Syracuse remains first in the North Division entering Week 16, despite suffering consecutive home losses for the first time this season, including their first shutout loss of the year Saturday vs. Utica. The Crunch are on the road for their next six games and 12 of 14.
Wed., Jan. 18 - Crunch at Albany - OTL, 3-2
Fri., Jan. 20 - Crunch vs. Binghamton - L, 4-2
Sat., Jan. 21 - Crunch vs. Utica - L, 4-0
Wed., Jan. 25 - Crunch at W-B/Scranton - 7:05 p.m.
Fri., Jan. 27 - Crunch at Springfield - 7:05 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 28 - Crunch at Utica - 7 p.m.
First-place Crunch take the show on the road
Yanni Gourde is the new Crunch leader for goals at 14 after he scored four times in a five-game span Jan. 13-20. Before a scoreless Saturday vs. Utica, Gourde scored a goal in three straight games (Jan. 16-20), the second time he's assembled a three-game goal-scoring streak this season.
The All-Star has equaled his goal output from all of last season (65 games), and is nearing the goals-per-game pace from his career-best 2014-15 season when he scored 29 times (0.368 vs. 0.381 goals per game.)
Gourde, 25, is three games short of 200 for his Crunch career (regular season). He's played 322 pro games, four in the NHL, 280 in the AHL and 38 in the ECHL.
Tanner Richard moved ahead of Erik Condra for fourth in Crunch scoring after a five-game scoring streak Jan. 13-20. Richard has 24 points (9g, 15a), including two goals and five assists in the last two weeks.
Richard is one game shy of 250 for his AHL career. He has 136 points in parts of five seasons with Syracuse. He led the Crunch with 54 points last season (11g, 43a).
All-Star Matt Taormina remains Syracuse's leading scorer at 37 points (12g, 25a), but is scoreless in three games; he has one assist over the last five contests. He's tied for seventh in the AHL and alone in first for defensemen. He has 20 special teams points, 18 on the power play.
Cory Conacher had two assists last week for a season total of 28 (6g, 22a), third on the team. He has 13 points (2g, 11a) over the last 12 games. Conacher had 10 shots on goal Wednesday in Albany, a Crunch season high.
Jeremy Morin had three points last week (1g, 2a), including his fifth multi-point game. He's ninth on the Crunch at 17 points (8g, 9a).
Jake Dotchin made his NHL debut Saturday in Arizona, becoming the 45th player to appear in a game for both Syracuse and Tampa Bay since the clubs affiliated in 2012. Eight players have been added to that list during the 2016-17 season, including NHL debuts for Brayden Point, Tanner Richard, Matthew Peca , Adam Erne and Dotchin.
Dotchin, who remains on Tampa Bay's roster, logged 11:47 of ice time over 18 shifts in the loss to Arizona. He got 15 minutes on 20 shifts in his second game, Tuesday's win in Chicago, with his first penalty and shot on goal.
Joel Vermin was reassigned to the Crunch Sunday after a week with Tampa Bay; he played one Lightning game and missed four Syracuse games. Vermin has played nine NHL games this season with two assists, plus 23 AHL games with 13 points (7g, 6a).
Kevin Lynch was signed to a professional tryout contract Saturday and made his Crunch season debut against Utica. It marked his 61st game for Syracuse over the last three seasons. The Michigan alum appeared in 53 games for the Crunch in 2014-15 (3g, 1a). He started this, his fourth pro season, with the ECHL's Indy Fuel (24 points).
Forward David Pacan was released from his P.T.O. Tuesday. He had two assists in six games for Syracuse.
Upcoming: W-B/Scranton, Springfield, Utica
Syracuse faces the AHL's winningest team Wednesday, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, for the third time in six games. The Pens (30-9-3-0) have won three of four against Syracuse, but the Crunch prevailed in the last matchup 4-1 Jan. 16. W-B/Scranton has the AHL's second best offense (3.45 goals per game) and defense (2.36 goals against average). Then Pens are 16-4-0-0 at home.
Top scorer Jake Guentzel remains in the NHL, leaving Oskar Sundqvist (14g, 19a) and veteran Tom Kostopoulos (13g, 18a) as the club's active leading scorers. Tristan Jarry (17-7-1, 2.24) and rookie Casey DeSmith (12-2-2, 2.28) rank sixth and ninth, respectively for AHL G.A.A.
The Crunch visit Springfield for the first time this season Friday for their first meeting with the Thunderbirds, the Florida Panthers' new AHL affiliate. The franchise relocated from Portland this season after the Springfield Falcons were moved to Tucson, Arizona, by the Coyotes.
The 11th-place club (15-17-6-2) is led by Chase Balisy at 23 points (7g, 16a); he's the only player with more than 18 points. At nine goals, Mackenzie Weegar is the only player with more than seven markers. Reto Berra (9-8-2, 2.24) owns the league's seventh-best G.A.A. and has been recalled by Florida. Veteran Mike McKenna (6-9-6, 3.09) has one more appearance but 22 more goals allowed.
The Comets host the Crunch Saturday for the rivals' seventh of 12 meetings. Though Utica (18-16-5-1) remains three spots behind Syracuse in the North Division, it is 4-1-0-1 vs. Syracuse this season. Utica is the only team to score four goals in a period versus Syracuse, something they've done twice (Oct. 21 and Jan. 21).
The Comets, who've won six straight, are led by Alexandre Grenier at 13 goals and 32 points. He has four goals and eight points against Syracuse, double the points of any player on either side of the season series. Richard Bachman (9-7-1, 2.50) has better stats, but Thatcher Demko (9-8-3, 2.84) has appeared in four more games. Both have two wins against the Crunch.
Week 15 Results
Wednesday, Jan. 18 | Game 38 at Albany | OTL, 3-2
SYR 0 0 2 0 - 2 Shots: 9-9-13-0-31 PP: 0/4
ALB 1 0 1 1 - 3 Shots: 8-8-8-2-26 PP: 1/3
3rd Per. - Gourde 13 (Thomas, Conacher), 10:47. Richard 9 (Morin, Brodeur), 13:17. Wilcox 14-5-3 (26 shots-23 saves).
Friday, Jan. 20 | Game 39 vs. Binghamton | L, 4-2
BNG 1 1 2 - 4 Shots: 9-7-7-23 PP: 0/4
SYR 1 0 1 - 2 Shots: 17-7-12-36 PP: 0/2
1st Per. - Morin 8 (Richard, Walcott), 8:08. 3rd Per. - Gourde 14 (Conacher, Morin), 17:07. Gudlevskis 6-6-5 (22 shots-19 saves).
Saturday, Jan. 21 | Game 40 vs. Utica | L, 4-0
UTI 0 0 4 - 4 Shots: 8-5-15-28 PP: 0/4
SYR 0 0 0 - 0 Shots: 6-8-6-20 PP: 0/4
Wilcox 14-6-3 (27 shots-24 saves). A-6,327 (sellout)
Category standings (previous week)
Power Play 16.6% (30-for-181) 20th (13th)
Penalty Kill 84.2% (139-for-165) 6th (9th)
Goals For 3.00 GFA (120) 14th (11th)
Goals Against 2.93 GAA (117) 18th (T-12th)
Shots For 29.80 SF/G (1192) 15th (15th)
Shots Against 25.73 SA/G (1029) 1st (1st)
Penalty Minutes 15.95 PIM/G (638) 6th (6th)
Points 37 Taormina
Goals 14 Gourde
Assists 25 Taormina
PIM 77 Dotchin
Plus/Minus +13 Bournival
Wins 14 Wilcox
GAA 2.57 Wilcox
Save % .902 Wilcox