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Crunch charge into new year as North Division leader

The Lightning's AHL affiliate capped the calendar year with points in three straight games.

by Press Release / Syracuse Crunch

Syracuse capped the calendar year with points in three straight games (2-0-0-1), maintaining the top spot in the North Division at 18-9-0-4 (.645). The Crunch's 2017 slate begins with a visit to Rochester Friday and a home game Saturday vs. St. John's.

The Crunch bounced the IceCaps, 7-5, Dec. 31 at the War Memorial, the highest scoring Syracuse game since 13 combined goals Feb. 27, 2015, a 7-6 Albany win. 

Despite the scoring, the 42 shots generated equals the smallest total in a Crunch game this year. The Crunch allow the fewest shots per game in the AHL (25.84). 

Syracuse has a 12-2-0-2 home record, best in the AHL by points percentage (.813).

Top Performers

Matt Taormina led the Crunch with six points in Week 12 (1g, 5a); only four players in the AHL produced more. Taormina leads Syracuse at 30 points (9g, 21a), tied for seventh in the AHL and first among defensemen. He punctuated Week 12 with three points (1g, 2a) vs. St. John's Saturday, his team-leading seventh multi-point game and his third 3-pt. game of the season. Taormina takes a five-game scoring streak into Week 13 (1g, 6a), two short of his season and career best.

Erik Condra had four points in Week 12 (1g, 3a), appearing in three of four games amid a call-up to Tampa Bay. At 22 points in 22 games (third on the team), Condra is one of two Crunch players averaging a point per game or better (Taormina, 1.15). Condra has four 3-pt. games in his last eight appearances with the Crunch, totaling 13 points (3g, 10a) in that span. He collected a goal and two assists on five shots Saturday vs. St. John's.

Cory Conacher reached 100 career AHL assists with his 4-pt. performance Saturday vs. St. John's; he has 173 points in 188 AHL games. He has five points in four games (2g, 3a) since being returning from Tampa Bay Dec. 26. His first 4-pt. game this season is the third by a Crunch player. Conacher's last (and only previous) 4-pt. game was April 15, 2012 (3g, 1a). His 20 points (6g, 14a) in 22 games rank fourth on the Crunch.

Other multi-point performers in Week 12 included Yanni Gourde (2g Dec. 28), Mike Halmo (1g, 1a Dec. 31), Jeremy Morin (2g Dec. 31) and Adam Comrie (2a Dec. 31). Comrie has three points (1g, 2a) in his last two games for a total of seven points (3g, 4a) in 18 games. Halmo's nine goals are second to Gourde's 10. 

Gabriel Dumont, who returned to action Dec. 28 after missing 14 of 15 games, scored a goal (5) Dec. 30 and registered an assist (5) Dec. 31.

Rookie defenseman Dominik Masin scored his first professional goal Dec. 26. 

Comings, Goings & Firsts

Adam Erne made his NHL debut Tuesday with Tampa Bay, the fourth Crunch alumnus to do so this season. He follows Brayden Point Oct. 13, Tanner Richard Dec. 20 and Matthew Peca Dec. 28. Erne is the 43rd player to appear in a game for the Crunch and Lightning since the clubs began their affiliation in 2012. Erne was minus-1 with one shot and four hits in 12:03 of ice time.

Peca scored his first NHL goal Tuesday vs. Winnipeg, his fourth NHL game. His first assist was Dec. 31 vs. Carolina. He has 64 points (14g, 50a) in 101 AHL games.

Adam Wilcox was recalled by Tampa Bay Wednesday, swapping roster spots with Kristers Gudlevskis who's played 11:27 since being recalled by Tampa Bay Dec. 21. Wilcox is the 14th player recalled by the Lightning from the Crunch roster; 11 have seen game action to date.

Wilcox (13-5-2) ranks 18th in the AHL with a 2.55 goals-against average. He's appeared in 50 pro games, all with Syracuse, including one postseason game.

Yanni Gourde and Michael Bournival were reassigned to the Crunch by Tampa Bay this week. Gourde has no points in two Lightning games; Bournival has one goal in nine Lightning games.

Of the 32 players Tampa Bay has used over its first 39 games, 23 are Crunch alumni.

Upcoming: Rochester, St. John's

After five consecutive losses to Syracuse to start the year, the Amerks won the last match, 5-1, which included their first power-play goal against Syracuse this year. Rochester has won its last two games but, at 14-18-0-1, ranks 11th in the Eastern Conference (.439). Cole Schneider has 34 points (14g, 20a), second in the AHL. Linus Ullmark (13-12-1, 3.00) leads the league in minutes, saves and losses.

The IceCaps are 17-13-3-0, seventh in the conference. They were 4-0-2-0 in six games before losing to Syracuse Dec. 31. Sven Andrighetto (8g, 14a) was reassigned to the Caps this week. Two of their top four scorers, Chris Terry and Mark Barberio, remain with Montreal.

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