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Crunch Time: Tambellini, Richard continue to lead Syracuse in scoring

by Staff Writer / Tampa Bay Lightning
LAST WEEK

Wed., Jan. 27 - Crunch at Rochester - OTL, 6-5

Fri., Jan. 29 - Crunch vs. Hershey - L, 5-3

Sat., Jan. 30 - Crunch at Hershey - L, 5-1

THIS WEEK

Fri., Feb. 5 - Crunch vs. Rochester - 7 p.m. (TV)

Sat., Feb. 6 - Crunch vs. Springfield - 7 p.m.

NEED TO KNOW

• Syracuse returns from the All-Star break fourth in the division and 10th in the conference at 19-17-8-1 (.522).

• The Crunch's top eight scorers are within six points of each other; Tambellini and Richard lead at 28 points each.

• Syracuse hosts Rochester Friday and Springfield Saturday before a week-long trip to St. John's and Ottawa.

Richard providing career-best production

Since the holiday break (Dec. 26), third-year center Tanner Richard has produced all six of his goals plus 11 assists—with five multi-point games. His 17 points in that 18-game span are three more than any other Crunch player. His two points Saturday vs. Hershey upped his season total to 28, tied with Jeff Tambellini for the Crunch lead. Prior to Dec. 26, Richard was eighth on the Crunch in scoring with no goals and 11 assists in 23 games.

Richard's 22 assists (in 41 games) in 2015-16 are three shy of his career season high; he totaled 25 helpers in 70 AHL games last year. His current total of six goals is short of his 13-goals-in-70-games pace from last year, but his five goals in January marked the most prolific month of his career. His 13 points in January surpass his 12 points in November 2014 for the highest scoring of his career.

WEEK IN REVIEW

Game 43: Amerks take overtime victory from Crunch, 6-5

The Crunch held the lead four times during a back-and-forth contest at Blue Cross Arena Wednesday. Each time, the Rochester Americans climbed back and topped the Crunch, 6-5, in overtime.

Matt Taormina opened the scoring with his ninth goal, momentarily tying for the team scoring lead at 27 points. Jeff Tambellini, one of 10 Crunch players to notch at least a point, earned an assist later to reestablish the team high in scoring at 28. Syracuse built its largest lead in the third, 4-2, when Mike Blunden and Yanni Gourde scored 19 seconds apart. Both had three-point performances, including Blunden's 10th and 11th goals.

Once the Amerks tied the game at 4-4 in the third period, Syracuse took its fourth and final lead on Brian Hart's second AHL goal. The lead lasted nearly 11 minutes before Jerry D'Amigo answered back for the Amerks to force overtime. Phil Varone capped his four-point effort with the winning goal.

Kristers Gudlevskis stopped 21 of 27 shots, while his counterpart Linus Ullmark turned aside 20 of 25. Syracuse's power play was 0-for-2 while the Amerks were 2-for-6.

Game 44: Bears prevail, 5-3, despite hot Syracuse start

Despite scoring on their first two shots, the Crunch lost to the Bears, 5-3, Friday at the War Memorial. Hershey had not won at Syracuse since Jan. 24, 2014, and had not beaten Syracuse in regulation since Jan. 25, 2014.

Yanni Gourde and Tanner Richard registered a goal and an assist each, and Mike Blunden notched two assists. No Bear had multiple points, but 11 Hershey players had single points. Travis Boyd, Liam O'Brien and Garrett Mitchell markers put the Bears ahead, 3-2. Dustin Gazley provided the eventual game winner and Sean Collins scored a shorthanded empty-net goal in the closing seconds.

Justin Peters earned first-star honors with 34 saves, as the Crunch posted a home-best 37 shots on goal. Adam Wilcox, who had won three straight, made 21 saves on 25 shots in defeat. Ryan Martindale and Kevin Lynch made their Crunch season debuts. Martindale assisted on Gourde's shorthanded goal in the second. Syracuse was 1-for-6 with a man up thanks to Adam Erne's eighth goal and fifth power-play score.

Game 45: Hershey blasts Syracuse, 5-1

The Crunch again struck first against the Bears, but Hershey scored the last five goals unanswered for a 5-1 victory Saturday at Giant Center. Each side had three wins in the season series, but by virtue of an overtime loss, Syracuse won the season series by points, 7-6. Syracuse is winless in three games for the first time since Jan. 2-8 (0-2-1-0).

Andrew Yogan, signed to a professional tryout contract earlier in the day, scored the only goal for the Crunch at 11:20 of the first. Henri Ikonen set up the play for his fifth assist and seventh point of the year. Yogan, Charlie Dodero and Kevin Lynch were all returned to their respective ECHL clubs after the game.

Riley Barber was the game's first star with a natural hat trick and four points while Scott Gomez recorded two assists. Nathan Walker and Carter Camper scored the first two goals against Kristers Gudlevskis (8-8-4, 2.86) who made 23 saves. Dan Ellis (14-6-4, 2.53) stopped 24 of 25 shots in the win, handing Syracuse its most lopsided loss since Dec. 9.

WEEK AHEAD

Game 46: Fri., Feb. 5, vs. Rochester, 7 p.m. (TV)

The Amerks visit Syracuse for the first time this season Friday, after going 3-2-0-0 against the Crunch at Blue Cross Arena. All five matchups have been decided by one goal, including three overtime games.

With a 21-21-2-1 record (.500), Rochester is sixth in the North Division and 13th in the Eastern Conference. The Amerks 2.49 goals per game rank 26th in the AHL. They've allowed 32 more goals than they've scored.

All-Star Cal O'Reilly, who has six assists against the Crunch, leads the team at 26 points (5g, 21a). Jason Akeson has 25 points (7g, 18a) and the team's leading goal scorer Phil Varone has 24 points (12g, 12a), six versus Syracuse.

Rookie Linus Ullmark (3-4-0, 3.19) beat Syracuse Jan. 27. Nathan Lieuwen (11-8-1, 2.76) and Andrey Makarov (6-7-2, 3.09) also have wins vs. Syracuse. The team's goals-against average ranks 25th at 3.20.

Game 47: Sat., Feb. 6, vs. Springfield, 7 p.m.

The Falcons and Crunch play the second of their four meetings Saturday at the War Memorial. Syracuse earned a 3-1 home victory vs. Springfield Dec. 26 behind 29 Andrei Vasilevskiy saves, goals from Briant Hart, Tye McGinn and Tanner Richard and two assists from Anthony DeAngelo.

The Falcons, last in the Atlantic and 14th of 15 in the Eastern Conference, have three wins in their last 10 contests (3-4-1-2). They defeated Portland, 6-2, Saturday behind a four-point effort from Corey Potter (2g, 2a). All-Star Dustin Jeffrey leads the team at 33 points (11g, 22a); Greg Carey leads in goals (16).

With Louis Domingue (6-6-1, 2.55) in the NHL with Arizona, rookie Niklas Treutle (9-11-3, 2.86) has the goalie reins. Marek Langhamer is 2-3-1.

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