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Joseph shines in Canadian homecoming for Crunch

The Quebec native scored his first two professional goals on Friday against Laval

by Megan Cahill / TampaBayLightning.com

LAST WEEK
Wed., Nov. 1 - Crunch at Belleville - SOL, 4-3
Fri., Nov. 3 - Crunch at Laval - SOL, 6-5
Sat., Nov. 4 - Crunch at Laval - L, 5-2
 

THIS WEEK
Sat., Nov. 11 - Crunch vs. Charlotte - 3 p.m.

Crunch Earn Points, but Not Wins, in Week 5 
Syracuse made its first trip to Canada in Week 5, earning points in two shootout losses and going 0-1-0-2. The team's first ever trip to both Belleville and Laval leaves the Crunch at 3-6-1-2 (0.375), seventh in the North Division and 14th in the Eastern Conference. 

In the home opener and first AHL game in Belleville, the Crunch failed to hold on to three one-goal leads in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Senators. Friday at Place Bell in Laval, neither the Crunch nor the Rocket held on to their respective leads, although the Rocket eventually prevailed, 6-5, in a shootout. The next afternoon, the Rocket finished a weekend sweep with a 5-2 victory over Syracuse.

The Crunch play once this week, a home match against the Charlotte Checkers on Military Appreciation Night, presented by Falso Service Experts. It's the first match between the clubs since the 2010-11 season.

Top Performers
Cory Conacher recorded points in all three games in Week 5. Wednesday in Belleville he produced his first three-point game (2g, 1a) since notching back-to-back four-point games in Games 3 & 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against Providence. 

His five points (3g, 2a) during the week doubled his season total and he leads the Crunch with 10 points (6g, 4a). All three goals in Week 5 were power-play goals, giving him four on the season. Only the Penguins' Daniel Sprong has more power-play goals (5) than Conacher's four. 

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Rookie Mathieu Joseph returned to Quebec and had his best game of the season Friday at Laval. Playing in front of friends and family, the 20-year-old potted two goals-his first two professional goals-and added an assist for a three-point game. With an assist the next day, Joseph completed a four-point weekend. 

The fourth round pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2015 now has five points in 11 games. Last season he led the Saint John Sea Dogs to the QMJHL championship and a berth in the Memorial Cup. 

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Defenseman Ben Thomas set a career high with two goals and an assist Friday in Laval, his first multi-goal and three-point game as a pro. He is tied for third on the team with six points (2g, 4a) and both goals came on the power play.

His last multi-goal game was with Vancouver (WHL) Nov. 7, 2015 and his only three-point game was exactly a year prior for Calgary (WHL).

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Carter Verhaeghe returned from injury and made his season debut Saturday. He had a hand in both goals for Syracuse, scoring his first goal and earning the primary assist on Cory Conacher's power-play goal. 

Verhaeghe, acquired by the Lightning in an offseason trade with the New York Islanders for Kristers Gudlevskis, had 29 points (16g, 13a) in 45 games with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers last year.

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Defenseman Dominik Masin scored goals in back-to-back games for the first time in his pro career. With two goals this season, he's one shy of his total from last year.

Boosting the power play
With power-play goals in all three games in Week 5, the Crunch upped their success rate to 10.8% (8-for-74), double of where they were at this point last week. Going back to Oct. 28, Syracuse has power-play goals in its last four games, going 6-for-23 (26.1%). The Crunch are 7-for-37 (18.9%) on the road, but just 1-for-37 at the War Memorial.

Upcoming: Game 13 vs. Charlotte | Nov. 11 | 7 p.m.
Syracuse plays its lone game in Week 6 at home against the Charlotte Checkers Saturday. The teams last met in 2010-11 before Charlotte shifted to the Western Conference; they moved to the East's Atlantic Division this season.

The Checkers (8-3-0-0) are second in the Atlantic with a .727 points percentage. They began an eight-game road trip in Belleville over the weekend. The trip continues in Utica Wednesday and Friday then wraps up in Springfield and Bridgeport next week. They are 6-1-0-0 on the road.

Lucas Wallmark leads the team and is tied for fourth in the league with 13 points (3g, 10a). Valentin Zykov is next with 12 points (7g, 5a) in 11 games

Week 5 Results
Wednesday, November 1 | Game 10 at Belleville | SOL, 4-3
Syracuse 2 1 0 0 0 - 3 Shots: 8-5-8-5-0-26 PP: 2/4
Belleville 1 2 0 0 1 - 4 Shots: 7-11-1-1-1-21 PP: 1/8
1st Period-Conacher 4 (Peca, Akeson), 5:41 (PP). Masin 1 (Conacher, Peca), 19:59. 2nd Period-Conacher 5 (Akeson, Bodie), 5:18 (PP). . . . Leighton 2-3-1 (20 shots-17 saves). A-4,319 

Friday, November 3 | Game 11 at Laval | SOL, 6-5
Syracuse 2 1 2 0 0 - 5 Shots: 11-13-11-2-0-19 PP: 2/8
Laval 1 3 1 0 1 - 6 Shots: 5-10-6-4-1-26 PP: 3/7
1st Period-Thomas 1 (Volkov, Cirelli), 7:27 (PP). Joseph 1 (Thomas, McGinn), 17:29. 2nd Period-Thomas 2 (Cirelli, Joseph), 4:53 (PP). 3rd Period-Masin 2 (McGinn, Conacher), 9:30. Joseph 2 (Unassisted), 11:29. . . . Leighton 2-3-2 (25 shots-20 saves). A-7,277

Friday, November 4 | Game 12 at Laval | L, 5-2
Syracuse 0 1 1 - 2 Shots: 9-6-15-30 PP: 1/6
Laval 0 2 3 - 5 Shots: 2-13-10-25 PP: 1/6
2nd Period-Verhaeghe 1 (Joseph), 10:08. 3rd Period-Conacher 6 (Verhaeghe, McBain), 5:56 (PP). . . . Ingram 1-3-1 (24 shots-20 saves). A-6,398

Category Average/Total AHL Rank (Prev)
Power Play 10.8% (8-for-74) 27th (30th)
Penalty Kill 82.1% (55-for-67) T-19th (10th)
Goals For 2.58 GFA (31) T-26th (T-26th)
Goals Against 3.50 GAA (42) T-22nd (T-14th)
Shots For 28.83 SF/G (346) 20th (24th)
Shots Against 23.58 SA/G (283) 1st (1st)
Penalty Minutes 17.50 PIM/G (210) 6th (18th)

Category Leader
Points 10 Conacher
Goals 6 Conacher
Assists 6 Cirelli
PIM 32 Conacher
Plus/Minus +5 Stephens
Wins 2 Leighton
GAA 3.03 Leighton
Save % 0.867 Leighton

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