged his first goal with the Crunch in just his third game.

Cart-ing the load

Since joining the Crunch via a trade from the Toronto Marlies on February 6, Carter Ashton has proved to be a valuable member of the team. He provides some much-needed scoring depth, experience and energy to the Syracuse lineup, one that looks as though it could do some damage this postseason.

Ashton recently posted his best weekend with the Crunch as he managed to put up three goals and four points in aiding the team to a 3-0-0 record. His tally on Saturday night proved to be the game-winner against Albany.

Potential playoff match-up

This week features another three-in-three for the Crunch, however, this time they’ll be playing teams that are all currently in the playoffs. Under the Friday night-lights of the War Memorial Arena, Syracuse will do battle with the fourth place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (36-20-2). The following night the eighth seed Springfield Falcons (33-23-7) roll into town. With a lot of jostling to take place in the standings over the next four weeks, either one of these teams could be the Crunch’s first-round matchup. The final game of the week will feature the Western Conference’s third ranked Utica Comets (36-19-6). These games will serve as a great measuring stick for the Crunch to see where they stack up against some of the AHL’s top teams.

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