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Crunch Time: Syracuse sits atop AHL after undefeated weekend

by Doug Spencer / Tampa Bay Lightning

Syracuse is the top team in the American Hockey League at the moment. The Crunch secured six points by winning all three of their games this past weekend, improving its record to 32-13-8, good for 72 points on the season.

After hitting a rough patch the past few games, the Crunch got back in the win column with a 3-1 win over the Albany Devils on Friday night. Jonathan Marchessault was a welcome addition to the lineup and scored a goal in his return. Vladislav Namestnikov started off what would be an outstanding weekend with a goal and an assist.

Saturday, February 21, the Crunch dethroned the Binghamton Senators with a 5-3 win. Carter Ashton lit the lamp for his first goal with the Crunch and added an assist, while both Yanni Gourde and Mike Angelidis added a goal and an assist to the party.

Syracuse closed out its weekend with a 4-3 W against the Rochester Americans. Namestnikov stole the show with a three-point night (two goals & one assist).

It was a weekend of high-powered offense, as Syracuse managed to score at least three goals in all of its games. The team will look to keep firing on all cylinders this upcoming week.

Top Guns Firing Away

Leading scorer Marchessault provided an extra spark on offense this weekend for the Crunch, alongside his line mates Joel Vermin and Namestnikov. The trio connected for five of the team’s 12 goals while totaling a combined 11 points. The offensive explosion was welcomed as the team managed just five goals in its previous five games.

Namestnikov led the way with three tallies and three helpers from arguably his best weekend of hockey this season. Marchessault did not miss a beat after being sidelined with an injury the past three weeks. His speed and offensive creativity was on display throughout the weekend as he finished with three points. Vermin also had a strong weekend, including a dandy of a goal against Binghamton. Vermin had to fight off a Senator in the slot before being able to rifle one into the back of the net.

In recognition of his strong play, Namestnikov was named the CCM/AHL Player of the Week on Monday. Namestnikov is the second Crunch player this year (Andrei Vasilevskiy) to be named Player of the Week.

You Again?

Syracuse opens up its three-game week on the road tonight with another tilt against the Rochester Americans (22-29-4). This will be the seventh meeting between the two clubs, with Syracuse owning a 4-2-0 record in the previous six contests. The Crunch will return to the War Memorial Arena Friday, February 27, where they face off against the Albany Devils (23-22-4) for the second time in seven days. Syracuse has gotten the best of the Devils in all five meetings this year. Syracuse closes out its week against the Utica Comets (31-15-5). The Crunch and Comets have met three times so far, with Syracuse going 2-1-0. The Crunch will be looking to maintain their status as the top team in the AHL with another strong showing this week.

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