The Crunch extended their season best point streak to four games (3-0-0-1) in Week 5. Syracuse lost in a shootout vs. Bridgeport Friday, 3-2, and walloped Rochester Saturday, 7-2. The Crunch's .682 points percentage (7-3-0-1) ranks second in the North Division and fourth in the Eastern Conference.
The Crunch rallied from a 2-0 hole to tie Friday's match before losing in four shootout frames, 2-1. The team's Saturday showing came with two goals in the first, two in the second and three in the third, highlighted by three-point efforts from three players.
Tanner Richard recorded his first professional hat trick in Saturday's 7-2 win vs. Rochester. Richard, Syracuse's leading scorer last year at 54 points (11g, 43a), had four points in Week 5 (3g, 1a) for a season total of six points (3g, 3a) in eight games.
Saturday's hat trick marks the third multi-goal game of Richard's career (222 games). He scored twice Feb. 28, 2015 vs. Utica and twice Nov. 9, 2014, at W-B/Scranton. Richard has 26 career multi-point games, including seven career three-point games and two Gordie Howe hat tricks.
The Crunch have two hat tricks this year (Gabriel Dumont Oct. 21 vs. Utica) after none last season. The team had two in 2014-15 (Philippe Paradis, Mike Blunden) and three in 2013-14 (Nikita Kucherov, Evan Rankin, Brett Connolly). In 2012-13, six players produced eight hat tricks (J.T. Brown, J.T. Wyman, Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Connolly, Johnson, Johnson, Paradis).
Yanni Gourde extended his scoring streak to four games (2g, 5a) by collecting four points in Week 5, equaling Tanner Richard for the team's best production of the week. Gourde had an assist Friday vs. Bridgeport followed by a goal and two helpers Saturday vs. Rochester. Gourde is tied for the team lead with goals (4) and game-winning goals (2). He has two multi-point games this year and is three assists shy of 100 for his AHL career (253 games). At nine points (4g, 5a), he's third on the Crunch.
Cory Conacher took sole possession of the Crunch scoring lead with three assists Saturday for a season total of 11 points (3g, 8a) in nine games. He has 119 points in 120 career AHL regular season games with the Lightning organization (Syracuse and Norfolk). Conacher has three multi-point games with Syracuse this year, two of which are three-point efforts. Eight of his points have come versus Rochester.
Matt Taormina has points in all but one game he's played this year. On a five-game scoring streak (1g, 4a) that began Oct. 16, Taormina posted his first goal of the season Friday vs. Bridgeport and became the seventh Crunch player to record a power-play goal this season. He has 30 man-up markers in his pro career (434 games), 29 in the AHL and one in the NHL. His assist Saturday also came on the power play, his second man-up helper. Last season he had 20 power-play points (5g, 15a).
Seven goals scored in Saturday's game equals a team best during the Crunch-Lightning era. On four previous occasions since 2012 Syracuse scored seven times in one game: April 3 at Utica; Mar. 13, 2015, vs. Adirondack; Feb. 15, 2013, at Binghamton; Jun. 1, 2013, vs. W-B/Scranton. . . . Syracuse completed a perfect penalty-killing weekend (5-for-5) by stopping both Bridgeport chances Friday and all three Rochester opportunities Saturday. With 13 stops in the last 14 times shorthanded, Syracuse has climbed to fifth in the AHL at 87.0%. . . . The Crunch's power play jumped three spots (16th to 10th) after a 2-for-7 weekend with goals from Joel Vermin and Matt Taormina.
Upcoming: Hershey, Albany
The Crunch hit the road for the first time in four games when they travel to Hershey Friday. After three wins aside last year, the clubs meet four times this year.
The Bears, affiliate of the Washington Capitals, are tied for fourth in the Atlantic Division at 6-4-2-1 (.577 points percentage). Entering Wednesday's game in Utica, Hershey had lost three straight, allowing 13 goals combined in the three losses.
Chris Bourque leads Hershey with 12 points (1g, 11a). The 12th-year pro was named AHL MVP last season, leading Hershey with 80 points (30g, 50a). Bourque also posted 12 points (4g, 8a) in the Bears' run to the Calder Cup Finals, where Hershey lost to the Lake Erie Monsters.
Syracuse returns to the War Memorial Saturday for the first of eight meetings against the Devils and reigning AHL coach of the year Rick Kowalsky.
Albany plays Rochester Wednesday and Binghamton Friday. Albany, one spot behind the Crunch in the North Division entering the week, sits third with an 8-4-0-0 record (.667 points percentage). Albany swept a two-game homestand last weekend, topping Hershey Friday, 6-3, and St. John's Saturday, 4-3. The Devils have won six of seven home games, and two out of five on the road.
Blake Pietila leads Albany with 11 points (6g, 5a). Scott Wedgewood has started eight games in goal, posting a 4-3 record with a 2.44 goals-against average.