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Crunch to send two players to AHL All-Star Classic

Cory Conacher and Connor Ingram will represent the Crunch later this month at the AHL All-Star Classic

by Lukas Favale / TampaBayLightning.com

The Crunch lost twice in three games in Week 14, bringing their five-game winning streak to an end. It's the first time since the final week of October that the Crunch lost two games in one week (Monday-Sunday). 

Syracuse (21-10-2-0) dropped the first game of the calendar year, 4-2, against the Utica Comets Wednesday night. The Crunch nearly tied the game with a minute to go in regulation before the Comets hit the empty net to seal the win. Friday night, the Crunch returned home and defeated the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, 3-1, by limiting the Sound Tigers to 20 shots on goal. Saturday, Syracuse dug a 3-0 hole against Toronto and eventually fell to the Marlies, 5-2.

The Crunch take on three North Division opponents in Week 15, starting Wednesday in Binghamton.

TOP PERFORMERS

Carter Verhaeghe paced the Crunch with five points (2g, 3a) last week. He had an assist Wednesday in Utica then netted back-to-back multi-point games (1g, 1a) Friday and Saturday. They were his 12th and 13th multi-point games of the season, the most by a Crunch player since Cory Conacher's 15 in 2016-17. Last year, Verhaeghe finished second on the Crunch with 11 multi-point outings in 58 appearances.

The 23-year-old leads the Crunch and is third in the AHL with 40 points (15g, 25a). After recording just two points (1g, 1a) in the team's first six games, Verhaeghe has 38 (14g, 24a) in the last 27 games since Oct. 27, leading the league in that span.  

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Defenseman Cameron Gaunce picked up four assists and two multi-point games last week for the Crunch. He notched two assists Wednesday in Utica and replicated that Saturday against Toronto. Gaunce, 28, leads Crunch defensemen and ranks fourth among AHL blueliners with 27 points (6g, 21a) in 30 games. He leads AHL defensemen with 25 points (5g, 20a) in 24 games since returning to the Crunch from a brief callup with Tampa Bay Nov. 9.

Gaunce has already matched his career high with six goals and his 27 points are the second-most in his career; he had 37 points with Portland in 2015-16. He recorded his 200th pro point last week.

CONACHER, INGRAM NAMED AHL ALL-STARS

In addition to head coach Ben Groulx, the Crunch will send two player representatives to the AHL All-Star Classic in Springfield later this month.

Forward Cory Conacher, 29, will make his third career AHL All-Star appearance; it is his second in the last three seasons (2017) with the Crunch. Conacher is second on the Crunch with 38 points (14g, 24a) in 29 games; his 1.31 points per game lead the Crunch. Conacher has twice in his AHL career finished with more points than games played; he had 60 points in 56 games for the Crunch in 2016-17 and 80 points in 75 games in an MVP season with the Norfolk Admirals in 2011-12.

Connor Ingram is a first-time AHL All-Star in only his second professional season. The 21-year-old goaltender has posted a 9-5-0 record in 14 games this season; he has missed the last two weeks with an injury he suffered in a 3-2 shootout win at Lehigh Valley Dec. 21. He ranks seventh in the AHL in goals-against average (2.44), fifth in save percentage (.920) and second in shutouts (4).

UPCOMING: BINGHAMTON, CLEVELAND, UTICA

The Crunch take on three different North Division teams in Week 15. They are 14-7-2-0 against the division this season.

First up is a Wednesday trip to Binghamton to take on the Devils. It's the seventh match of the regular season series between the teams with Syracuse claiming six wins in the first six. The Crunch have outscored the Devils 29-9 over the six games and have twice rallied from 2-0 deficits. Starting Wednesday, the Crunch and Devils play three times over the next three weeks; they play just once the entire rest of the season.

They host the Cleveland Monsters Friday night for the first time this season. Syracuse and Cleveland split a two-game set in Cleveland earlier this season with the Monsters winning one game in overtime. The Monsters make one more trip to Syracuse after Friday night (Feb. 2).

Saturday marks the third game in three weeks between the Crunch and Utica Comets. The Crunch play two straight games in Utica as they return to the Adirondack Bank Center next Wednesday.

WEEK 14 RESULTS

Wednesday, January 2 | Game 31 at Utica | L, 4-2

Syracuse        0 1 1 - 2     Shots: 8-17-8-33        PP: 2/7

Utica               1 0 3 - 4     Shots: 10-7-14-31      PP: 1/5

2nd Period-Barré-Boulet 15 (Conacher, Gaunce), 8:16 (PP). 3rd Period-Conacher 13 (Gaunce, Verhaeghe), 18:37 (PP). . . . Pasquale 11-4-2 (33 shots-31 saves). A-3,917

Friday, January 4 | Game 32 vs. Bridgeport | W, 3-1

Bridgeport    0 0 1 - 1      Shots: 7-8-5-20              PP: 0/7

Syracuse        1 1 1 - 3      Shots: 10-12-10-32           PP: 1/6

1st Period-Barré-Boulet 16 (Conacher, Verhaeghe), 12:26 (PP). 2nd Period-Volkov 8 (Unassisted), 4:40. 3rd Period-Verhaeghe 14 (Barré-Boulet), 6:55. . . . Pasquale 12-4-2 (20 shots-19 saves). A-5,144

Saturday, January 5 | Game 33 vs. Toronto | L, 5-2

Toronto         3 1 1 - 5     Shots: 12-12-1-25      PP: 3/6

Syracuse        0 2 0 - 4     Shots: 10-9-7-26         PP: 1/4

2nd Period-Verhaeghe 15 (Gaunce, Andreoff), 0:07. Conacher 14 (Gaunce, Verhaeghe), 7:08 (PP). . . . Pasquale 12-5-2 (24 shots-20 saves). A-5,978

Category

Average/Total

AHL Rank (Prev)

Power Play

26.1% (40-for-153)

1st (1st)

Penalty Kill

82.4% (136-for-165)

10th (9th)

Goals For

3.88 GFA (128)

1st (1st)

Goals Against

2.70 GAA (89)

T-2nd (2nd)

Shots For

28.48 SF/G (940)

21st (24th)

Shots Against

29.58 SA/G (976)

16th (18th)

Penalty Minutes

14.64 PIM/G (483)

9th (9th)

 

Category

 

Leader

Points

40

Verhaeghe

Goals

16

Barré-Boulet

Assists

25

Verhaeghe

PIM

55

Andreoff

Plus/Minus

+18

Gaunce

Wins

12

Pasquale

GAA

2.44

Ingram

Save %

0.920

Ingram

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