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Matt Taormina continues to shine for Syracuse Crunch

Defenseman scored three points in two games last week

by Press Release /

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Fri., Nov. 18 - Crunch at Hershey - L, 5-1
Sat., Nov. 19 - Crunch vs. Albany - W, 3-2

Wed., Nov. 23 - Crunch at Utica - 7 p.m.
Fri., Nov. 25 - Crunch vs. Toronto - 7 p.m.
Sat., Nov. 26 - Crunch at Binghamton - 7:05 p.m.

Condra last-second goal lifts Crunch 
Syracuse split a pair of Week 6 games, a 5-1 loss in Hershey Friday, and a dramatic 3-2 win Saturday vs. Albany. The victory vaulted the Crunch over the Devils for second in the North Division and fifth in the Eastern Conference. At 8-4-0-1 (.654 points percentage) the Crunch are one win behind division-leading Toronto, Friday's opponent. The Crunch also play two road games in Week 7, Wednesday in Utica and Saturday in Binghamton.

Erik Condra scored with 1.9 seconds remaining in Saturday's third period to capture the Crunch's eighth win in their 13th game (two games ahead of last year's pace). Condra's third goal of the year is his first game-winner, the sixth player to provide a deciding score. Condra was recalled by Tampa Bay Monday.

Late Strikes
Erik Condra's goal at 19:58 of the third period Saturday is the latest the Crunch have scored a regulation goal since Oct. 23, 2015, when Matthew Peca pulled Syracuse within a goal of Hartford at 19:58 of the third, but Syracuse lost, 4-3.

Prior to Saturday, the latest regulation game-winning goal during the Crunch-Lightning affiliation was earlier this season: Yanni Gourde completed a three-goal third period at 18:44 for a 3-2 Syracuse win at Rochester. Before that, the team's latest regulation go-ahead goal was Nov. 8, 2013, when Nikita Kucherov delivered at 17:58 of the third at Norfolk for a 2-1 Crunch win.

Last year Syracuse did not score any winning goals in the final minute of regulation, but they scored last-minute, game-tying goals twice in two games, both from Tye McGinn. On Feb. 28, McGinn scored at 19:51 of the third in Binghamton, an eventual Crunch shootout win, 5-4. The next game, March 2 in Lehigh Valley, McGinn scored at 19:30 of the third, but Syracuse lost in a shootout, 3-2.

On two other occasions during the Lightning era has Syracuse scored a game-tying goal in the final minute: April 5, 2014, vs. Utica (Jonathan Marchessault at 19:07) and March 15, 2013, vs. Norfolk (Mike Angelidis at 19:40).

Top Performers
Tanner Richard recorded his fourth and fifth goals of the season in Week 6, one Friday in Hershey and one Saturday vs. Albany. Richard leads Syracuse with five goals; four other player have four goals each. Richard's five markers have all come in the last three games following his first pro hat trick Nov. 12. Last year Richard potted 11 goals in 71 games. His career best was 2014-15 with 13 goals in 70 games.

Matt Taormina recorded three points (1g, 2a) in Week 6 to lead the Crunch, including his first multi-point performance of the season Saturday vs. Albany (1g, 1a). Taormina has a seven-game scoring streak, tied for the longest of his career. He started the 2013-14 season with points in seven straight games (2g, 8a) for the Crunch, Oct. 12-30. He also had a six-game streak during his rookie year, Jan. 3-13, 2010, with the Lowell Devils.

Yanni Gourde pulled within one point of the Crunch scoring lead Saturday with two assists vs. Albany. Gourde has 11 points (4g, 7a) in 13 games, including three multi-point games. Nine of his points have been registered in the last six games. Last year Gourde had 44 points (14g, 30a) in 65 games. He had a career high in 2014-15 with 57 points (29g, 28a) in 76 games. He's one assist shy of 100 for his AHL career.

Upcoming: Utica, Toronto, Binghamton
Week 7 for the Crunch comes with the team's first midweek game of the season, Wednesday in Utica. The Crunch will play midweek games in five of the next six weeks (through December). The only previous week with three games this year was three-in-three Oct. 28-30.

All three games this week are against North Division opponents. Syracuse is 7-1-0-0 against the North this season, compared to 1-3-0-1 versus the Atlantic.

Despite winning their last two, the Comets are 5-9-1-0 for a .367 points percentage, last in the AHL. Alexandre Grenier is the team's active leader at 13 points (5g, 8a). Curtis Valk owns the team lead in goals, seven. Goalies Richard Bachman (3-6-0) and rookie Thatcher Demko (2-3-1) have nearly identical goals-against averages, 3.40 and 3.41, respectively. Utica ranks 26th in goals allowed and 25th in goals scored. Syracuse is 1-1 vs. Utica.

The North Division lead will be on the line Friday when Syracuse and Toronto meet for the first of eight times. The Marlies are 9-4-0-1 (.679), second best in the conference. Brandon Leipsic is Toronto's and the league's leading scorer at 19 points (5g, 14a), including 10 power-play points. Rinat Valiev leads the league in penalty minutes (58) and major penalties (4). Antoine Bibeau (6-3-1) is tied for the league lead in shutouts, three, and owns the league's 11th best goals-against average, 2.20.

The Crunch won the first of 10 meetings with Binghamton Oct. 28, 4-3. The Senators have since tumbled to 27th in the AHL at 5-8-1-1 (.400). They host Syracuse Saturday. Casey Bailey leads the team in goals, six, and points, nine. Former Crunch winger Mike Blundenhas three goals and three assists. Chris Driedger (3-2-1) and Matt O'Connor (2-5-1) are the active goalies.

Week 6 Results

Friday, November 18 | Game 12 at Hershey | L, 5-1
SYR   0   1   0   - 1   Shots: 7-11-6-24   PP: 0/9
HER    3   0   2 - 5   Shots: 8-6-8-22   PP: 3/5
2nd Per. - Richard 4 (Conacher, Taormina), 0:33. . . . Wilcox 5-3-0 (4 shots-2 saves); Gudlevskis (18 shots-15 saves).

Saturday, November 19 | Game 13 vs. Albany | W, 3-2
ALB   0   2   0   - 2   Shots: 9-15-7-31   PP: 2/6
SYR   0   2   1   - 1    Shots: 9-14-7-30   PP: 0/3
2nd Per. - Taormina 2 (Peca, Gourde), 2:34. Richard 5 (Gourde, Taormina), 4:06. 3rd Per. - Condra 3 (Vermin, Walcott), 19:58. . . . Gudlevskis 3-1-1 (31 shots-29 saves).

Category standings (previous week)
Power Play   15.0% (9-for-60)    21st (13th)
Penalty Kill   80.7% (46-for-57)   19th (5th)
Goals For   3.15 GFA (41)   11th (8th)
Goals Against   2.92 GAA (38)   17th (13th)
Shots For   28.54 SF/G (371)   22nd (20th)
Shots Against   25.08 SA/G (326)   1st (1st)
Penalty Minutes   13.46 PIM/G (175)   17th (19th)

Crunch Leaders
Points   12   Conacher
Goals   5   Richard
Assists   9   Conacher
PIM   29   Dotchin
Plus/Minus   +6   Bournival
Wins   5   Wilcox
GAA   2.50   Wilcox
Save %   .903   Wilcox

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