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Syracuse Crunch climb standings with two more wins

Lightning's AHL affiliate has four wins in five games and a 6-3 record on the season.

by Press Release / Syracuse Crunch

Syracuse has four wins in five games and a 6-3-0-0 record on the season, second best in the North Division and fourth in the Eastern Conference. Syracuse has a better points percentage (.667) than all but six teams. The team's Week 5 schedule includes home games Friday vs. Bridgeport and Saturday vs. Rochester.

The Crunch opened Week 4 with a 3-2, come-from-behind win at Rochester Friday. Syracuse entered the final period trailing 2-0, but goals from Cory Conacher, Eric Condra and Yanni Gourde gave the Crunch their third win in three meetings with the Amerks. 

Syracuse returned home on Saturday for their second of 12 games vs. Utica. After a scoreless first period, the teams traded goals in the second before Mike Halmo scored the game-winner in the third. 

Top Performers

Mike Halmo extended his scoring streak to four games (3g, 1a) with an assist Friday at Rochester and a goal Saturday vs. Utica. Saturday's score marked Halmo's third goal of the year and second game-winning goal. Halmo is the first Crunch player to record multiple game-winners this season (McGinn, Peca, Dumont, Gourde). Last season no Crunch player had more than three game-winners. Three of Halmo's 22 goals in 2015-16 won games for his former club, Bridgeport. 

Halmo began 2016-17 with one point (an assist) in five games before his current run. At five points in nine games to begin his Crunch career, Halmo is tied for fourth on the team.

The AHL's list of top 20 goaltenders includes Adam Wilcox for the first time. The second-year pro sliced his goals-against average from 2.60 in Week 3 to 2.32 in Week 4, 14th in the league. Of the 13 goalies ahead of Wilcox, six have played as many minutes (336).

Wilcox allowed one goal on 24 shots in Saturday's win vs. Utica, extending his personal win streak to three which equals a career high. His .907 save percentage ranks 29th out of the 56 goalies with at least 120 minutes played. 

Syracuse's Week 4 scoring leaders are Cory Conacher (1g, 2a) and Yanni Gourde (1g, 2a). 

Gourde earned first-star honors Friday with his first-multi-point performance. He notched the primary assist on Conacher's rally-sparking goal and tipped in the game-winner with 1:16 left in regulation. He collected the primary assist on Halmo's game-winner Saturday. For the year, Gourde has five points (3g, 2a).

Conacher earned second star Saturday with assists on both Crunch goals. Despite missing two of nine games, Conacher is tied for the Crunch scoring lead with Gabriel Dumont at eight points each. 

Erik Condra scored two of the five goals produced by Syracuse in Week 4, his first two with the Crunch and first AHL goals since the 2011 Calder Cup Playoffs with Binghamton. Condra has 30 goals in 144 career AHL games and 39 goals in 353 career NHL games.

Condra has points in five of the nine games so far. Michael Bournival and Cory Conacheralso have registered at least one point in five games.

Team Notes

Syracuse allows 24.00 shots per game, fewest in the AHL. They held Rochester and Utica under 10 shots in each period of Week 4. . . . The Syracuse's penalty kill improved from 14th to 10th after an 8-for-9 Week 4. For the year, Syracuse has given up six power-play goals while it has scored seven. . . . Syracuse's team goals-against average jumped 10 slots-from 21st to 11th-with three goals allowed in two Week 4 games. Their 2.89 season mark ranks sixth in the Eastern Conference. . . . The Crunch are 4-0 when scoring first. . . . Seven times in the 2016-17 season the Crunch play three straight home games, including this week.

Upcoming: Bridgeport, Rochester

Syracuse continues its three-game homestand Friday vs. Bridgeport and caps it Saturday vs. Rochester.

The Sound Tigers, affiliate of the New York Islanders, are fourth in the Atlantic Division and sixth in the Eastern Conference at 6-4-0-0 (.600). Bracken Kearns leads the team with 11 points (5g, 6a), tied for 11th in the AHL. Christopher Gibson (6-0-0) leads the league in wins; his 2.52 goals-against average ranks 22nd. 

The first of two matchups between Syracuse and Bridgeport marks the first matchup for Mike Halmo against his former team. He played 223 games for the Sound Tigers from 2012 to 2016, totaling 117 points (59g, 58a). He has one NHL goal in 20 Islanders games. 

Cory Conacher spent part of 2014-15 with the Islanders organization, notching three points (1g, 2a) in 15 NHL games and 23 points (5g, 18a) in 29 AHL games.

The Amerks have played twice since squandering a two-goal, third-period lead to Syracuse Friday. They beat the Senators in Binghamton Saturday, 4-1, but dropped a 5-3 decision in Hershey Sunday. At 5-5-0-0, Rochester is fifth in the North and 10th in the Eastern Conference.

Syracuse is 3-0 versus Rochester, having outscored the Amerks 13-6 in three meetings. The Crunch have not surrendered a power-play goal (14-for-14) to the sixth-ranked Amerks (23.8%).

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