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Syracuse Crunch head into season's final stretch

The Lightning's AHL affiliate begins a three-game homestand with 17 games remaining in the regular season

by Press Release / Syracuse Crunch

The Crunch suffered two losses in three Week 21 games, but remain in first place in the North Division at 29-19-5-5 (.586 points percentage). The team begins a three-game homestand Wednesday with 17 games remaining in the regular season. 

Top Performers

Four players recorded three points to lead the Crunch in Week 21; Yanni Gourde and Daniel Walcott recorded two goals and an assist. Erik Condra and Cory Conacher posted three assists each.

Conacher recorded his team-leading 12th multi-point game with two assists in Saturday's 4-1 win vs. Binghamton. With another helper Sunday in Sunday's 6-4 loss at Binghamton, Conacher improved his season total to 35 assists and 47 points. His assist total leads Syracuse and ranks fourth in the AHL. His point total is tied for the Crunch lead and tied for ninth in the league.

Matt Taormina, who posted one assist Friday and one assist Sunday, is tied with Conacher at 47 points. He's second in scoring among AHL defensemen and tied for the most assists at 34. Taormina has seven points (1g, 6a) in his last eight games.

Condra has 35 points (12g, 23a) in 38 games with Syracuse. His .92 points per game is surpassed only by Conacher's 1.02. In his last seven Crunch games he has five goals and nine points, including three multi-point games for a total of eight on the season.

Yanni Gourde built a career-best, six-game scoring streak before being recalled by Tampa Bay Sunday. He has four goals and eight points in that span with two multi-point games for 11 this season. Gourde has 22 goals, most in a Syracuse uniform this year, including his second multi-goal game Saturday. (Byron Froese has 24 goals, but all were scored with Toronto.)

Daniel Walcott scored goals in consecutive games in Week 21, doubling his season total to four. He had his second multi-point game Saturday which included his second game-winning goal of the season.

Matthew Peca and Mike Halmo each recorded their fifth multi-point performances Sunday in Binghamton. Tye McGinn returned from an injury with two points (1g, 1a) in his first two games since Oct. 16.

Kurtz makes Crunch history

John Kurtz, who signed a professional tryout contract with Syracuse Saturday, made his Crunch season debut Sunday in Binghamton and scored a goal. With that appearance, Kurtz became the first player in franchise history to play for the Crunch under three different affiliates, Columbus, Anaheim and Tampa Bay.

Following his 251-game OHL career, Kurtz debuted with Syracuse March 31, 2010, vs. Hershey. He appeared in six games on a tryout contract with Syracuse during the final season of the Columbus Blue Jackets era. 

Kurtz appeared in 61 games with the Crunch over the next two seasons during the Anaheim Ducks affiliation, totaling five goals, seven points and 142 penalty minutes. He played three more seasons in the Ducks organization in Norfolk, 2012-15. He split last season between Utica and Toronto. He's played 26 ECHL games this year for Norfolk, notching 14 points.

Ten other players have played for the Crunch under two affiliates: Mike Blunden (CBJ, TBL), Brian Bonin (PIT, CBJ), Nicolas Deschamps (ANA, TBL), Jean-Francois Jacques (ANA, TBL), Matt Kennedy (CBJ, ANA), Olivier Labelle (CBJ, TBL), Zenith Komarniski (VAN, CBJ), Jon Mirasty (CBJ, ANA), Reggie Savage (VAN, CBJ), Dan Sexton (ANA, TBL).
 
Upcoming: St. John's, Springfield

The IceCaps, affiliate of Montreal, have slipped to fifth in the North Division at 27-24-7-1 (.525 points percentage). They're 3-1-1-0 since splitting a two-game set in St. John's Feb. 18-19. They play the Crunch Wednesday and Saturday to cap the eight-game season series which Syracuse leads with a 3-1-1-1 record.

Chris Terry leads the team with goals (22) and points (52). Only Chicago's Kenny Agostino has more points (69). His 13 power-play goals rank second in the lead and his 26 power-play points rank third. Two players have six points against the Crunch, Jacob de la Rose (4g, 2a) and Max Friberg (1g, 5a); Terry has five (3g, 2a).

Charlie Lindgren (18-15-5) has three shutouts and is the league's leading rookie in minutes and saves, fourth overall. He's 1-3-0 in four games vs. Syracuse while veteran Yann Danis (9-6-3) is 2-0 vs. the Crunch.

The Thunderbirds, the former Portland Pirates and new affiliate of the Florida Panthers, visit Syracuse for the first time Friday. Syracuse won the inaugural meeting 4-3 at MassMutual Center Jan. 27. Springfield is 22-26-8-2 (.466 points percentage), sixth in the Atlantic Division and 11th in the conference. The team is winless in four (0-3-1-0) since a five-game win streak.

Chase Balisy leads the team with 32 points. He and Mackenzie Weegar lead Springfield with 12 goals apiece. Adam Wilcox, acquired from Syracuse last week, lost his debut with 21 saves on 26 shots.

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